The history of pinball machines
Pinball machines have a complex history. The roots of the modern pinball machines you use at your local cafe come from games like croquet and pool, which involve guiding a ball to a precise location by hitting it with an instrument. However, the true spiritual ancestor of modern pinball machines was the game of Bagatelle. Developed in France during the 18th century, the game involved poking balls into holes on one side of the board using a stick or cue. The board surface was sloped and obstacles were placed in front of the holes to provide a more challenging experience. Many of these features have been adapted and can be seen in modern pinball machines.
In the 19th century, an inventor named Redgrave took the Bagatelle game design and improved on it. One of his additions, still visible today, is the plunger: a device that launched the ball down a sloping field. However, once the ball was released from the plunger, the user could not interact with the ball any further, as flippers for the pinball machine had not yet been developed. This leads people to bet on the result that the ball will face. As a result, pinball machines were banned in many parts of the United States, including New York City from 1940 to 1976. The ban on the machines ended in a famous case where Roger Sharpe claimed that the balls could be controlled with ability. (with the addition of pinball machines) and were not based solely on luck. At a pinball machine in the courtroom, he announced where he was going to hit the ball and proceeded to hit it successfully.
The 1930s saw a lot of innovation in terms of pinball machine design. The machines now included limited electronic features such as basic sounds and the ability to propel the ball without user force. Several new features were also introduced at this time, such as the tilt mechanism and free games. These new features were groundbreaking for the day and sparked renewed interest in pinball machines. The “Humpty-Dumpty” pinball machine was the first pinball machine to include pinball machines. This meant that users could now play a ball for a longer period of time and introduced the whole aspect of skill and ball control while playing pinball.
However, with the development of video games in the 1980s, they were quickly pushed aside in arcades to make way for the innovation that the video game industry brought. Many companies that had made their fortunes manufacturing pinball machines were forced to close. It was only in the 1990s that pinball machines made a comeback, bringing exciting innovations to the machines such as complex screens and sound systems.
However, the turn of the millennium was a turn for the worse for pinball machines, and reported sales by many manufacturers were falling dramatically. Most manufacturers were forced to close once again. Today, Stem Pinball is the only manufacturer left in the industry. We will have to wait and see if they are able to bring innovation to an industry that has had so many ups and downs.