Pinball pushers: crews of tinhorns, living in luxury on penny thievery
May 29, 2015 1:50 PM   Subscribe

In the long history of pinball machines, a new golden age of pinball was started with the introduction of player-controlled electronic flippers, first seen in 1947 in D. Gottlieb & Co's Humpty Dumpty. Unfortunately, this was five years after the start of the War on Pinball, ushered in by New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and others who saw pinball machines simply as another form of coin-machine gambling (PDF) and source of moral decline. Following New York, pinball bans spread throughout the United States (PDF) and Canada, with fears escalating to the point that some in criminal law looked to alternative solutions to the Pinball Problem (PDF). Even though a bold "Babe Ruth" move by Roger Sharpe in New York City in May of 1976 overturned the local ban and other cities again followed suit, some local pinball bans have only recently recently been lifted, after people discovered such laws were still in place. See also: Pinball: From Illegal Gambling Game to American Obsession (VICE short documentary).
posted by filthy light thief (13 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
To unbury the source of this post, as noted in the War on Pinball link, tomorrow is Obscura Day (Obscura Day 2012, previously), when you can go on a Private Tour and Play at the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, California.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:54 PM on May 29, 2015

For people in the area, next weekend is the Northwest Pinball and Arcade convention in Tacoma, WA.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:03 PM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

TILT: The Battle To Save Pinball and Special When Lit are both well made, enjoyable documentaries which cover pinball history.
posted by trackofalljades at 2:25 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Black Knight forever.
posted by repoman at 2:33 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Pinball hasn't been worth playing since they went to three balls for a quarter.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:49 PM on May 29, 2015

Roger Sharpe's sons Josh and Zach are both serious professional players today for PAPA - for an example of what they can do, here's Josh shoving a machine across the floor to make a save, without tilting.

And if you now have a hankering to play some pinball, check for locations of machines on, or play virtual versions of real tables with Pinball Arcade (PC, mobile, or console).

Also, if you have the space, you can pick up a machine of your own starting as low as $500 now, if you're willing to learn how to repair and maintain one. I just got my first one about a month and a half ago - a solid condition Demolition Man, and there's something so awesome about being able to just walk over to another room and play a few games whenever I feel. Or to learn how to fix a weak flipper or change a cracked start button.
posted by evilangela at 2:49 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Interesting history. Especially since the therapeutic value of pinball for the neuro-atypical has been well documented since the 70s.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:06 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Well fine, YouTube, fine. How about this instead.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:50 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're local to Las Vegas, or are there for a weekend and have access to a car, the Pinball Hall of Fame is worth checking out. It's literally a dimly-lit warehouse, very low-frills, but they keep the machines in good condition. Some of the newer games are 75 cents but you get five balls instead of three.
posted by jpolorolu at 4:04 PM on May 29, 2015

There's tons of pinball tables in Sydney. I just played The Shadow table, which has very pretty lights.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:40 PM on May 29, 2015

I say this every pinball thread, but if you love pinball come to Portland! Great tables are EVERYWHERE! Lots of great turnouts for weekly tournaments, just an amazing scene all around.
posted by Asbestos McPinto at 6:17 PM on May 29, 2015

three balls for a quarter.

same as in town
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:59 PM on May 29, 2015

My favorite pinball video:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
posted by blueberry at 5:07 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

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