We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Different Types of Pinball Machines?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Sports n' Hobbies, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In these times of high-tech video game systems, pinball machines may seem to be the last remnants of a bygone era. But Generation Nexters continue to feed quarters into a new breed of pinball machines which feature video elements and other innovations. Pinball machines from the 1970s through 1990s can still be purchased through online auctions or private collectors. Even vintage pinball machines can be enjoyed at older amusement parks and retro arcades.

The first pinball machines appeared in America in the 1930s. David Gottlieb, a pioneer in the arcade field, designed a game in which players launched marbles with a plunger into a playing surface studded with pins. As the balls careened through the pins, they would either fall into high-scoring pockets or low-scoring slots at the bottom of the field. The players had little control over the outcome, except for the plunger speed and a little body English. A more elaborate version of this original pinball design, called Pachinko, is still popular in Japanese arcades. Players are often rewarded with additional balls for high scores.

Pinball machines continued to evolve during the 1940s and early 1950s, adding such elements as player-controlled flippers and solenoid bumpers. These additions allowed the balls to remain in the playing field longer, making the player feel more in control of the outcome. The first flippers were not located on the bottom, but rather in a series along the sides. Pinball machines of this era are rarely seen today because they were deemed 'gambling devices' and largely destroyed by law enforcement agents.

The type of pinball machines most adults remember first appeared in the mid-1950s. In order to qualify as games of skill, these new pinball machines featured two player-controlled flippers at the bottom of the playing field. Advanced bumpers and drop targets gave players additional chances to earn higher points through skill rather than luck. Pinball machines manufactured by companies such as Bally and Gottlieb from the 1950s through 1990s often featured lurid artwork on the backboard to attract customers. The features on the playing field were all driven by electrical relays and solenoids. Players might activate an elecromagnetic 'save' button or receive multiple balls, but the play essentially remained the same as the machines of the 1950s.

The rise in popularity of advanced video games almost spelled the end for traditional pinball machines in the 1990s. However, pinball companies decided to add video elements and other advanced electronics to their newest machines. Older players enjoy the retro feel of mechanical pinball machines, while younger players have the chance to play video games while experiencing a physical connection to the gameplay. Modern pinball machines feature ramps, video screens, special targets and the chance to play as many as five balls at one time. The look and basic gameplay of a modern pinball machine may hearken back to an earlier area, but the features and elements are definitely 21st century.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to Sports n' Hobbies, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to Sports n' Hobbies, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
Learn more
Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.