Dickson Nickelodeon Fall 1974 Cash Box Receipts
My friends and I operated the Dickson Nickelodeon, a pinball arcade/coffee shop in the basement of a dormitory at Cornell University. We had acquired 23 (very) used coin-operated machines: pinball machines, arcade games, vending machines, and a penny scale.
During the 16 weeks of the fall 1974 semester, I recorded the cash box receipts for each of the 17 working machines. I don't know why I retained those records; I wish I had kept all the machines instead.
Can you guess which games were the most popular?
Top Earning Games
Two Gottlieb games topped the pinball earnings chart: Showboat and Pleasure Isle.
|Pinball Game||Manufacturer||Total Receipts|
Among the arcade games, Table Soccer, a foosball game, earned over 50 percent more than the number two game, United's Carnival Gun.
|Arcade Game||Manufacturer||Total Receipts|
|Skee Ball||Philadelphia Toboggan||45.00|
|Dolphin Shuffle Alley||United||43.00|
Most Popular Games
Game operators judge games by total receipts, but that metric does not tell the entire story. Some games were available for play every week, while others were added or removed from service. The total receipts metric favors reliable games that did not rotate into or out of service.
To judge game popularity among players, we considered each game's average earnings during the weeks it was in operation.
The two most popular pinball games based on average operating earnings also were the highest total earners: Showboat and Pleasure Isle. Another Gottlieb game, Dancing Lady, was third in popularity; it operated only during the last seven weeks of the semester.
|Pinball Game||Manufacturer||Average Earnings|
The most popular arcade game was Pinch Hitter, which operated only after Thanksgiving. Pinch Hitter spent some time under water before we obtained it, so it needed extensive restoration. It remained a favorite throughout our college years.
|Arcade Game||Manufacturer||Average Earnings|
|Skee Ball||Philadelphia Toboggan||7.50|
|Dolphin Shuffle Alley||United||2.87|
Looking at the Data
The scanned images above show the data recorded in 1974. The entries are recorded in ink on columnar paper, a popular technology prior to the introduction of the first electronic spreadsheet, VisiCalc, about five years later. The commission statement was typed on a Smith Corona manual typewriter; this copy was made with carbon paper.
The pinball games and most arcade games operated for a dime per play. Rocket III also offered three plays for a quarter. One or two games also accepted two nickels per play. Table Soccer required a quarter per play. The Wate and Fate scale and the Northwestern Model 60 gumball vendor operated for a penny. The National Nut vendor and U-Select-It candy vendor operated for a nickel.
The vending machine cash boxes were not emptied weekly. During some weeks, just enough pennies or nickels were collected to exactly fill coin rolls and the remaining coins were left in the machine.
The Dickson Nickelodeon was open from 8 PM to midnight Sunday through Thursday and from 8 PM to 2 AM Friday and Saturday nights. The Dickson Nickelodeon was closed for much of Thanksgiving week, which explains the light receipts for week 14.
I entered the 1974 data into a Microsoft Excel 2007 spreadsheet for analysis. You can download a copy of the spreadsheet from the attachments table below. The raw data also is available as tab delimited text for use in other spreadsheet and database programs.
|Cash box receipts and analysis in a Microsoft Excel 2007 spreadsheet||39.5 KB|
|Cash box receipts as tab delimited text||7.1 KB|