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Pinball wizards: Vintage pinball machines of the 1940s

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Early vintage flipper pinball machines

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 machines gallery

Click on any image to see a larger version, or to start the photo gallery slideshow.

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