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Pinball Lingo

If flappers, plonkers and thingamajigs do not sound like a part in a pinball machine, then you are correct. They are not. But, I have heard these words used as references to describe many parts in a pinball machine before, and not from one person alone. First, a brief pinball history lesson - Back in the early part of the 1930's, a pinball machine used static nails (pins) that would capture smaller shaped marbles in a cup formed by these pins, and then a person would have to add up their points scored. Then came electricity and brought pinball to life. In 1933, a designer named Harry Williams introduced a game called Contact while working for a company, Pacific Amusements. Contact had a kick out hole in the center of the playfield and another coil rang a bell. Williams later went on to form his own company, Williams Manufacturing. Lights were then added to the game and attracted more people to play.

Years later... Flippers were introduced in 1947 and then as they say, the rest is history.

Many, many inventions came along in the years to come and I will go over those in future articles. When I get a call from someone that has a problem with their game, I am told a series of names that really do not exist on a pinball machine. Here are a few: Flappers: The name Flappers is used to reference flippers that are not working. Bumper: A slingshot has been referred to as a bumper. Pop bumper: has been referred to as a plonker, bouncer, and a thingamajig. Slingshots are positioned just above the flippers and when the ball strikes the rubber it is propelled by a kicker behind the rubber - thus the name slingshot is used to reference these. Most games have two slingshots, while over the years there have been many used in various areas on the playfield and in a variety of different positions. Pop Bumpers have a curved metal ring that will strike the ball and propel it into several other objects on the playfield. There are hundreds of other parts on a pinball game and each one has its place. Some are unique to the game and others are more universal and can be used in any game. My next installment will be going over the unique inventions on a few of the pinball games I have played over the years.

Until then, happy flapping, I mean ­­­­flipping!

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