The Strong Receives Collection Chronicling American Pinball
May 23, 2018
For Immediate Release
The Strong Museum Receives Materials
Documenting the History of American Pinball
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK—The Strong recently acquired a collection of tens of thousands of pages of archival materials documenting the history of three of the most important American coin-operated game and pinball machine manufacturers of the 20th century—Bally, Williams, and Midway. The records span nearly seven decades and document the manufacturing, engineering, and design of hundreds of pinball machines and other coin-operated games.
“Bally and Williams in particular are integral to the story of American pinball, and along with Gottlieb, they are to the pinball industry what Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler were to the American automotive industry,” says Jeremy Saucier, assistant vice president for interpretation and electronic games. “The materials in this collection should prove invaluable to researchers interested in the history of the pinball industry, but they will also add crucial source materials to researchers studying the coin-operated ancestors to modern video games.”
The collection features a wide range of original, one-of-a-kind engineering, manufacturing, and design documentation spanning the rise of pin games in the 1930s through the shutdown of Williams’s pinball division at the end of the century. Bills of material for Bally games such as Rocket (1933) and Skyscraper (1934) are among the earliest pieces of original company documentation known to exist. Other significant items include 20 engineering log books from programmers and software engineers such as Noah Falstein, Bill Pfutzenreuter, and Ed Suchoki that document work on solid state pinball and other arcade games in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The bulk of the collection relates to pinball, but the assemblage also includes some video game, slot machine, and other arcade game materials, including documentation related to the American Amusement Machine Association Standardization Committee and the City of Los Angeles’ electrical guideline revisions for pinball and arcade games.
“Pinball is currently experiencing a renaissance as a new generation of digital natives discover it. This collection helps us better understand how pinball manufacturers created this popular American game that’s evolved into a unique blend of mechanical action and electronic sounds and video,” says Saucier.
The materials enhance the museum’s unparalleled collection of documentation related to coin-operated games and pinball machines such as the Williams Pinball Playfield Design Collection and the Atari Coin-Op Divisions Collection.
About The Strong
The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the history and exploration of play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play.