THE EARLY PINBALL BOOKS
By Russ Jensen
I will now attempt to describe, in as brief a form as I can and still convey the scope of each, the six pinball books which came out in the late 1970's. Up until that time, it should be noted, there had never been a book published on the subject of pinball machines. And after this "spate" of pinball books it was quite awhile before any other pin books were published.
PINBALL - AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY
The earliest, and hence the first of all pinball books, was published in 1976 by New American Library, was titled "Pinball - An Illustrated History", written by Canadian Michael Colmer. I can still remember the thrill of hearing of this book and how excited I was to get a copy. Of all the pinball books published, this was probably the least interesting, however, it was the first and exciting for that reason alone.
A large portion of the book consisted of photos of pinball machines, some of which were presented in "collage" form. A large majority of the photos were of playfields and backglasses of games of the 60's and 70's, many being full-page views (both in color and black and white). There were a handful of pictures of older machines and other pictures in pinball plants, etc.
The text began by telling about the Penny Arcades which sprung up around the Turn-of-the-Century. The start of prohibition, and the subsequent rise of "gangsters" and "bootlegger", was said to have spawned the use of coin machines such as slot machines, movie machines, etc. Problems connected with that environment were then described.
Some stories told by long-time Bally advertising manager Herb Jones were then related. One story concerned how the first pinball game came about. This was the often related story concerning a janitor building a small game for his child which caught the interest of an advertising solicitor from Billboard magazine. The story of Bally founder Ray Moloney, and his pioneer pingame BALLYHOO was also told.
The famous Gensberg family was then discussed. The early history of the family was related, followed by stories of how one brother founded Chicago Coin, while three other brothers started a competitive outfit, Genco Mfg. Co.
The early life of pin pioneer Dave Gottlieb was next described. It was told how he eventually founded D. Gottlieb and Co. in 1927 which was to become a leading manufacturer of pingames.
The "suppliers" to the pinball industry were next mentioned. Advertising Posters, the company that provided the artwork to many pin producers over the years, was described. That company's most famous artist, George Molentin, was quoted telling the story of how he first went to work for them in the early Thirties. Another outfit, the cabinet shop Clemenson's, was also mentioned.
Stories of "the good old days", told by old time industry pioneer Sam Wolberg, (co-founder of Chicago Coin) were next related. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his "New Deal" were next mentioned. The founder of the Daval company in the 30's was then quoted, telling how strongly he believed that the term "racket" should be eliminated from all references to his industry.
The "crackdowns" on gambling machines, occurring in the Thirties and early Forties, were discussed, including the infamous (at least to the pingame industry) Fiorello LaGuardia. It was told how even some vending machines were "persecuted" by the "crusaders", and that pingames became the "whipping boys" for over zealous crusading press and politicians.
Export of pins to Europe, the Far East, etc., was mentioned, it being said that England received about 60 percent of the exported games.
Technical innovations made to pingames during the 30's were described. These included the steel ball, electric lights and action devices, and solenoids and stepping switches. It was also mentioned that during that period pingame designers began to consider the "psychology" of pinball play.
It was then told how the advent of World War II stopped pinball production "for the duration", but spawned numerous "revamps" (conversion of pre-war games to different ones without the use of "war critical materials.")
The large demand for pingames after the war was said to not have persisted into the Fifties when the demand seemed to drop off, despite the invention of the flipper in 1947. In fact, it was said, during the 1950's several former pinball makers switched to other forms of coin machines.
The Johnson Act of 1951, which banned interstate shipment of gambling devices, was discussed. It was said that most pingames were unaffected by that law since they did not fall within the definition of "gambling devices" contained in the law. In 1962, it was then said, the law was changed to specifically exclude "amusement machines".
Some changes which occurred in the major pinball manufacturers where then mentioned. It was told how Bally almost went out of business, and finally became a "public company", and how in 1964 Williams took over United. Steve Kordek and Bob DeSelm of Williams were quoted on how they both believed that video games wouldn't last.
The subject of re-legalizing pins in the 1970's in cities such as New York, and also in Canada, was mentioned, the author saying that after many years pingames were finally "winning respectability".
Bally's Herb Jones was quoted regarding his thoughts on the future of the game. He said that the Government was slowly easing its attitudes on gambling, and that some states were even considering legalizing slots. He told of the growing number of amusement centers in the country, referring to them as "marketplace playlands", which he said were attractive to adults and kids alike. The growing popularity of pins in foreign countries was also mentioned.
In summary, the author said that coin-op amusement started as a "small shop enterprise" in the 1930's and grew into a "major international industry". He ended by saying that a "common zest for games" may bond people together in the future, possibly in all areas of the world.
The next of the "pin books" to come out was also published in 1976. It was titled "Pinball Portfolio", was published by Chartwell Books, and written by Englishman Harry McKeown. This was a large format book, which was beautifully done, and had in its "Classic Machines" section, some fantastic full-page color photographs of playfields and backglasses.
The first chapter, titled "The Beginning and Early Development", began by attempting to trace the "ancestry" of the pingame. It told of the Ancient Greeks having somewhat similar games, and then proceeded to talk about the popular 18th and 19th Century game of Bagatelle. That game's popularity with Louis XIV of France and its mention in Dickens's Pickwick Papers was mentioned, and also the famous political cartoon showing Abe Lincoln playing that game.
Several stories were then told about attempts at making pingame-like devices in the late 20's, including the story of the janitor and the Billboard solicitor. The first successful pingame was said to be Dave Gottlieb's BAFFLE BALL, followed shortly by Ray Moloney's BALLYHOO.
