Once called Bagatelle, pinball descended from billiards and other table games of the mid-1700s. But pinball was first patented in 1871 by Montague Redgrave who added the spring-loaded plunger to start the game.
During the Depression, pinball popularity boomed. A coin-operated version sold for $17.50, so saloons and drugstores quickly made back their investment on this table-top game.
However, because of its association with gambling, pinball machines were banned in many large American cities, like New York and Los Angeles, in the 1940s. By the mid-70s the laws were overturned when a pinball-defender proved that pinball was a game of skill, not a game of luck.
The Pacific Pinball Museum offers over 90 “playable, historic pinball machines” with the signature lights, bells and whistles of the greatest models. Like most museums, the PPM owns a much larger collection - over 400 machines! - but only some are available for the public to see.
Know Before You Go
It is near San Francisco, so take the ferry and uber, or bus from the city, or drive and park near by. Closed on Mondays.