by Pessimists Archive

Pinball was banned from the 1940s to 1970s in many cities across America. New York City’s mayor made a show of bashing pinball machines with a hammer. Church ladies in suburban Chicago went on vigilante raids, ripping games out of stores. In this episode, we go through history to understand how a simple game became demonized. The answer, like pinball itself, requires us to bounce from one object to another, but ultimately falls into one big question: Is pinball a game of skill, or a game of chance?


Seth Porges, journalist and pinball history enthusiast

David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research, UNLV

Zach Sharpe, pinball champion and Stern Pinball director of marketing

Lucky Charms pinball commercial, 1980s

The Fonz pinball commercial, 1970s

• Bullets or Ballets, 1930s movie  clip used in episode IMDb

• “Mrs. Earle Hits Pin Ball Tale” – New York Times, 1941

“Police Open Raids on Pin Ball Games”  New York Times, 1942

“War on Pin-Ball Machines Near Schools Is Ordered” – New York Times, 1948

“I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent” by Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers 

Fiorello LaGuardia highlight reel (some used in episode)

Kefauver Committee final report

How One Perfect Shot Saved Pinball From Being Illegal – Gizmodo

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