The early mechanical "counter top" pingames were said to have "swept the country", also becoming quite popular in Europe. The chapter ended by discussing "pingame advancements" occurring during the Thirties, including: the introduction of electricity (resulting in action components and lights), the introduction of the "bumper" in late 1936, and the use of backboards which increased in size during the later part of the decade.
The 2nd chapter, "The Final Phase", began telling of the advent of World War II, the wartime ban on new pingame production, and how the companies performed "war production" tasks. The first games to be produced after the war, Bally's one-ball VICTORY SPECIAL, and Gottlieb's STAGE DOOR CANTEEN were mentioned.
It was then told how the invention of the flipper in 1947 added "skill" to the game and "reestablished pins" as a popular amusement in bars, etc. The introduction of "thumper bumpers" also contributed to their popularity. By the mid 1950's, it was then commented, Gottlieb and Williams produced most of the flipper games, although Bally's BALLS-A-POPPIN' was also mentioned.
During the 1960's it was said that Add-A-Balls were introduced and that Bally restarted flipper game production in 1963. An increase in the foreign market at that time was also alluded to. It was said that no real "breakthroughs" occurred during the 60's and early 70's, yet player appeal was kept up with a few new ideas such as "free ball gates", targets, and "slingshot kickers".
As to what lay ahead for pins?, the author commented "only time will tell", saying that the manufacturers would not divulge their carefully guarded secrets.
Chapter 3, "The Legal Dilemma", began with the remark that pins in the U.S. have had legal problems, on and off, almost since their inception, but that in England the situation had been better. The first pins were said to be simple, entertaining, and a diversion in the troubled years of the Depression.
Then, in 1934, it was told how a "crackdown" on slot machines also affected the "payout pingames" which had begun to appear. Several articles on that subject from British coin machine trade magazines where then quoted.
The year 1935 was said to be the start of "the second decline of pinball", and the "one-ball games" of the period were then described. The introduction of "free games" was first said not to cause any problems, but that soon they were "adapted for gambling". The "third stage of decline" was then described which involved actions of 'crusaders' such as New York's mayor LaGuardia.
Pre-flipper games were said to not involve much skill. The introduction of flippers, however, introduced the skill factor and started a long uphill struggle for pins to gain respectability.
The Congress' 1963 hearings on gambling devices were described, followed by a brief discussion of some local anti-pinball ordinances. An argument against pingames by an Illinois official was then presented.
It was then stated that 'today' the differences between amusement and gambling pingames (bingos) was obvious. The chapter ended by describing how pingames were currently treated in England, the author thanking God for "British justice and fair play".
Chapter 4, "The Designers", began with Bally's Herb Jones describing "what makes a good machine". This included "a frenzy of dynamic ball action", innovations, and "surprises". He then added that a good game should have, among other things, "come close - try again appeal" and "terminal suspense". Several famous pin designers were then talked about.
Young Bally designer Jim Patla was said to have become a good player by playing prototype machines at the factory, and to have learned about pinball construction from taking them apart. Another Bally designer, Norm Clark, described his "methodical design approach", and also told of the strange ways he got new ideas for games.
Williams designer Steve Kordek (who it was said had then been designing games for 32 years) was quoted as saying he was never entirely satisfied with any design, always wanting to improve with the next one. He then gave some of his personal design philosophies. Chicago Coin designer Wendall McAdams then told how he came up with design ideas saying that much of it was intuition, but that certain "known features" must be included.
Herb Jones was again quoted, saying a pinball designer was like a music composer, arranging the "available technology" like the composer arranges the music notes. The whole process, from design to production, was then described, including original drawings, prototypes, "test locations", and final production.
The next chapter, "Classic Machines", first told how the six machines described were chosen, saying they were chosen by "selective judgement" - games which were "continually mentioned in conversations where 'great games' were discussed". Each game's features were described in detail, accompanied by the great full-page color photographs of playfields and backglasses mentioned earlier.
The games described were: COWPOKE (Add-A-Ball) - Gottlieb, 1965; MAGIC CITY - Williams, 1967; GIGI - Gottlieb, 1963; WIZARD - Bally, 1975; MAJORETTES (Add-A-Ball) - Gottlieb, 1964; and FIREBALL - Bally 1972.
Chapter 6, "Playing Pinball", began by saying that pinball has a "universal attraction", then listed a wide variety of occupations of people who play.
Later the importance of flipper and plunger techniques were described, followed by some "simple playing tips", including examining the playfield for problem areas and watching others play the game first. The chapter ended by describing various player's "stances" while playing.
The final Chapter, "Pinball Paraphernalia", consisted of a pictorial glossary of pinball terms and components.
The third pinball book to appear in the 1970's was "PINBALL" by Roger Sharpe, which was published by E.P. Dutton in 1977. I had become acquainted with the author about a year before the book's release, first by telephone and later in person. Roger was then, and still is, one of the truly dedicated pinball aficionados.
Roger's book was basically a "picture book", primarily devoted to photos of pinball being played and its location settings (both in the U.S. and abroad). The text was scattered throughout the book and not divided into chapters. The factual information was also indispersed with a narrative description of someone playing a pinball machine.
Roger began with his personal reflections concerning his association with the game from his first childhood "pin encounter" to his current endeavors and feelings about the game.
In order to describe the "man versus machine" aspects of pinball, Roger alluded to the well-known William Saroyan pin-related play "The Time of Your Life" and its pinball playing character, Willie.
After making the remark that pinball had a "long history", the author told of the early game of Bagatelle, the addition of a plunger to that game by Montegue Redgrave in the 1880's, and the Turn-of-the-Century counter-top pingame-like game LOG CABIN.
