The Biggest Amusement Value Ever Offered in Coin Machine History!
No discussion of Pinball
history would be complete without mentioning Baffle Ball
. Invented by David Gottlieb
in 1931, this is the first commercially successful
"pin game". It is rightly credited with jumpstarting the entire pinball industry, to the point of often being misidentified as the first pinball game ever.
As with other such games of the time, Baffle Ball
required players to shoot ten colored metal balls into a series of scoring pockets or slots. Shooting a ball into a hole of the same color doubled the score, and shooting a ball into the "Baffle Point" at the top of the field doubled the score for the entire game. The success of Baffle Ball
came from a combination of challenge and affordability during The Great Depression
; a Baffle Ball
machine cost $17.50 to buy, and games cost only a penny to play. In contrast, competitors like Whiffle
cost over $100 for a machine and required a nickel to play.
While Baffle Ball
did not cause a nationwide shortage in pennies,
it did become an instant sensation, and Gottlieb boasted that many locations made back the cost of the machine after a single day. Some unscrupulous operators would offer cash rewards for high scores, further enticing players to feed in their pennies.
With the factory running 24 hours a day, Gottlieb could produce 400 games a day... but they had 75,000
orders to fill. Baffle Ball
's success prompted similar machines from Gottlieb's competitors,
, Rock-Ola, and Williams Electronics
In the end, 50,000 Baffle Ball
machines were made with different prices and balls per game. By the time the line stopped, it had spawned a new industry, started a new company, and secured a place in gaming history.
A digital version is available on Microsoft Pinball Arcade
Baffle Ball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Follow the Leader: The success of Baffle Ball led to countless imitators.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Shooting a ball into the Baffle Point will double your score for the entire game... unless you knock out the ball with another one.
- Score Multiplier: The individual colored saucers, which doubled points for any matching-colored shots that landed in them, and the Baffle Point, which doubled the score for the entire game.
- Scoring Points: Averted due to technology. Baffle Ball was a purely mechanical game, and required players to calculate scores themselves. The digital version found in Microsoft Pinball Arcade plays this straight, however.
- Skill Shot: The Baffle Point.
- Top-Down View