When you visit MOTR Pub (Music Over-the-Rhine) in downtown Cincinnati, you can get your hands on a real, live pinball machine. For those who grew up shuckin’ and jivin’ with these classic games, you’ll enjoy a blast from the past. For those too young to remember the heydays of heavy steel balls careening wildly about a flashing, clanging, ringing board while trying to manipulate their path with the flipper tools, you’ll understand what kept your parents and grandparents abuzz back in the day. Whether pinball is old or new history to you, here are six things you probably didn’t know.

1. The War on Pinball

Invented in the late 19th century, pinball popularity exploded in the 1930s when machines became coin-operated money makers, and every bar, shop, and arcade with a few square feet to spare installed one. However, back then, wherever fun grew, soon, dower custodians of decency came to smash it up — literally. Heady with the spoils of the war on booze, the mayors of Chicago and New York turned their sights on pinball machines. Using the excuse that pinball machines were gambling devices and that the games contributed to juvenile delinquency and childhood dissolution, they staged photo ops showing them taking sledgehammers to innocent pinball machines.

2. Pinball as a Competitive Sport

Until the 1960s, pinball went underground. Then, the powers that be figured if you couldn’t beat it, take a bite out of it with license requirements. The great pinball revival of the ’60s and ’70s roared along until video games muscled their way into the arena. Although the mesmerizing sounds of wokka wokka decimated the pinball industry, it couldn’t wipe it out altogether. Diehard players organized tournaments which remain well-attended to this day. Now, skilled players can enter over 1,800 tournaments around the country, competing for over a million dollars in cash and prizes. 

3. Cincinnati Hosts Big Money Tournaments

Since an English immigrant to Cincinnati registered the first pinball patent in 1871, it’s only fitting that our city should host some of those big money tournaments. Many local bars and arcades sponsor competitions, drawing and creating more fans of the sport.

Invented in the late 19th century, pinball popularity exploded in the 1930s when machines became coin-operated money makers, and every bar, shop, and arcade with a few square feet to spare installed one.

4. Pinball Machines are Like Classic Cars

One reason pinball machines began to fall from grace is the fact that they are so much more interactive than a mere video game. Like a classic car, they are custom built with many parts and pieces. Because the live-action requires a lot of hardware and dynamic mechanisms, pinball machines require frequent maintenance, unlike static, predictable video games.

5. Still in Production in the Good Ol’ U.S. of A.

After buy-outs and mergers of the several U.S. manufacturers, the industry still thrives. Stern Pinball eventually became the only manufacturer left in the country, developing new products for thrilling enthusiasts everywhere.

6. MOTR Pub Feeds the Love

MOTR Pub is proud to provide you with some of the most exciting arcade games in town. When you decide to join the fun at MOTR, be sure to visit the basement where you’ll find an array of pinball machines inviting you to test your skills.

With live music every night and pinball downstairs, what are you waiting for? Come on down to MOTR Pub today!