The best pinball community of the internet deserves something nice for the season. So dear Pinsiders, to celebrate the history of pinball, I hope you will join in on the persuit to find pinball firsts.
The following goes for CPU controlled, production pinball machines for commercial distribution and operation in public only. No toys, no protos.
Where a feature was essentially debuted on a non CPU controlled game or a prototype, it may be mentioned as well.
I know this will be a heck of a job to maintain. But I will. So don't hesitate to contribute, check the facts and nail these precisely. It will be fun.
Name game and year of release.
First CPU controlled pingame? Bow And Arrow, 1974 (Possibly Wipe-Out, 1974)
First playfield flipper? Getaway, 1977
First (exact) 4 flippers? The Atarians, 1976
First 5 or more flippers? Genie, 1979
First quick multi-ball (multi-ball started as a mode without achieving locks first)? Centaur, 1981
First ramp only shootable via playfield flipper? High Speed, 1986???
First playfield flipper shoot return loop? Flash, 1979
First alpha numeric display? Chicago Cubs "Triple Play", 1985
First dot matrix display? Check Point, 1991
First multi colour display? The Simpson's Pinball Party, 2004
First playfield display? Black Hole, 1981 (TV monitor used on playfield on Caveman, 1982. Atari games featured a display on the apron.)
First LCD display? New Canasta, 2011
First multi-ball? Firepower, 1980 Solid State Maybe but there were a few EMs with MB.
First (exact) 2-ball multi-ball (via lock, not mode)? Scorpion, 1980 (Honorable mention to Beat The Clock, 1963)
First (exact) 3-ball multi-ball? Firepower, 1980
First (exact) 4-ball multi-ball? Joust, 1983
First (exact) 5-ball multi-ball? Centaur, 1981
First (exact) 6-ball multi-ball? Twilight Zone, 1993
First more than 6 balls multi-ball? Apollo 13, 1995
First electronic sound? Lost World, 1977
First speech? Gorgar, 1979
First female speech? Xenon, 1979
First polyphonic audio (dual sound effect, music and sound effect simultaniously etc.)?
First true stereo sound? Lazer War, 1987
First compressed digital sound? Indiana Jones - The Pinball Adventure, 1993???
First 2 or more loudspeakers? Heavy Metal Meltdown, 1987
First loudspeaker in the backbox?
First player selectable music track? Check Point, 1991???
First shaker motor? Earthshaker, 1988
First DC motor in general?
First scoop with ball eject?
First trap door (device taking ball under the playfield only when enabled)?
First under playfield ball transport (non trough)?
First wizard mode? Banzai Run, 1988 (Debatable)
First complete blackout? Blackout, 1980
First interactive backglass (not just mechanical/animated backglass)? Catacomb, 1981 (Honorable mention to Banzai Run, 1988)
First use of a non steel ball? Twilight Zone, 1993 (Wink to Hercules, 1979, but that is disqualified)
First flash lamp? Flash, 1979
First under playfield flash lamp? Flash, 1979
First ramp lift, for under the ramp shot? Mars God of War, 1981
First second level flipper return?
First second level playfield? Black Knight, 1980 (Flash Gordon was first game released, but the design was stolen from Black Knight developement)
First ramp sending the ball into free air? Space Shuttle, 1986
First ramp used without having a second level playfield? Xenon, 1979
First under playfield, playfield? Elektra, 1981
First trible playfield? Elektra, 1981
First solenoid powered multilevel ball transport? Haunted House, 1981
First licensed theme? Wizard, 1975 (Accepted as an EM)
First "real life" music rewrote for pinball? Kiss, 1978
First playfield trough, or secondary trough in general?
First mechanical sound source (non knocker)? Hot Tip, 1977
First progressive jackpot? High Speed, 1986
First super jackpot? Terminator II, 1991
First alternative language option, display text?
First alternative language option, speech? Pinball Champ, 1983???
First timed goal or mode (general)? Counter Force, 1980
First timed playfield multiplier? The Party Zone, 1991???
