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WW2 Pinball Stories - Arcades

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On this page we examine stories related to World War 2 arcades.

Hot Weather Cuts Play, Especially on Pinball

SPOKANE, Aug. 14. - Hot weather has caused more pinball money to go for beer than machines, local operators report. Play fell off heavily in July, as compared with record-breaking receipts during the preceding three months. Despite lack of repair and replacement parts, few machines have been taken out of service.

Music box operators were threatened with business loss this month when an Idaho operator set up several movie machines around in the business district. The 10-cent play machines didn't meet with too heavy patronage however, as business for the jukes boxes is still going strong. Before the Idaho operator set his machines here there were only five movie machines in town.

Most of the candy vending machines, both penny and bar types, are off the counters for the duration.

Collections Slump as Fans Tire of Same Old Machines

BALTIMORE, May 6. - Lack of new games is causing lack of interest among local patrons who are getting tired of playing the same, coin machines. Local operators declare each month shows reduced patronage and a consequent drop in collections.

Local operators are doing the best they can in providing games that might interest patrons, but they add this is steadily becoming more difficult.

At least one local distributor has been endeavoring to remedy this situation by rebuilding old games and adding variations. To date, this concern has been successful. Just how long this innovation may continue is uncertain. This distributor reports difficulty in getting enough of the old games that are suitable for the conversion process. Local ops refer to rebuilding as a praiseworthy effort to keep alive customer interest in games.

Harry RawlingsPutting Pin Games Thru Paces Easy for Wild Animal Trainer

Here is the first part of a story about a long time coinman. The story talked a lot about dancing bears, etc. but that has been edited out. Note the mention of "78 Contacts", probably talking about the Pacific Amusements (PAMCO) game designed by Harry Williams (the first game with a buzzer).


Los Angeles, May 13 - The background of coinman Harry C. Rawlings of this city, would supply material for a colorful novel of pioneering, if not a series of them. From Colorado gold fields where he was a prospector in 1896, to the Bingo boxes he set out in 1932, Rawlings dabbled in land surveying, law practice, the sawdust and spangles of show business, motion picture production, theatre operation and training of wild animals.

A handful of Bingo games, operated in the Los Angeles area, were supplemented by 78 Contacts, and later by other fascinating game models, as Rawlings expanded his position on the ground floor of another new amusement industry. [...]

When building up his first coin machine route 12 years ago, Rawlings took steps that would help him expand by building goodwill for the industry. Suggesting that an operators association be formed, he says he put up the first $5 membership fee to launch the California Amusement Machine Operators Association.

Asked if this was the forerunner of the Associated Operators of Los Angeles County, Rawlings replied, "No they are separate and distinct organizations. ALOAO was started by Curley Robinson. There is a man for you. As long as he heads that association I am with it and for it!"

What Ops Want in New Machines [WPB Experimental Release Spurs Ops' Suggestions]

This is probably the most fascinating article of all presented, from 1944. What is most interesting is that in relative terms, the things the operators wanted 50 years ago are the same things operators want today! However some of things they say seem outrageous when taken out of the context of 1944 and translated into today's environment. I have hilited some of those key points in the text. Also see the general list of 12 suggestions from the operators - relatively timeless!

Operators have definite opinions on what they would like to see in post-war equipment, survey shows - expect mfrs. to come up with "revolutionary ideas."

CHICAGO, July 29.- What do operators want in post-war equipment? Following WPB's announcement over the week-end that manufacturers of coin machines along with other industries could start to work developing experimental models for post-war production . . . , this question was much discussed in trade circles during the past week. In order to tap operators' "wants" on this subject, The Billboard recently queried 500 operators. The response showed that operators have definite opinions on the score and that manufacturers who lend an ear to their suggestions will do much to make the business more profitable and less troublesome. The obvious conclusion drawn from the replies is that operators and the coin machine minded public expect manufacturers to come up with "revolutionary" post-war machines that will make full use of the progress made in the fields of electrical engineering and electronics since the war began.