The early history of pinball pioneer Harry Williams was then discussed, telling how in the late 20's he had been fascinated by a coin-op game called JAI ALAI, and later began designing "replacement boards" (playfields) for early counter-top pins. His first entirely new game, a complex mechanical game called ADVANCE, was described and also Harry's connection with the "tilt".
The earlier history of coin-op games was again mentioned, including the use of mutoscopes and "strength testers", as well as mentioning the arcades which began appearing around the Turn-of-the-Century. Several early pingames, such as BILLIARD SKILL and WHOPPEE, were then described.
Some of the early history of pinball pioneers Dave Gottlieb and Ray Moloney was next told, including how Dave traveled through Texas in the late 20's selling punchboards and showing films. Dave's early pins BINGO and BAFFLE BALL were described, as well as Ray's pioneer pin BALLYHOO.
Following an "insert" on "bumpers", showing the first type of bumper and describing their development through the years, the author began describing some of the early pinball manufacturers. Genco, founded by the three Gensburg brothers, was said to have prided itself for "bringing out imitations of other company's games". Chicago Coin founder Sam Gensburg was then quoted telling how he started that company and reminiscing about some of their more popular games.
It was then told how Exhibit Supply had been producing arcade games (such as "claws" and "diggers") since 1901, then telling of some of their hit pingames of the early 30's. Mills Novelty, "the world's largest slot machine manufacturer", was said to have produced a few pins in the early 30's, including their well-known Mills' OFFICIAL.
The "booming" pinball business in 1933 was next described, mentioning Rockola's mechanical marvel, JIGSAW. That year was said to be the beginning of "payout pinballs", their competition with slot machines resulting in the beginning of much "legal trouble" for the pin industry for years to come. The story of Harry Williams and his first electric action game CONTACT was also related.
The growth of the pingame industry in the 1930's was further described, with most manufacturers being said to have been located in Chicago. The addition of backboards to pins was also mentioned, as well as the 1935 coin machine trade show at which "console games", like the famous PACE'S RACES horserace game, were first introduced.
During the 1935-41 period it was said that some companies (Rockola, Mills, Pace, etc.) dropped pingame production. The arcades of the period (often called "sportlands"), with their many pingames, were said to flourish. During that period it was also said that more legal problems occurred due to the "gambling stigma" that had been attached to pins, resulting in some cities, such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, banning pins altogether.
The World War II era was briefly discussed, including the wartime ban on new pingame production and the "revamps" of older machines which were created. When the war ended it was said that the pingame industry was in "bad shape" and that many of the pre-war pingame producers dropped out of the pinball business.
The invention of the flipper in 1947 by Gottlieb designer Harry Mabs was next discussed, it being said that that invention was "a giant step in pingame design", and that it helped to prove pinball to be a "game of skill".
The 1951 introduction of the "in-line" or "bingo" pingame was then commented on, the format of this new type of game being described. In was then told how the Supreme Court's 1956 "Korpan Decision" resulted in bingos being taxed and controlled as "gambling devices".
An "insert" describing the "free play" concept of pingames told the story of Harry Williams' assistant in the 1930's, Bill Bellah, inventing the first free play mechanism for pins.
The introduction of the "Add-A-Ball" pingame in 1960 was next described, it being said that they were a result of "anti-replay" laws which had been introduced in many localities to try to combat the bingo machines. Various laws restricting pingames were then described and some of the modifications to pins which resulted, such as "roll-down games" and "automatic plungers".
It was then said that pinball made "a slow, easy comeback by the late 1960's" with many of the restrictive laws being dropped by that time. The re-legalization of pinball in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago in the 1970's was then described. It was also remarked that pins have changed quite a bit over the years and are now "true skill games".
The author then changed to the subject of the use of pingames overseas. In Europe, where many pingames are exported, people were said to really love pinball. Differences between how Americans and Europeans play the game were then briefly discussed.
Turning to pingame design, the author said that it was truly a "creative process". Well known pingame designers and industry personnel, such as Sam Stern, Norm Clark, Steve Kordek, and Alvin Gottlieb, were then quoted as to their "design philosophies" and other ideas related to pingame design.
Next, the games produced by the four major manufacturers at that time (Bally, Gottlieb, Williams, and Chicago Coin) were described, the author enumerating various common characteristics of each company's games. This was followed by an "insert" on "how to play pinball".
Following an "insert" on pinball art great Roy Parker, the subject of "graphic design" was discussed, including a visit to long-time pinball artwork sub-contractor Advertising Posters. That company's art director George Molentin's description of the complete process of producing pinball artwork was then presented.
The invention of the video game by Nolan Bushnell with his pioneer game PONG was next described as well as the first "hybrid" video/pinball game, Allied Leisure's DYN-O-MITE. This was followed by a brief discussion of the introduction of the all solid-state pingame. The challenge of videos to pins was also mentioned.
On the subject of "home games", the author first mentioned the first home TV games of PONG and ODYSSEY. The home pinball games made by Brunswick, which were designed by Harry Williams, were then mentioned.
The statement was next made that "the public wants pins". It was then told how several of the pinball companies had recently been sold to other companies - Gottlieb to Columbia Pictures, Atari to Warner Communications, and Chicago Coin to Sam Stern to become Stern Electronics.
The movie Tommy was said to have promoted pinball to the public, and to have begun the era of "celebrity tie-in" games. On the subject "what does the future hold?", the author began by saying "no one can say for sure". He then commented that "the forces of change and development for pins are relentless".
The rise of pinball collecting was next mentioned along with mention of several stores across the country which catered to the "home market". This was followed by some advice on buying pingames for the home. A prominent pinball collector of the time, Sam Bergman, was then quoted on why he collected pingames.
