Pinball’s origins can be traced back thousands of years to ancients playing similar games on grass with rolling stones. The modern pinball game that would commonly come to mind was popularized in the 1700’s with the introduction of the spring launcher. By the 1930’s pinball was one of the most popular games in the world and one of the bestselling.
However, this would all have to be put on pause as gambling laws began to become much more strict. In New York City, pinball bans were particularly stringent. Beginning in the early 1940’s until 1976 no pinball machine was allowed in the city. Mayor Fiorello La Guardai was behind the ban because he believed the game robbed school children of their hard earned change.
La Guardia would enact raids throughout the city. If a pinball machine was found police, and the mayor himself, would stand in the street and destroy them with sledgehammers and dump the remains in the rivers.
The ban was not removed until a man named Roger Sharpe testified that pinball took skill and was not linkable to gambling. He reportedly played a game in the courtroom and the jury was so stunned by his skill that they voted to remove the ban!