Think for a moment about the impact of pinball. What is it that makes pinball such a sweeping phenomena that so many people enjoy? It is such a significant piece of recreation, and gaming history. So what do you know about it? What is the history of pinball?
I thought about these questions myself and did a little bit of research on multiple topics surrounding pinball, and found out some interesting facts I felt to share. I’ll also provide a link to the articles that I drew the information from.
My search began with finding the time period in which pinball originated. I assumed it was sometime in the 1940’s, giving The Who plenty of time to write their song Pinball Wizard. But, what most people say is that pinballs earliest incarnation could go all the way back to the 15th and 16th centuries.
The game known as bagatelle was invented sometime between 1650 and 1715. This game incorporated a narrow plank of wood, covered with stationary pins, and individual holes that made it a closer cousin of billiards when it was created.
The player would attempt to launch the ball and land it into the small holes on the board. Sometime after it was invented, a coiled spring and plunger were added to aid in launching the ball onto the feild of play, thus inching us closer to the scaffolding of pinball.
A man by the name of Montague Redgrave came along and patented the use of the spring and plunger to launch balls, as well as shrinking the bagatelle table to be table or bar compatible, and marbles were used for the balls.
From this point on pinball began to take shape and sometime in the 1930s someone had the idea to make them coin operated. This proved to be a larger issue than you would think as the government viewed this as a form of gambling.
It wasn’t until 1976, roughly 30 or more years after it was banned, that the pinball ban was lifted. The man responsible for the ban being lifted was Roger Sharpe who, through superior skill, proved that the game was indeed one of skills and not based on chance, thus not making it gambling.
Since that day, pinball as not stopped in it’s exponential growth. Collectors and enthusiasts alike can’t get enough pinball. If you want proof simply look at the numbers on the scoreboards
Learning more about the history of pinball has made me appreciate the game so much more. I think the pinball community is one full of great people, and the legacy that it has is one steeped in triumph. From its humble beginnings, to its tragic banning, to its inevitable return and rise, pinball will always hold a special place in the heart of those with supple wrists.
Pinball Games @ Flynn’s:
- Indiana Jones
- Black Knight 2000
- Roller Coaster Tycoon
- Tron Legacy
- JANUARY 6, 2016. CHRISTINE JOO. 5 Things you didn’t know about Pinball. Retrieved from https://www.modernismweekly.com/2016/01/06/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-pinball/
- Paul Cathill. Jul 24, 2017. Interesting Histories: Pinball. Retrieved from. https://medium.com/interesting-histories/interesting-histories-pinball-ae0df75b88d7