The formation of "pinball leagues" was proposed by the author. Predictions were then made as to what the future might hold for pins. Several things were mentioned, including the inevitable to solid-state, and the possible use of multi-level playfields, "projection screen", and even "holograms". The author ended by saying that the pinball industry "is watching us (the players)" and that if there are changes made to pinball it's "because we want them".
The book ended with a Glossary, followed by several lists of pingames which have been produced over the years. First there was a "pre-war list" (1931-1941). This was followed by a list of "wartime conversions". Incidentally, all the data in that list came from my own personal research conducted one afternoon at the New York Public Library using wartime issues of Billboard magazine.
Separate "post-war lists" where provided for each of the four major manufacturers (Bally, Chicago Coin, Gottlieb, and Williams). That was followed by a list of games by several smaller and foreign manufacturers.
ALL ABOUT PINBALL
The next book to come out was titled "All About Pinball" and was published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1977. The authors were Steve Kirk and Bobyee Clair Natkin. Steve, a pinball enthusiast since childhood, is presently employed as a design executive with current pinball manufacturer Premier Technology. Ms. Natkin, his collaborator on the book, was a free-lance writer.
Of all the pinball books, I personally consider this one the "best overall" as it covers pinball from all aspects, including history, great detail of playing techniques, industry personalities, legal problems, and tournament play.
Chapter 1 began a discussion of pinball history by briefly describing the Turn-of-the-Century amusement parks and arcades which helped make coin machines popular. The public's need for diversion was then said to have been greatly heightened by the advent of the Great Depression.
The early counter-top pins were then said to be "simple games", which in a few cases offered "prizes" for high score as an "incentive" for players. This was said to cause a few legal problems for some of these early games. It was then told how the unemployed of the time became small operators. Chicago quickly became the center of the pingame industry.
Early predecessors of pingames were next described, including the early game of Bagatelle, a pin-like game by Charles Young in 1884, and two other early games, LOG CABIN and LITTLE MANHATTAN.
The year 1931 was said to be "the most important year for the 'nurturing' of the pingame industry", and that pingames had become a "craze" by year's end. Important games from 1931 were said to be: KAROM GOLF, KEW PIN BALL, WHOOPEE, and ROLL-A-BALL. Early terms for that type of game were then enumerated including "pigeon hole", "pin game", "marble machine", and "pin and ball" (pinball).
During this initial "boom", many small manufacturers were said to have started making pingames. After a short time, however, most dropped out again. But others, like Rockola, Pace, ABT, Jennings, etc., remained. Other important pin manufacturers of the 30's were said to be Pamco, Stoner, Daval, and Western Equipment and Supply. Important early manufacturers, who stayed in the business after World War II, were Bally, Gottlieb, Keeney, Exhibit, Genco and Chicago Coin.
Dave Gottlieb, his early history, and his "pioneer pins BINGO and BAFFLE BALL, as well as Ray Moloney (founder of Bally) and his BALLYHOO were next mentioned.
Early pingame artwork was then described, with a 1931 pin, PLA-GIRL, said to be the first use of "sex appeal" in pingame art. The influence of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, and its popularizing of the "Art Deco" style of art used on pins for years to come, was mentioned, along with the Fair related pin, Rockola's JIGSAW.
On the subject of technical innovations in the 1930's, the early "score totalizer" used on Bally's AIRWAY, and the conversion to electricity of pingames were first mentioned. The introduction of "payout pingames" was also referred to. Other innovations of the decade were said to be large backglasses, "cannons" (electric kickers), and forms of "animation".
Chapter 2 concluded the history discussion beginning with World War II, the wartime pin production ban, and the "war contracts" on which the pin factories worked during the war. The formation of United Manufacturing during the war, and their "revamps", was also mentioned.
The big demand for new pins after the war was next commented on as was Gottlieb's first post-war game STAGE DOOR CANTEEN. This was followed by the story of the invention of the flipper by Harry Mabs in 1947.
The 1950's was said to be the beginning of the "Space Age", with many "middle class" kids starting to spend their allowance money on pinball. Changing public attitudes towards pins were said to have resulted from the elimination of direct payout models, and the improvement in the locations in which the machines were then found.
The "Golden Age of Pinball" was said to have been dominated by Gottlieb with its art by the fabulous Roy Parker. Innovations which made the game more exciting were said to be such things as "pop bumpers", "kicking rubbers", and designer Wayne Neyens' innovations such as multi-player games and the "roto target".
In was then said that the 1960's continued to be an active period for the pingame industry with more foreign exporting and increases in players in this country as the "baby boomers" started playing pinball.
Also, social attitudes were said to be changing, with the 'work ethic' slowly giving way to a 'pleasure ethic'. It was then remarked that the movie Tommy increased the popularity of pins, both in this country and in England where British kids really liked to play. Tommy was also credited with introducing the term "wizard" into the pinball vocabulary.
It was also said that in the 60's and 70's the media (movies, TV, etc.) "helped make pins 'OK' again". The chapter ended by telling of the art themes of these two decades, saying that the "pop" and "op" art popular in the 60's "progressed" during the 70's. In was then remarked that during these two decades much of the pinball art themes came from movies and TV.
Chapter 3, The Basics, began by remarking about the importance of reading and understanding the game's instruction cards, and telling about how "replay settings" were often set by operators to match the "skill level" of a location's players.
Concentration on the game was said to be very important so that the player always knows "what he and the ball are doing". Proper player stance was also described.
The chapter ended by discussing some important playing techniques, including various types of "nudging", proper flipper technique, and finally advice to the player to "keep your eye on the ball".
Chapter 4, "Understanding the Instructions", gave an example of how to interpret a typical game instruction card using Gottlieb's SPIRIT OF '76 as an example. Each line of the card was interpreted, and compared to corresponding playfield features where applicable.
