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Pinball Feature Story

50th Anniversary of the Flipper - Something New On the Horizon Pinball Feature Story Number III

Part 2 of a 4 part series.

On page 126 of The Billboard for October 11, 1947 was the small ad depicted below. Hard to find, especially amongst the flurry of Nudgy ads that swamped that issue.

??? ad page 126

Meanwhile, earlier that year, Gottlieb's resident game designer Harry Mabs had been tinkering in the Gottlieb laboratory, assisted by a young Alvin Gottlieb. By accident had touched two wires together activating a solenoid coil, just as a ball rolled down the playfield (1). He noted the behaviour and decided that it could be useful game addendum. A player-controlled bat on the playfield attached to the coil assembly could propel the ball upwards to combat gravity's effects. With the germ of the idea in his head the new concept was incorporated in a matter of days.

Was this a new idea? Not entirely. But in the context of the modern 5 ball pin game it was new. There were scattered examples of ball-propelling bats on pin tables and related games back in the 1930's. In fact, a vertical baseball playfield outside of one of major league baseball's stadiums in the early 1920's could be seen with a classic pitch and bat configuration! The bat would whack the ball when it got close to it. Little would anyone realize at that time what a wonderful configuration they had before their eyes. If baseball had been played with 2 batters, one on each side of the plate, then the state of pinball science could have been advanced by 25 years.

Also in that same issue of The Billboard, a second cryptic ad appeared on page 132. Who was it that was tormenting the reader? And with what type of game? With no details available, the reader was forced to wait for next week's issue to see if any details were forthcoming.

??? ad page 132

Reference: (1) Pinball! by Roger C. Sharpe, pg. 54-55, Clarke Irwin 1977

Next: The Wait Continues

Pinball Feature Stories index.

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Last updated: May 6, 2005

© Terry Cumming, 2000-2005