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Electronic Pinball Machines (1977 and later)
Electronic pinball machines were developed in the early 1970’s and released later that decade.  There are a few exceptions.  The majority of machines out in the collector/home market today are electronic pinball machines.  These have digital displays, electronic sounds and quite often, multi-ball features.  Common manufacturers are Bally, Data East, Gottlieb, Premier, Stern and Williams.  Lesser known manufacturers include Game Plan, Atari, Allied Leisure, Alvin G, Sega and Zaccaria and a few more.

Electromechanical Pinball Machines (Prior to 1977)
Commonly known for bells and chimes along with mechanical scoring reels, these represent the pinball machines produced up until the mid 1970’s.  These also include Bally, Gottlieb and Williams but also include Chicago Coin, Exhibit Supply, Genco, United and a few others. 

Bingo Pinball Machines
These machines look like pinball machines and are the same basic size, but do not have flippers.  They were designed as gambling machines where you would shoot a predetermined number of balls into the playfield (generally five) and the would land in saucer holes which correspond to lighted numbers on the backglass.  If the numbers lighted in a line (similar to BINGO) you would win extra games.  These machines were primarily produced by Bally with a few other manufactures producing some titles.  Most popular in the 1950s.  Today, they have a limited following and value, but most have interesting artwork and wooden cabinets.

Home Model Pinball Machines
These are generally smaller machines with electronic circuitry and basic functionality.  They don’t contain coin slots and generally have one digital scoring display.  They are about 2/3rds the size of a coin operated pinball machine.  They were commonly sold through Sears and Montgomery Wards stores and catalogs in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  Usually we see Bally and Brusnwick machines.  Bally produced home versions of Capt. Fantastic, Fireball and Evel Knievel.  Brunwisk produced Alive, which featured artwork meant to resemble Elvis.  These machines have a very small following and are quite common.  Value of these machines are limited to $100 or so in good working order. 

Flipperless Pinball Machines

These are pinball machines produced before 1947.  They are fairly passive machines where the ball rolls down with minimal player interaction.  Aftermarket kits became available to add flippers to this type of machine later.  Many of these types of machines are considered “decorator pieces” as they look antique and can fill space like an antique table or clock, but don’t really carry a coin-op collector following.  Values are limited for the most part. 

Puck Bowler Machines

These machines are not pinball machines, but commonly found along with pinball machines.  They are coin operated machines with a smooth alley surface of 7-12 feet where replica bowling pins stand at the end.  A metal puck is slid, shuffleboard style, down the lane ‘knocking’ down the pins by hitting corresponding switches.  These games were generally produced by United and Williams.  Most are mechanical, but they did carry over into the 1980’s as electronic machines.  Because of their size, value may be limited because of the space they require. 

Mechanical Arcade Machines
This is a catchall category for coin operated machines which may be similar to pinball machines.  It also includes mechanical gun games, horse race machines, driving games, fortune tellers, love meters and other vintage coin operated arcade equipment which doesn’t really fall into a pinball machine category. 

Pachinko Machines
Often confusingly called pinball machines, Pachinko machines are small Japanese amusement/gambling devices, which stand vertically or hang on a wall.  They contain dozens of small steel balls.  These are not pinball machines and have limited value.  These are very common and usually overvalued.   We don’t cover this type of machine, but they commonly sell for $50-$75 in working order.  Newer digital ones sell for slightly more. 


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