At Master Spring, one of the areas we specialize in is the manufacturing of springs for the pinball industry.
As you can imagine, a pinball machine, which counts on the precise orchestration and exact timing of an untold number of moving parts, is filled with an array of springs and wire forms. And in order to ensure optimal performance, each of these parts must be manufactured to exacting specifications, quality and tolerances.
Of course, that’s the modern pinball machine. Did you know that the very first pinball machines were made without any springs?
The Bagatelle Table: An Early Pinball Machine
Featuring no flippers, no plungers, no bells and no whistles, early versions of the pinball machine were quite different than the ones you might recognize today. Called Bagatelle Tables, and making their first appearance in the 1700’s, these early “pinball machines” looked a lot more like a billiard table.1
Unlike today’s machines, which use a plunger and coil spring to launch the ball into the playing area, the first pinball games had to make do with a much simpler technology. In these early versions, players took turns using a miniature pool stick to propel the ball up the shooting channel and out into the playing area. The ball would then bounce around the playing area, knocking down pins (thus the name pinball), ultimately landing in a scoring pocket at the base of the machine.
One Simple Compressions Spring Changed the Game Forever
About a century after the game was invented, the pinball machine received a major design improvement. That was when British inventor Montague Redgrave revolutionized the game by inventing and receiving a patent for the spring launcher, making the pool stick obsolete, and forever changing the game.
So imagine that, without the spring, the pinball machine may never have become the popular game it is today. This is another great example of how something so small and so often overlooked, like a compression spring, can change the course of history.