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Bumper, 1936

Features: 1,2,3,4, or 5 ball play. Game measures 44 inches by 22 inches. Power supplied by wall outlet. Ball size: 1 1/8 inch, steel.
Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983) [Trade Name: Bally]
Date of Manufacture: December, 1936
Players: December, 1936 / 1
Year: 1936
Model Number: 126
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Machine Type: Electro-mechanical (EM) 
Notes: Contrary to widespread belief, 'Bumper' was not the first pinball machine to have bumpers. Bally copied the idea from Pacent Novelty's 1936 'Bolo', a game that came out several months earlier. Bally did change the bumper design enough to obtain a patent on it. Patent No. 2,109,678 ("CONTACT SWITCH FOR BALL ROLLING GAMES") application was made on January 12, 1937 after the game was already in full production, and issued March 1, 1938 to Nils A. Nelson, a staff draftsman. According to interviews recorded in the Encyclopedia of Pinball Vol 2, inventor Donald E. Hooker did the work of inventing the Bally bumper while Nils Nelson got the credit. In the January 1953 issue of Bally-Who, a monthly newsletter from Bally, this game was identified as the "first spiral-wire bumper-type game". That designation is not inaccurate, as Pacent's bumpers did not use spiral wires. 'Bumper' used an electrical progressive score unit in the backbox which kept a running total using light projection. This was an improvement over previous pinball machines where the player had to add up the score by counting balls on the playfield. The new bumper allowed balls to exit the playfield after play while the score was maintained on the backbox. An earlier game having a mechanical progressive score unit is Gottlieb's 1934 'Register'. Patent No. 1,802,521 ("GAME APPARATUS") was filed Aug 14, 1928 and issued April 28, 1931 to George H. Miner.
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