Over half of the operators polled gave direct answers and suggestions on the subject of what they want in post-war machines. Other replies had no suggestions to offer or stated they were putting the new equipment problem squarely in the laps of the manufacturers. Suggestions for music equipment led the list with games and "general improvements" about even for second place. Venders held a slight edge over arcade equipment for third honors and about 40 coinmen came thru with ideas for revolutionary equipment.

General Suggestions

Listed in the order of times most mentioned, the following general suggestions popped up most frequently:

  1. Better machines giving less service trouble.
  2. Higher priced machines to discourage location ownership and "small time" operators.
  3. Simpler mechanisms with fewer gadgets.
  4. Better materials for parts receiving most wear.
  5. Easier access to interior parts of machines.
  6. More slug protection.
  7. Relief from clogged coin chutes.
  8. Fewer new models and higher priced.
  9. Protection from cheating on games.
  10. Lower prices, so ops can buy more equipment.
  11. More flash in games.
  12. Less flash in phonos.

Phono Op Wants

In the music field, there ranges a wide variety of opinion on the number of records ops want the post-war boxes to play. Several operators would like to see 40-play mechanisms. One wants a phono offering 100 disks. Several want a machine that will play both sides of a record; yet, a far greater number said smaller phonos with fewer records would make just as much money since five or six tunes get most of the play. Many reported they would like to see a satisfactory substitute for records such as wire, film and tape boxes. Another want is to see a further development of wired music so that a central studio can serve several counties. Others vote for remote control refinements and improvements.

Among other specific post-war improvements phono ops would like to see are:

Game Operators Speak

Further development of the free-play or "re-play" feature is desired by pin game operators, along with a playing principle to replace bumpers. Dozens of requests were made for arcade-style equipment to be operated in regular locations. A great many operators want games simplified so that players can understand them more quickly and reduce maintenance problems. In fact, some ops expressed a longing for the return of the plain pin game principles without back glass or scoreboards. A number want unnecessary relay or contact switches eliminated.

Other features ops would like to see in post-war games are drop coin chutes instead of the push-in style; improved method of locking leg adjustments and cheat-proof and slug-proof features. Some mentioned that award mediums are too tight and should give players more of a break. Many pointed out that a great boon to the operator would be standardization of pin game parts so that they would be interchangeable on all machines.

Counter games evoked many suggestions, particularly on ways to design them so that they would not fall into the $100 tax bracket which took thousands of penny counter games out of operation.

Arcade Needs

"More action - more skill - more novelty" sums up operator opinion in the arcade field. Ops pointed out that arcade patrons tire of the same equipment and now ideas must be introduced to keep earnings up.

In particular, many arcade ops stated something must be found to replace pin games and shooting devices in the future even though they are getting good play today. The demand is heavy for equipment that will test intelligence, ability, skill, strength, memory, etc.

Vender Desires

Vending machine operators generally would like to see machines of larger capacity with further mechanical improvements and refinements that would reduce service calls. Improved slug detection and non-clogging coin chutes got most votes along with easier access to interior parts and mechanism to facilitate repair and adjustment.

Some of the machines which vending men would like to see introduced included:

New Machine Ideas

Of the suggestions for totally new equipment, television received the most mentions. One of the tele-minded ops wants a "combination phonograph and television machine to be operated with nickels for records and 10-cent play for tele." Variations of present movie machines were suggested, too. A large number of ops said they wanted a nickel-play, selective movie machine with a sound track. Some suggested a nickel slot for the music only and a dime play for both music and the pic. All favor selectivity and most votes were for 20 selections. Film-phonos using film sound tracks were mentioned by a number of operators.

Several operators mentioned that they were working on new ideas for coin-operated equipment. Several stated their ideas had been accepted by manufacturers for post-war production. A few want to bring out their own machines. A number hinted that they had something "hot in the works" but withheld information on their ideas as they intend presenting them to manufacturers.

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