that started it all... WHIFFLE BOARD!
1931 Automatic Industries
A real piece of pinball history!
At the Pinball Clinic, we generally don't sell machines of this vintage as we're getting more into the realm of true antiques with a piece like this. But... when I came across this item, I simply fell in love with it for many reasons. First, being in the pinball business I recognize this as a truly significant piece of history. For the most part, this game is considered to be the first true coin-operated pinball machine. It's been debated as to what is considered a pinball machine and how there were earlier "games" that were or could be fitted with coin slides to make a profit, etc. The idea for this game came from an existing bagatelle type game which is the kind of game usually played by children by launching a ball up a slanted board where the ball could then bounce off of pins and land in scoring holes or cups of some sort. The conversion into a coin-op type game came with a few key innovations... adding a coin slide to accept monies, separating the player from the playfield with a piece of glass and most importantly how to have the game reset itself for the next player (with no electrical or automated components). Later on in the same year, Gottlieb introduced Baffle Ball which used some of the basics from this game and expanded on the original premise. The newly formed Bally company also would come out with a game with the same basic workings in 1932 called Ballyhoo. Many people are familiar with the Gottlieb and Bally names, but are unaware that a little company called Automatic Industries really started it all. The "pinball patent wars" would soon follow with many companies trying to out-innovate each other to earn the pennies, nickles and dimes of millions of depression-era Americans.
Second on my list of why I picked this up is that the
condition is absolutely marvelous. To have an item like this with all of
it's original parts (less the coin box), on it's original stand, and to be
working just as well as it did when it was manufactured is truly amazing.
I see plenty of pre-war games all the time. For the most part, they are in
deplorable condition, having been stored poorly, infested with mice or bugs,
water damaged, moldy, rusty and rotted, etc. Sure, the right person can
restore anything and make it look better than new without question. But to
have something like this that hasn't been restored and be this nice is truly
incredible. I also couldn't believe how enjoyable this game actually is to
play. My son and I took turns trying to beat each other to get the high
score. Imagine this... a 16 year old that never wants to put down his iPad
playing and truly enjoying something his great grandparents would have passed
the time on. This little gem is cool to look at, fun to play and even more
fun to talk about and imagine the different people that played it many decades
before I was even born!
Fantastic ORIGINAL cabinet! This
has not had any restoration done to it!
The often missing stand is also in fantastic condition!
All original coin slide, plunger and ball lift mechanism.
According to the still-working mechanical coin counter, it currently has 16,543 plays on it.
It works 100% correctly, just like it did 83 years ago!
Playboard is beautiful with all original pins intact!
Glass is original with some scratches. Scratches are on the cover glass, NOT on the playfield itself.
It has all 10 original marbles, 9 white and 1 red.
Original instruction card!