Everyone in the world has been obsessed with bouncing the silver ball across the table, hitting targets and flying down ramps since Gottlieb debuted Humpty Dumpty in 1947. Over the past five years, pinball tables have seen numerous innovations to attract new players. keeping the game’s original objectives: earn points and prevent the pinball from falling into the drain.
Get things going
In addition to storing the game’s electronics, the back glass of the table acts as a work of art that attracts potential players. The central control board behind the glass controls the table’s electronic bumpers and flaps. A ROM chip, similar to a computer motherboard, contains all game data.
The wires from the control board to the rest of the machine can be over half a mile (0.8 kilometers) long. The flaps, bumpers, paint and ramps communicate with the motherboard through these cables.
The rear box typically has two other electronic components. The back glass has display panels with a matrix resolution of either 128 × 32 or 192 × 64 pixels. The score and tips for improving it, as well as the chance to win a free game, are displayed on this screen for the benefit of the player. In addition, the dot matrix display has had speakers on both sides since the early 1990s. Digital pinball sounds now have music tracks for the action of the game.
In addition to attracting players, the backbox has a secondary function. Each game’s back glass art is specially designed to entice the player to play on that particular machine rather than any other in the arcade. Collectors have paid up to $20,000 for unique stained glass paintings, often the work of a professional artist. In addition to art, dot matrix displays are used to attract players. Detailed animations are made on the screen to match the theme of the machine.
Many layers of paint and finishes have been applied to the pinball arena to give it a unique look. An angle of 6-7 degrees towards the player gives the ball just enough traction to drive it over obstacles. The bumpers, ramps and flippers of the playing field are attached with screws and glue. Each block and target is attached to the main controller board in the back glass area so that the computer knows where the ball is at any given moment and reacts appropriately by awarding points or triggering special functions.
The refund is given to the computer as soon as you insert the coins into the coin slot. The indicator light flashes “Press Start” when you have deposited the required amount of credits. There is a small power button on the left front, about the size of flipper buttons.
The suspicious ball is launched into space just before the plunger as soon as it is released from its chute by pressing the start button. Pulling back and removing the piston may still be necessary on some machines. However, in many later devices, the ball is triggered by pressing a button or other thematic mechanism. The solenoid behind the ball is triggered when it receives power and kicks it into play. When a ball falls off the table or a player receives a multi-ball, the solenoid is attached to the computer so that another ball can be thrown on the field of play without the player having to do anything.