It was May 30, 1871, when Montague Redgrave of Cincinnati, Ohio was issued patent US115357A for his “Improvements in Bagatelles”. His invention was a smaller table top version of what had been a very popular French parlor game in the 1700s. In addition, Redgrave made some changes by adding a wooden spring-powered plunger which propelled balls onto the playing surface, similar to what would eventually become a standard feature on pinball machines many decades later. He also decorated the play field with scoring cups, bells and even a metal ‘swinging gate’ to alter the downward path of a silver ball or a marble.

Within a few years, this game was widely imitated with many new versions being patented, but it was at the turn of the century when things began to rapidly expand. Nickelodeons opened showcasing very short films and vaudeville acts.

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