by Russ Jensen



     "On a gloomy day in October of depression-clouded

1931", writes a veteran coin machine historian, "a

young businessman, Raymond T. Moloney, after hours of

stubborn argument, persuaded his senior partners in a

small Chicago printing shop to join him in a bold

venture."   "As a result of their decision, a simple

but fascinating color-splashed pinball game was

introduced to America late in 1931.  By the time 1932

dawned, under darker depression clouds than ever, the

rainbow-bright game, BALLYHOO, was a national

sensation.  50,000 BALLYHOO games were sold in a period

of 7 months."


     That was how Bally's long-time advertising manager, Mr. Herb

Jones, described the beginnings of his beloved company in the

history section of a booklet, titled "Coin Operated Amusement",

which he authored in 1972 to promote their products in Italy.  The

"printing shop" he referred to was the Joseph Linehan Printing Co.,

which was producing the gambling devices known as "punchboards" at

the time.


     The name BALLYHOO was taken from a popular satirical magazine

of the period; and even the colorful playfield artwork, it is said,

was taken from the cover of one issue.  By the way, Bally's first

product was not the only game they made by that name.  In 1947 they

produced another very colorful BALLYHOO, and later a two-player

game by that name in 1969.  Also for a long period Bally's internal

company newspaper was called "Bally Who", a play on words on that

famous name.


     Ray Moloney's new BALLYHOO was at first manufactured by his

soon-to-be competitor D. Gottlieb and Co., but before long a new

company, Bally Manufacturing, was formed (named after the game) to

produce and market this successful little game.


     The success of BALLYHOO was attributed, by industry observers

at the time, to Bally's "aggressive manufacturing and sales

policies", as well as the simplicity of the game's mechanical

construction and it's reliability under hard usage by the public.

An example of BALLYHOO's advertising "hype" was a description

appearing in an April 2, 1932 Billboard magazine advertisement

which read:






     BALLYHOO, and Gottlieb's counter-top game of the same period

BAFFLE BALL, were probably most responsible for the nation-wide

"pingame craze" which really began to flourish by the end of 1932.

These games, and similar products by a myriad of small producers,

provided a cheap form of entertainment for depression haggard



     In addition, the low cost of these machines ($16.50 in the

case of BALLYHOO) made it possible for many unemployed people to

make a living from a modest investment, buying these games and

placing them on location.  This also helped the small businessmen

who owned the locations as they received 50 percent of the income

from these games.  Typical game locations at that time included

such places as: barber shops, tobacco stores, drug stores,

restaurants, gas stations, bus and train depots, roadside stands,

or, as was stated in BALLYHOO advertisements of the period,

"wherever people congregate".


     Now for the game!  BALLYHOO, as Mr. Jones stated, was

definitely both "color splashed" and "rainbow bright" as you can

see from the accompanying picture.  This was a marked contrast to

it's competitor, Gottlieb's BAFFLE BALL, which was essentially only

green and gold.


     The "operating mechanism" was very simple and reliable.  The

pushing in of the simple coin chute at the beginning of a game

caused a masonite "shuffle board" under the playfield to move,

allowing the balls to drop down and roll into a position adjacent

to the plunger. 


     When the plunger was pulled back, a ball rolled in front of

it, and upon it's release the ball was shot up an inclined ramp

onto the playfield.  This method eliminated the necessity of the

"ball elevator" which was used on most pingames for many years to

come to raise each ball to the plunger.


     The playfield contained 9 "scoring areas" having score values

ranging from 100 to 500 points.  Each area consisted of a circular

pattern of small metal "pins" with an opening at the top for the

ball to enter, and an elongated hole at the bottom to allow the

balls to be dropped at the start of a new game as just described.

Other "pins" were strategically placed on the field  to deflect the

balls during play.


     Any balls ending up in one of these areas entitled the player

to the number of points indicated, the player having to add up his

final score mentally at the end of each game.  A special hole

labeled "BALLY HOLE", located at the top center, entitled a player

to double his score if he got a ball to land in it.  The term

"BALLY HOLE", by the way, was again used many years later by Bally

on some of their "bingo" pingames.


     Another hole, located near the center of the playfield and

labeled "FREE PLAY", returned any ball falling into it to be shot

again.  The only advantage of this, as far as I can see, is that it

gave the player another shot at the "BALLY HOLE".  Two elongated

slots at the extreme bottom of the field were "out holes" and

scored nothing.



     BALLYHOO games, by the way, came in two basic models.  The

first offered players 7 balls for a Penny.  The other model, for

the "high class neighborhoods", gave 10 balls for a Nickel.


     The Bally organization began with this simple pinball product

(even deriving it's name from it), and over the years flourished

into one the major coin machine and entertainment giants.  I am

sure that founder Ray Moloney, who headed that company for many

many years, always had a soft spot in his heart for pingames, as

these devices made up a major part of Bally's product line

throughout Ray's tenure.