PINBALL EXPO '93 (PART 2)
by Russ Jensen
Last time I described all of the seminars given at Pinball Expo '93
except for one. I shall now describe that final seminar, followed by
coverage of the Banquet, game auction, and the Exhibit Hall.
PINBALL HISTORY, ART, AND TECHNOLOGY
The final seminar on the Expo schedule occurred on Saturday afternoon
(the only seminar that day) and was the longest of them all. This was not
surprising, however, when you consider it had not one, but four (count 'em)
Expo host Rob Berk began this offering by telling us that there were
certain individuals in the hobby that performed "beyond the call of duty".
He said the seminar speakers would provide an "in-depth presentation"
covering all aspects of the hobby.
Rob then introduced the first speaker, Wayne Morgan from Canada, who
he said was knowledgeable in many aspects of pinball, including history,
art, and culture. After mentioning the pinball exposition (appropriately
called "Tilt") Wayne was involved in over 19 years earlier, the audience
broke into a round of applause.
Wayne began by saying that today's presentation would be an edited
version of the talk they gave before the American Popular Culture meeting
in 1990. He then began to tell of the "Tilt Exposition".
Wayne said that show was edited by him, toured for five weeks, and had
a catalog. He said that was the first time a public institution (The
Regina Public Library) seriously examined pinball.
In the early 1970's, Wayne then told us, many Canadians wanted to stay
home, work, and discover "what was there". He said this resulted in an
increased interest in folk art, amateur art, and "working man's pleasures".
Wayne then told of Canadian pinball fan Pat McCarthy coming to his
office at the Regina Public Library and leaving with the commitment to do
the traveling exposition. He said they obtained a grant from the Canada
Council to finance the project.
After that, Wayne continued, Pat went to Chicago to visit people in
the pingame industry. He said that Pat had a hard time at first getting
help from industry people.
Wayne next showed some slides of the exposition items which consisted
of 23 complete 1950's pingames, 10 playfields, and 5 backglasses. He then
told about the wire services picking up on news of the exhibition and
publicizing it around the world.
On opening night, Wayne told us, there was a long line of people
waiting to get in, some having to wait as much as an hour. He then
commented that pin collecting in those days was not as prevalent as it is
today. Wayne then told about the newsletter (also called "Tilt") which he
published in the early 1970's, adding that several books on pinball came
out a little later.
Wayne next told of other pinball related exhibitions which occurred in
later years. In 1981, he told us, French collector Jean-Pierre Couvier put
on a small exhibition, and later that year there was another show in Paris,
but there was no documentation concerning it.
In 1982, Wayne continued, the Chicago Public Library Cultural Center
put on an exhibition of pinball art from the 1970's and 1980's. He said
this exhibition featured both backglasses and playfields, that none of the
games could be played, and that the games were tilted in such a way that
the playfields were clearly visible.
Wayne next told of another exhibition at the University of Waterloo in
Canada which he said also was not documented. He then told of the 17 day
exhibition of pingames, called "Pinball Wizardry", which was held in St.
Louis in the Summer of 1990. Since that time, Wayne commented, there has
been much research related to pinball.
Wayne ended his talk by commenting that the history of pingames was in
some ways similar to the history of the electric guitar. He then
introduced the next speaker, pinball historian and author Dick Bueschel,
which drew a round of applause.
Dick began his part of the seminar with the question - "what is
popular culture, and why does pinball qualify?" He then answered the
question by telling us that it is "an ever-moving mass of public mores,
modes, and entertainments", citing Hula Hoops as an example.
Dick next talked about pinball's early ancestor, the game of
Bagatelle. He said that that game had it's roots in such 18th Century
games as "Bowling on the Green" and "Nine Balls".
Dick then told about the game of "English Billiards" which he said
when put on an incline, and with pins added to it, became Bagatelle around
1717. He then started telling of French king Louis XVI and his connection
with that game.
Dick explained that Louis built a large estate outside of Paris which
he named "Chateau de Bagatelle", and that the game was named for that. He
then described the game in some detail.
Bagatelle, Dick went on, soon became "the rage of France", and also of
the French Army who brought it to our country during the Revolutionary War.
He then commented that Louis' chateau was now a public park.
In the United States, Dick continued, the U.S. Army spread Bagatelle
around the country. The Gold Rush of 1849, he told us, helped to build up
San Francisco which had many saloons. He said that the saloon supply
houses of the East and bagatelle makers of Paris were kept busy supplying
various games to saloons in the area.
Dick then told of a San Francisco game producer who started around
1855 named Philip Lisenfeld who he said put out over a dozen different
models including several large bagatelles. He then said that his chief
game designer, William Evers, created a new game around 1870 called JENNY
LIND which Dick told us had revolving targets on it's playfield. He then
referred to Evers as "the first playfield designer."
The City of Cincinnati, Dick told us, was a major industrial center in
the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. Around 1869, he continued,
Bagatelle maker Michael Redgrave set up shop in that city. In May 1870,
when he was only 24 years old, Redgrave obtained a very important patent
for the use of a spring-loaded plunger on a Bagatelle game.
Later, he added bells to the game, Dick remarking that he was really
"the father of pinball". In May of 1871 he was said to have been granted
another important patent.
Dick told us that Redgrave later moved to Chicago only to have his
factory damaged in the great Chicago fire. After the city was rebuilt Dick
said he founded a new company, Redgrave and Wilson, which became the first
producer of a Bagatelle game employing a spring-loaded plunger to launch
the balls onto the playfield.
When the demand for this type of game shortly increased, Dick said
Redgrave moved to Jersey City, later obtaining some more patents. He then
told us that Redgrave advertised his games in the Police Gazette, and that
he produced bagatelles up until 1927.
Dick then told of another game producer coming out with a game in 1876
with a "runway" (the first "multi-level playfield", he called it) and even
a "ball lift" device. The first "coin controlled" bagatelle type game,
Dick went on, was an "upright" game produced in England in 1899 and was
Dick then said that in 1891 a 36 year old Canadian, Robert H. Little,
produced a saloon trade stimulator which vended cigars.