Chapter 5, "Ball Control", began by describing the use of the "shooter gauge" and various plunger release techniques. Basic flipper techniques were then described in detail, aided by illustrations. These included "setting up a shot", the "pass flip", the "deflect pass", the "dead flipper bounce", and the "back flip".
Advanced flipper techniques were then described including: "return lane transfer", "tap transfer", "reflection post transfer", "stop shot", "back flip from a trap", "hop stop", and "dead flipper relay shot". Following that, two advanced plunger techniques ("extra on 'thumb shot'" and "playing the arch") were described.
Chapter 6, "Strategy", began by saying that some information about a game's scoring is found only on the playfield and not on the instruction card, while other scoring can be found only during play.
A typical "play strategy", again using SPIRIT OF '76 as the example game, was then described. The difference between 3 and 5 ball play was also discussed.
Chapter 7, "Pinball Pioneers", presented information about several pioneer pinball personalities, as well as about some important early manufacturers. Dave Gottlieb's personal characteristics were first described, followed by some facts about his company's history.
Harry Williams' early history was next outlined, and two of his important early games, SIGNAL and CONTACT, were described. This was followed by a discussion of his later accomplishments, including the formation of United and Williams Manufacturing. Bally's founder Ray Moloney was next described including some of his personal traits and accomplishments.
The career of Sam Stern was then outlined, including how he first began as an operator in the early 30's, later to join up with Harry Williams in the late 40's, and finally to form Stern Electronics in 1977. A brief history of pioneer pin maker Chicago Coin was then presented. This was followed by the story of how the three Gensberg brothers founded Genco in the early 30's, moved to Las Vegas in 1956 and started the Riviera, Genco finally merging with Chicago Coin in 1959.
Designer Lyn Durant was said to be "one of pinball's most brilliant designers", his career then being described. Another pioneer company, Exhibit Supply, and its founder J. Frank Meyer, were then briefly discussed The chapter ended with the mention of three other pioneer pin makers, Rockola, Mills, and Keeney.
Chapter 8, "Legality", began with the remark that there was "little skill" required in playing pre-flipper pins". The payout pins which began in the mid 30's were then described, followed by the advent of "free games". The fact that some 30's pins were considered to be "games of chance" was said to have caused some negative public sentiment and also result in early "legal difficulties" for the game.
Even with the addition of flippers in 1947 it was said that many people confused flipper games with the gambling type "bingo" pins which began to appear in the early 1950's. This was illustrated by describing an article in Better Homes and Gardens which showed how "crusaders" were using "misinformed scare tactics" to try to get rid of pins. That article was compared to another article in the Annals of the American Association of Social and Political Sciences which was said to have "told the true side of the story".
(NOTE: the former article was described in my previous COIN SLOT article "Pinball Literature (Part 1)", the later being described earlier in this article)
Laws regulating (or banning) the use of pingames in various jurisdictions were next described. The court case in the 70's which resulted in the relegalization of pingames in Los Angeles was then described in much detail, including the testimony of Harry Williams and an experiment set up in court by a PHD psychologist, with the judge finally ruling in favor of the games saying he found "nothing immoral or injurious in the game".
The chapter ended with the author remarking that as far as kids playing pins was concerned, he saw nothing wrong with it, commenting that watching TV or spending their allowance on candy was far worse for a child.
Chapter 9, "Etiquette", began by saying that pinball should be played as a "serious sport", and playing was an "engrossing activity". Bystanders were warned that it was impolite to bother the player or his machine. Setting a coin on top of the glass to signify that a person wants to play next was suggested, but it was added that the person playing should be allowed to continue as long as he wants, although he could out of courtesy give others a chance.
Chapter 10, "Tournaments and Associations", started out by telling how a player should practice before competing in a tournament. It was said that at that time no "standards" or "procedures" for tournaments had been established. After describing how tournaments should be organized, the chapter ended by describing the then current "Pinball Association of America", the book's author, Steve Kirk, being the current President.
The final chapter, titled "The Future", began by remarking that "pins keep getting better all the time". The "pros" and "cons" of the of the solid-state pins that were just emerging were next discussed. The demand for "home games", and the current home version of Bally's FIREBALL, was then mentioned.
The new modern arcades of the time were described, as was the attention that pinball was receiving in the "media" (movies, TV, etc.). Finally, it was said that in the future we should look for an increase in home pingames, concepts such as "multi-level playfields", and games with "selectable difficulty". It was also said that the size and shape of pingames might change in the future. The book ended with the usual Glossary of pinball terms.
The fifth pinball book to be released in the 1970's was simply titled "Tilt", written by Jim and Candace Tolbert, and published by Creative Arts Books in 1978. On a personal note - if it hadn't been for this book's authors you probably wouldn't be reading this article since Candace Tolbert was the person who first asked me to try writing for publication, my first article appearing in the Tolbert's short-lived publication Amusement Review in 1978.
This book was primarily aimed at the person who owned (or wanted to purchase) their own pingame, to give them information on the "care and feeding" of their machine, along with a little historical insight into its past.
Chapter 1, "First Up", began with a narrative description of a typical pinball play scenario. It was then stated that at one time pingames were associated with "gambling", but that today many are found in homes and the book was intended to help owners of such machines to get "higher enjoyment from their games". It was pointed that the home buyer was confronted with several choices when it comes to what game to purchase, especially with the new solid-state pins which were just beginning to appear.
Chapter 2, "Special When Lit", began by talking about the choices available to the home game buyer, including new "home models", as well as many types of older commercial models which could also be purchased. Various sources of games were then described including "private parties" advertising in the "want ads", dealers catering to the "home market", and amusement machine distributors and operators.
