Pacific Pinball Museum

Our Mission Statement: "To teach science, art and history through pinball, and to preserve and promote this important part of American culture."

The Pacific Pinball Museum is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of one of America's great pastimes. We do this by operating the Pacific Pinball Museum offering a selection of 90 playable pinball machines representing the evolution of flipper pinball. Connect with us! Instagram: @pacificpinball Twitter: @pacificpinball Tumblr:

Stop by our booth and say hi this weekend at @goldenstatepin
We will have museum merch at our booth and will be hosting the kids tournament on Saturday! Entry is $5 and is first-come-first-serve. Registration closes at 5 PM or until all spots are taken. Kids will have two tries on each of three games in a regular high-score format.

#goldenstatepinballfestival #pacificpinballmuseum #pinballlife #lodicalifornia #retrogaming #pinballtournament #dirtydonny

Did You Know? Steve Ritchie is known as the “Master of Flow” by pinball fans. His designs incorporate fast ball speeds, large loops, and associated combos.

In 1974, Ritchie joined Atari’s pinball division and worked with Eugene Jarvis on Airborne Avenger and Superman. Before Superman released, Ritchie moved to Chicago and joined Williams Electronics. At Williams Electronics he designed many pinball games, including Flash, Firepower, Black Knight, High Speed, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ritchie is the voice of his Black Knight pinball series.

Ritchie also designed and produced Midway’s California Speed and Mean Streak arcade games, and provided the voice of Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat 2 and 3. Ritchie recently designed and produced the Game of Thrones and Star Wars pinball games, and the newest edition to the Black Knight series, Black Knight: Sword of Rage, for Stern.

You can play High Speed, The Getaway: High Speed 2, Black Knight, Black Knight 2000, and AC/DC at the museum!

[05/15/19]   It's that time again folks! The name of the show has changed, (and maybe me a tiny bit too-haha!) But the FUN will be the same! Come check out the Pacific Pinball Museum booth at the Golden State Pinball Festival in Lodi May 17-19 at the Lodi Grape Festival fairgrounds. We have Booth Babes AND Booth Boys this year!! for more info

The calm before the Fieldtrip storm

Pacific Pinball Museum's cover photo

Did You Know? In 1931, Sam Stern joined the coin-op industry as a route operator in Philadelphia before becoming a Rockola jukebox distributor in 1939. In 1947, Stern walked into Harry Williams’ office in Williams Manufacturing co. and asked to buy shares of the company. Williams agreed to sell half of the company and made Sam Stern Vice President of Williams Manufacturing. In 1959, Stern organized a buyout of Williams Manufacturing with Sun Ray, a New York retail conglomerate. Williams accepted the buy-out and left the company, making Stern the President of Williams Manufacturing. In 1961, Williams Manufacturing became independent once again.

Williams was a major innovator for pinball in the late 50’s and 60’s thanks to designers Harry Mabs, Steve Kordek, and Norm Clark. In 1958, Mabs designed Gusher, the first pinball game to feature a disappearing bumper that would lower into the playfield when hit. In 1960, Mabs designed Magic Clock which was the first machine to feature a moving target on the playfield. In 1962, Kordek designed Vagabond, the first machine to feature drop targets that drop into the playfield when hit. A year later, Kordek designed Beat the Clock which featured the first Multiball, a feature in pinball that gives the player more than one ball to play with, if the required targets are hit. Clark designed A Go-Go in 1966, a major seller for Williams and the first machine to feature a captive ball spinner that worked like a roulette wheel. *The video shows Hi-Score, designed by Gottlieb’s Ed Krynski, and features Clark’s captive ball spinner invention.

In 1977, Sam Stern and his son Gary Stern bought out Chicago Coin and founded Stern Electronics. Stern Electronics manufactured pinball machines and video games from 1977 to 1985, including Sea Witch, Galaxy, and arcade game Berzerk. Gary Stern is currently the President of Stern Pinball (we will write more about Gary Stern and Stern Pinball later on).

You can play Sea Witch and Galaxy in our museum!

New stand alone pin exhibits have been added to our S.T.E.A.M room in the back of the museum!

The Bumper Box and EM Music Box show how some parts of Electromechanical Pinball Machines work! These two machines were built by our founder, Michael Schiess.

Did You Know? Wayne Neyens is the 100 year old electromechanical designer and pinball legend credited with designing over 150 pinball machines at Gottlieb.

Neyens was born in 1918 in Mason City, Iowa. After the death of his father, Neyens and family moved to Chicago. In Chicago, he sold newspapers on Clark Street and studied technical drawing at Crane Technical High School. In 1936, Neyen’s was hired as a part-time draftsman at Western Equipment and Supply Company. After graduation, Neyens was hired full-time at Western, doing odd jobs and doubling as a draftsman before becoming a line inspector. In 1939, Neyens left Western and began working at D. Gottlieb & Co, making playboards and later becoming a traveling repairman. Neyens first pinball machine was College Daze released in August 1949, originally titled College Days until artist Roy Parker changed it. After Harry Mabs, lead designer of Gottlieb at the time, left to work for Williams Manufacturing Co., Neyens was promoted to game designer at Gottlieb.

