( a new book)


                         by Russ Jensen



     In early June of this year a publication, which many pinball

collectors have been awaiting for quite some time, was finally

released.  This little book, titled "Pinball Collectors

Resource", contains a virtual "treasure trove" of pinball

information, and is also a "gateway" into the largest pinball

information computer database ever assembled.


     The book's author/compilers, Don Mueting and Rob Hawkins,

are certainly no strangers to the pinball world as their pocket

sized booklet, "Pinball Reference Guide", published way back in

1979, has been carried around by many, many pinball collectors

(including yours truly) ever since it first came out.


     To properly understand the scope of the new book a peek into

it's history, and the history of it's two creators, is certainly

in order.  So I shall do that first, before describing the

contents of the new book in detail.


                         THE BEGINNINGS


     Back in the mid 1970's aerospace industry computer

programmer Don Mueting was becoming interested in pinball

machines and their dates of manufacture.  Don had obtained an

electro-mechanical paper tape controlled typing machine (a

Frieden 'Flex-o-writer') and decided to use it to help him

prepare a listing of such information.


     Around the same time, Los Angeles area high school teacher

Rob Hawkins was doing research for his Master's Thesis on the

subject of the history of the pinball machine.


     Also about this same time, yours truly had decided to

research pinball manufacturing dates for the period from the late

1930's up to the early 1950's using microfilm copies of BILLBOARD

magazine at the Los Angeles Public Library.  My project was

precipitated by a list of pinball manufacturing dates for the

period 1951 through 1972 which I had obtained; that information

having been compiled by other researchers also using BILLBOARD



     While visiting an Orange County pinball operator one evening

(who occasionally had old games for sale) I happened to tell him

about what I had done with BILLBOARD.  As soon as I told him he

said to me "I got a call the other day from a fellow who said he

was compiling a list of pinballs and their dates of release who,

I am sure, would like to get in touch with you".  He then gave me

this person's name and telephone number.


     The fellow he was referring to was none other than Don

Mueting.  I called Don, and when he explained what he was doing

with his Flex-o-writer, I told him about the information I had,

which I agreed to provide to him to aid his project.


     A short time later I became acquainted with Rob Hawkins and

obtained a copy of his thesis.  When I told Rob about Don's

project he was quite interested in helping, so I gave Rob Don's

number and they quickly became 'partners' in the "pinball dating



     Don's first 'Flex-o-writer list' was released in July 1976.

He sent copies of the list to anyone he knew who was interested

in pinball, asking for any corrections/additions to it, later

updating it in December of that year.  A short time later the

Flex-o-writer was "retired" and the whole database transferred to

a computer where it could be much more easily modified, which has

been happening continuously ever since.


                    "PINBALL REFERENCE GUIDE"


     In 1979 Don and Rob, in conjunction with Mead Publishing

Co., came out with a handy "pocket sized" booklet containing the

pinball dating information from their computer database.  The

guide contained listings of approximately 2500 pinball machines

manufactured up through late 1978 or early 1979.


     The list contained columns for Model Name, Manufacturer

(abbreviation), and Date (year, and month if known), and of

course was in alphabetical order by model.  In order to easily

reference the game manufacturers' names, Don and Rob came up with

a three letter abbreviation for each company.  A listing of all

the manufacturers and their abbreviations was given at the

beginning of the book.  Since the publication of "Pinball

Reference Guide" in 1979, these abbreviations have become sort of

a "de facto standard" among pinball collectors.


     In addition, many of the game listings contained a reference

to one or more "notes" regarding various game characteristics or

historical facts.  These notes were presented after the main



     Well, over the years since it's introduction in 1979, this

little book has sold many copies and, as I said earlier, has been

carried around and often referenced by a majority of the pinball

collectors in this country and other parts of the world as well.

Ever since I got my original copy of "Pinball Reference Guide"

from Don Mueting right after it came out in 1979, it has always

been carried in my inside coat pocket.  In fact, less than a week

before I received my copy of the new "Pinball Collectors

Resource" the bedraggled cover finally totally fell off my copy

of "Pinball Reference Guide".




