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Pinball Feature Story

50th Anniversary of the Flipper - The Wait Continues Pinball Feature Story Number IV

Part 3 of a 4 part series.

October 25, 1947. You come back from the bank where you cashed in some of your Victory bonds. The money will be used to pay your distributor to finance a couple of 5 ball free play games for your route. Nudgy is hot and it's just the ticket to make the overwhelming income always promised by the ever creative ad execs. You know it won't make you filthy rich, but maybe this time it will pay the bills handsomely.

Still, however, there is a doubt in the back of your mind that something is amiss. Something is lacking. You can't quite put your finger on it though. As you hop into your Buick Roadmaster to drive over and fill up at the Phillips gas bar for 19 cents a gallon, you can't get the thought out of your head. "The games are stagnant" you think to yourself. You saunter over and put a nickel in the gleeming red Vendo and crack open an ice cold Coke.

After a large thurst-quenching gulp, you wipe your mouth - and it hits you. "The player needs more control of the ball". They shoot the ball, shake the game, the ball rolls down and then they start over. "What if they could smack the ball somehow - keep it in play for awhile? Might keep 'em coming back a bit more".

After downing the remainder of the Coke and paying the gas station attendent, the thoughts are turned to getting to the distributors to make the downpayment on the Nudgys, then off to home to be entertained by the Dumont television. "Maybe Ed Sullivan or Milton Berle will be on tonite" you cheerfully think to yourself.

Pulling into the driveway you are greeted by your smiling wife. Happy to have you back from the WW2 western theatre, she has a cup of coffee waiting for you and the mail. "Anything interesting hon?" "Just a couple of bills and Billboard" she replies nonchalantly as the postmain's payload is deposited into your waiting hands.

The bills are immediately routed to their proper location amongst a pile of unimportant papers on the bureau. You seek out your slippers and favorite chair, sit down and sigh. The Billboard is cradled in one hand, waiting to be opened. The first order of business, as it is every week, is to flip the magazine open about three quarters of the way to the back, smack dab into the coin op ads. The editorial content is bypassed in favor of the large eye-catching ads promoting the latest and greatest. It takes only a minute or two to quickly scan to the end. Not much new. A feeling of mild disappointment comes over you. Your heart rate, subtly raised by the thought of a great new amusement, has reached it's peak and slowly falls back to it's normal pace.

The second pass of the coin machine section, a little slower, now occurs. Some of the headlines are read and details gleaned. Then, as you flip to page 142, your attention is caught by the silly half page ad at the top.

Humpty is coming soon

COMING! "Humpty Dumpty" THE GREATEST INNOVATION IN THE HISTORY OF PIN GAMES. THE PLAYERS WILL BE THRILLED. THE OPERATORS OVERJOYED. You stare at this ad. First you chuckle, but then you start thinking "what if they're telling the truth this time?" An uneasy feeling comes over you. Should you buy into the hype and go back down to the distributor and place an early order for this game? Or wait and see what develops? Decisions decisions.

As you contemplate the possible scenarios your wife calls you - "Steak's ready dear, come and get it!" Up you get and walk to the dinner table. The Billboard is tossed onto the chair as you head away. But your throw is bad and it falls onto the floor and falls open with page 142 facing up. A mere coincidence - or is it a message from the pin gods ...

Next: The Modern Game Is Born

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Last updated: May 6, 2005

© Terry Cumming, 2000-2005