Saturday, October 20, 2018

Golden era of pinball machines

A pinball machine is an electro mechanical coin operated arcade game. It works by the principle of scoring points by directing one or more metal balls on a game board separated from the player by a window. The main goal is to achieve a high score. The secondary goal is to play as long as possible without the ball leaving game board and possibly obtaining extra balls and win a replay. This type of game was a great success from the 1950s to the late 1990s, to the point of entering the pop culture. Many cafes and restaurants offered them to their customers. There were also specialized gaming rooms known as arcades

History

The pinball as we know today derived from the French game Bagatelle around 1770 and the Japanese billiard, it was fully developed in Chicago in the 1930s by mechanics and electricians who were unemployed because of the financial crisis of 1929. By gambling for money it was banned in several major US cities soon after. Cash was later replaced by replays to make pinball legal. The electro mechanic was replaced by electronic (solid state) in 1976. Pinball suffered a decline in the 1980s as a result of the rise of video games. And major manufacturers like Williams, who had previously acquired Bally, went out of business in 1999 and Gottlieb in 1996, leaving Stern as the only manufacturer.

Score

Counting of points with the pinball machine is rather particular and arbitrary. The scores of very old machines were counted in hundreds of thousands points which were displayed by lamps signaling a row of 100,000 and was left to the user to add them. The arrival of electro mechanical wheel counters brought the scores down to hundreds of points, with a lamp lighting a number "1" at the top of the 3 digits when it was above 999.

In the 1970s, with the arrival of electronic displays, the scores began to count thousands or tens of thousands of points. This "inflation" continued until the mid-1990s, when several games allowed up to millions of points to get a free game. Quite recently the counting of points returned to more reasonable values.

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