An important addition to electromechanical machines during this time was mechanical reels that tally scores instead of lighted numbers on the backglass, first debuted in Williams’ Army Navy in 1953. The backglass is the glass artwork and display that sits inside the back box, the upright head of the pinball machine, in electromechanical and early solid state pinball machines. Gottlieb released Super Jumbo in 1954, the first four player flipper pinball machine (try saying that 5 times fast) and Gottlieb’s first machine to use mechanical reels.

Mystic Marvel was the first of several games Wayne Neyens designed with the Double Award feature. If a player inserts two coins at the start of the game they will earn double replay awards. Neyens designed Spirit of 76 as a celebration of the United States of America’s bicentennial. The Spirit of 76 in our museum is owned by Wayne Neyens himself!

You can read more about Wayne Neyens story through an interview in Coin-Op Carnival. You can play Mystic Marvel, Super Jumbo, Queen of Hearts, Spirit of 76 and more of Neyens games in our museum! #alameda #retrogaming #americanhistory #didyouknow #gaminghistory @ Pacific Pinball Museum

Newest additions to our museum line-up, Doctor Who and Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Tracing the History of Pinball from Illegal Gambling Game to American Obsession

Pinball-An American Obsession Our latest documentary is a deep dive into the quirky and complex world of the planet's most skilled pinball players.

On Pinball and Happiness - Brooklyn Magazine

Pinball can make you happy! Life is so hard! At least, it can really feel that way when New York City is the town you call home. But, every once in a while, a little wisdom-nugget will land in your lap from out of nowhere and, just like that, everything is so simple. Well, that’s what happened to me this morning—the very ....

Pacific Pinball Museum's cover photo

Did You Know? In the 1950’s many gambling machines like slots and one-ball horse race games were being played regardless of the gambling ban in 1947. During this time a new law was passed, the Johnson Act, which banned interstate shipment of those gambling machines and made it a federal offense to ship to states where they were illegal. Thanks to the invention of the flipper, pinball machines that were “For Amusement Only” were less likely to be banned as a gambling machine due to the added skill needed to play.

Many of the one-ball games were specifically outlawed by ordinances, so this made it difficult for one-ball manufacturers to continue production. Lou Walcher, owner of San Francisco’s Advance Automatic Sales coin machine distributor, created the idea of the In-Line, also known as Bingo, pingame. This game used 5 balls instead of 1 and rewarded replays for lighting numbers in a given pattern.

Bally and United became the major manufacturers of the new in-line games. Eventually the games were challenged in court as gambling machines due to their lack of flippers and proprietors paying off players who won a large amount of replays. In 1957, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the United States vs. Korpan case was that bingo machines were gambling machines, and were subject to the Johnson Act.

Also in the early 1950’s, an organization called the Coin Machine Institute formed with Harry Williams of Williams Manufacturing as its president. Many manufacturers, including D. Gottlieb and Co., joined the organization as a publicity campaign to show that flipper pinball and their other amusement machines were strictly for fun and had no connection to gambling.

Thank you to Phil Hooper, Russ Jensen, and @bingopodcast for your help and info on Bingo Machines! This information is an excerpt from United’s Manhattan from 1955 is on display and Bally’s Spot-Lite from 1951 is available for play in our museum.
#pacificpinballmuseum #retrogaming #alameda #pinballmuseum #bingogames #americanhistory #pinballhistory #1950s #didyouknow #foramusementonly #sanfrancisco @ Pacific Pinball Museum

Inside This Epic 1,700+ Pinball Machine Collection | WIRED

WIRED interviewed our founder Michael Schiess!

In the interview, Michael talks about the history and evolution of pinball, and shows behind the scene footage of our private Annex.

In this episode of Obsessed we meet Michael Schiess, a pinball enthusiast who collects and repairs old machines in an effort to preserve them for future gene...

DJ Night this Friday, April 19! Come dance and play the day away with pinball and tunes.

Free with admission. 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM.
#djnight #retrogaming #pacificpinballmuseum #pinballmuseum #bayareaevents #alameda

Did You Know? The first pinball machine to feature electromechanical flippers, meaning mechanical flippers that are electrically operated, was D. Gottlieb and Co.’s Humpty Dumpty released in 1947. There were flippers in games prior to Humpty Dumpty, but they were only mechanical.

Humpty Dumpty has six flippers that flip outwards, in a direction opposite to today’s flippers. The three flippers on each side of the playfield are controlled simultaneously with the corresponding button. The invention of the flipper added skill and control to pinball, and was credited as the “greatest triumph in pin game history”.

Humpty Dumpty is designed after the nursery rhyme, and shows Humpty Dumpty himself falling off the wall through stop-motion light animation during gameplay. The game includes 5 ball play, kicker pockets, high score, sequence, and bonus.

You can play Humpty Dumpty in our museum!

Happy Spring!

11 Classic Pinball Games That You'll Flip Over Take a trip back in time and discover the best classic pinball machines from the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, including fan favorites like "Addams Family" and "Twilight Zone" that you can still play today. Whether you're a pinball wizard or just feeling nostalgic, these pinball machines are the some of th...