The first "true pingame", Dick then told us, having an inclined
playfield was produced in the Fall of 1892 by Charles P. Young of York
Pennsylvania. He called it a "coin game board" and Dick said it was
similar to the pingames which were produced in the early Thirties. He said
that to date none of these games have ever been found.
After telling of another early game, referred to as a "trading
machine", which was produced in Alton Illinois and had an "automatic ball
shooter", Dick told of another pioneer game which came out in 1901.
Dick said this game, called AUTOMATIC FLAG TABLE, made by Paul F.
Berger, was quite popular and used full-sized Billiard balls. He then told
us that it had a "coin acceptor" and a form of "automatic scoring".
At that point Dick talked about the most well-known of pinball's early
ancestors, LOG CABIN. He said this game first came out in 1901, and was
made and sold up into the 1920's. He then told of a game made in 1903
which had a "lighted backglass" and automatic scoring.
Dick next started describing the early pingames which came out in the
early Thirties. Such games as ABT's BILLIARD SKILL and DUTCH POOL were
mentioned. He said these "marble games" rapidly gained in popularity at
Dick then told of a Californian, George Miner, who he referred to as
"the father of the modern pingame." George's career, Dick told us, was
fairly short. One of his early designs, ALL AMERICAN AUTOMATIC BASEBALL,
which first came out in 1928, was the game which fascinated young Harry
Williams when he was just getting into the games business.
That game, Dick continued, had a score indication device and let the
player play until "3 outs" were made, and had balls which advanced around
the bases. Dick said this basic design formed the basis of Rockola's 1937
hit baseball game WORLD SERIES.
Dick then told us that Miner's baseball game first came out when the
market was not so good. In 1933, he went on, Miner sold the rights to his
design to Bally who used his patents on many of their games. We were then
told that Bally made Miner their Chief Engineer in 1935, Dick adding that
George died in a plane crash in October of that year.
Dick next told of a ban on pool halls in Texas. He said this brought
about the manufacture of miniature pool games which led to player
acceptance of table-top games.
Dick then talked briefly about another pioneer pingame, WHIFFLE, which
came out in January of 1931, telling about it's inventor, Earl Froom, who
appeared as an Expo guest speaker several years ago. He then told of a
game called ROLL-A-BALL which was put out by Charles Chizewer in May of
1931. This game, Dick remarked, was available both with or without a coin
payout and provided 5 balls for a penny.
Dick then told of a game called BINGO which was created by Nathan
Robin and later manufactured by D. Gottlieb & Co. He then commented that
shortly after that Dave Gottlieb "struck it rich" with his very popular pin
The 1931 coin machine show, Dick then commented, had no pingames, but
the 1932 show had about sixty! He then started talking about Ray Moloney,
the founder of Bally.
Dick told us that Ray was an assistant in a punchboard business which
used the names of Lyon Manufacturing Co. and Midwest Novelty Co. and which
eventually got into pins. He said they tried to get BAFFLE BALL games from
Gottlieb, but when they could not get them fast enough Ray decided to make
his own game.
After he had created the "whiteboard" for his game, Dick continued, he
wanted to be able to show it at the February 1932 coin machine show. Ray
then saw a striking cover on an edition of the current satire magazine
Ballyhoo and decided to steal both the cover artwork and the name for his
After that, Dick told us, Moloney started Bally Manufacturing (named
after the game) to produce it. He then told of the song Ray used at his
booth at the show "What'll They Do in 32? - Play Ballyhoo!". Dick then
said pinball games in 1932 were the hottest new thing to come along at that
Dick then told us that over 100 pingames were introduced in that year,
with almost anyone who could build a game doing so. He then told of
Gottlieb's game from that year, FIVE STAR FINAL, which was thought by some
to be named that way because Dave Gottlieb thought it would be his last
pin. In actuality, however, it was named for an edition of a Chicago
At that point Dick began telling of the many problems and lawsuits
which plagued the pingame industry in those early years. He first told of
a lawsuit by WHIFFLE inventor Earl Froom alleging patent infringement by
the pingame industry. He said Mills Novelty finally bought the Froom
Another important court case, Dick told us, was Calison vs Gottlieb.
He said it was thrown out of court, but if Gottlieb had lost the case it
could have meant the end of that company. Dick ended by telling us
"pinball lives and will endure!"
At that point the next speaker, Gordon Hasse, was introduced who was
said to have a great interest in the pingames of the 1950's. Gordon's part
of the presentation was said to be titled "Dreams and Aspirations of the
Gordon began by drawing our attention to the great pinball artist
George Molentin who he said was responsible for more amusement game art
than any other person on earth. He then began showing slides of the
pinball art of both George and the other great pinball artist Roy Parker
from the period from 1947 through 1960.
Gordon began his slide show by remarking that George and Roy were the
most respected pinball artists of the period. He then told us that pinball
art began in the 1930's as decorative design whose purpose was to attract
players to the games as well as to present the game's "rules".
In the 1930's, Gordon went on, pinball art differentiated hundreds of
different games. On the earliest games he said the art primarily was used
to illustrate the game's name/theme.
With the introduction of electric scoring to pinball, Gordon told us,
the art was used to "report the player's progress". He then remarked that
the backglasses of pingames became the place where the game's theme is most
totally developed. He then began showing examples of this.
The backglasses Gordon then showed included: Roy Parker's Gottlieb
creations ROCKETTES and JUST 21 (1950), HAPPY DAYS (1952), LADY LUCK
(1954), and TWIN BILL (1955). The Molentin games shown were: PINKY (1950)
and SHOO SHOO (1951).
