See 40+ vintage pinball machines from the 1940s

Vintage pinball game

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While pinball-style tabletop ball games have been around since the 1700s, it took a giant egg to help usher in a new era of arcade game fun in the late 1940s.

The Humpty Dumpty pinball machine was released on October 25, 1947, and was the first such machine to include flippers the player could move, which required more skill to play, and allowed the ball to stay in play longer.

This post-war innovation — touted as “sensational player-controlled flipper bumpers” — really did boost the game’s popularity, and record numbers of these amusements were made and played.

Here’s a look at an early ad for that first newfangled pinball machine, and 45 more of the many themed pinball games that followed in 1947, 1948 and 1949.

Vintage pinball machine with flippers


The first pinball game: “Humpty Dumpty” (1947)

The greatest innovation in the history of pin games!

The player will laugh! The spectator will roar! The operator will be thrilled!

Yes… something new has been added… sensational player-controlled flipper bumpers!

Super-sensitive Flipper Button, on side of cabinet, controls 6 unique flipper bumpers on playing field.

With skill and timing, player can control balls… can send them zooming from the bottom right back to the top… whizzing and bounding around the field for additional scoring! It’s positively terrific!

Billboard Nov 8 1947 Humpty Dumpty pinball game


“Moon Glow” vintage forties pinball game (1948)

Moon Glow pinball game - Billboard Dec 11, 1948


Vintage arcade-style pinball games – Genco’s “Big Top” (1949)

Step this way gentlemen… and get a load of this action-packed… thrill-filled headliner!

It’s big! It’s great! It’s a topper and a stopper!

Yessiree… every day will be a big day with “Big Top“!

Vintage arcade-style pinball games - Genco's Big Top (1949)


United’s “Ramona” vintage pinball game (1949)

United's Ramona vintage pinball game (1949)


Bally’s “Jockey Special” pinball machine (1947)

New Bally one ball multiples — “Jockey Special” and “Jockey Club” with amazing new horseshoe flash!

More thrills for players! More profits for operators! Thanks to the new sensational horseshoe flash which permits player to play extra coins to qualify for 5 big horseshoe features:

  1. Purse section receives Win odds
  2. Show section receives Win odds
  3. Show section receives top odds — 40, 80, 120, or 160
  4. Number 4 added to lit sections
  5. Numbers 3 and 5 added to lit sections

No wonder players never stop at normal multiple play… but keep on… six, eight, or ten coins per game.

Billboard Nov 8 1947 Horseshoe Flash pinball


United’s “Hawaii Roll-Down” console cabinet (1947)

Billboard Nov 22 1947 Hawaii Roll Down pinball machine


“Photo-Finish” — Universal’s sensational 1-ball winner (1949)

Billboard Jul 9 1949 pinball photo finish


Go places with Gottlieb’s “Cinderella” arcade cabinet (1948)

Ride along with “Cinderella” to get into the best spots in town!

The game with the Gottlieb “Magic Touch” opens all the doors for dependably bigger earnings!

Billboard Apr 10 1948 pinball cinderella


Williams’ 5-ball “Bonanza” pinball game (1947)

Billboard Nov 22 1947 Bonanza pinball game

ALSO SEE: Remember vintage coin-operated rides? Horses, spaceships, boats & more from the ’50s


Genco “Triple Action” pinball machine (1948)

Billboard Feb 28 1948 pinball triple action


Bally’s “Champion / Kentucky One-ball” pinball machines (1949)

New “Wild” sections — New Double-Score — Famous “Citation” Odds

2 horse-shoe buttons insure 25% to 100% increase in coins played per game!

Bally “Champion” is actually three great games in one.

Players play coin after coin for selections and odds. If you thought “Citation” was a sensational money-maker, wait till “Champion” starts working for you.

Billboard Jul 16 1949 bally games


Vintage Gottlieb’s “Lady Robin Hood” with flipper bumpers (1948)

Billboard Feb 28 1948 pinball lady robin hood


United’s “Manhattan” with new “Double-Double” feature (1948)

Billboard Apr 10 1948 manhattan pinball


Vintage Bally “Gold Cup”, “Trophy”, and “Ballerina” pinball machines (1948)

Billboard Apr 10 1948 ballerina pinball


Chicago Coin’s “Champion” arcade game (1949)

Chicago Coin’s newest success! Operators claim it first choice over all other games on the market today.

“Champion” — successful ’cause it’s different!

  • Basketball flippers
  • Opponents scoring feature
  • Thumper bumpers
  • A worthy successor to “Majors” and “Super Hockey”

Billboard Jul 16 1949 champion pinball


Pinball machine “Beach Club” by Nasco (1949)

Billboard Jul 16 1949 arcade games


Location lifesaver! “Barnacle Bill” pinball by Gottlieb (1948)

Billboard Sep 11 1948 pinball


Vintage pinball machine “Speed Way” by Williams (1948)

Billboard Oct 23 1948 speedway arcade game


Triple action, triple profit! “Triple Action” pinball by Genco (1948)

Billboard Jan 31 1948 triple action pinball


Pinball arcade cabinet “Singapore Roll-Down” (1948)

Billboard Jan 31 1948 pinball singapore


Chicago Coin’s “Sally” vintage pinball machine with no bumpers (1948)

Billboard Oct 23 1948 sally pinball machine


Williams’ first bumper pinball machine “Sunny” (1948)

“Terrific!” “A Sockeroo!” “Money in the bank!”

Everything you said at the show about “Sunny”!

Goes double on locations! Flipper action with convenient feather-touch dual button controls.

