Modern pinball games first started to appear in the 1930s, but they were very different to the machines we have today. Specifically, they didn't have flippers. Instead, you simply launched the ball into the playfield. It would then roll down to a scoring zone, bumping into pins in the playfield along the way (this is where the term pinball comes from).

The first game to have a flipper was Humpty Dumpty which came out in 1947. Flippers as we know them today, however, did not appear on a pinball machine until 1968 with the introduction of Hayburners II.

The main job of the flipper is to keep the ball away from the drain by hitting it back up the table to pick up more points. Given the importance of flippers, the game pinball is simply known as flipper in some countries.

Types of Flipper

• Normal Flipper – levers controlled by buttons on the sides of a pinball machine that let you interact with the ball, i.e. hit the ball up the table, aim your shots, trap the ball, save the ball from draining, etc.

• Impulse Flipper – the Impulse Flipper is also known as a Pulse Flipper. It differs from normal flippers because it flips up and immediately down again when you hit the button. This means you can't press and hold the button to keep the flipper in an upright position, trapping the ball.

• Game-Controlled Flipper – this special type of flipper can be found in a handful of pinball machines made with solid-state electronics. Essentially, it means the machine takes over control of the flipper, usually at a point when the ball achieves a pre-set objective. The machine engages the flipper when the ball passes a sensor.

• Automatic Flipper – Automatic Flippers work in a similar way to Game-Controlled flippers, although the Automatic Flipper is only on electro-mechanical pinball games.

• Closing Flipper – this is where the gap between the flippers closes after you achieve particular objectives in the game. Of course, if the gap is closed, the ball can't drain. This is another rare flipper that is only used on limited numbers of games. On games made by Bally, it is known as the Flipper-Zipper.

If all this talk about pinball flippers has sparked your interest in pinball again, why not get your own pinball machine. Check the range of options we have available today.