Gordon next remarked that on first impression one might think pin art
was just "girls, girls, girls", but it also functions in a host of
different ways, he added. He then told us that the girls were there to
appeal to the young working-class males who were the main pinball players
in those days, adding that playing pinball was "a respite from reality" for
Gordon next showed Parker's beautiful QUEEN OF HEARTS from 1952. He
described the girl in the picture as "beautiful, but tantalizing", adding
that she was also a player. He then told us that QUEEN OF HEARTS was a
very successful game and that it was one of it's designer's, Wayne Neyens,
More "Parker pin-ups" where then shown. These included: JOKER (1950),
POKER FACE (1953), GYPSY QUEEN and EASY ACES (1955), and ACE HIGH and ROYAL
FLUSH both from 1957.
At that point Gordon's slide show switched over to "the other master"
(as he called him), George Molentin. After showing George's backglass for
Williams' 1952 game FOUR CORNERS, Gordon remarked that Parker's girls were
move comic or "pin-up", while George's are more sophisticated or "damsels
in distress". He added that players should be happy to spend 5 cents just
to be with any of them.
Back to Parker again, Gordon showed his 1954 game DAISY MAY with it's
"Dogpatch" scene, followed by his 1948 classic BARNACLE BILL, remarking
about the brothel in the scene. He then showed what I consider probably
Parker's greatest creation (with the possible exception of Genco's METRO),
DRAGONETTE from 1954.
Gordon then remarked that the DRAGONETTE art could be described as
"pop culture on pop culture on pop culture". He said this was because it
was a pinball satire of a TV show which came from a radio show which was a
reflection of the times that spawned it.
Gordon then told about a male character on the glass dressed in
women's clothes which he said was Parker's pun on being "in drag". We were
then shown some details of the playfield art.
We were next shown more great 1950's backglasses having themes
associated with various activities such as dancing, shopping, air travel,
ice shows, and circuses, all featuring pretty girls in the scenes.
After showing Roy Parker's DIAMOND LIL from 1954, Gordon began showing
some of the many games with a travel theme prevalent in the late 1940's and
early 1950's. These included games such as MANHATTAN, SAN FRANCISCO,
BOSTON, OKLAHOMA, NEVADA and WISCONSIN.
Switching to International travel, Gordon showed CONTROL TOWER,
BERMUDA, and backglass scenes from France and Algeria. Sports themes were
then illustrated by DERBY DAY, BASEBALL, and a game with an "Indy Race"
After showing scenes illustrating pool halls and bowling alleys,
Gordon showed Parker's KNOCK OUT from 1950, which showed people in the
boxing ring audience fighting with each other. He said this was more of
the satire Parker was famous for.
We were next shown Parker's backglass for Gottlieb's FRONTIERSMAN from
1955 which had a Davy Crockett theme. Again Gordon pointed out the Parker
comedic touches, such as a road-sign reading "Al-a-mode - 1000 Miles".
The next backglass Gordon showed was Parker's NIAGARA from 1951, He
described the scene as showing "where the fantasy world collides with the
real world". He said it depicted when the working-class male, with his
idea of marital bliss when he marries the girl next door, finally decides
to get married and enters the real "adult world" of marriage.
That ended Gordon's fine artistic presentation.
The fourth speaker, Steve Young, was then introduced. His topic, we
were told, was going to be how technology affected pingame design.
Steve began by remarking that pinball design could be considered as a
"kinetic art form". He then started describing various technological
advances in pingame design over the years.
Steve again mentioned the introduction of the spring-loaded plunger
first used on bagatelle back in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century.
In 1933, he then told us, came the introduction of electric power from
batteries and the TILT mechanism (first mechanical, then electrical). He
also mentioned steel balls replacing glass or ceramic ones used on some
games in the early Thirties.
In 1936, Steve continued, came the introduction of the spring bumper
and the electric "score totalizer" on Bally's watershed game BUMPER. He
then told how relays were used enabling a small electric current to control
larger currents - they being used on all pingames up until the introduction
of solid-state electronics to pinball in the late 1970's.
After remarking that in the mid-Thirties backboards were added to
pins, increasing in size during that decade, Steve briefly mentioned the
World War II period when the pinball industry turned to "war work". After
the war he said technological advances in pins began again.
Steve then mentioned the introduction of the "score motor" and
flippers (on Gottlieb's HUMPTY DUMPTY in December 1947) the latter he said
"changing the game forever". Later developments he then mentioned included
pop-bumpers, contact kickers, targets, kickout and trap holes, and the
"free ball gate".
By the early 1950's, Steve told us, there was a technical lull in
pingame development, with designers beginning to experiment with using
various combinations of the previous developments on the playfield. At
first, he continued, the games' backboxes were still comparatively simple.
Steve then told of the beginning of multi-player pins in 1954. Later,
he went on, the designers started using "mechanical animation" in the
backbox. He then remarked that single-player games were always preferred
by the "true players".
In 1978, Steve then told us, single-player pins started to "pass from
the scene" with the advent of solid-state games. As a final comment on
electro-mechanical game technology Steve mentioned the introduction of the
"drop target" in 1968.
Steve next continued talking about the introduction of solid-state
microprocessor controlled games which started around 1977 with such games
as Bally's EVIL KNIEVAL. He began by remarking that these new games were
"both simpler and more complex" (especially the game control technology).
Steve then diverted for a moment to the history of pingame "sound
technology." He said at first in the early Thirties there was no sound at
all. But soon bells were added, some being struck by the ball to produce
sound, but mostly operated by electricity.
Then, in the 1970's, Steve continued, electro-mechanical chimes were
used, followed by microprocessor generated chime effects. In 1979, Steve
then told us, the first game to employ electronic speech, Williams' GORGAR,
came out. This was followed by more electronic sound effects and speech.
Steve then told us that in 1984 or 1985 pingames began to utilize
"computer control" to integrate the play of the game with various light and
sound effects. After that, he continued, other advances in game
sophistication occurred including multi-level playfields, ramps, and alpha-
numeric (followed by "raster") displays.
