Pinball history stretches way back to the 1700s in aristocratic France. Nobles with time on their hands became impatient waiting for the rain to quit so they could continue their games of croquet. Hence, Bagatelle was born. Read on for more details on how this game transformed into pinball and became available to the working class.

Articles - History

In 1976, the New York City pinball ban was overturned. The coin-operated amusement lobby (which represented the pinball industry) eventually succeeded in earning a City Council hearing to re-examine the long-standing ban. Their strategy: Prove that pinball was a game of skill, not chance, and thus should be legal. Read more about New York Revokes Pinball Ban

In 1962, Williams introduced the first drop target in VAGABOND.

In 1968, the first modern three inch flippers were introduced by Williams on HAYBURNERS II.

In 1975, the first solid-state, or electronic pinball machine, SPIRIT OF ‘76, was introduced by Mirco. It marked the beginning of the switch from electro-mechanical machines to electronics-based pinball games. Read more about Pinnovations

In 1960 Alvin Gottlieb, who was now working at the plant, had an idea for a new type of flipper game which did not give replays at all, but still provided a "challenge" to the player and an opportunity to "earn" something for his skill at the game. His idea was to give "free balls", rather than "free games", for the player attaining certain scores on the machine. Read more about Add-a-Balls

Despite the opposition in the anti-gambling camps, the pinball designers went forward with their mission: to make the game even more fun to play.

In 1954, Gottlieb released SUPER JUMBO, the first multiple player pinball machine.

In 1956, the first “multiball” featured game was released with Bally’s BALLS-A-POPPIN. Read more about Developing the Game of Skill

Pinball is corrupting our children!
Source:Oct 1957 - Better Homes and Gardens Read more about The Campaign to Destroy Pinball

Lou Walcher, owner of the large San Francisco coin machine distributorship, Advance Automatic Sales, had an idea for a new type of pingame which used 5 balls ("one-balls" were definitely out) and which scored replays by lighting numbers in a given pattern. He then challenged the industry to design games using his new idea. Read more about Bingo Pins

“Payout” Pinballs (gambling pins)

In 1933, Bally came out with ROCKET. It used electricity from "dry cell" batteries to power a mechanism which paid out coins directly to the player if he shot a ball into the proper holes on the playfield. Read more about Payout Pins

Baseball-themed machines became popular in the mid 1930s. Penny Arcade games used a bat to launch balls into a scoring mechanism. Pinball followed with a bat used to hit a pitched ball across the playfield to score runs. These batting mechanisms were the forerunner of the pinball flipper.

D. Gottlieb & Co.'s 1947 Humpty Dumpty was the first pinball machine to use flippers. Read more about Flippers

Harry Williams (while working for Pacific Amusement Company) invented the tilt mechanism in 1932. The idea behind the mechanism was to stop people from lifting and moving the machine, so they could "win" at it. Another milestone for pinball history; since without it, the newer machines would never have gained their popularity as a game of skill. Read more about TILT!

The Bally Bumper (1936) introduced pinball bumpers. They consisted of coiled springs that gave the ball the exciting ability to rapidly bounce around the playfield as it went from one spring bumper to the next. Just as ingenious though, Bally added a simple electric switch to the bumper springs that would be triggered each time the ball hit them. Read more about The Invention of the Bumper