|50th Anniversary of the Flipper -
Something New On the Horizon
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.
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.
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