Pinball Reference Guide Review


By Russ Jensen

In this column in May, mention was made of "a soon to be published list" (of pinball machines). Well, that event has occurred! The Mead Company (21176 So. Alameda St., Long Beach, CA 90810), publishers of coin machine related literature, including the monthly magazine Loose Change, recently released PINBALL REFERENCE GUIDE.

The publication is a major contribution to the world of pinball. The first professionally printed list of its scope, it is in an easy-to-use size that can be carried everywhere--a must for anyone interested in pinball machines, old and new.

This fascinating booklet, compiled by pinball enthusiasts Donald Mueting and Robert Hawkins, names over 2,500 machines-"2,S00 pinballs you've always wanted to date." The list spans 49 years and includes standard and multiple coin pinball machines ("one balls" and "binges") as well as many baseball ("pitch and bat") machines.


Many of the games also have a footnote reference. Eleven pages of these notes are found at the end of the book and they give much valuable information about the history and development of pinball. A four-page list of 196 manufacturers is included, providing a cross-reference to the manufacturer abbreviations used in the listing.

Co-author Don Mueting, a computer professional in the aerospace industry, is a tireless researcher who has devoted countless hours in the last several years to this project. He is a stickler for accuracy and is constantly updating his information, working already on additions and corrections for a possible future update. Rob Hawkins, a high school electronics teacher, wrote his masters thesis, "History of the Pinball Machine" in August 1976, which could be considered the first book on pinball machines. Joining forces with Don last year, Rob contributed much information from his vast collection of researched material gathered in preparation of his thesis. These two people, with inputs from all over the world, have made a significant advance in pinball history research.

The booklet is in a 4"x7" "pocket site" format of 70 pages. It retails for %7.95 postpaid. The guide begins with a brief introduction of the purpose, content, and preparation of the list. The 47-page alphabetical listing of machines includes the manufacturer and date of release (including month, if known). Games from 1929 through 1978 are included.

The final publication of this listing has special significance to this writer as the gathering of information for it has been a "pet project" of mine for the last several years. As a matter of fact, all of my research into microfilm of back issues of Billboard magazine has gone directly into this project.


To many "old-timers" in the industry, the guide will be a "memory book" as perusing the list will no doubt cause recollections of events connected with the design, production, and operating of certain machines. For players, names on the list will trigger the memory of their favorite and most challenging "pinball adversaries." And for collectors, the new publication will represent both a "wish list" and a valuable source of information to document "new finds."

Finally, a bit of useless pinball trivia I've compiled while perusing the list. The names of approximately 16 percent of all pinball machines ever made begin with the letter "S". The second most popular letter--"B"--is used in only 10 percent of the names. This also means that over one fourth of all pinball names start with either B or S. The frequent use of the letter S is not so surprising, however, when you stop to consider the many words starting with the letter that are very popular in pinball themes such as: Score, Sea, Shoot, Show, Silver, Skill, Sky, Space, Speed, Sport, Spot, Star, Super, and Sweet.

I hope many of you pinball fans will buy and enjoy this booklet as it is one of the best things in the line of pinball history to be published to date.

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