Posted July 14, 2005

The Pinball Story




Ballyhoo Designed By Raymond T. Moloney

Screen Book Magazine - Claudette Colbert (1932)


The Beginning of the Coin-Operated Industry



Coin-Operated Industry The coin-operated industry started in 1930 with the (first) Whiffle Board / Pinball invented by : Arthur L. Paulin with the second Whiffle Ball game invented by Arthur Paulin, which both Whiffle Baord and Whiffle Ball having great success and then later in 1931 with the mass production of both the Whiffle Board and the Ballyhoo Pinball. Here is some information on the first "pinball machine" which was invented in 1930 by Arthur Paulin and mass produced by him and by Automatic Industries known as the "Whiffle Board". Here is the Whiffle Board story by the granddaughter of Arthur Paulin who was the inventor of the Whiffle Board and the original Whiffle Board is still with the family. From the voice of the Granddaughter Karen Hollerman Kettering of (Mr. Arthur Paulin, Whiffle Board Inventor of the Whiffle Board): The first Whiffle Board ever made was for my mother, Lois Paulin, as a little girl. My mother is still alive and is now 82 years old. We have kept it all these years. She gave me all Whiffle Board paper work and the story of the game. Our family has heard all of the different stories out there, and most are not true. We have stayed in the background and have never said or corrected any stories until now. The reason why we are speaking now is that my mother is getting up in years and she wants the true story to be told. I will attach a picture file of the Whiffle Board that I now own. Believe or not . . it still work great!!! The very first Whiffle Board Arthur Paulin - Inventor Arthur Paulin and his daughter Lois Paulin 01.10.09 Here is the true story. I would love it if you could correct it on your web site. From: Granddaughter, Karen Hollerman Kettering of (Mr. Arthur Paulin, Whiffle Board Inventor of the Whiffle Board): THE TRUE STORY OF THE WHIFFLE BOARD GAME AKA PINBALL GAME Whiffle Board is the very first 'Pinball Machine'. Photo: Original Whiffle Board Game (First Prototype: 1930) Arthur Paulin (Whiffle Ball Inventor) Photo: Original Whiffle Board Game (First Prototype: 1930) Arthur Paulin (Whiffle Board Inventor) (click on photo's for enlargement) Whiffle Board (front side) (click on photo's for enlargement) Whiffle Board (back side) (click on photo's for enlargement) Whiffle Board (back side indentations - soft nail dots) Arthur Paulin (Whiffle Board Inventor) Arthur Paulin a carpenter, was cleaning out his old barn Christmas time 1930, when he came across an old dusty board with carved out holes and about 30 nail in it. It looked as if it was about 50 years old. He looked at this board for a few days and played around with it until he came up with what we now know as the 'Whiffle Board'. It was during the Great Depression when Youngstown was in the midst of economic disaster due primarily to the closing of local steel mills. Money was so tight for Arthur Paulin that he decided to make this board game up for his daughter Lois Paulin as a Christmas gift. Arthur Paulin (Photo: First Whiffle Board Invented) Arthur Paulin with Daughter, Lois Paulin His daughter loved it so much that she invited her friends to come over and play this fun board game. Well, next thing you know there was a line all the way around the house, kids waiting to play this board game! A neighbor of Paulin's came over and told him he thought he had something big here! Paulin took the board game to a friend of his, Myrl A. Park who operated a radio shop. Paulin asked Park, "If I make another one, could I sell it in your shop." Park was not optimistic about the idea. Park said, "You should put a coin device on it, let them pay to play." Paulin like that idea, and took the board game to another friend Earl W. Froom. Froom was an electrical salesman, he took the board game home and came up with a coin device for it! Paulin, Froom, and Park made a number of experiments with the board which they dubbed as "Old Jenny". Finally they decided they had it perfected. Encased with a glass top, four legs, the board had a sloping playfield, a sliding panel to drop the balls in at the start of the