First use of a lane diverter (playfield bottom, outlane ball saver etc.)? Time 2000, 1977
First use of a lane diverter (not at playfield bottom)?
First use of a ramp diverter? High Speed, 1986
First use of magnetic ramp or lane diverter? World Cup Soccer, 1994
First electro magnet affecting the ball in general? Gorgar, 1979
First under playfield magnet transporting the ball on playfield? Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1993
First magnet lifting the ball into free air? Banzai Run, 1988
First mechanical, non CPU controlled, lane alternator or similar? The Machine: Bride Of Pinbot, 1992
First adjustment for competition mode? Funhouse, 1990 (Fixed start selection for semi-randomly lit award / Both lock-shots and MB start must be achieved on same ball)
First adjustment for competition mode involving making playfield locks virtual? Cirqus Voltaire, 1997
First adjustment for competition mode involving single award or fixed sequence for otherwise random award? The Getaway - High Speed II, 1992
First single adjustment for absolutely no extra balls? Eight Ball, 1977
First game on display (video mode)? Terminator 2, 1992
First interactive display in general (non high score initials)?
First to second level ball popper (vertical, non scoop or otherwise basement to playfield)?
First deliberate air ball or cannon (non vertical)? Comet, 1985
First playfield ball plunger triggered by the player? Terminator 2, 1992???
First player individual drain-to-next-ball carrie over status (non score), in multi-player games? Eight Ball, 1977
First buy-in extra ball or similar? Torpedo Ally, 1988
First opto ball detection? Nostalgia, 1977
First inductive ball detection? The Atarians, 1976
First opto flipper button? Robocop, 1990???
First CPU controlled flippers? Robocop, 1990
First more than two player buttons on side of the cabinet? Haunted House, 1981
First digital sound (ROM based)?
First compressed digital music?
First multi-ball restart option when no jackpot achieved? Banzai Run, 1988
First artwork changed during production due controvesy, missing licens etc.? Capt. Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy, 1976 (Accepted as an EM. Too awesome.)
First ball interacting playfield toy? Comet, 1985
First use of LED lighting?
First use of UV-lighting? Viper Night Drivin', 1998??? (Honorable mention to Big Bang Bar, 1996)
First use of strobe lighting? Attack From Mars, 1996
First use of neon lighting? Devil Riders, 1984
First game with no manual plunger? Spring Break, 1987 (Honorable mention to Goin' Nuts, 1983)
First flipper to flipper bi-directional orbit (full side to side and all the way back)?
First captive ball? Airborne Avenger, 1977
First newton ball? Theatre Of Magic, 1995
First motorises spinning disc on playfield? Fireball Classic, 1985 (Fireball, 1971)
First second level wire form - habitrail? Firepower II, 1983 and Big Guns, 1987
First second level bridge without rails? Escape From The Lost World, 1987???
First player controlled missing/achieved target switching (lane change)? Firepower, 1980
First playfield angle/leveling assist? The Addams Family, 1991
First hinged backbox? Elektra, 1981
First high score and settings persisted when game switched off?
First backbox topper? Hercules, 1979
First modern style non glass translite? Rock, 1985
First adjustable outlanes?
First auto diagnostics error report on power up and/or enter menu? High Speed, 1986
First drained ball kick back? Eight Ball, 1977
First TV monitor? Caveman, 1982
First timed ball saver? Laser Cue, 1984 (Honorable mention to F-14 Tomcat, 1987, Funhouse, 1990 and Terminator 2, 1992)
First solenoid shooter lane plunger (for ball saver, multi-ball auto kick in)? Centaur, 1981 (Attract mode feature only) / Spectrum, 1981
First 7-digit scoring (million "1" light)? Sharpshooter, 1979
First 7-digit scoring (seventh 0-9 digit)? Big Game, 1980
First more than 7-digit scoring?
First 4 colour silk screen process on playfield? Goldeneye, 1995
First use of mirror "paint"? Playboy, 1978???
