Retro Coin Op Synopsis
Today, pinball is a full audio-visual show, complete with lights, moving objects, computer displays and all manner of sound effects and music. With all of this sonic and visual stimulation, it’s easy to forget that early pinball games like Baffle Ball had to get by without any electric power. However, this all changed when pinball pioneer Harry Williams introduced Contact in 1934. This innovative game was the first step towards the high-tech pinball machines that players enjoy today.
Like previous pinball games, Contact did not have flippers and required the player to launch the ball into the playfield via a plunger. Once launched, the ball rolled down a sloped, pin-studded playfield as it found its way to various holes with different point values. At this point, game play became different from other pinball games, because Contact added the unique element of electric power, supplied through a dry cell battery contained in the machine.
Contact applied its electric power to two of the holes on the playfield, both of which were flanked by little yellow lightning bolts. The idea was for the player to land balls in these two holes, then launch a third ball into a hole at the top called the ‘contact hole.’ Once this was achieved, a device in the electric-powered holes called a ‘solenoid’ would launch the other two balls back into the playing field and allow further scoring. It would also trigger a bell contained in the machine to let out a ring. This additional novelty made Contact the first pinball game to use sound.
Despite these new elements, Contact was still a big challenge for the player. Achieving the placement of the pinballs was quite a task because, like all pre-1947 pinball machines, Contact did not have flippers to help maneuver the ball. Thus, the player had to carefully launch the plunger and give the machine the occasional nudge to get the pinballs into the right holes. Players also had to keep track of their own scores, as Contact lacked a scoring mechanism.
When Contact was released, it came out in four different versions: Baby, Master, Junior and Senior. These versions ranged in size from a compact 40 by 76 centimeter version that fit on a counter top to a big 76 by 152 centimeter standup version. It became a hit in all its versions and its success led to electric power becoming a standard device in pinball games. So the next time you see a fancy pinball machine with all kinds of sounds and visual effects, just remember that Contact made it all possible.
Arcade Machine Release History1934 - Contact Baby
1934 - Contact Master
1934 - Contact Jr.
1934 - Contact Sr.