     In the years since the 1979 publication of "Pinball

Reference Guide" Don and Rob's computer database has been

continually expanding.  In addition to the inclusion of all new

models to come out since that time, they have been collecting and

recording many different types of information about each game.

The "Pinball Collectors Resource" is a "gateway"  to the

information now contained in the database, but more about that,

and the types of data it contains, shortly. 


     The "Pinball Collectors Resource" is somewhat larger in

format, and considerably larger in content than "Pinball

Reference Guide".  But, for the sake of us who like to carry

around a pocket size listing of pins, Don and Rob have included

(at not extra charge!) a small pocket version of the new book

containing only the MODEL NAME, NOTES (Code only), MFG

(manufacturer code), DATE, and P (number of players) for each



     The main book is divided into four (well, actually 5)

sections.  After a detailed description (with examples) of how

the book can be used, the book contains a 6 page listing of all

the game manufacturers and their abbreviations used in the book.

This is a much expanded list compared to the similar list found

in "Pinball Reference Guide".


     In addition to the abbreviations, this list also includes

two other interesting pieces of information.  First, there is a

column which indicates the number of games in the database

credited to each company.  Last, but not least, in cases where

more than one game are shown for a manufacturer, another column

indicates the range of years for which games are listed for that



     The second, and most important section of the book, is the

alphabetical game listing which includes information on 3966

games (a far cry from the 2500 in "Pinball Reference Guide").

This listing is divided into 9 columns, the contents of which are

described below.


     The first, second, and fourth columns in the listing are

MODEL NAME, MFG (manufacturer abbreviation), and DATE, similar to

what appeared in the old Pinball Reference Guide.  The third

column, titled "NOTES", contains one or more two letter

abbreviations which refer to notes appearing in the next section

of the book; but more about that later.


     The next column, labeled "P", indicates the number of

players (1,2 4, or 6) the game was designed to accommodate.


     The following column, labeled "OPFBS", contains combinations

of one or more of these letters to indicate the presence of

certain types of information in the computer database.


     "O" indicates that the database contains information

regarding one or more persons who have that game in their

collections.  "P" indicates that the owner of a replacement

playfield, or set of "playfield plastics", for the game is

contained in the database.


     "F", "B", and "S" indicate that the owner of an advertising

flyer, a backglass, or a schematic diagram respectively, for the

game is referenced in the database.


     The next column in the list, labeled "I" and referred to as

the "information" column, can contain one of three letters.  An

"N" indicates that no further information on the game is

contained in the database.  A "P" indicates that additional

information as to the location of pictures of the game is

contained in the database, in addition to that shown in the

"PICTURES" column to be described next.


     The letter "R" appearing in the "I column" indicates that

the database contains information referring to at least one

"reference" to the game appearing in a book, magazine article,

etc.  The authors define a "reference" as: "written text

referring to that particular model [of game], but containing no



     The last column, and probably the most interesting (except,

of course, for the columns defining the game itself), is the

"PICTURES" column.  It gives a direct reference to the location

of a picture of the game to be found in a book or magazine.


     In this column a two letter abbreviation indicates in which

publication the picture is to be found (a listing of publications

and their respective abbreviations appears in the book's

introductory material).  If the reference is to a picture from a

magazine, information as to it's date of release (year and month

or quarter) is also given.  The page number where the picture can

be found is then given.


     Picture information of this kind is of great interest to

many people who hear about a game being offered for sale and want

to know what it looks like.  Incidentally, there are 1753 such

picture references contained in the listing.


     If a "P" also appears in the "information" ("I") column, it

means that additional picture references appear in the database.

In some cases the "P" appears without anything shown in the

"PICTURES" column.  This indicates that the picture reference

contained in the database is to photographs in the possession of

individuals (such as my own 600 plus model photo collection) and

not in a publication.


