by Russ Jensen



     When the pinball industry began in the early Thirties the main

competition to the fledgling pinball machines were the three reel

slot machines, commonly referred to as "bell machines".  Slot

machines were still legal in many areas of the country at that time

and were a major product of the coin machine industry.


     Slot machine players deposited many coins in a relatively

short period of time as opposed to pinball in which a game of 5 or

10 balls - at a penny or nickel a game - lasted a minute or two.

The introduction of electricity (first from batteries and then

A.C.) into pinball during the 1934-1936 period made possible a new

concept in pinball design, the "multiple coin" pinball.  In this

type of pingame the player could deposit more than one coin (if

desired) before starting the game to increase his chances of

winning.  In addition, in most of these games, the number of balls

per game was decreased to one and these games were soon referred to

as "one-ball machines".




     Two elements - the increase in the number of coins played per

game, and the reduction in the number of balls from five or ten to

one - made the operator's earnings from the new type of pingame

more comparable to those from the bell slot machine.  (Note: Some

one-ball payout pinball games were made with single coin operation

before the introduction of multiple coin games.)


     Early in 1936 D. Gottlieb and Co. introduced a game called

DAILY RACES which was to set the pattern for almost all one-ball

multiple coin machines for the next fifteen years.  (It's

interesting to note that Gottlieb used the name DAILY RACES again

on their last one-ball machine in the early 1947.)


     The 1936 DAILY RACES had it's playfield divided into three

sections labeled WIN (near the bottom), PLACE (in the center), and

at the top SHOW.  Each of these sections contained 8 consecutively

numbered holes.   The backglass had lighted panels corresponding to

each of these numbers, and additional panels to indicate the "odds"

to be won by matching a number in each of the three sections of the

playfield.  In order to "win", a player had to get his one ball

into a hole whose corresponding number on the backglass was lit.


     If he succeeded, he would win whatever the lit odds were for

the section of the playfield (WIN, PLACE, or SHOW) in which his

ball landed.  Since the chance of the ball reaching the lower

sections of the playfield (without dropping into a hole) were less

than it going into one of the top holes, the odds for WIN were

highest, PLACE a little lower, and SHOW the lowest.


     In most of the early games of this type the first coin

deposited would light number '1' and select a set of odds.

Additional coins could then be deposited to light additional

numbers (generally in order) and to possibly advance the odds.  A

player could therefore cause all the numbers (generally referred to

as "Selections") to be winners but could still "lose" if his

"winnings" were less than the number on coins initially deposited.


     Shortly after DAILY RACES, Bally - who was to become the major

producer of multiple coin machines - introduced their first multi-

section playfield game, HIALEAH.  By the end of 1936, a fourth

section (usually called PURSE) was added at the top of the field,

and most one-ball machines from then on had four-section





     The years between 1936 and the start of World War II saw much

advance in the technical development of these machine, but the

playfields and backglasses (except for getting taller) changed very

little.  Most of these machines had a horse race motif with the

"numbers" ('1' through '7' on most machines) corresponding to horse

"selections" in a race, and the "odds" displayed on the backboard

corresponding to the "winnings" on the horse - depending on where

it placed in the race - 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th.  (NOTE: some games

of this type had other themes such as baseball, and Gottlieb's

DOUBLE FEATURE in 1937 had a motion picture Academy Awards theme).


     One significant change made in the operation of these machines

was a change in what each additional coin would do.  Instead of

each coin lighting one additional selection,  later one-balls

offered a random selection or selections with each additional coin

- from one to possibly all selections could be lit with each coin



     In addition to extra coins lighting additional numbers (or

'features' in later machines), many of the later pre-war and early

post-war machines had a "multiplier" feature.  The depositing of

the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th coins would light "multipliers" on the

backglass which indicated that the payoff for achieving a "win"

would be multiplied by the numbers of coins inserted (up to 4).  If

more than four coins were deposited the "multiplier" would remain

at four.  These machines came to be know as "One-ball Multiples"

within the industry.


