Dickson Nickelodeon Fall 1974 cash box receipts page 1 Dickson Nickelodeon Fall 1974 cash box receipts page 2 Dickson Nickelodeon Fall 1974 cash box receipts page 3 Dickson Nickelodeon commission statement for October 13, 1974

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?

Lobster Zone game in the waiting area of Dirty Dick's Crab House. Detail of the Lobster Zone game.

A crowd was gathered around the Lobster Zone game in the waiting area of Dirty Dick's Crab House, where we stopped for lunch last month while vacationing in Panama City Beach, Florida. They watched their friend try to win a live lobster in a specialized claw machine.

How often do people win lobsters? "Someone won a lobster yesterday," the restaurant host assured me.

Whiffle pinball game ready to play Whiffle pinball game with its disassembled base Upper playfield of Whiffle pinball game Decal identifies Whiffle pinball game

Automatic Industries of Youngstown, Ohio manufactured the first coin operated pinball game, Whiffle, in 1931. Soon they offered a bewildering array of games with the Whiffle name, including this game, which was converted (or built) to operate without coins.

Northwestern Model 49 bulk vendor awaits customers. Northwestern Model 49 vendor with door open and globe removed for servicing. Northwestern Model 49 product wheel adjusts for different merchandise. A notice atop Northwestern Model 49 globe promotes improved sanitary delivery.

My first vending machine, a used Northwestern Model 49, provided a steady income during my high school years. I did not realize at the time that the Model 49 introduced many bulk vending features common in today's machines.

Harvey Heiss explains his Baby in the Hole prototype at Pinball Expo '88. Baby in the Hole prototype at Pinball Expo '88.

Harvey Heiss demonstrated his prototype Baby in the Hole roll down game at Pinball Expo '88. This game was instantly familiar and apealing to those of us who had played Fascination, Pokerino, and other roll down games in Times Square or at the Jersey shore.

Mizuho pachinko game is flush mounted in gameroom wall. Back of pachinko game reveals ball lifter unit and window-like framing. Ball lifter unit collects balls and pushes them up the metal channel. Wedge shaped pressure switch in upper tray controls the ball lifter motor.

My wall mounted Mizuho pachinko machine looked great, but would frequently exhaust its ball supply during heavy play. Then I had to walk down the hall, open a closet, and transfer used balls back to the supply tray atop the game. Now a motorized pachinko ball lifter keeps that pachinko machine supplied with balls.

Cover of The Star Money Maker "A Self-Supporting School Lad," inside The Star Money Maker A listing for The Star Money Maker in a c. 1930 Johnson Smith & Co. catalog

The Star Money Maker inspired me to purchase my first gumball machine. This small book provides 53 pages of first-hand reports from youths who found clever ways to make money. What I didn't realize when I purchased the book in 1967, was that it had been published 60 years earlier!

Data East Laser War whitewood playfield Data East Laser War whitewood upper playfield Data East Laser War whitewood lower playfield

Joe Kaminkow designed Data East's first pinball machine, Laser War. This whitewood playfield, dated 1/22/1987, has a layout similar to the production game released in March 1987. Data East displayed this whitewood at Pinball Expo '88.


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