Some things to consider in order to get a "good game" were next discussed including making sure the game has a "good feel" to you while playing it, that you like its artwork and "theme", and telling how to carefully inspect a game before purchase. Older games were said to often be a "good investment", the subjects of "originality" and "refurbishment" then being addressed.
The subject of price was briefly discussed, it being pointed out that the price paid for a game was governed by condition, availability, and the "situation" of the seller. The method of disassembling a game before moving it was then described in detail.
Under the heading "Making Your Pin Feel at Home" the authors described the tools you should have to service your game, told about the space required for it, and how to level the game. An "insert" titled "Basic Care and Feeding of Your Pinball Machine", then gave some general pointers on how to clean and make various adjustments to the game, and some basic things to keep in mind when you are required to troubleshoot a problem.. More detail information of "personalizing" adjustments (replay levels, bells on/off, match, etc) were then described.
Two inserts, one on "Schematic Abbreviations and Symbols" and another giving details of the game's "Credit (replay) Unit" were next presented. This was followed by a section titled "Keeping Your Pin Happy" which began by recommending "periodic maintenance checks" and then described playfield maintenance techniques. Inserts were then provided describing soldering techniques; cleaning, adjusting, gaping and point replacement for switches; and details of "step-up units".
The underside of the playfield was next discussed, including lamp replacement and details on flipper operation and adjustment. There were also several inserts describing adjustment procedures for "slingshots", flipper and rollover buttons, targets (normal, drop, and spinner), "rollunder gates", rollovers, "eject holes", and "thumper bumpers".
The lightbox area and its maintenance was also described, including cleaning the score reels, adjustment of the associated switches, and common problems concerning score reels and their solutions. The operation and uses of relays and score motors were then described.
Some tips on "preventative maintenance" were next presented, including checking for loose wires and parts, faulty connectors, and fuse problems. The chapter ended describing the types of pinball "mechanics" who are available for help if you can't find the problem in your game.
Chapter 3, "For Amusement Only", described the history of the pinball machine. After briefly discussing Turn-of-the-Century and early coin machines which were similar to the pingames of the early 30's, pioneer pingames such as DUTCH POOL and EL BUMPO. were described.
Dave Gottlieb and his early game BAFFLE BALL, and Bally founder Ray Moloney and his BALLYHOO were next described. The beginning of early pinball "operators", and how early pins helped them and the locations to survive, were discussed, as well as how Chicago became the center of game manufacturing.
Harry Williams' early pinball endeavors were next described, including how he first designed "replacement" playfields, later designing the first electric action pin, CONTACT. It was also told how he helped perfect the replay mechanism and later founded both United and Williams in the 1940's.
Various pingame manufacturers of the early 30's were described, including some of their games. Changes to pins occurring during that decade were said to be the addition of legs, the invention of bumpers, and the beginning of lighted backboards. An insert titled "Little Known Milestones" described a game by a California outfit in the early 30's which had six "flipper-like paddles" controlled by player-operated handles.
The "legal struggle" for pins occurring during the 30's was next discussed, which was said to begin with the introduction of "payout pins" which were called "the industry's answer to gambling machines". These games were soon outlawed in many places and other pins were said to have suffered due to "guilt by association", politicians often using these games as "scapegoats". Licensing and taxing problems also resulted from this situation.
The World War II era was next described, including "war theme games", the "war contracts" the pin plants worked on, the "revamp" games which emerged during the war, and how pinball technology was used in war-related equipment. After the war ended it was told how many pre-war pin manufacturers got out of the business.
Inserts in this chapter described how Bally's Herb Jones defended his games and his industry against wartime critics, told about the pin-related play/movie "The Time of Your Life", and described United's 1941 game BIG PARADE and the industry greats who participated in its creation.
Describing the post-war years it was first noted that "pins needed something new to survive". This was accomplished by Harry Mabs' invention of the flipper in 1947 adding "skill" to the game, which then became known as "flipper games". This was said to begin to help pins to regain "public trust", but another setback in this area occurred when "bingo pinballs" emerged in the early 50's.
Legal problems with "replays", which occurred due to the bingos, were said to have been overcome in some locations by Gottlieb's introduction of the "Add-A-Ball" game in 1960. The 1951 Johnson Act, and its effect on pingames and gambling devices, was also discussed, it being said that it somewhat helped flipper games gain respectability since they were not included in it.
After a mention of the start of pinball collecting, the chapter ended by describing the then new solid-state pins.
Chapter 4, "It's More Fun to Compete", began by telling how the game had been studied by sociologists, psychologists, educators and the like, and how pinball art had been captured on posters, fabrics, etc. The game was then said to be becoming a "new competitive sport". Some pinball associations and tournaments were then described.
An insert titled "Pinball Vista" told how employees of a San Francisco pinball distributorship developed a typewriter for the handicapped using pinball technology. The art of the backglass was then discussed, including how art lovers and historians appreciate it. Another insert then followed giving the lyrics to a song ("Amarillo") which made reference to pinball.
Media attention to pinball over the years was then described referring to magazine articles from 1942, 1974, 1975, and 1977. Manufacturer's promotional campaigns were next mentioned, including the use of sports figures and other personalities.
Other inserts in the chapter covered the invention of the first video game (PONG) by Nolan Bushnell, a comparison between old and new pingame features, and exporting and importing of pingames. The chapter ended by describing the recent merger of Gottlieb into Columbia Pictures.
The final chapter, "Bonus", began by describing what it takes to become a good player, including practice, getting acquainted with the characteristics of the game, plunger shots, use of "body English", and keeping your eye on the ball. Accomplished players were said to use "a combination of balance, effort, and style".