Steve ended by saying what he has chronicled has been the adaption of
new technology to provide more entertainment value to the public. This, he
continued, to provide excitement, keep people honest, increase the skill
level necessary to play, and keep production in line with the economics of
the industry. The promise of the future, Steve then added, is to provide
more technology and devise even more exciting games for the next generation
At that point Wayne Morgan got back up to make some closing remarks.
He began by remarking that the growth of the pinball collecting hobby and
associated research in the past 19 years has been impressive. He then
commented that there have been about two dozen books on pinball put out
during that time.
Wayne then said that the interest in pingame collection,
documentation, and study has had a somewhat slow growth as compared to
other aspects of popular culture. But, he went on, there is something to
be said for that as that generally results in a stronger foundation.
One thing that is left, Wayne then told us, is a process of validation
by the institutions charged with the collection and preservation of objects
which are a part of our everyday life. By that Wayne said he meant that
museums, for instance, should show bagatelle games and have information on
For example, he continued, the Chicago Historical Society's exposition
of the past 200 years of the city should have something about Redgrave,
plus information of the rise and fall of the bagatelle industry in the
area. Wayne then added that the museum's archives should allow for
research into the coin-op industry of the district, including legal,
business, social, and technological aspects of it.
Finally, the audience was asked if they had any questions? Referring
to the slides previously shown, the panel was asked what kind of light is
best for photographing pingames?
Steve Young replied that the use of subdued sunlight allows good
photos to be made without reflection. He then recommended using a good
telephoto lens. This precipitated a brief discussion with people in the
audience regarding photography techniques.
In was then asked during what time period payout pingames were most
prevalent? Bally's first payout, ROCKET, in 1933 was said to be the first.
It was also stated that a Swedish distributor added a payout to Bally's
earlier game AIRWAY. It was then said that payout pingames were very
detrimental to the game itself.
Someone then asked if anyone had done a history of the bingo pinball?
The panel did not seem to know, but I later told the questioner about the
article I had written on that subject several years ago.
When asked if artist Roy Parker ever did art for anyone other than
Gottlieb, the answer given was "yes, for both Chicago Coin and Genco." It
was also emphasized that he did all the Gottlieb art up until 1962.
It was then asked who did the Gottlieb art in the 1970's? The answer
given was Gordon Morrison.
When Steve Young was finally asked if he still collected pingame
serial numbers, he answered "yes". That ended this very interesting and
informative final Expo seminar.
The annual Expo banquet was held, as usual, on Saturday evening. I
felt very privileged when Steve Kordek of Williams/Bally/Midway Games
invited me and my good friend John Campbell to sit at the "Williams table".
After a nice meal the after dinner festivities began.
First on the program was Expo seminar presenter Todd Tuckey's
surprise, his "name that head game", during which various pinball backboxes
were described - the audience trying to guess the name of the game.
At that point it was time for the evening's featured speaker Alvin
Gottlieb to give his talk. Rob Berk started to introduce Alvin by saying
"the best way to introduce Alvin is Patent 4,971,393" (the number of his
now famous "smart flipper" patent).
Alvin's son, Mike Gottlieb, then interrupted Rob by saying "I have a
better way". Mike then started mentioning some of Alvin's many friends in
the industry over the years. He then told us that people see the results
of what his father does, but most people don't know what things are most
important to him.
The most important thing to Alvin, Mike then told us, was his family.
Second, he continued, Alvin always wants to "give back a gift" to the
people. In that connection, Mike told about the Gottlieb Memorial
Hospital, with it's newly added Cancer Center, to which his father
contributes much time and energy.
Mike then remarked that people always ask him what Alvin is all about?
He then proceeded to tell an interesting story about his dad.
He told us that his father had been a radio "ham" for many years.
Back in 1975, he continued, he put a radio set in his car and connected it
to a telephone handset. He then called other hams and had them "patch" him
to someone on the telephone - the first "mobile phone".
Mike next commented that he often hears about the "generation gap".
He said that this was really no problem for him as Alvin is "a kid at
heart" and never stops learning.
He then told us that Alvin and the family really loved the Marx
Brothers. He said that he even calls his father "boss", just like Chico.
Mike then commented that his father was always talking about the Ritz
Brothers, who he had never heard of and thought didn't exist. But, he
said, when he saw their "star" on Hollywood Blvd. he became a believer.
Finally, Mike introduced his father. He told us Alvin was "a model
executive with a warm personality". The audience then applauded as Alvin
got up to speak.
Alvin began by quipping "what an introduction - just the way I wrote
it." After remarking that Mike was "his own man", he told us that he has
been together with his girlfriend Donna for 15 years now.
At that point Alvin took out a long piece of paper which he jokingly
said was his notes. He then said that Rob Berk had told him to keep an eye
on the clock during his talk.
Alvin then told us that he wanted to talk about pinball - where it's
been and where it's going?
After mentioning the contributions to pinball of Wayne Neyens and
Steve Kordek, he praised Dick Bueschel and his book "Pinball 1". Alvin
then commented that people should get a hold of all the books that are out
on pinball. He then remarked about what he called "the astounding
ingenuity" of people in the pinball industry.
Alvin next told us that he was born in 1927 - the same year his father
founded D. Gottlieb and Co. He then said he had "lived with the business"
when he was young, considering the factory as his "second home."
At that point Alvin told of the early battery operated pingames in the
1930's, telling how when the batteries went bad they leaked acid inside the
game cabinets making them "gooey". He then told how Steve Kordek at Genco
used D.C. components for many years, telling how this had some advantages
over the more common A.C. circuitry used in most games, especially with
regard to "timing" and "delays".
When Alvin then told us that he was partial to electro-mechanical pins
he drew a round of applause from us "old timers". He then told of sitting
next to Wayne Neyens at the old Gottlieb plant in the early days, remarking
that the old games were like "old friends" to him.
Alvin next began talking about the beginnings of solid-state
circuitry. He said that the engineers at Bell Telephone Laboratories
invented the transistor - adding that before that the only solid-state
electronic devices were diodes and crystals.