game, and a spring plunger to shoot the balls. The idea was to put a nickel in the coin device and that would entitle you to ten (10) balls, nine (9) white marbles, plus a red one which counted double in points. You would "shoot" to one end of the board and then the balls rolled down the board again and were deflected into various holes by nails in the board. The three men put the board game in a local General Store to test it out. After one hour they counted the money from the coin device - $2.60! The men couldn't believe it! Paulin said, "Let's build ten of these." On January 28th, 1931 the three men went into partnership. Arthur Paulin was President, and was in charge of construction and manufacture with 1/3 partnership. Earl Froom was Vice President and in charge of sales also with 1/3 partnership. Myrl Park came to assist Paulin and Froom with 1/6 partnership and another man William Howell who was in charge of all records (secretary) came in as 1/6 partnership. The company was born! They called it Automatic Industries. All four men signed a joint note for $300.00 at the Youngstown Bank, the proceeds of which will be the working capital to be expended for material and stock in trade of said company. (Documents with Paulin family) The men rented a second floor of a building. But soon grew out of it! They decided to rent a house, and again grew out of that. They were making so much money Froom said, "We've got to pinch ourselves every once in a while to figure out whether we are dreaming." The men decided to build there own building because the orders were coming in from everywhere. Automatic Industries was shipping these Whiffle Boards to every state in the union. They sold territory rights to dozens of people all over the country. Some of these people were the most prominent of men in the country. The company would book orders averaging 27,000 boards a year! Within a few years, they had passed the $250,000 mark for contracted Whiffle Board games! At that time, the company employed 53 men in the shop, 11 men and 2 ladies to do the office work. Arthur Paulin said, "I love what I do, but what makes my heart feel good is that I am able to give 66 people jobs during the depression!" (Documents with Paulin's family) Bad times ahead - People and there mothers got on the bandwagon and tried to recreate the Whiffle Board. A Chicago game manufacturers began producing copies of the game, and that the 'generic name' for these machines eventually became "Pinball Game". 'Ballyhoo and Bingo were the biggest to try to stake claim as the inventors of the first coins devise board games'. A company in North Carolina actually started coping WHIFFLE, and went so far as to put Automatic Industries on them. It got so bad that racketeers got involved with the games business and that they would often smash up other operator's games on location and put their own games in their place. Froom said, "The problem got so bad that many places tried to pass laws banning pinball games which often resulted in court decisions against the games business. Then came the court battles - Paulin, Froom, and Park went to court to try to stop others from infringing on Automatic Industries patents. The court battle lasted for many years! In 1937 a Federal Judge ruled that their patents were not strong enough to win. This was a bitter defeat for the men after all those years. It is to be believed that Earl W. Froom was the inventor of the Whiffle Board. He was not! He created the coin device for the Whiffle Board, and a partner of Automatic Industries. It was reported to the Paulin family that after Paulin's death in 1947, Earl Froom claimed that he was the inventor. Whiffle Board / Pinball invented by : Arthur L. Paulin Coin device by : Earl W. Froom - SOURCES - Story written by Arthur Paulin's daughter Lois Paulin Hollerman age 82, and Granddaughter Karen Hollerman Kettering; January 4th 2009 I hope you enjoyed the real story about the Whiffle Board and hope you will share this story on your web site, and all the Pinball lovers out there!!! Take care and keep on playing, Karen PS I kinda laughed that you said the Whiffle Board didn't catch on. My grandfather retired a millionaire. Ballyhoo Pinball Machine