Billboard Jan 31 1948 pinball games


Gottlieb’s “Lady Robin Hood” & Marvel’s “Gold Mine” pinball machines (1948)

Yes sir! We’ve sure got that new look! You’ll get it, too, when you operate Gottlieb’s “Lady Robin Hood” with the original flipper bumpers!

“Gold Mine” — Sensational flipper action, unlimited bonus scoring, plus features galore!

Billboard Jan 31 1948 pinball game

United’s “Tropicana” 5-ball pinball arcade game (1948)

Billboard Feb 28 1948 pinball tropicana


Vintage Bally “Citation” and “Lexington” pinball games (1948)

Sensational mystery ‘multiple’ and guaranteed odds!

Odds “multiply” on mystery basis. Second coin may “multiply” odds by three or four, instead of only two. Player continues to play additional coins for additional selections… because odds never drop back to a lower bracket.

Other Bally hits: “Carnival”, “Big Inning”, “Reserve Bell”, “Wild Lemon”, “Double-Up”, “Triple Bell”, “Hi-Boy”, “Hy Roll”, “De Luxe Bowler”, and more.

Billboard Oct 23 1948 bally pinball games


5-ball novelty — Chicago Coin’s “Catalina” arcade cabinet (1948)

Billboard Feb 28 1948 pinball catalina


Genco’s “Trade Winds” will blow greater profits your way (1948)

Billboard Apr 10 1948 pinball trade winds


Gottlieb’s “Telecard” pinball machine (1949)

Billboard Feb 26 1949 pinball telecard


Gottlieb’s amazing 2-sided “Double-Shuffle” pinball game (1949)

New! Double the appeal! Twice the sport! Double the play!

Gottlieb’s amazing 2-sided “Double-Shuffle”! With winning play on red or green sides and sensational scoring action!

Billboard Jul 16 1949 pinball game


United’s vintage “Show Boat” arcade pinball machine (1949)

Billboard Feb 26 1949 pinball show boat


William’s “Tuscon” pinball (1949)

Billboard Feb 26 1949 arcade games machines


United’s “Tampico” arcade cabinet game (1949)

Billboard Jul 16 1949 tampico pinball game


Quick play! Super fast action! Chicago Coin’s “Trinidad” pinball machine (1948)

Billboard Apr 10 1948 pinball trinidad


The rush is on for “Tennessee” pinball by Williams (1948)

A terrific 5-ball thriller with:

  • Unique flipper action
  • Sequence
  • 3-Spot roller overs
  • Premium score
  • Double premium score
  • Reserve score
  • Highest high score, plus…
  • William’s new pylon lights!

Billboard Apr 10 1948 pinball tennessee


United’s vintage pinball game “Paradise” (1948)

Billboard Sep 11 1948 paradise pinball


“Circus” days are here again! Pinball by Exhibit (1948)

Billboard Sep 11 1948 pinball arcade


No bumpers! Genco’s “Screwball” — more action, livelier, faster! (1948)

Billboard Sep 11 1948 pinball 2


Williams’ “Gizmo” vintage pinball machine (1948)

Billboard Sep 11 1948 gizmo pinball


“Carnival”, “Gold Cup”, and “Trophy” pinball games by Bally (1948)

Double your earnings in every 5-ball location in your territory with Bally “Carnival”! Famous build-up bonus, and “All-12” skill feature — plus high score competitive play appeal.

A Bally game for every spot! “Big Inning”, “Triple Bell”, “Wild Lemon”, “Double Up”, “Hi Boy”, “Hy Roll”, “Deluxe Bowler”, and more.

Billboard Sep 11 1948 arcade games


3 great ways to score replays — United’s “Summertime” pinball game (1948)

Billboard Oct 23 1948 summertime pinball game


Exhibit’s pinball game “Contact” with six ‘exploding’ kickers (1948) 

Billboard Oct 23 1948 pinball


New… by Gottlieb: “Bowling Champ” pinball machine (1949)

Most realistic bowling theme ever built into a pin game!

Bumper “Ten-Pins”! Automatic “Pin” reset! Percussion bumpers — Whiz-bang action! Special “Strike” rollovers! New type trouble-free bumpers contacts!

…There’s everything you need to keep rolling in top form — “Bowling Champ”!

Billboard Mar 5 1949 bowling


You will be tickled pink with Genco’s “Three Feathers” pinball (1949)

From the standpoint of looks, player appeal and cash box results!

Exciting power bumper action! Sensational 3 way high score bonus! Tantalizing multiple replay action!

And as usual… every day will be a good day with this newest Genco 5-ball game… “Three Feathers”!

Billboard Jun 4 1949 three feathers pinball


Bally’s “Citation” and “Lexington” pinball arcade cabinets (1949)

More than seven solid months of steady production… and still going strong… Bally “Citation” continues to smash all records.

But the greatest record broken by “Citation” is the sudden magical way it injected new life into the entire coin machine industry… bringing thousands of players back to pinball plungers to give operators and distributors the financial pick-up they needed.

For the fattest profits in one-ball history, get going with “Citation” now. 

Billboard Jun 4 1949 spot bell pinball


United’s vintage pinball game “Pinch Hitter” (1949)

Terrific baseball animation — 3 kicker bumpers with extra score features — Replay scoring possibilities each ball

Billboard Jun 4 1949 pinball arcade games


William’s “Star Series” baseball-themed pinball machine (1949)

Get the real lowdown on high earnings… positive proof that “Star Series” earns up to 4 times as much as any ordinary game on the same location!

Billboard Jul 16 1949 star series arcade game

NOW THIS: See 20 vintage jukeboxes, including Classic Rock-Ola & Wurlitzer machines

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