Pinball Machines

Pinball Machines

The game of pinball is a fast-paced and exciting experience. You will need to be alert at all times and anticipate the ball’s movements to get a high score.

Most pinball machines have two flippers on the bottom of the playfield. However, some have more. These are known as kickers.


The pinball machine is a game of skill that involves guiding metal balls along a board using flippers and other mechanical, electrical, and electronic parts. It is played with a coin and can be found in bars, candy stores, pool halls, and amusement arcades.

The first modern pinball machines appeared in the 1930s and were purely electromechanical. They launched a ball that rolled down the playfield, guided by static nails (or “pins”) to one of several scoring areas. Electrical switches detected contact with the pins and triggered electromechanical relays to ratchet up the score.

The first flippers were invented in 1937 and debuted on Chicago game designer Harry Mabs’s game Bally Hoo. Gottlieb’s 1947 Humpty Dumpty revolutionized the game by introducing six flippers with three on each side. By the early 1950s, two flippers were standard. This led to more frequent scoring and more exciting plays, but pinball machine by the end of the boom, video games began to replace pinball in many arcades. Pinball continued to be popular, however, in family entertainment centers and some hotels.


The rules of pinball machines vary depending on the game, but most have the same basic features. The player uses the flippers on either side of the machine to control the ball, which can be shot up ramps and toward bumpers or targets for points. Usually, the machine keeps track of your current score on a dot matrix display, and also shows you animations or words about which ramps to shoot and which targets to hit for maximum scoring.

Many modern games offer a feature called match, in which a set digit of the player’s score matches a random digit to award a free game. This was a common feature in older machines, but less popular now because of a phenomenon known as score inflation.

Another way to earn a free game is to hit the machine’s flashing “replay value” number during your last ball. You can do this by alternating the two flippers when the ball is falling down. To avoid losing the game, try to anticipate the movements of the ball rather than reacting to it. This will give you more control and increase your score.

Game mechanics

A pinball player inserts a coin to unlock a spring plunger that can propel a ball up an alley on the glass-topped playing field. The ball descends through gates, between posts, and off bumpers, whose electrical contact points record cumulative scores on a lighted panel at the top of the machine. A variety of time-related scoring modes adds to the game’s challenge.

In addition to score recording, most modern machines feature a dot-matrix display (DMD) on the backglass that relays messages and hints about the game’s rules and strategy. In addition, many newer games connect to the Internet and offer online competition and content.

Most modern pinball machines also include slingshots or kickers, rubber pads that launch the ball into the upper left and upper right of the lower set of flippers. These operate similar to pop bumpers, and close a switch when the ball contacts them.


A modern pinball machine contains an intricate weaving of mechanical and electrical parts that work together to create a game. Most of the electronics are housed in a large box (the cabinet) that protects the playfield and display panel. The front of the cabinet is typically illustrated with stylized graphics related to the game’s theme.

The cabinet includes a transformer that converts AC wall voltage into the higher DC outputs needed by the game’s circuitry. This circuitry usually includes fuses, an on/off switch, line filters and power surge protection. This protects the game from power spikes that can damage other components and cause arcing that can trip household breakers.

A typical pinball game contains 64 to 96 TTL-level inputs from various sensors, such as mechanical leaf switches and optical and electromagnetic sensors. These signals are converted to system logic by a microprocessor. The outputs Arcade Game Machine from these sensors drive solenoids, motors and electromagnets on the game’s playfield. There are also 12 to 24 high-impulse lighting outputs that provide general illumination for the playfield and backbox artwork.


Since the first pinball machine was made in 1947, people have been obsessed with making a little silver ball jump around a table and fly up ramps while hitting targets and scoring points. Modern games use a complex weaving of mechanical and electronic parts to create an interactive game experience.

Many modern games use combination shots to award more points. For example, a player might shoot a ramp that activates an interactive poker game on the display screen. This type of combination shot is an effective way to increase a player’s score and earn bragging rights for high scores.

Other features of modern pinball machines include rollovers and spinners. The former are targets that activate when a ball passes over them, while the latter is a flat surface hinged in the middle that causes the ball to rotate and adds points. Some machines also feature lane-style targets that function differently depending on the theme of the game. For instance, some lane-style targets on the bottom of the playfield are “inlanes” that feed the ball back to the flippers, while others are “outlanes” that cause the ball to drain immediately.