     The physical appearance of one-ball machines, while generally

similar to other pinball games, differed mainly in their massive

cabinets.  Instead of individual legs, many one-balls had the front

and back of the cabinet touching the floor.  The artwork on the

cabinets (as well as the backglass and playfield) were usually

based on horse racing scenes.  The names of most of these games

were those of famous racehorses, racetracks, or other "racy" terms.


     During World War II production of all pingames was, of course,

banned.  Conversions of older one-balls, like amusement pinballs,

did occur frequently during the war however.  When the war ended

Bally celebrated the event by coming out with their first new

pingames, a pair of one-balls called VICTORY SPECIAL and VICTORY

DERBY.  These two games were virtually identical except that the

former indicated "awards" as replays, with the latter paying off

directly in coins.


     This idea of "replay/payout pairs" became pretty much standard

with Bally after the war.  The names of both games of a "pair" were

usually quite similar,  with the word SPECIAL in a name usually

signifying a "replay" model.  Other examples of such pairs were:



     From the end of World War II to the end of the "one-ball era"

(1951), several "come-on" features were added to these games.  One

of these new ways to attract players was generally referred to as

a "spell name feature".  When this feature was incorporated into a

game two additional holes (often labeled simply "L" and "R" for

"left" and "right", or occasionally by some "horsey" name such as

"boot" and "saddle") were added at the extreme bottom of the

playfield.  Two corresponding lights were found on the backglass

which lit at random intervals (called "Mystery Intervals" by the

manufacturers) upon insertion of additional coins.


     If a player succeeded in getting a ball in one of these holes,

when the corresponding light was lit, a small number of replays

were awarded.  In addition, the next letter of the name of the game

on the backglass would light up and remain lit from game to game.

When the final letter of the name was eventually lit, a large

number of replays would be awarded (or in the case of a few games

all seven selections would light for the next game) and the name

lights reset to a predetermined minimum number of letters.


     Another popular feature which was added to many post-war one-

balls was the so-called "A-B-C-D Feature".  Four standard pinball

bumpers (or in a few cases extra holes) were added to the playfield

and labeled 'A', 'B', 'C', and 'D'.  These bumpers would each light

when lit in sequence and remain lit from game to game.  When the

"D" bumper was finally hit, the next coin deposited would turn on

some special feature such as lighting all of the seven "selections"

on the backglass for the next game.  At the start of the next game

these bumpers would be reset to their unlit condition.


     One of the most widely used "come-on" features on one-ball

games was simply called "Feature" (standing for, I believe,

"Feature Race").  A hole bearing that label was placed at the

extreme bottom of the playfield, but just slightly above the "L"

and "R" holes making it even harder to get a ball to land in.  A

lighted panel on the backglass, also labeled "FEATURE", would flash

on and off as coins were deposited.  This light would rarely

(usually once for each 400 coins deposited) remain lit. If it did,

and a player succeeded in getting his ball into the "Feature" hole,

a special payoff would be made.

     There were two common types of payoffs associated with the

"Feature", "direct" and "build-up".  If the game was designed or

set (many machines had an operator option as to which type of

payoff a game would use) for a "direct" payoff a large number of

replays (or coins if it was a coin payout machine) would be given.

The usual amounts of these payoffs were between 40 and 320 in

multiples of forty.  If the machine was set for "build-up" payoffs

the scheme was somewhat different.  A feature build-up award was

indicated somewhere on the backboard, such as by using lighted

numbers, a projected number, or, as in the later machines, a number

shown in a window much the same as the free game window in most

amusement pinballs.


     This number started off at a minimum value (usually '1') and

would be incremented at 'mystery intervals" as coins were

deposited.  The number shown generally represented the feature

payoff in dollars which would be awarded to a player successfully

landing in the feature hole when the feature light was lit.  If a

player succeeded in doing this he would have to call the location

owner over to the machine, show him he had made the feature, and be

paid off by him directly in cash, the amount of dollars indicated

on the backboard.  The next coin deposited (or the depression of a

button underneath the cabinet by the location man) would reset the

award number to it's minimum value and the whole process would be



     Designers of these games incorporated these "come-on

features", which remained "on" from game to game, to tempt either

the current player, or one who just happened to be walking by the

machine; after all, the potential special condition was "only a few

coins away."