After the USA was dragged into the war, vital materials for the war effort such as steel, copper, etc. were required. Thus game production was shut down and manufacturers such as Bally, Gottlieb, Genco, Exhibit, Keeney, Stoner, etc. converted their production lines to produce things like parachute equipment, machine gun parts, large antennas, etc. Several of these companies received "E" awards for excellence in their contributions to the war effort.
Government order converted the manufacturing industry to war production in early 1942. A lot of firms in early 1941 began seeking war contracts and even started to manufacture goods for the upcoming effort. In the second half of 1941, materials began to get scarce, so that conversion to war production was becoming more and more evident. The official date that production of machines ceased was April 30, 1942.
In the coin-op industry, the larger companies got the bigger contracts. As mentioned above, some sought out contracts even before the mandated conversion date of April 30th (but it is unknown exactly which companies did this). Smaller makers banded together forming cartels to compete.
With production of new games halted, the pinball conversion industry was spawned. Companies such as Victory Games sold conversion kits for $9.50. Their ad explained that for that price you received "a new 14 color score glass, new playboard designs, new large size, two tone bumper caps, new instructions and score cards".
Other conversion companies included United Manufacturing, Westerhaus, Bell Products, Marvel, P & S Machine, Roy McGinnis, etc.
United was formed in 1942 by partners Harry Williams and Lynn Durant. Their first conversions included "Midway", which was converted from an Exhibit Supply "Zombie". According to folklore, Harry and Lynn had a falling out over a girl, prompting a coin toss to see who would stay and who would go. Harry lost the toss and thus was the beginning of Williams Manufacturing! Just think that if the coin toss had gone the other way, you could be playing "United Electronics" games today.
View some United ads
Williams Manufacturing was formed in 1943 by Harry Williams (and not 1942 as advertised by Williams themselves back in 1990!). The first Williams employee was a man by the name of Lincoln Pettibone. The first game of any type created by Harry I believe was a fortune telling machine called Superscope. The second was probably Periscope. According to Dick Bueschel and others, Williams' first pinball game was a strange upright game called "Zingo", a revamp of games called "Broadcast" and "Crossline". It was upright and did not use steel ball bearings for balls so one could contest the point that it be classified as a pinball machine. That would leave the honor of the first Williams pinball to Flat Top from February, 1945. The second was Laura, from late 1945. This was a conversion game also. The first non-conversion from Williams was Suspense from 1946.
|Bally Crossline from February 1941, which was converted to Zingo.|
The P & S Machine company of Chicago was formed by two brothers who were ex-Genco production line employees. I'm not sure of their names although Steve Kordek told me the name could be "Peso". Their specialty was converting old Genco games and they appeared to be successful, based on the number of distributors selling them.
Their operation was about half a block from the Genco factory. Genco designer Harvey Heiss apparently moonlighted for P & S during the war, helping them with their conversions. Their work consisted of stripping the playfields and repainting them. New backglasses were created, with the artwork being composed by Roy Parker, who later went on to fame doing many famous Gottlieb glasses in the 50's. Harvey Heiss himself provided this information in his video interview with Rob Berk, shown at Expo '95.
If you examine the games they converted, all were Genco's from late 1939/1940 (and these brothers probably helped build most of them!). Overall, P & S converted at least 8 games, and produced at least 10 in total from 1943 to 1947. Of particular interest to myself personally is the fact that they converted Genco's 1940 Formation (a game I own) into a game called "Torpedo Patrol".
P & S continued converting games after the war, and even came out with at least one original model, "Tom Tom", in October of 1947. Tom Tom was not as true pinball, described as being "pinball-like", since it had a pinball-style plunger, etc. However, October 1947 was not a good time to release pinball (or pinball-like) games if your company name wasn't Gottlieb. The flipper was only a scant couple of weeks away from being introduced to the masses on the breakthrough effort "Humpty Dumpty".
I would speculate that P & S ceased pingame production after the flipper era came into being, as I saw nothing to indicate any games were produced after October of '47. If anyone has any knowledge of this company or its' products, I would love to hear about it.
View other conversion games and ads
Page Map |
Conversions | Patriotic Ads
Humor | People and Places | Pinball Historians | WW2 Game List | Info | Terry's Home Page