After referring to the Bell people as "geniuses", Alvin said that the
old telephone equipments they designed were designed to have about a 20
year life. He then lamented the break up of "Ma Bell".
After that, Alvin went on, the Japanese saw an opening and got
together to produce standardized, mass produced, electronic parts. He then
said that he admired Motorola executive Bob Galvin who he said didn't sit
still and began a good quality control program at his company.
Along with the introduction of solid-state circuitry into telephone
equipment, Alvin remarked, came the use of that type of circuitry in
pingames. He then commented that most people today are used to computer
and solid-state terms, but in his day many of those words had entirely
Alvin then jokingly gave a list of these terms and what they used to
mean before computers came along. He began by saying that in his day
"solid-state" was only a condition.
Some of the other definitions included: "semi-conductor" - a short
orchestra leader; "mouse" - had big ears and was named Mickey; "hard drive"
- a baseball term; "software" - ladies undergarments; and "RAM" - a Dodge
His list continued with such definitions as: "cursor" - a seedy old
boy who hit his thumb with a hammer; "microprocessor" - something which
chops carrots into small pieces; "spreadsheet" - something you do to a bed;
"monitor" - a mean teacher in the hall; and "high resolution" - "I'll never
do it again".
Getting back to pingames, Alvin remarked that he thought the current
games were "fantastic", with their multi-dimensional playfields, great
sound, flashing lights, and complex game rules. He then commented that
players today have to think about the rules of the games, but really love
to play them.
Regarding his son's introduction of him, Alvin commented that the
dictionary defines "model" (model executive) as "a small version of the
real thing", and "warm" (warm personality) as "not so hot". "Terrific", he
said, "thanks a lot!"
As to where pinball is going in the future, Alvin first remarked that
pingames are where they are today primarily because solid-state pins have
"memory". He then commented that the designers today are doing really
As to what's coming, Alvin said we could expect higher resolution
color displays, and new "devices" on the playfield giving the player lots
to do and to think about. He then commented that he sees a great future
for the game and is glad to be "back into it".
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Shortly before I wrote this I learned that Alvin G. and
Co. went out of business. It was sad news to hear and I wish Alvin, Mike,
and their crew the best of luck in their future endeavors.)
At that point Alvin said that when he spoke at the first Expo banquet
in 1985 he presented a slide show which ran over two hours. He said he was
going to present one this time, but would try to make it shorter.
The first slide was of the old political cartoon showing Abe Lincoln
playing a game of pinball's early ancestor Bagatelle. After showing photos
of his dad, David Gottlieb, at age 9 delivering newspapers, and at age 26
when he was in Dallas operating grip testers, he showed the original D.
Gottlieb and Co. plant at 4318 Chicago Ave.
Alvin then told of once asking his dad why his penny grip testers had
such a large coin slot? His dad was said to have replied "we would take
anything anyone wanted to put in, even streetcar tokens."
After showing LOG CABIN, the pingame format trade stimulator which
came out around the Turn of the Century, he showed the 1931 Leo Berman pin,
BINGO, which Gottlieb bought the rights to and built. He then showed
Gottlieb's high selling 1931 pingame BAFFLE BALL, which he said the factory
produced 300 to 400 per day at one time.
Alvin next showed Bally founder Ray Moloney, who he said was his
father's good friend, and his pioneer pingame BALLYHOO. We next saw
Gottlieb's 1932 pin PLAYBOY, followed by their FIVE STAR FINAL. That game
he said some people thought was named that because Dave thought it might be
his last pingame - but it was actually named for a newspaper edition.
Alvin next mentioned a man named Joe Litowski, who he referred as his
father's "first employee". He said Joe was in charge of the tool room at
the plant and required everybody, even the boss's son, to check out his or
He then told us that there were several employees at the old Gottlieb
plant named Joe. Alvin then joked that they all had the same middle name,
"bida". He said, "you know, Joe 'bida' tool room, Joe 'bida' punch press,
Alvin's slide show continued, telling and showing different things
about the company's (and his father's) history. After awhile he talked
about his dad's retirement in Florida, including his succession of boats,
all named "Flipper" (I, II, and III).
He then told my favorite Dave Gottlieb story. Alvin said that one
time after returning to shore from a day of fishing he had a crew man
divide his day's catch into several packages which he delivered to several
of his local friends on his way home.
Alvin told us one of the people said to his dad: "you know there's one
thing I can't understand Dave. Here you retire from a successful business
in Chicago where you made a lot of money and come down here to Florida and
start a fish route."
Finally, Alvin talked and showed more pictures of his father's "pet
project" the Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. He told us that Dave endowed the
hospital in 1957. He then said that he raised over 4 million dollars for
the hospital, much of it coming from the coin machine industry.
We were then told that the hospital is still growing and now boasts a
"health and fitness center". The total budget for the hospital, Alvin
remarked, is around 115 million dollars.
Alvin then thanked Rob Berk for inviting him to speak, also saying he
was looking forward to attending the 10th anniversary Expo in 1994. Alvin
then received a healthy round of applause.
When Alvin's talk was over Rob Berk came back up and presented Alvin
with a nice plaque. He then introduced the banquet "head table". Those
seated there included: Alvin, his good friend Donna Cooper, Expo Exhibit
Hall Chairman Mike Pacak, Rob's mother, and his girlfriend Bridget.
Next Rob did something he began several banquets ago. He asked
everybody there to stand up. He next asked all first-time Expo attendees
to sit down, then made the same request of those who had only attended two
Expos. Rob continued this process until only those of us who had attended
all nine shows remained standing.
After that little break Rob presented the awards for Best Exhibit.
Jim Tolbert and Judy McCrory's FOR AMUSEMENT ONLY booth took top honors
this year. Steve and Laura Engle's PINBALL SUPERMARKET (winners of Best
Exhibit at several past shows) took second place this year.
