Notes about pinball

February 25, 2012 permalink

RIP Steve Kordek, pinball pioneer

Steve Kordek, the guy who revolutionized the world of pinball by introducing a machine with the now-familiar electromechanical flippers at the bottom of the playfield (imagine: a player can somewhat control the game!), passed away this week at the age of 100. His 6-decade career started off with remarkable serendipity. From the NY Times obit:

On a visit to his hometown in 1937, he was walking down a street without an umbrella when a torrential rain forced him to step into the lobby of a building he was passing. It was the Genco company. A receptionist asked if he was looking for a job.

“I had never seen a pin game before in my life,” Mr. Kordek told The Chicago Tribune in 2009. For 45 cents an hour, he was soon doing soldering on the company’s production line. …

Mr. Kordek never got tired of the clang, clack and buzz of pinball. “I had more fun in this business than anyone could believe,” he told The Tribune.

April 24, 2010 permalink


It might feel like simple nostalgia at first, but pinball is more than that. Pinball is hyper-personal. A pinball machine invites you to shove quarters into it so that you can challenge this physical piece of hardware in a game that’s based on the best physics engine ever, physics itself.

March 21, 2010 permalink

Mind Control Pinball

Researchers from the Berlin Brain-Computer Interface project demonstrate their research into mind-control pinball, which is an important field of study if ever there was one. BUT HOW DO YOU NUDGE?

Also, the Addams Family table is a great choice for such a project (Fester would approve), but how cool would it have been if they’d hooked him up to the one-of-a-kind Sega/Stern museum table The Brain?

(Via Make)

December 8, 2009 permalink

Metallica Pinball

[Video no longer available]

Metallica singer James Hetfield commissioned playfield artist Wade Krause and game developer Tanio Klyce to create a custom Metallica pinball table, and they did just that. Excellent.

For the hardware they sanded down and repurposed an old Earthshaker table (it has a rumble effect gimmick built in, which sort of makes sense for a heavy metal themed game), and created custom music and sound programming using a Gumstix and Arduino Mega microcontroller to keep watch on the original Williams System 11 CPU’s signals. Double excellent.

(Via ArsTechnica)

June 27, 2009 permalink

Mind-Controlled Addams Family Pinball

Mind-controlled Addams Family pinball! But can you do it with a lit lightbulb in your mouth?

Compared to invasive Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI), non-invasive BCI systems based on Electroencephalogram (EEG) signals have not been applied successfully for complex control tasks. In the present study, however, we demonstrate this is possible and report on the interaction of a human subject with a complex real device: a pinball machine.

(Via GameSetWatch)