First whirlpool? Special Force, 1986
First use of mini (playfield) flippers? Elektra, 1981???
First dual inlane? Ben Hur, 1977
First "grand champion" or similar dual all time high score / todays high score lists? Whirlwind, 1990
First seperate high score list for buy-in games? Star Trek The Next Generation, 1993
First abillity to put your initials on a high score? Chicago Cubs "Triple Play", 1985
First initials for loop champion, mode champion or similar achievement? Black Knight 2000, 1989
First more than 3 letter initials on high score? Lost In Space, 1998???
First date/time concept? Funhouse, 1990???
First midnight madness or other event triggered on specific date and/or time? The Machine: Bride Of Pinbot, 1992 (Power-up)
First up/down post for holding ball for playfield locks or similar? Secret Service, 1988
First "downhill" playfield ball release mechanism (non saucer)? Black Knight, 1980
First up/down (big) flipper centre post preventing drain? Power Play, 1977
First kickback between flippers? Medusa, 1981
First plunge, not feeding into the very top of the playfield? Blackout, 1980
First plunge skill shot, not being roll over lanes or saucer/hole?
First plunge skill shot on a device only used for this? Medusa, 1981
First plunge serving the ball at the flippers (possibly via skill shot device)? Spectrum, 1981
First player selectable skill shot award (or general award or benefit) at plunge?
First more-than-one roll over lane lights? Barracora, 1981
First 2 or more CPUs?
First use of a 16-bit CPU?
First mystery (or random) award?
First outlane to inlane gate to utilise by nudging? Silverball Mania, 1978
First outlane to inlane gate to utilise by a flipper? Embryon, 1981???
First more than 10x bonus multiplier? Flight 2000, 1980
First 2 ramps, figure of 8 ball flow? Taxi, 1988???
First rubber ring post seperating inlane and outlane? Ben Hur, 1977??? (Steel post) / Spirit of 76, 1975 (Plastic tube) (Debatable)
First in-game user selection on display (not video mode and not at plunge)? Lights, Camera, Action, 1988
First ball tunnel (over playfield)? Xenon, 1979
First victory laps? Banzai Run, 1988
First multi-ball started instantly at game start? Spring Break, 1987
First hurry-up (target value decending over time)? Black Knight, 1980
First reverse hurry-up (target value increasing over time for a one time only collect or time-out bust)?
First frenzy (timed every target awards a relatively high value)? Funhouse, 1990
First DMD display with better than 3 intensity on-levels?
First moterised up/down target bank? Pin Bot, 1986
First wide ramp with multible exits chosen by the ball on entering point and angle? Who Dunnit, 1995???
First saucer to saucer juggling? NBA Fastbreak, 1997
First user controlled mechanical device not being a flipper?
First active flipper buttons during attract mode (for teaser sound bites, DMD fast forward etc.)?
First ambience light (non topper)? Jurassic Park, 1993
First ball search? High Speed, 1986???
First cocktail or mini pinball table? The Entertainer, 1977
First last chance ball saver on drain? Black Knight, 1980
First on x lane/ramp shots award or mode?
First count down on bumper hits award or super jets?
First timed automatic flipper? The Addams Family, 1991
First random switch hits counter on spinning disc? Dr. Dude, 1990
First light sign (as seen on CFTBL and WCS)?
First dual manual plungers? Funhouse, 1990???
First shot combo acknowledgement? Black Knight 2000, 1989
First (exact) 3-way shot combo? Whirlwind, 1990
First (exact) 4-way shot combo? Funhouse, 1990
First (exact) 5-way shot combo? Stargate, 1995
First more than 5-way shot combo? The Shadow, 1994???
First sideways moving target or ball blocker? Black Pyramid, 1984???
First secondary playfield, that do not share balls with the main playfield? Elektra, 1981 (Jungle Lord, 1981 has a bagatelle)
First free play option?
First novice/regular game selection or similar? Who Dunnit, 1995???
First playfield flipper control while bottom flipper cradle, on same flipper button?