     One final note before ending this discussion of the game

listing section of the book.  At the upper left-hand corner of

each page is printed two large letters.  These are the first two

letters of the name of the first game listed on that page, making

it a lot easier to find a particular machine in the listing.


     The next section of the book contains the detailed notes

referenced in the "NOTES" column of the game listing.  Each note

is preceded by a two letter code used in the "NOTES" column to

reference that particular note.


     These notes (which incidentally were written by Rob Hawkins)

contain information on various special game characteristics, and

a wealth of historical information regarding pingames and the

pingame industry.  Reading these notes by themselves, I

guarantee, will give anyone a valuable insight into the

fascinating history of the pinball machine.


     Following the note section is Appendix A, a short listing

entitled "War Time Conversions".  This is a listing of pingames

produced, mostly during World War II, by taking pre-war pingames

and modifying ('revamping') them in some way to create a "new



     This listing is composed of four columns.  The first column

shows the name of the "new game".  Next is the three letter code

representing the company that did the 'converting'.  The third

column shows the date the game was converted, the last column

telling from which pre-war game (if known) the new game was



     In addition to those conversions made during the war, the

list contains a few conversions, mostly made in 1948 and 1949,

where pre-flipper pingames were converted to "flipper games".

These conversions were done right after the introduction of the

flipper to pinball in late 1947 made pre-flipper pins virtually

obsolete in a few months time.


     At the end of the "War Time Conversions" listing there is a

short listing titled "Post War Conversions" listing 17

'conversions' done to pingames, mostly to solid-state pins in the

1980's.  This listing does, however, include three conversions

made in the early 1950's, even including a conversion to the

first flipper game Gottlieb's HUMPTY DUMPTY itself!


     A final comment on these "conversion lists".  The conversion

games contained in these lists are also included in the main game

listing with a notation of "CO" in the "NOTES" column indicating

that for information as to which game they were converted from

you had to refer to the "conversion lists" contained in Appendix

A.  The only problem is that this "CO" does not seem to be

referenced anywhere in the book.


     The last three pages of the book contain three "forms" for

the book's user to use.  The first form is called a "Registration

Form".  The authors suggest you fill it in and send it to them as

soon as possible after receiving your copy of the book so that

they can let your know about future "updates" to it.


     In addition to this, they offer each purchaser of the book

the chance to get free information from their database related to

one pingame of your choice which is listed in the book.  After

naming your game of interest, the form provides a checklist to

use to indicate what type of information you would like regarding

the chosen game (book or magazine pictures or references; owners

of the game; the location of schematics, advertising flyers,

etc.; backglasses available; etc.).


     The second form, titled "Information Request Form", is to be

used to request information, similar to that just described, for

additional games.  For this information they say there will be a

charge, and that you will be notified as to what it will be after

they have determined how much of the information you requested is

contained in their database.


     Considering the scope of their constantly growing database

(believe me - I have seen it!) it would seem to me that the

nominal charge would be well worth it, as this type of

information is generally pretty hard to come by.


     The last form in the book is titled "Reader's Comment Form".

It is to be used, as the name implies, by owners of the book to

provide the authors with information as to errors found in the

book, or data on additional games which should be added to future

editions.  Don and Rob describe "Pinball Collectors Resource" as

a "living document" saying it probably will be updated in the

future if justified by the amount of new information they obtain.


     Well, there you have it, a detailed description of the long

awaited update to the old "Pinball Reference Guide", the "Pinball

Collectors Resource".  By the way, the main listing section

contains 105 pages, in addition to the 6 page Manufacturers List

and 21 pages of "Notes".


     Now, if you are a long-time user of "Pinball Reference

Guide" and want to get the latest, most accurate information, or

if you have never heard of such a publication and are dying to

get your hands on one, here's what to do:


     Send a check for $25.00 to:


          Donald Mueting

          6638 Eddinghill Dr.

          Rancho Palos Verdes, CA



I guarantee you you won't regret it!