Rob next thanked Alvin G. and Co. for allowing the Expo guests to tour
their pinball plant, presenting a plaque to Michael Gottlieb. He then
thanked the other pinball manufacturers for participating.
At that point a special event (which also began several shows ago),
the nomination of new people to the "Pinball Hall of Fame", occurred. This
year's "Hall of Famers" were artist George Molentin and
Williams/Bally/Midway's Steve Kordek, both of whom were present.
Next Rob presented the award for the best restored pingame at the
show, the honor going to Donal Murphy for his 1965 Gottlieb KINGS & QUEENS.
This was followed by the "Best of Show" award for the pinball art contest.
The winner was Rob Kleinholter for the very impressive artistic
presentation he made using mirrors.
Rob then introduced Richard Shapiro from Louisville who he referred to
as "professor emeritus". Richard then asked all the instructors from the
"pinball school", held the first afternoon of the show, to come up on
stage. These included: Aaron Benidit, Rick Stetta, Dave Hegge, Michael
Gottlieb, Julia Slayton, Lyman Sheets, Bob Rosenhaus, Jon Norris, and Dan
McDonald. They received a healthy round of applause.
Next was the prize for the best pinball costume (banquet attendees
were asked to dress up to depict their favorite pingame). The winner was a
lady dressed as ELVIRA.
Following that John Wyatt from the English Pinball Owner's Association
was invited up on stage to make the POA's now annual presentation - their
award for the best new pingame of the past year.
This year they chose Bally's CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, but John
said their TWILIGHT ZONE came in a close second. Williams/Bally/Midway's
Director of Marketing Roger Sharpe and game designer John Trudeau accepted
the award. They then praised the game's design team, that drawing a round
At that point show producer Rob Berk let promoters of other pinball
shows around the country plug their events. First was John Bateman to put
in a plug for the annual New England Pinfest which was in it's third year.
Next was Bruce Carlton telling of the upcoming 5th year of his Pinball
Show which is held annually in Scottsdale Arizona. Finally, Steve Epstein
of the Broadway Arcade in New York City told of his upcoming 4th annual
Professional/Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA) tournament.
Rob Berk then came back on stage to thank his staff, the tournament
scorers, seminar speakers, etc. for making this show a success. He then
gave a special tribute/thanks to his co-producer and Exhibit Hall Chairman
Mike Pacak. Rob then presented his girlfriend, Bridget Rueben, with a
It was then time for the raffle. Prizes given away included a tape of
Tim Arnold's Expo talk, a Premier STREET FIGHTER T-shirt, a Pinball
calculator, a copy of Dick Bueschel's book ARCADE 1, a subscription to
PinGame Journal, a reprint of the 1957 Gottlieb Parts Catalog, a pinball
book from Australia, Expo sweat shirts, and pinball coils from Donal
The grand prizes (2 new pingames!) were Gottlieb's TEE'D OFF and
Bally's TWILIGHT ZONE. The latter was won by Tim Arnold - this quite often
happens at Expo's due to Tim's purchase of a large majority of the tickets!
Rob Berk next announced that the 1994 edition of Pinball Expo (the
10th Anniversary of the show!) will be held on November 10 through 13 at
the same location. He then announced that the Data East pinball plant
would be toured that time.
Finally, Rob announced that long-time Gottlieb designer Wayne Neyens
was about to celebrate his 75th birthday! We were then excused to return
to the Exhibit Hall for some late night visiting and pinball playing.
This year, like last year, a coin machine auction was held in
conjunction with Pinball Expo - put on by U.S. Amusement Auctions. The
auction consisted primarily of pingames, although there were a few juke
boxes, arcade and video games, bowlers, and even a couple slot machines and
a kiddy ride.
Here is a sampling of what some of the older (or more interesting)
pins sold for:
GAME MANUFACTURER YEAR SELLING PRICE
KILROY Chicago Coin 1947 175
GOLD CUP (1-BALL) Bally 1948 30
CHAMPION (1-BALL) Bally 1948 50
DALLAS Williams 1949 305
SHUFFLE EXPRESS (Shuffle Alley) United 194? 275
TIC-TAC-TOE Williams 1959 325
BIG DADDY Williams 1963 270
SAN FRANCISCO Williams 1964 170
ALPINE CLUB Williams 1965 110
SPIN-A-CARD Gottlieb 1969 220
NIP-IT Bally 1972 425
KING PIN Gottlieb 1973 210
WIZARD Bally 1974 500
TOP CARD (Add-A-Ball) Gottlieb 1974 265
SPIN-OUT Gottlieb 1975 150
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Bally 1975 525
DRAGON (new in box) Interflip (Spain) 1975 700
SPACE MISSION Williams 1976 200
GEMINI Gottlieb 1978 275
HERCULES (giant game) Atari 1979 450
One of the oldest, and more interesting, games in the auction went for
the lowest price of the day - $30. This was Bally's 1-ball horserace
pingame from 1948, GOLD CUP.
This type of pingame (used primarily as a gambling device) has
fascinated me ever since I played one or two as a young teenager on summer
visits to my mother's birthplace, Memphis Tennessee. Almost all of this
type of pin (which started around 1936) had a very similar format.
When a coin was first deposited one (or occasionally more) of the
seven (or eight) large numbers on the backglass would light. Along with
that a set of "odds" (a series of 4 numbers, corresponding to four sections
on the playfield) would also light.
In order to win the player would have to get his one ball (hence the
name) into a hole on the playfield with a number matching the lit number
(called a "selection") on the backglass. These holes were grouped into 4
sections on the playfield, usually labeled PURSE (near the top of the
field), SHOW, PLACE, and WIN (near the bottom).