Some "alternate play methods" were next described. These included two players playing a single-player game, alternating after each ball, and keeping their own scores for two consecutive games; and shooting for lowest score. Players were then advised to notify the location's management about malfunctioning games, and to treat games "with respect" and to encourage others to do the same.
The chapter ended with a list of things the authors said that pin people know. They said that playing pinball increases your power of concentration, expands imagination, furthers self-confidence, and promotes healthy competition. The book ended with the usual Glossary, an Appendix listing pingame manufacturers, and Bibliography.
SPECIAL WHEN LIT
The final pinball book to be released in the 1970's, and the last for many years to come, was "Special When Lit", by Canadian Ed Trapunski, published by Dolphin Books in 1979. I had the pleasure of meeting the author when he visited my home during preparation for the book. Ed was a thoroughly enjoyable fellow with a real dedication to pingames.
The first chapter, "A Mere Bagatelle", began with a brief discussion of pinball's early origins, telling about the Ancient Greeks, the use of the early game of Bagatelle by Louis XIV and its mention by Charles Dickens in Pickwick Papers, and how it was brought to America in the early 1880's. The Turn-of-the-Century pin-format game, LOG CABIN, was then described and how a "coin machine craze" was begun early in this century.
After discussing some early 30's pingames such as WHOOPEE, Dave Gottlieb and his pioneer pin BAFFLE BALL and Ray Moloney and his BALLYHOO were described. Small factories to produce pingames were then said to have sprung up in the early 30's, while some older coin machine manufacturers (Mills, Jennings, Exhibit, etc.) also started making pins. It was then said that Chicago became "the hub of the industry".
Chapter 2, "Playing Your Blues Away", continued describing the pins of the 1930's, the author beginning by remarking that "pins were to the 30's what 'fast food' was to the 60's". (Incidentally, Ed certainly knew something about 'fast food' because he told me that his wife was currently writing a book on that very subject while he was preparing his).
At first, it was said, pingames were sold by mail order, but soon distributors began taking over the selling function, and by 1935 the "four tier system" (manufacturer, distributor, operator, and location) was firmly in place. After describing the personal traits of some of the early operators, Dave Gottlieb's traits and personality was mentioned.
The early "counter games" with their simple mechanisms were then said to have been very popular, but some people only thought them to be a "passing fad". Intense competition between manufacturers was then said to be responsible for many new novel ideas which appeared in the early games.
Significant innovations to pins which came about during the first half of the 30's were described, including the change to steel balls, addition of legs, the score totalizer, and the introduction of the bumper and backboards. The switch to electric power, of course, was also described, as well as the early career of Harry Williams who started it all.
Some industry feuds of the period were described. It was also said that by the mid 30's many of the small manufacturers folded and the industry "settled down". By the end of the decade, it was said, over 5000 different models had been produced, but that World War II stopped pin production "for the duration".
Chapter 3, "An Intimate Industry", began by saying that the war didn't kill pins and told how Harry Williams and Lyn Durant formed United during the war, Harry breaking away a year later and forming Williams Manufacturing. After the war ended it was remarked that the pingame industry was "rather sluggish" which caused some of the pre-war pin manufacturers to switch to other types of coin machines.
The story of how Chicago Coin was founded in the early 30's was told by founder Sam Gensberg, including the continuous rivalry over the years between that firm and Genco which was founded by three of Sam's brothers.
This was followed by information on "transitions" by the major pin makers - the change in Bally's leadership to Bill O'Donnel after Ray Moloney's death, the Williams ownership change to Seeburg in the early 60's, and the sale of Gottlieb to Columbia Pictures in the mid 70's. The chapter ended by telling how many games were produced each year by the major manufacturers.
Chapter 4, "The Era of Innovation", started out telling how post-war games became "more complex" with the addition of action devices such as flippers, pop bumpers, and "slingshot kickers". The "gambling vs amusement machine controversy" was next discussed, including how the old "one-ball" gambling pins were eliminated in the early 50's, but quickly replaced by the new "bingos".
Other innovations to pins which were introduced during the 50's and 60's were said to be "drop in" coin chutes, multi-player games and score reels, the "outhole bonus", metal legs/rails, and the "automatic ball return". Other changes to pins such as the "match feature", "Add-A-Ball" games, and targets were also discussed.
The flipper, said to be "the ultimate accomplishment of pin technology", was then described in detail, including its effect on the game itself (pins even became known as "flipper games"), its various uses, placements, and later modifications/improvements.
New manufacturers which started in the 70's, such as Allied Leisure and Stern Electronics were described, as well as several foreign manufacturers of the period. Following this, the results of a survey of what people thought the outstanding characteristics were of the games produced by the three major U.S. manufacturers (Bally, Williams, and Gottlieb) was then described. Williams games were judged the best, Gottlieb was a close second, with Bally in third place.
After discussing the use of pins in various foreign countries, the chapter ended by telling where pingames were most often found in the U.S., it being said that it is normally where "young people congregate", but also stating that pins were especially popular in "southern states".
Chapter 5, "The Science of Player Appeal", dealt with pingame design. It began by stating the old adage of pingame designers "the next game is the best one". After briefly describing the large amount of "secrecy" which has always been practiced in the industry, the "free-lance inventors" who came up with many of the novel ideas for early pingames were mentioned.
After describing the "engineering rooms" of the modern pinball plants, many of the important designers' (such as Norm Clark, Ted Zale, Steve Kordek, Wayne Neyens, etc.) design philosophies, etc. were discussed. This was followed by a fictitious "scenario" describing how a typical game design might proceed.
