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Classic Games (Games) Games Technology

Inventor of the Modern Pinball Machine Dies At 100 89

Posted by timothy
from the he-made-it-to-the-bonus-round dept.
porsche911 writes with this excerpt from the New York Times: "Steve Kordek, who revolutionized the game of pinball in the 1940s by designing what became the standard two-flipper machine found in bars and penny arcades around the world, died on Sunday at a hospice in Park Ridge, Ill. He was 100. ... 'Steve's impact would be comparable to D. W. Griffith moving from silent films through talkies and color and CinemaScope and 3-D with computer-generated graphics,' [pinball historian Roger] Sharpe said. 'He moved through each era seamlessly.'"
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Inventor of the Modern Pinball Machine Dies At 100

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  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:45PM (#39154835) Homepage Journal
    When I was a kid, there were still a few arcades which had at least a few pinball games alongside the Street Fighter II's and NEo-Geos, and some of them were pretty bitchin,' like Funhouse [ipdb.org] and Slugfest [ipdb.org] which had backstories and were enhanced by digitized audio and scrolling LED screens.

    In the case of funhouse, for example, Rudy the dummy occasionally talks. If you hit him with his mouth closed, he says, "ow!" and one of the objectives is to hit the ball in his mouth while he's talking or snoring(part of the plot is the passage of time, and when it gets late, he goes to sleep and snores).
  • Sad news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Amarantine (1100187) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:48PM (#39154853)

    He outlived his creation... Pinball machines are almost nowhere to be found any more. Unfortunately those photoplay machines offered more variety in gameplay and less maintenance (not to mention way less floorspace), replacing pinballs almost worldwide.

    I find pinball machines (especially the later ones, from the solid state era) a perfect blending of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, art, and game.

    As a proud owner of an Addams Family machine, I can only think of Anjelica Huston's sampled voice saying "Rest in peace" after draining the final ball.

  • Re:Quarters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Friday February 24, 2012 @09:03PM (#39154951) Homepage Journal
    My friends and I weren't that rich, but we had a ritual of pooling our monies together, dividing it evenly amongst ourselves, and having nonstop Mortal Kombat II matches(I got so sick of the cheap assholes who always played as sub-zero - the same assholes who always played as Ken in Street Fighter II).

    The funniest quarter-wasting moment I've ever seen was my friend getting his ass kicked at Sengoku. [hardcoregaming101.net] The same samurai(not even a boss) kicked 5 dollars out of his ass, and he told me to get more quarters as he was losing his temper at the game. I got him more quarters and he finally knocked the sword out of the samurai's hand(which is itself comedic because the samurai looks back and forth at both his empty hands), but then the samurai kicked two more dollars of quarters out of his ass while he was screaming obscenities at the game.

    The most underrated game of that era had to be Midway's Total Carnage, a parody of Gulf War I. From the Wikipedia:

    In Total Carnage, an evil Middle Eastern dictator named General Akhboob closes off his country to the rest of the world following a war in 1999. Hundreds of reporters flocked to the zone in hopes of getting a real scoop. Unfortunately for them, one of the reporters discovers that there's more than baby milk being made at the 'Baby Milk Factory'.

    General Akhboob then captures the reporter, as well as all the remaining reporters in his country. It turns out that General Akhboob has been building an army of mutants and a stockpile of chemical weapons. He's also holding several American reporters and other civilians captive. It is up to the Doomsday Squad, composed of Captain Carnage (Player 1) and Major Mayhem (Player 2), to invade Akhboob's base, wipe out his forces, destroy the mutants, rescue all the hostages and capture Akhboob.

  • by dgoldman (244241) on Friday February 24, 2012 @09:56PM (#39155231)

    He was at each of the Chicago shows I got the chance to go to and was always willing to meet fans, shake hands and talk pinball.
    He was obviously in it for the love of the game.

    I am glad I got to meet him and speaking for all the pinheads out here I say he will be missed.

  • Re:Sad news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Friday February 24, 2012 @09:59PM (#39155249)

    Special When Lit: A Pinball Documentary

    available on Netflix watch it now.

  • Re:Sad news... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Amarantine (1100187) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @05:00AM (#39157011)

    Missing a ball should not be a problem... TAF should have 3 balls. Altough most games are designed pretty well so that balls should rarely get stuck, it is always possible. It can't be gone though, it should be somewhere, if not above the playing field then below it. Have you opened the machine?

    The good thing about pinball games is that as long as the playing field itself is in good condition, anything can be fixed or replaced. If none of the solenoids fire up, it sounds like a blown fuse.

    What I like about the later games, and only discovered after I owned my own TAF, is how clever the software and diagnostics are. If a switch on the playfield hasn't been hit in the last 50 games, it is considered broken. If it is stuck-on, it is considered broken too. Either way, the software is programmed to work around it, and still provide a playable game. If no switch is thrown during a game for x seconds, it assumes the ball is stuck somewhere, and fires all solenoids one by one, attempting to kick the ball somewhere. If a switch is flagged as broken, the display shows a small dot behind the credits counter ("Credits: 0." instead of "Credits: 0"), so operators can see at a glance if a machine needs service or not. Also, like many electrical devices in that era, they came with full electric diagrams. The electronic components are all before everything became SMD, so it's still possible to do basic circuit board repair yourself.

    Yes, I love my machine, and am sad they have just about disappeared. Stern is afaik the only manufacturer left, but I'm not a huge fan of their games, altough Lord of the Rings was pretty cool. If you're interested, visit the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, with over 150 working machines. Bring tons of quarters.

  • Re:"Tilt In Peace" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Saturday February 25, 2012 @05:25AM (#39157075) Journal
    Anybody remember the Evel Knievel pinball [fiu.edu] table? The first two tables i got to play on was this and the spirit of 76 table which is another great classic, my local hangout burger joint had both tables and i used to hang out there for hours drinking shakes and pounding quarters into the tables. Rest in peace pinball man, you filled many a childhood with great memories and there are very few that can say that.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak

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