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

Above, Fred McClellan's daughter Marie stands between Richard Conger (left) and Michael Schiess to admire a CONTACT at the Pacific Pinball Museum. Read more about Enter Electricity

People who know pinball know Chicago is the center of the pinball universe and the city where the majority of pinball companies created the majority of the world's games. But in the early days, California contributed new designs, the latest technological advances, and sure-fire money making hits.1933 was the year that California turned Pinball on its ear. Read more about California’s Place in Pinball History

While bagatelles were basically tabletop devices, the first true pinball machines came into existence with the addition of legs in 1932. The object of the game was still to get a plunger-launched ball into the desired hole on the playing surface, but with the games now waist-high, standing players were able to "nudge" the machine and thereby change the ball's trajectory. Read more about Transition To Pinball As We Know It Today

Baffle Ball
David Gottlieb's Baffle Ball marked the first major success in coin-operated pinball. D. Gottlieb & Company produced and sold around 55,000 units of this game, probably the second highest sales figure in history. Read more about Baffle Ball

An essential but easily overlooked component to bagatelles, and ultimately pinball machines, occurred with the invention of the coin mechanism. The coin-op industry began when in 1889 entrepreneurs Louis Glass and William S. Arnold invented a five cent coin mechanism and attached it to an Edison cylinder phonograph, thereby creating the world's first jukebox. Read more about The Coin Mechanism

The photo above pre-dates Montague Redgrave's 1870 Improvement in Bagatelles patent, proving that he had inspiration for the ball shooter design. This machine is part of the permanent collection at the German Historical Museum in Berlin.
Ball Shooter
Read more about Montague Redgrave's 1870 Improvement in Bagatelle Patent


Raymond Maloney (a Gottlieb Distributor) was frustrated at not being able to get enough Baffle Balls (which were priced at 17.50, and sold over 50,000 units), so he formed his own company. The new Pinball Company was Lyon Manufacturing, and it manufactured the Maloney design, BALLYHOO. Read more about Ballyhoo

A party thrown in 1777 for the French King Louis XVI introduced the game of Bagatelle to the French nobility. Neither yet older than 25, the young king and his brother, Compte d'Artois, held the party at d'Artois' estate named Chateau d'Bagatelle outside Paris. Bagatelle took its name from his estate, as soon every aristocrat in France had a table made and told others where they'd played. Read more about Bagatelle