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WW2 Pinball Stories - Industry People and Mfrs.

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On this page I present items related to pinball industry people and manufacturers.

Harry Williams Post War Comments

Improved equipment will greet the trade following the war, but will not be of a revolutionary nature, in the opinion of one of the industry's leading engineers and designers. According to Harry Williams, of Williams Manufacturing Company, changes in design, mechanical principles, as well as introduction of new types of machines, will be a gradual process. Williams does not foresee any large volume of brand-new ideas being offered to the trade immediately following the war.

"We will be selling to the same people, and our paying public will be practically the same; for this reason, familiar principles will have greater appeal than something entirely new," 'Williams said.

Citing several new developments in the sound recording field, Williams declared he expected the greatest advances in the music division of the industry. "However," he continued, "manufacturers of games will find that they can apply precision manufacturing methods, required in war work, to post-war amusement machines. We can expect closer tolerances, better engineering and general mechanical improvements that will permit machines to wear longer, operate more efficiently and require less maintenance."

Herb Jones, Sans Tonsils, Is Back on Job This Week

Herb Jones was a long time Bally employee, known to collectors as the man who produced the company booklet Coin Operated Amusement - An Historical and Technological Study.

Coin Operated Pinball Machines book cover A subset of this booklet was printed as Coin Operated Pinball Machines - etc. also, the cover of which is pictured here starring Elton John. These booklets are rarely seen, although there is probably a fair number out there.

Herb Jones, of Bally, is back at his desk this week following a short siege of exploratory hospitalization at Passavant Hospital which ended with the deletion of tonsils. It was three weeks ago that Herb and Ray Moloney decided to find out what was causing a seriously lame shoulder. Herb now is not too sure that Ray didn't ask the doc to prolong the observation a bit in order to give Bally's restless assistant to the general manager a chance to rest and relax.

Bally, or Lion Manufacturing Corporation, is weeks ahead of their war production schedule, despite construction work on their now addition and despite delays occasioned by a fire in their main plant.

Excuse Us, Please

The Billboard report on the arcade feature recently occupying a spread in Life ended with the question: "Any arguments?"

Perc Smith, "dean" of arcade men, rises to remark with an explosive "YES!"

It seems that Smith and other Exhibit Supply Company official had a major hand in getting said feature in print. For one thing, they made most of the equipment featured, and had something to do with staging the scenes. Yet, even with bifocals and a magnifying glass, Perc couldn't find any mention of "Exhibit" in The Billboard story.

Gottlieb a Pre-View Fan

Dave Gottlieb often enjoys a pre-view of pre-views in the recreation room of his home which is fitted with a motion picture projector and seats about 100 persons. How does he get the film ahead of Balaban & Katz, et al? His brother "Manny" is an exec with one of the major film producers.

"With a little luck," says Dave, "manufacturers may get to enjoy a preview treat at the CMI meeting April 26."

"Bally" Plant Wins Star on E-Flag

CHICAGO, April 29. - Employees and management of Lion Manufacturing Corporation, peacetime producers of Bally games and venders, today were again honored for outstanding production of war material when a white star was added to the Army-Navy "E" Flag flying over the "Bally" plant. Presentation of the star indicates renewal of the Army-Navy "E" Award, originally conferred on the "Bally" organization in October, 1943.

Manufacturers Ponder Future [Industry's Major Firms at Meeting Sponsored by CMI]

This marquis story ran May 6th, 1944. A who's who of the coin-op industry was present at Groetchen's restaurant (I assume this is the same Groetchen family involved in the coin-op industry). Note that Dave Gottlieb was the CMI president.

Reconversion and post-war employment feature serious discussions during open forum - elaborate dinner and floor show entertains 70 trade members.

CHICAGO, April 29. - Appointment of an industry planning committee to "coach" during the pre-reconversion period when manufacturers undertake to unwind the complex and high-geared coin-war machine highlighted the CMI banquet and open meeting Wednesday evening (26) at Groetchen's colorful West Side La Fiesta (restaurant).

It was both a happy and serious meeting when commanders of the coin machine front-men who direct production of war materials in scores of throbbing coin machine factories renewed fellowship and exchanged spirited greetings before stepping back into character as war production chiefs to discuss their current objective of helping to win the war and the future goal of providing employment for additional thousands of workers when restrictions on production of coin machines are lifted.

20 Firms Represented

More than 20 coin machine manufacturing firms, including all major names in the Midwest area and several from Eastern cities, were represented at the banquet and program sponsored by Coin Machine Industries, Inc., for the dual purpose of enjoying Auld Lang Sang again and eliciting open-forum thoughts of manufacturers on coming events which will confront the industry.

Named to serve on the industry planning committee following majority approval of such action were the following members and non members of the association:

Announcing this committee, Dave Gottlieb, CMI president, explained that functions of the committee would include compilation of pertinent information on the subject of reconversion which may be submitted to a second general meeting of manufacturers.