"Whiffle Board", Automatic Ind., circa 1931 The Whiffle Board is a Pre-Flipper design - Cost 5 cents per play The game was an instant hit in the Depression-era United States, providing cheap entertainment for the unemployed masses - and a quick coin-grabbing business for some shady business operators.

Ballyhoo (1931) Ballyhoo Pinball was the first pinball game ever made and was built by Raymond Maloney in 1931. Raymond Maloney later founded the Bally manufacturing company of Chicago, IL. Raymond Maloney borrowed the Ballyhoo Pinball Title from the then famous Magazine, "Ballyhoo". Ballyhoo Magazine (1931-1939) - Who's name was lended to the Ballyhoo Pinball Title A humor magazine published by Dell. August (1931) thru February (1939) which gave rise to the first pinball game, Ballyhoo in (1931) The Ballyhoo humor magazine had a general tone of each magazine as a characterization of the New Masses with its absurd predictions of imminent revolution. "Editorial, 'How Long Shall We Stand For It?'" The first issue of Ballyhoo Magazine, Aug. 1931. "Whither? What Next? The crisis? The People? Good times? What Next? Blah, blah, blah, blah..." The extended Zilch family runs the magazine. The term pinball was not coined until 1936 when it was noticed that the ball was manipulated by pins on the playing field much like the Pachinko machines that had many pins and holes in the playfield. There are many skills to learn to master pinball and here are some tips for ball control. link The object of the game was still to get a plunger-launched ball into the desired hole on the playing surface. The Plunger is the object used to launch a ball onto the playfield. It was now allowed to nudge the pinball game which is at waist-height. Standing players were able to "nudge" the machine to change the ball's trajectory. This nudge was an important part of the game because you could now change how the game played by how much you shook the game without shaking it so much that the game would tilt and you would lose your ball or possible your game. You don't want to Drain the ball. Drain Where lost balls exit the playfield. The Apron is the material/item at the very bottom of the playfield, which usually holds a score and/or instruction card and which covers the ball trough. The front edges of the apron lead the ball to the drain. The Outlanes are the outside lanes that usually are placed to the far sides at the bottom of the playfield and lead to a drain. Ball Kickers: Link In 1933 Harry Williams created the first battery-powered, solenoid-driven, ball kicker, giving pinball machines the ability to automously power on its own to kick the ball back up the playfield. A preview of things to come with Pinball... A Game of Skill... A 1962 Gottlieb Pinball Game. With the addition of electricity, playfield lights and electric bells became a regular features in 1934. The addition of sound and light made the machines not only more fun to play. No longer did a ball have to physically strike a bell. Electric bells, buzzers, and chimes would add sophisticated sound to the games and make them more exciting. Lights and electric powered sound were two of the most basic components of the pinball game. gottlieb's, "Pin-up", Pinball (1975) Then in 1936, Bally Manufacturing Company created the Bumper and electric scoring. The Bally "Bumper" pinball machine was now in all types of pinball games. The bumper made is physically possible for the ball to be propelled rapidly from one bumper to the next by rapidly bouncing from one spring bumper to the next because of a electronic coiled spring mechanism giving force to the spring action. The triggered switch was connected to the first electric scoring circuitry called a "totalizer." Depending on how many bumpers were hit, lights could be triggered on to illuminate a previously unseen score that was painted behind translucent glass. the Totalizer was there to add up how many times the bumpers had been hit! Gottlieb's, "Happy Days", Pinball (1934) In 1934, the tilt mechanism was devised so players could not cheat the game and play forever by disturbing the entire playfield. There are two tilt sensors in the newest technology. The standard movement tilt and the slam tilt. Slam tilts are made to stop major cheating like slamming the game on the ground. There is a tilt warning given the metal pendulum rod inside the pinball game touches the metal ring. Major abuse of the tilt mechanism will cause a forfeiture of your pinball game. The specter of gambling hung heavily over the pinball industry, which was widely suspected of being a front for organized crime. So serious was the threat that on January 21, 1942 a blanket ban on the game was imposed in New York City. January 21, 1942 - Pinball Becomes Illegal in New York City Pinball was banned in New York City because it was viewed as a game of luck rather than a game of skill (Gambling games are illegal in New York City) Bally's, "Evil Knievel" Pinball Flyer (1976) Mayor Fiorello Henry LaGuardia smashed a number of machines The ban lasted until 1976. Free games (replays, matches, etc.) Continue to be illegal in New York City to this day, although the law goes unenforced. The Add-A-Ball feature was added: A feature designed to provide a reward to the player in regions where replays (free games) were outlawed as a thing of value, making pinball into gambling. Add-A-Ball games allow the player to be awarded multiple additional balls, and usually include a counter showing balls remaining to play Lever-operated flippers introduced the element of skill that was lacking in previous incarnations - a useful counter-argument to politicians and moralizers who claimed pinball was a front for gambling. Humpty Dumpty Flyer First Pinball Flipper Game Humpty Dumpty Pinball (1947) 1947 The fist game to use flippers was Humpty Dumpty, by Gottlieb. It was invented by Harry Mabs and had six side flippers of which