Whiffle (Automatic Industries, 1931)

VP8 Whiffle (Automatic Industries, 1931) 2020-01-28

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The IPDB recognizes Whiffle as the first true pinball game, an honor which is often given to Baffle Ball. Automatic Industries offered Whiffle, which was actually named Whiffle Board at one point, a few weeks before Baffle Ball debuted. But since Whiffle was a flop, and Baffle Ball was a huge success, false information was accepted as factual for many years.

The IPDB information about Whiffle states:

Manufacturer: Automatic Industries, Incorporated, of Youngstown, Ohio, USA (1931-1936)
Type: Pure Mechanical (PM)
Specialty: Flipperless
Notable Features: Glass playfield cover, ball elevator, coin mechanism.
Design by: Earl Froom
Notes: Game uses 10 balls which are agate marbles about 1/2 inch in diameter, nine white and one red, the red marble counting double.

Whiffle is the game most often associated with the birth of pinball. In converting a common bagatelle to an automatic coin-operated device, Earl Froom solved a number of issues, including how to separate the player from the playfield (glass), how to recirculate the balls after play (ball elevator), and how to collect money (coin mechanism). These three elements may be the key to the pingame fad that followed the introduction of Whiffle in 1931, and remain -- in one form or another -- in all pinball machines to this day. --@tiltjlp
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