1931 Automatic Industries, Whiffle.
Whiffle is generally regarded as the first ‘Pinball Machine’. Whiffle incorporated a coin acceptor which, when a coin is inserted, will actuate a shuttle board underneath the playfield to drop the ball’s beneath and return them to the base of the game, in order to be ready for a new game. Also note the knob on the right side which turned a wheel ball lifter mechanism inside and brings each ball up to playfield level, ready to be shot by the plunger. Whiffle had moderate success … but it was the first!
1931 Gottlieb Baffle Ball.
Dave Gottlieb who produced penny arcade grip testers, observed a potentially huge market for pinball. Dave produced a small coin operated countertop machine and called it ‘Baffle Ball’. The game took the country by storm and rocketed pinball into national prominance. Even working 24 hours a day, Gottlieb just couldn’t produce enough Baffle Ball’s to satisfy the public’s demand for it. This is the machine which launched the whole pinball industry.
Ray Moloney saw the explosive demand for Dave Gottlieb’s Baffle Ball and decided to design and manufacture his own game in order to get a share of the market. Ray designed a colorful game and borrowed the name of a popular magazine of that time, Ballyhoo. Ray named his company which would produce Ballyhoo, ‘Bally Mfg. Co.’ This is the game that started Bally. Ray’s advertising slogan was “What’ll they do through 32…. play Ballyhoo”!
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