three were on each side. Notice that the flippers are backwards and very small in size. It was not until 1970 that the flippers became as large as they are today. The longer 3 inch flippers are what we use today except when it comes to some skill shot flippers set up near the middle of the playing field like in the Addams family, a three flipper game. The ten year period of 1948-58 is referred to by some as the "Golden Age" of pinball, due to the invention of flippers in 1947. Spot bowler backglass (1950) The black glass is the glass within the front of the backbox, with ink artwork silk-screened onto the back of it. The Backbox is the upright part of a pinball machine that holds the backglass and any displays and scoring mechanisms. Spot Bowler Pinball (1950) Notice the wooden side rails and all wood paneling which are not seen in today's pinball games. Woodrail is a term referring to games manufactured prior to around 1961 that used wood to frame the playfield. The first game that had the flippers set at the bottom of the playfield as we see them today is probably Spot Bowler, a 1950 Gottleib game. Steve Kordek designing the playfield for the 1948 Genco game "Triple Action", in which he had put flippers at the bottom of the playfield. These early flippers operated in the reverse direction of those used now and one button could operate both flippers. The flippers could not be held up by continuously pressing the flipper button as they are today. Vagabond Backglass (1962) Vagabond Pinball Playfield (1962) 1962 Drop targets, were introduced in the 1962 pinball game, Williams' Vagabond. The target which is located straight up the middle and towards the top of the play field. Hitting the hobo drop target for an extra ball never gets old. A Drop Target is a type of standup target that is dropped into or below the playfield when hit. Mr. Kordek put in the first simultaneous multiple balls play, "multiball" on the playfield (William's Beat The Clock, 1963), and the drop target (William's Vagabond, 1963). 1976 Pinball is a game of skill and deemed (Not Gambling) - Testifying before the New York City Council at a hearing on pinball in April 1976, Sharpe, then a 27-year-old magazine editor in Manhattan, played three balls on a Gottlieb Bankshot, explaining to his audience as he played how pinball was a game of skill, not of chance. Sharpe tells what happened next: "'Even down to this plunger,' I told them, 'there's skill. If I pull this back the right way, I should be able to send the ball into the middle slot.' I actually specified a lane, which, in retrospect, I probably should not have done. I pulled back the plunger, and wouldn't you know, boom boom, it went straight down where I had said [it would go]. These people kind of threw up their hands and said, 'All right. Enough. Fine, thanks.'" The council reinstated pinball in New York City that summer. (Source: Cigar Aficiado). It was also in the mid 1970's that solid-state (or electronic) pinball machines were first introduced, starting yet another huge wave of public popularity due to new games innovations, features, Game reliability and cool design features like electronic scoring, alphanumeric scoring, electronic sounds and finally electronic speech, which lasted well into the late 1980's. The Invention of the Autoplunger Many newer games feature an automatic plunger that launches the ball at the touch of a button, or which the game uses to launch additional balls into play for various reasons for example, to launch additional balls onto the playfield for multiball. There is the Ball Saver which will return a drained ball withing the first few seconds of play is said to be equipped with a 'ball saver'. The ball is returned to the plunger. The automatic Ball Search is done when a machine has not seen any scoring in a few seconds and thinks the ball may be stuck, it will quickly activate each solenoid in the machine in turn, to help a ball become unstuck if it happens to be mechanically hung up, or in case the ball has been captured by a playfield mechanism with a faulty indicator switch. This procedure is called a 'ball search', and may happen several times before the game either shuts down or ejects a replacement pinball. Haunted House (1982) Design Team Haunted House (1982) 1982 - Gottliebs 1982Haunted House" winning the award with a total of eight flippers. Haunted House was also the first game to have with three playing fields (an upper and lower field in addition to the main playing field) and the first vertical ball 'upkicker", invented by John Osborne. Revenge From Mars and Star Wars games was the attempt by Williams manufacturing to merge video games and pinball formats together. In the late 1980's Williams and Bally merged to become the dominant player in the pinball market. Their big hits: Medieval Madness, Cirqus Voltaire, Twilight Zone, Theatre Of Magic, Monster Bash, Scared Stiff, Tales Of The Arabian Nights They later folded with only one player left in the industry. Stern Pinball is the only pinball manufacturer that could stay in business after the great demise of pinball games after the strong presence of video games. With one exceptional game that outplays the rest link
Just for fun I asked Jim Belsito, top pinball player in the world, how much skill versus luck there is in pinball. His Reply was 70% Skill, and 30% luck! Thanks, Paul Dean



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(1978) Bally Playboy Pinball Machine GAME OVER Elton John - TOMMY PINBALL WIZARD Pinball Wizard A psychosomatically deaf, dumb and blind boy becomes a master pinball player and the object of a religious cult because of his skill at pinball. Elton John Pinball Wizard Song: Top Twenty international hit for The New Seekers in March 1973 and a #7 for Elton John in the U.K. in March 1976. The Data East Pinball, "Who's Tommy Pinball Wizard" was distributed January, 1994 / 4 Players Link