Consider yourself a pinball wizard? You’re in luck. Dedicated pinball museums are popping up worldwide, and they’re all fully playable. Flaunt your skills at the following:

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PACIFIC PINBALL MUSEUM
ALAMEDA, CALIF.

More than 90 machines, some of which are woodrails (games with wooden trim) and wedgeheads (named for the shape of the backbox), arranged in chronological order; a retail shop touts pinhead-centric tees and totes.
$15/adults & $7.50/kids
www.pacificpinball.org

SILVER BALL MUSEUM
ASBURY PARK, N.J.

Has 200 machines, including a 1994 The Addams Family Gold Edition — one of just 1,000 produced. Information cards detail each game’s manufacturer, production run and features.
$10/ one hour or $20/all day
www.silverballmuseum.com

PINBALL HALL OF FAME
LAS VEGAS

A nonprofit showcasing 152 of veteran arcade operator Tim Arnold’s 1,000-machine collection, most from the 1960s to 1980s — pinball’s golden age. Sales of restored games help defray costs.
25 to 50 cents per game
www.pinballmuseum.org

NATIONAL PINBALL MUSEUM
WASHINGTON, D.C.

With plans to expand into a 17,000-square-foot Georgetown space this fall, pinhead David Silverman currently offers play on 50 of his 867 machines by appointment.
$25/adult & $10/ages 13 and under
www.nationalpinballmuseum.org

PINBALL PARLOUR
KENT, ENGLAND

Upstairs, 21 machines emphasizing Gottlieb and Williams electromechanicals. Bally’s 1975 Elton John–themed Captain Fantastic is also on hand.
50 cents per game
www.pinballparlour.co.uk

Glossary of Terms : Pinhead: pinball fanatic / Plunger: a button or spring-loaded rod that launches the ball into play / Flippers: player-controlled levers that propel the ball / Electromechanical: earlier-made games with motors and turn-dial scorekeeping / Solid State: games equipped with CPU components; began appearing in the 1970s



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THE EVOLUTION OF PINBALL

1800s: Pinball precursor bagatelle — a billiardslike table game featuring pins as obstacles and played with a cue stick — arrives from Europe, sparking a U.S. frenzy.

1871: Inventor Montague Redgrave upgrades bagatelle with a spring-loaded plunger.

1931: Automatic Industries releases the Whiffle Board, largely regarded as the first coin-operated pinball machine.

1931: Selling more than 50,000 units, David Gottlieb’s Baffle Ball becomes pinball’s first smash hit.

1950s: In efforts to attract returning WWII soldiers, machine artwork begins featuring busty women resembling pinup girls.

1976: Machine designer Roger Sharpe convinces New York City Council that pinball is a game of skill. Decades-old laws illegalizing it as gambling are overturned nationwide.

1980s: Pinball manufacturers add extras like speech, ramps and multilevel surfaces to compete with the popularity of video games.

1992: Midway releases The Addams Family, which at 20,270 units becomes pinball’s all-time best-seller.

2010: Stern Pinball, the only company still producing pinball machines, releases its latest design: Iron Man.