Next, the subject of game naming and themes was brought up, followed by how designs were tested before release to the public. Various typical playfield components were then described, followed by mention of the production process. The chapter ended with a brief discussion of sound producing components such as bells and knockers.
Chapter 6, "The Art of the Backglass", began by quoting designer Wayne Neyens on how colors affect players. It was then told how the early games had no backglass and little artwork, then describing the "first" backglass. This was followed by mention of the "Art Deco" style of art used on most games in the 30's, which it was said was popularized by the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.
The use of lights behind the backglass was then mentioned, followed by a discussion of producing glasses by "silk screening" and the pioneer pingame art sub-contractor Ad Posters.
The art of the two most famous pingame artists, Roy Parker and George Molentin, was next described, followed by a discussion of the various types of scenes depicted on the glasses, including the use of women and "satire" prevalent in Parker's art. It was then said that pinball art reached its "peak" in the 1950's.
After telling of the 'animation' used on pinball backglasses since the late 30's, the idea for which was said to have come from neon signs, Bally artist of the 70's, Dave Christensen, was mentioned including his praise of Roy Parker's work.
After quoting artist George Molentin comparing pinball art of the 50's with that of the 70's, the chapter ended by describing the traveling "Tilt Exposition" presented in Canada in the 70's. This was followed by a brief discussion of the connection between pingame "themes" are artwork.
Chapter 7, "The Perverter of Innocent Children", dealt with pinball's "legal problems" over the years. It began by reminding us of the "bad guy image" of pingames portrayed in many 30's "gangster movies" where the mobsters force the owner of the small New York City "candy store" to take a pingame to "fleece" the kids from the nearby school.
A series of news stories, articles, etc., over the years concerning pingames was next described, including an "anti-Bagatelle" reference in an 1892 book, a 1937 news story of a kid stealing so he could play pinball, a 1950's "Citizen's Crime Commission" report saying "pins are really slot machines in disguise", and the Better Homes and Gardens anti-pin article in the 1950's. A "pro-pinball" article appearing in the Toronto Star in 1976 was also described.
It was then said that large Department Stores were behind the anti-pin movement of the early 30's because pingames helped their competitors the "small store" owner. After telling how some pins in the 30's and 40's were used for gambling (including the use of the "knock-off button" to allow "free games" to be paid off) the difference between amusement machines and gambling devices was described.
The split between the gambling and amusement machine factions of the coin machine industry, which began in the 1950's after bingos were introduced, was next discussed. It was then told how Bally got back into the flipper game business in 1963.
The industry was said to be trying to "spruce up its image", but that some manufacturers are "still afraid of law enforcement". It was then said that there was not much in the "media" at that time to "sell pinball to the public", and that there was still some "public resentment" toward the game.
Pingames, however, were said to be finally beginning to gain respectability, especially because there were few bingos left. The 1976 Los Angeles court case which legalized pins in that city was next discussed, followed by mention of the subsequent re-legalization of pingames in New York City and Chicago. The chapter ended with the statement that "after 45 years pinball was finally becoming respectable".
Chapter 8, "Why Do People Play?", began quoting Bally's Herb Jones on several reasons, followed by a quote from a famous philosopher on why people play games. The William Saroyan play "The Time Of Your Life" was then mentioned.
Playing pinball was said to give the player "a rush", and the game itself was likened to a "pool hustler". Some of the goals of pingame designers, such as "last ball suspense", etc., were then described.
After describing some of the many types of people who play pinball, the results of some Japanese research were given which concluded "pins offer the masses a means to express anger over poverty".
After some discussion of the "man versus machine" aspects of pinball play, the use of pins in the home was touched on. Some ideas were then presented concerning how players think of pinball, saying some think the machine is "almost human" and describing the machine as "a true pal which never gets angry at you" even if you beat it badly.
Mention of a "sexual element" in pinball was followed by reference to the pinball article in the December 1972 issue of PLAYBOY which I described in a previous article. The chapter ended with a remark that the game of pinball is "a constant challenge".
Chapter 9, "Step Right Up, A Winner Every Time, presented a description of various game features and the play of a game in the form of a "come on" by a "carnival barker" to a prospective player.
Chapter 10, "Fixing Your Machine", began by describing the "home market" for pingames including where you might buy pins (home oriented dealers, distributors, operators, etc.) and what you might be expected to pay for a game. A potential buyer was then cautioned to try out a game before buying it because you must have the "proper individual feeling" regarding the era of the game and its play characteristics in order to fully enjoy playing it for a long time.
Keeping your machine in "good shape" was next discussed, including "preventive maintenance", cleaning/waxing, lubrication and leveling. How to replace lamps and service bumpers and kickers was then briefly described.
It was pointed out that the game's circuitry should be considered as "groups of simple circuits" as displayed on the schematic diagram. Logical fault isolation techniques were then touched on, followed by descriptions of some common problem symptoms and their solutions.
After a brief discussion of "switch adjustment", the chapter ended with a safety warning regarding electric shock hazards.
The final chapter, "The Technology of Tomorrow", began by telling how Gottlieb had a long time resistance to media publicity, but that the movie "Tommy" helped to improve pinball's public image.
Modern arcades were then described, including Bally's "Aladdin's Castle" chain, and more women were said to enjoy playing pins than ever before.
After talking about "price inflation" in the games business (higher manufacturing costs, machine costs, location overhead costs, and charge per game) the switch from 5 ball to 3 ball play. This was followed by a brief discussion of the new solid-state games, it being remarked that players were "still not sure about these new games".
After stating that "videos will never attain the endurance of pins", the chapter ended by saying that pingames were becoming more and more sophisticated as time goes on. The book ended with the usually pinball Glossary.
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