15 Greatest Pinball Firsts

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Pinball is one of our oldest, and greatest, American past times, which is why we're doing a list of the 15 Greatest Pinball Firsts. Even though it was illegal for years because politicians saw it as a form of gambling (ok, so some of it was), it eventually became known as a game of skill and the rest is history. Even though pinball machines aren't as popular as they were decades ago, they're still one of the most entertaining things you can play for a few quarters. Have you ever wondered which machines started the trends we see in later year pinball machines? Well, wonder no more pinheads. We're going to take a look at the 15 Greatest Pinball Firsts.

  • 15

    First split-level playfield

    Black Knight (1980)

    You can play on two different planes on the same machine? Yep. Black Knight started the split-level trend in current machines. That's why it's on our list of 15 Greatest Pinball Firsts.

  • 14

    First pinball to cost 50 cents

    Black Hole (1981)

    50 cents? WTF! The others cost a quarter. But if you wanted to play on Black Hole's lower-reversed playing surface (another first), you had to pony up for the privilege.

  • 13

    Interactive 3D backglass

    Scared Stiff (1996)

    Elvira's boobs weren't the only thing worth staring at on this pinball machine. The spinning interactive backglass was also pretty neat to watch.

  • 12

    First movie licensed pinball machine

    Wizard! (1975)

    The movies may have sucked (The Shadow, etc.), but the pins they were based off of rocked. Thank 1975's Tommy for starting the trend.

  • 11

    First talking pinball machine

    Gorgar (1979)

    Welcome to the wonderful world of taunting, which is what Gorgar did with its limited vocabulary. Gorgar paved the way for speech-infused pins.

  • 10

    First hologram

    Creature From the Black Lagoon (1992)

    Creature From the Black Lagoon had a great hologram feature in the middle of the playfield. Only problem was, you could drain a ball watching the hologram instead of the action.

  • 9

    Swing out cannon that players fire

    Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

    A cannon that you have to fire at the right time to get the bonus? OK, we're down with that. Like Arnold, the cannon came back in other pins.

  • 8

    First electronic multi-ball, animated display, solid state table to feature multi-ball

    Firepower (1980)

    Firepower had a lot of firsts, the biggest being the electronic multi-ball feature, which turned crazy action with one ball into stress inducing panic with multiple balls.

  • 7

    First with three inch flippers

    Hayburners II (1968)

    Flippers weren't always three inches. But when Hayburners II used them, it created an industry first. And an industry standard. That's why it's on our list of the 15 Greatest Pinball Firsts.

  • 6

    First Dot Matrix Display

    Checkpoint (1991)

    The first DMD pinball was Checkpoint, paving the way for all new kinds of crazy features that could be implemented into pinball machine displays.

  • 5

    First machine with a tilt feature

    Broker's Tip (1933)

    Even back in the '30s, people were trying to get that extra edge playing pinball. Broker's Tip put an end to cheat based scoring, and it has been pissing us off ever since.

  • 4

    First to offer extra balls

    Flipper (1960)

    If five balls weren't doing it for you, Flipper let you earn an extra one, increasing your play time. It has been an industry first that has been used in just about every pinball machine since.

  • 3

    Backboard replaced with LCD monitor

    Wizard of Oz (2012)

    Stern may still be cranking out machines left and right, but Jersey Jack Pinball is paving the way for the next generation of pins with their clever and creative Wizard of Oz. The LCD monitor idea is an awesome one.

  • 2

    First to use bumpers

    Bolo (1936)

    They may not look like the bumpers of today, but they started an industry trend that will never stop.

  • 1

    First to use flippers

    Humpty Dumpty (1947)

    Let's face it, pinball would suck if it didn't have flippers. Humpty Dumpty turned pinball from a game of luck into a game of skill, that's why it is the #1 entry in our list of the 15 Greatest Pinball Firsts.

Categories: Lists, Retro Games
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