(Roughly) Daily

Tilt!…

Pinball machines as we know them are descendants of 19th century bagattelle tables.  Pinball emerged when, in 1871, British inventor Montegue Redgrave invented and patented “Improvements in Bagatelles”:  he made the game smaller, inclined the playfield, replaced the large bagatelle balls with marbles, and most notably, took advantage of the recent (1857) development of steel springs to add a coiled spring-rigged plunger to launch the balls.

 source

 source

The first machines, table-top units, were not coin-operated; players rented the balls.  Coin slots and legs were added in the early 30s; power and a “tilt” mechanism, in the mid 30s– the the games spread in mass.   The bumper was born in 1937, but the flipper didn’t appear until 1947.  In the 50s, lighted scoring and two-player games appeared.  And in the 60s, drop targets and digital scoring debuted.  The 70s– the pinnacle of pinball penetration– saw the introduction of the first solid-state, or electronic pinball machine.  By the 80s, digital video arcade games had begun to threaten pinball’s place.  Pinball added stereo sound; and the 90s, electronic flippers and ceramic balls.  But by the turn of the millennium, pinball machines had fallen prey to arcade video games; indeed, in 2006, “digital video pinball machines” appeared, replicating the look and feel of traditional machines, and allowing gamers to play any of a dozen retro games…

 The “Visible Pinball Machine” (source)

Readers can stroll– and pull and flip and bump and and jostle– down memory lane this weekend, at the 6th Annual Pacific Pinball Exposition at the Marin County Fair Ground, a benefit for the Pacific Pinball Museum.  Those who can’t make it can wander through the Internet Pinball Database.

###

As we collect our rolls of quarters (and further to yesterday’s missive), we might recall that it was on this date in 1967 that The Who “exploded” onto the American music scene with an appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.  Three months earlier, the later-to-be-Pinball-Wizards had appeared at Monterrey Pop, where their set-closer– Pete Townsend’s guitar bashing and an flash charge under Keith Moon’s drum set, had inspired Jimi Hendrix (the act that followed them) to burn his guitar.  The Who brought this same act to TV, closing their performance of “My Generation” with Townsend’s ritual destruction of his axe and an explosive charge that was apparently mis-rigged– so strong that it singed Townshend’s hair, left shrapnel in Moon’s arm, and momentarily knocked The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour off the air.

The action, of course, is toward the end, beginning at about 7:25…

 The remnants of Townsend’s Vox Cheetah, destroyed that night, as auctioned by Christies in 2010 (source)

Written by LW

September 17, 2012 at 1:01 am

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 901 other followers

%d bloggers like this: