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Who Invented The Pinball Machine?

The true history of the pinball machine is much longer, but it's still about having fun. The earliest roots of modern pinball can be traced back to an 18th century French parlor game called bagatelle. Players took turns throwing balls into small holes, located around the playing field, using a small signal.

The game eventually made its way to the United States, where it became so popular that political cartoons featured it. Other arcade games that came after were skeeball, space invaders. You can also buy vintage skee ball machine through online sites.

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The next step in the evolution of the modern pinball can was in 1870, when Cincinnati toymaker Montague Redgrave replaced the small cue with a coil spring-driven plunger. This same plunger device is still in use today. 

By fixing the position of the plunger, the space required to play was greatly reduced, allowing it to fit on countertops and bars. It also removed much of the coordination required to play the game. If you could pull the plunger, you could play pinball.

The first true pinball machines were developed in and around Chicago around the time of the Great Depression. Units were bowed, the marbles used were replaced by the familiar steel balls, and the classic wickets (similar to those in croquet) were replaced by skittles. In the 1950s, the modern pinball machine was born.

Technical improvements to pinball machines in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s included the introduction of drop-down targets, flippers of different sizes (and amounts), different types of bumpers, and improved scoring mechanisms that now allowed multiple players to compete against each other. 

Eventually pinball machines became electronic with computer chips replacing mechanical relays. The lighting improved as the number of lights increased and the music added to the fun.