Reconversion Discussed

The open discussion, following an elaborate dinner (steaks broiled in Groetchen's new cooking machine), produced a wide cross-section of opinion on current and future manufacturing problems. [...]

Defeat of Germany Would Bring Civilian Production in 90 Days

CHICAGO, Sept. 9. - Official announcement that civilian production would be making big headway within 90 days after the collapse of Germany aroused more enthusiasm in coin machine circles here than did the beginning of the spot authorization plan August 15. This is something more definite, trade leaders said. Besides, the continued impact of favorable war news served to give the 90-day promise more meaning.

The nation's press devoted much space during the week to explanations and criticisms of the plans for making civilian goods after Germany collapsed and the coin machine trade followed all this news carefully, knowing that coin machine factories would share in the general moves that are promised for all industries. [...]

Coin machine manufacturers all agree that the WPB plan to permit making experimental models is proving to be quite a help and that for the time being a manufacturer can take his own good time in doing experimental work. A few manufacturers are beginning to whisper about new ideas and designs they already have practically completed for post-war business.

A Chicago newspaper this week published the report that officials of Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation said the firm had plans for two products in the coin machine field and also for one product in an entirely new field. Grapevine rumors had it this week that two juke box manufacturers would be making phonograph records after the war. One of the new juke box firms that rumor had put into the field some months ago was definitely called a dead issue this week by the principals who were supposed to be organizing the new firm. It is confidently expected here that many of the new juke box makers which rumor puts into the field will not appear on the market.

Preparing for Post-War With Machines for New Fields

This story from Nov. 1944 continues with the theme of "gearing down" from the war effort and looking ahead to the post-war period. Some neat insights as to the state of the industry a few months prior to victory.

CHICAGO, Nov. 4.- Altho the resumption of peacetime production here was further postponed this week by Uncle Sam's asking manufacturers in this area to supply extra ammunition and supplies for the Pacific war zones, the coin machine "rumor factory" has been turning out an avalanche of claims and counterclaims revolving about what products practically every firm has in the works for the post-war market.

Sifting out verifiable facts is difficult in many cases since manufacturers are naturally reticent about disclosing their plans when the day of reconversion is still so far off. Enough evidence already is at hand, however, to show a definite trend on the part of major firms to diversify their output when peace comes. In other words, juke and game firms are preping new lines, mostly vending machines, not only to increase production volume, but also to avoid having all their eggs in one basket.

Fact that trend is toward supplemental lines of vending machines is in itself evidence of the confidence manufacturers have in the post-war future of automatic merchandising. This trend had already started years before the war when Stoner Manufacturing Company introduced a line of candy venders and O.D. Jennings, Bally and Mills entered the beverage vending field.

Developments So Far

That this trend will gain momentum after the war already is evident. Outstanding example which already has come to light is the fact that Wurlitzer plans to enter the bulk beverage machine field in the post-war era with a machine that they have been developing for some time. This will be the second departure of the firm from the juke-box line. The first was Skee-Ball bowling game which the firm marketed in 1936.

Another firm which is eying the vending field is J.H. Keeney & Company here. Firm has just purchased the former Majestic Radio plant here and is negotiating for an additional 35,000 feet of adjoining land. J.H. Keeney, president of the firm confirmed reports this week that the firm has a cigarette vending machine ready for the post-war market but details are being withheld until the production lines are ready to roll. Prior to the war, firm turned out games, consoles and auxiliary music equipment.

Several manufacturers of gaming devices who had entered the vending machine field before the outbreak of hostilities have already revealed that they will be back with improved products. Stoner Manufacturing Company not only will be back with their line of Univendors but have both a cigarette and a four-flavor selective bottle drink vender ready for the after-war market. O.D. Jennings, which had a large bottle machine before the war, now has perfected a smaller machine with an 85-40 bottle capacity. Argument in favor of small size is that several small machines will prove more desirable in many locations like industrial plants, hospitals, etc., than one or two large machines.

Mills, which turned out bottle venders exclusively for Coca-Cola prior to the war, will also be in the field after the war with a large capacity cup machine. Bally will definitely be back with its cup vender and in the games field it has already announced that the first machine to run off its production line after the war will be called Victory Derby. Vendo Inc., Kansas City, Mo., which also manufactured bottle machines before the war for Coca-Cola has in the works a machine which will decap the bottle, pour its contents into a cup and keep both bottle and cap. Firm also has a new change-making coin chute mechanism that will be marketed as part of their equipment and also sold independently.

There has been much speculation among vending operators about the advent of an electrical vender. Records show that such a machine was exhibited at the last coin machine convention by H.C. Evans & Company but wasn't placed on the market because its price was regarded as being too high at the time. Now trade rumor has it that this all-electric cigarette vender will probably be back on the market after the war with a number of improvements. Engineers are also reported to be considering the possible adaptation of the machine for vending of packaged foods. Some reports indicate that the machine may become a pioneer in the field of completely automatic merchandising machines. [...]

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