Feeling cute, might repair a machine later

UPDATE: Both machine pins SOLD OUT!

We have a limited amount of pinball machine pins on our online store right now!

Grab yours before their gone!

Did You Know? New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia began an anti-slot machine campaign shortly after his election in 1934, promising to “Clean Up New York”. After a successful campaign of raids destroying and dumping thousands of confiscated machines into the Hudson River, LaGuardia turned his attention to pinball. LaGuardia’s campaign against gambling machines was rooted in his belief as a protector of a working class abused by corrupt power brokers. As New York’s first italian-american mayor, LaGuardia had a personal desire to break up organized crime and confront its association with Italians. He believed gambling machines tempted desperate men, lured unsuspecting children, and encouraged widespread corruption.

LaGuardia described pinball as “real larceny machine, brother of the tinhorn” and “the main distributors, wholesalers and manufacturers [of pinball] are slimy crews of tinhorns, well-dressed and living in luxury from this penny thievery”. When the United States of America entered WWII, LaGuardia further characterized pinball as a waste of time and resources. In 1942, he ordered the seizure of an estimated 12,000 pinball machines in the city, destroying and stripping the machines for parts sent to munition factories. This led to a ban on pinball machines that began in New York and was not lifted until 1976. Pinball machines that did not offer pay out had signs stating “For Amusement Only” to separate them from gambling machines.

Pinball was not legalized in Oakland, California until 2014! Pacific Pinball Museum has a Bally’s Bumper game that was confiscated in a raid over 80 years ago in Oakland, given to a police officer living in Alameda, then collected by our founder. Bumper is also shown being shoved to the ground by Mayor LaGuardia.

These are excerpts from the gambling exhibit in Pacific Pinball Museum, curated by Chris Rummel.

WHAT A SEASON for the Pacific Pinball League! Congrats to PPM League Season 6 Champion John Briggs! Johnny B took the victory in a close final match! This is Johnny's second victory.

Leslie Ruckman took second, the Womens Title and both side tournaments(!) and Johnny Briggs graciously donated his Golden State Pinball Weekend Pass to her. She got two plaques and 3 T shirts on top of that! Back up the truck!

In the Final match, David Lee was in a commanding lead on Spirit of '76 until Johnny Briggs had a breakout last ball for the overtake. Ryan O'Donnell didn't show much on ball 3 for 4th. Leslie rallied and had a great ball, with double bonus lit, and just needed 5 more bonus advances, but drained a heart-breaking 10k short of the full sweep!

Thanks to PPM for their awesome support and thanks to Dexter Dong for lending us his camera skills at the Finals, as well as everyone who brought food for the potluck. Thanks to Golden State Pinball Festival for donating a weekend pass, and STERN pinball, for the translite.

Season 7 is right around the corner. Check us out Wednesdays at 7pm when the new season starts. You'll hear about it here!

Outer Orbit has more tournaments coming up this month!

Women’s Flip Frenzy on 4/18 with @threeweavers and Flip Frenzy Tournament open to all on 4/28.

$5 entry fee + coin drop

Justin Gabbard Likes His Quiet Alameda Life

Did You Know? In 1928, around the same time Walt Disney debuted Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie, Harry Williams was working as an advertising artist and set designer in Hollywood. Williams was a Stanford graduate with a degree in Engineering before switching fields to advertising art. In October of 1929, the stock market crashed and Williams found himself out of work. Williams bought five Jai Alai coin games for $100 a piece and placed one in a soda fountain location, which struggled to earn money. Williams saw Whiffle Board in a lunch room across from Universal Studios Hollywood and realized a new opportunity in pinball. In 1933, Williams bought out Jack Olson, a leading Los Angeles pinball maker and operator, and purchased Automatic Amusements Company. Williams updated his acquired obsolete games with replacement boards utilizing his commercial art skills. Soon after, Williams began designing games and released Advance in October 1933, named after a new feature that advanced balls from low scoring pockets to high scoring pockets when balls were dropped in the advance hole. Advance also featured a metal ball on a pedestal that would dislodge if the player pushed the game too hard - the tilt mechanism.

Williams entered a drug store with his friend Jerry Inglis and inspected a mechanical man sawing a log in the window. They noticed the mercury switch and solenoid (a cylindrical coil of wire acting as a magnet when carrying electric current) made the arm move, and applied that knowledge to their pingame. Williams put two solenoids onto a table spoon and invented the kick-out hole. Williams and Inglis then worked with Fred “Mac” McClellan and Bob Corbin to create Contact, which used dry cell batteries for power and stood on its own legs. Contact was the first pinball machine to include electricity, a tilt mechanism, playfield action, and sound effects all together in one game. Williams would later establish Williams Manufacturing Company in 1943. Contact is on display at Pacific Pinball Museum!

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1510 Webster St
Alameda, CA

Opening Hours

Tuesday 11:00 - 21:00
Wednesday 11:00 - 21:00
Thursday 11:00 - 21:00
Friday 11:00 - 22:00
Saturday 11:00 - 22:00
Sunday 11:00 - 21:00
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