If the player succeeded in matching a lit number he would receive a
number of replays (or coins if the machine was configured for coin payout -
as many of these games were) corresponding to the "odds" lit on the
backglass for the section in which he landed (PURSE, etc.). These games
were very popular in certain sections of the country (especially in the
South) until they were virtually outlawed by the passage of the Johnson Act
The GOLD CUP in the auction appeared to be in fairly good condition,
except for a peeling backglass, but there appeared to not be much interest
in that type of game at the auction - a similar game, Bally's CHAMPION,
selling for only $50. And GOLD CUP met with what I consider a sad fate.
A friend and I talked to the purchaser later (a Private Detective, no
less) who told us he purchased the game in order to scrap all but the
playfield which he was going to use for a decorative "wall hanging" We
thought this was a shame, this great old game being relegated to a piece of
artwork, although the playfield art is quite attractive and very likely was
done by pinball art great George Molentin.
THE EXHIBIT HALL
As was the case at all past Expos, the Exhibit Hall was really the
"center of activity" of the show. It was the place where the pin fans
congregated during the days and nights when it was open, to visit with each
other, shop for games, literature, and supplies, and of course play
As usual there was a wide variety of pingames, both old and new, for
viewing, playing, and for sale. In addition to machines, there were people
selling parts and literature - people like Steve Young, Donal Murphy, Steve
and Laura Engle, and Jim Tolbert and Judy McCrory.
And of course there was Exhibit Hall Chairman Mike Pacak with his
usual fine assortment of pinball advertising brochures. Pinball magazine
publisher Jim Schelberg also had a booth where pin fans could subscribe to
his fine publication, PinGame Journal.
The Exhibit Hall was also the site of the battery of new pins used in
the qualifying rounds of the annual Flip-Out pinball tournament. That area
was always crowded with would-be-wizards trying to get high enough scores
to compete in the tournament finals.
Since pingames, of course, were the major items in the hall I will now
give a brief description of a few of the more interesting older pins
One of earliest pins displayed in the Exhibit Hall this time was
Genco's KINGS from 1935. This is one of the many varied and interesting
pins put out by this innovative company in that decade.
The theme of this game was another game - Checkers. The playfield
contained a good replica of a Checkers board, and the game had a short
light-up backboard typical of games of that year.
The CHECKERS at the show was in excellent condition and was sold
almost immediately. Games of the 1930's, by the way, have been quite rare
at past Expos, although there were 5 other 30's pins at this show.
Another beautiful game of that decade at the show was SIDE KICK from
1938, produced by Daval. That outfit made a few pingames, as well as other
coin machines such as trade stimulators.
The backglass had beautiful Art Deco artwork (I LOVE Art Deco!), and
the playfield was the same. That game was also in excellent condition, but
as far as I know, did not sell. It should have - but interest in pre-
flipper electrical pingames just seems to be low for some reason.
The 1950's fared a little better than the 1930's at this show -
approximately a dozen pins. One of the nicest pins there from that decade
was Gottlieb's GYPSY QUEEN from 1955.
The backglass artwork, most likely by famed pinball artist Roy Parker,
featured a gypsy woman holding a gigantic crystal ball which showed the
Aces and face cards of the four playing card suits.
The playfield of this "rollover game" featured 3 thumper bumpers, 2
"dead bumpers", and a host of rollover switches which lit up the cards on
the backglass. The game's two flippers were located in a more or less
standard position near the bottom of the field. There were also two
"gobble holes", one of which "spotted" a selected card on the backglass.
This game was also in excellent condition.
The following is a chronological listing of all of the pingames for
sale, play, and viewing in the Exhibit Hall:
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF PINGAMES AT EXPO '93
NAME MFG YEAR PRICE
------------------------------ --------------- ----- --------
FIVE STAR FINAL Gottlieb 1932 300
OFFICIAL Mills 1932 300
KINGS Genco 1935 SOLD
SPIT FIRE Genco 1935 SOLD
SQUADRON Rockola 1935 ??
GOLDEN WHEEL (PAYOUT) Bally 1937 1350
SIDE KICK Daval 1938 375
HIGH DIVE Gottlieb 1941 200
HUMPTY DUMPTY Gottlieb 1947 1200
CAROUSEL Keeney 1947 ??
HEAVY HITTER (BASEBALL) Bally 1948 500
RAINBOW Williams 1948 275
BOWLING CHAMP Gottlieb 1949 600
ST. LOUIS Williams 1949 300
THREE MUSKETEERS Gottlieb 1949 NFS
WILD WEST Gottlieb 1951 NFS
ATLANTIC CITY (BINGO) Bally 1952 395
CORONATION Gottlieb 1952 800
QUEEN OF HEARTS Gottlieb 1952 895
SKILL POOL Gottlieb 1952 ??
GYPSY QUEEN Gottlieb 1955 650
STRAIGHT FLUSH Gottlieb 1957 ??
WORLD CHAMP Gottlieb 1957 495
ROCKET SHIP Gottlieb 1958 ??
SUNSHINE (NO BACKGLASS) Gottlieb 1958 195
AROUND THE WORLD Gottlieb 1959 ??
MISS ANNABELLE Gottlieb 1959 400
SEA WOLF Williams 1959 ??
BIG CASINO Gottlieb 1961 495
FLIPPER CLOWN (AAB) Gottlieb 1962 300
FLIPPER COWBOY (AAB) Gottlieb 1962 ??
TROPIC ISLE Gottlieb 1962 NFS
GIGI Gottlieb 1963 800
HOOTENANNY Bally 1963 NFS
POKER FACE Keeney 1963 NFS
SLICK CHICK Gottlieb 1963 600
SWEET HEARTS Gottlieb 1963 395-600
2-IN-1 Bally 1964 495
MAD WORLD Bally 1964 NFS
PALOOKA Williams 1964 ??
SEA SHORE Gottlieb 1964 NFS
WING DING (AAB) Williams 1964 425
WORLD FAIR Gottlieb 1964 450-675
BANK-A-BALL Gottlieb 1965 ??
ICE REVUE Gottlieb 1965 ??
KINGS AND QUEENS Gottlieb 1965 400-1000
SKY-LINE Gottlieb 1965 600
HOT LINE Williams 1966 350
KICKER Chicago Coin 1966 ??
