If you're reading this, you already know that we make new pinball machines. What you might not know is the fascinating history and weird trivia about America's favorite mechanical game.
Experts agree that the earliest ancestor of new pinball machines was a 19th century French game of skill and chance called Bagatelle. Electricity didn't operate it, it had no flippers, and one did not start the machine with a coin. Instead, a Bagatelle player would exchange money for play balls. If the player was skilled (or lucky) enough to score highly, the game operator would reward them with a cigarette, free drink or meal. After Montague Redgrave invented the steel spring at the end of the century, a device called a “ball shooter” was incorporated into table games, explain historians at Princeton University. Thus began the entertaining evolution that brought us to the new pinball machines we know and love today.
Strange pinball trivia
Do you know that pinball used to be prohibited in most American cities? It's true. The game was banned in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other major metropolises from the early 1940s until the 1970s. Why? Popular Mechanics magazine explains:
According to lawmakers at the time, pinball was not a game of skill. Pinball machines said then-New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, “robbed the pockets of schoolchildren in the form of nickels and dimes given them as lunch money.” In all fairness to those long-ago politicos, pinball in the 1940s did involve less skill. Considered a game of chance and thus a kind of gambling, playing pinball didn't require a lot of finesse until the flipper was invented in 1947. Before that time, pinball players influenced gravity by tilting, swaying and otherwise bump the machines.
Shortly after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the mayor of New York banned pinball and tasked the local police force with a #1 priority of rounding up and destroying pinball machines. Pinball was finally re-legalized in New York City in 1976 when La Guardia's ban on the game was overturned.
Historical pinball machine artists
Gordon Morrison, George Molentin, Dave Christiansen, Christian Marche and Roy Parker are notable names in the interesting history of American pinball machines. Kings among pinball artists of their time, each of these artists brought their unique sensibility to the back-glass artwork. Today, the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, California lovingly exhibits the works of many pinball artists whose names might otherwise be lost to time. The museum also features murals by contemporary artists, including Dan Fontes, d’Arci Bruno, Eric J. Kos and Ed Cassel.
American pinball is Chicago's preferred provider of quality new pinball machines. Our only mission is to make great machines that people can enjoy for as long as they live. In fact, our machines are so well crafted, people, bequeath them to the next generation.
When you're ready to see our selection of new pinball machines, visit American Pinball Inc. at 1448 Yorkshire Dr. in Streamwood, IL. For driving directions and showroom hours, please call (847) 893-6800.