MAGIC CITY Williams 1967 500-700
SING ALONG Gottlieb 1967 350-550
PAUL BUNYAN Gottlieb 1968 NFS
CARD TRIX (AAB) Gottlieb 1970 275
MINI CYCLE Gottlieb 1970 NFS
HIGH SCORE POOL Chicago Coin 1971 NFS
ODDS AND EVENS Bally 1971 ?
NIP IT Bally 1972 950
WINNER Williams 1972 350 AS IS
JUMPING JACK Gottlieb 1973 ??
PRO POOL Gottlieb 1973 200
AIR ACES Bally 1974 550
CAPTAIN CARD (AAB) Gottlieb 1974 ??
FREE FALL (AAB) Gottlieb 1974 >>
HOKUS POKUS Bally 1975 350
OLD CHICAGO Bally 1975 700
SPIN OUT Gottlieb 1975 375
TRIPLE STRIKE Williams 1975 200
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Bally 1976 500-850
GRAND PRIX Williams 1976 450
NIGHT RIDER (SS) Bally 1976 600
PLAYBOY Bally 1976 600
ROYAL FLUSH Gottlieb 1976 ??
SPACE MISSION Williams 1976 450
SPACE ODYSSEY Williams 1976 ??
DISCO Stern 1977 200
EIGHT BALL Bally 1977 600
CLEOPATRA (SS) Gottlieb 1978 ??
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (SS) Gottlieb 1978 200
JOKER POKER (EM) Gottlieb 1978 ??
JOKER POKER (SS) Gottlieb 1978 ??
KISS Bally 1978 600-650
NUGENT Stern 1978 ??
SILVER BALL MANIA Bally 1978 ??
STARS Stern 1978 300
TORCH Gottlieb 1978 200
WORLD CUP (SS) Williams 1978 450
FUTURE SPA Bally 1979 ?
GORGAR Williams 1979 695
HOT HAND Stern 1979 650
SHARPSHOOTER Game Plan 1979 400
SOLAR RIDE (SS) Gottlieb 1979 ??
XENON Bally 1979 750-795
BIG GAME Stern 1980 450
BLACKOUT Williams 1980 475
CIRCUS Gottlieb 1980 ??
FATHOM Bally 1980 750
FIREPOWER Williams 1980 475
FLIGHT 2000 Stern 1980 500
SPIDER-MAN (AMAZING) Gottlieb 1980 600
BLACK HOLE Gottlieb 1981 300
CAVEMAN Gottlieb 1981 450
CENTAUR Bally 1981 695
JUNGLE LORD Williams 1981 ??
CENTAUR II Bally 1982 600
MR. AND MRS. PAC MAN Bally 1982 390
ORBITOR I Stern 1982 ??
AMAZON HUNT Gottlieb 1983 225
KRULL Gottlieb 1983 NFS
PINBALL CHAMP Zaccaria 1983 600
READY-AIM-FIRE Gottlieb 1983 350
KINGS OF STEEL Bally 1984 475
SPACE SHUTTLE Williams 1984 ??
CUE Stern 1984? NFS
FIREBALL CLASSIC Bally 1985 650-695
ROCK Gottlieb 1985 450/OBO
SORCERER Williams 1985 ??
GOLD WINGS Gottlieb 1986 495
HIGH SPEED Williams 1986 995
HOLLYWOOD HEAT Gottlieb 1986 600
PINBOT Williams 1986 850
RAVEN Gottlieb 1986 495
SPECIAL FORCE Bally 1986 550
BIG GUNS Williams 1987 ??
F-14 TOMCAT Williams 1987 ??
LASER WAR Data East 1987 695
MILLIONAIRE Williams 1987 795
MONTE CARLO Gottlieb 1987 850
PARTY ANIMAL Bally 1987 ??
SPRING BREAK Gottlieb 1987 850
DIAMOND LADY Gottlieb 1988 ??
ROAD KINGS Williams 1988 ??
TAXI Williams 1988 ??
BLACK KNIGHT 2000 Williams 1989 1295
POLICE FORCE Williams 1989 ??
GOLD BALL Bally 198? ??
GAME SHOW Bally 1990 1395
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Data East 1990 NFS
POOL SHARKS Bally 1990 ??
RIVERBOAT GAMBLER Bally 1990 ??
ROLLER GAMES Williams 1990 ??
GILLIGAN'S ISLAND Bally 1991 1995
STAR TREK Data East 1991 2095
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Data East 1991 1595
THE MACHINE (BRIDE OF PINBOT) Williams 1991 2150
FISH TALES Williams 1992 1995
HOOK Data East 1992 2295
LETHAL WEAPON III Data East 1992 2495
STREET FIGHTER II Gottlieb 1992 NFS
WORLD TOUR Alvin G. & Co. 1992 NFS
INDIANA JONES Williams 1993 NFS
JUDGE DREDD Bally 1993 NFS
JURASSIC PARK Data East 1993 NFS
LAST ACTION HERO Data East 1993 NFS
MYSTERY CASTLE Alvin G. & Co. 1993 NFS
PUNCHY THE CLOWN (REDEMPTION) Alvin G. & Co. 1993 NFS
TEE'D OFF Gottlieb 1993 NFS
TWILIGHT ZONE Bally 1993 NFS
Well, there you have it, the final installment of my coverage of
Pinball Expo '93 - the 9th Pinball Expo. The 10th Anniversary show has
already been scheduled for November 10 through 13, 1994. For more
information call show producers Rob Berk (1-800-323-FLIP) or Mike Pacak (1-
800-321-2722). Hope to see you there!
Last time I showed a photograph of the backglass drawing of the
"Design a Pinball Machine" game from the Expo - for the fictitious game
JOEY BUTTAFUOCO. At that time I failed to give credit to the fine artist,
Kai Bateman, who made the drawing. Great work Kai!