First game designer credit list on display?
First "in memory of" dedication to past pinball greats? Jackbot, 1995???
First pinball designer painted on the backglass?
First CPU controlled one-way gate/bi-directional alternation?
First use of glow in the dark paint? Viper Night Drivin', 1998 (Scared Stiff, 1996, on early production models only)
First 2 or more replay scores achievable in same game? Night Rider, 1977 (Might be Fireball, 1976, needs verification)
First replay level adjusted by the game? High Speed, 1986
First single ball play using multible balls (lock-A release-B wormhole)? Spectrum, 1981
First award that instantly rewards the value of the end-of-ball bonus as of now?
First hold bonus (end-of-ball bonus staying in the pot for next ball)?
First end-of-ball bonus sequence fast forward when holding flipper button? Creature From The Black Lagoon, 1992
First additional player button mounted on the lock down bar or at the centre in general?
First lights between slingshots used to show achieved goals or progress (non bonus x)?
First inlane trigged timed shot (like 2xToll on WW)? Black Knight, 1980
First voice hints for specific shots to make? Xenon, 1980
First secondary voice for generic assistance (shoot the left ramp, go for multi-ball)? Theatre Of Magic, 1995???
First pull back and lift up playfield mechanism to help repairs? Creature From The Black Lagoon, 1992
First mode having permanemt ball saver? Time Fantasy, 1983
First unlimited multi-balls - timed? Twilight Zone, 1993
First unlimited multi-balls - till one of you win? Tales Of The Arabian Nights, 1996???
First (non draining) ball in play to go further to the front of the machine than the tip of the bottom flippers? Blackwater 100, 1988???
First ball to go behind the playfield backpanel? Dr. Dude, 1990
First more than 4 players? The Six Million Dollar Man, 1978
First non mechanical feature (incl. ball locks) status carrie over between players in multi-player?
First flipper codes? Riverboat Gambler, 1990
First DOHO (Williams only)? The Addams Family, 1991
First "cow thing" (Williams only)? The Machine: Bride Of Pinbot, 1992 (Might be inspired by Fire!, 1987)
First hidden feature (Easter egg)?
First enter special initials on high score for gimmick? Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1993
First photografic, non drawing, backglass? Raven, 1986
First grace extended timer?
First head-to-head game? Joust, 1983 (Challenger, 1971)
First outlane award of being a "special", possibly when lit?
First playfield switch only used for triggering sound and/or light effect?
First web/e-mail reference?
First QR code or similar? Transformers, 2010
First special effect on score display? Solar Fire, 1981 (Animated pattern using "3") / High Speed, 1986 (First drawing of non letter/number - a circle)???
First multi machine data link? NBA Fastbreak, 1997
First internet hook up?
First headphone connector? (Some Zaccaria game)
First ball gate (or ball diversion in general) controlled by the player? Popeye Saves the Earth, 1994???
First no "special"?
First no "match"?
First no "bonus x"?
First no "pop bumper"? Jungle Lord, 1981???
First goodie bag or factory inclosed spare parts? Harlem Globetrotters, 1979???
First bonus credit (buy 4 and get 5) or similar?
First dot/comma-option as thousands seperator on score display? Funhouse, 1990
First colour painted legs? Fire! (LE), 1987
First colour painted cabinet rails and/or lock down bar? Fire! (LE), 1987
First easy, normal, hard adjustment pre-sets?
First in-line drop targets? Paragon, 1979
First ramp? Xenon, 1980???
First plastic ramp? Space Shuttle, 1984???
First custom text on display? High Speed, 1986
First corkscrew? Black Hole, 1981
First ball not going back to plunger on a weak (skill) shot, but escapes to playfield (as The Addams Family)?
First x score fanfare (non replay)?
First (and only) obstruction of view feature? Tommy, 1994
First multi-ball jackpot remaining lit on return to single ball play (possibly timed)?
First two-way-out saucer or hole eject? Viking, 1980
First custom popbumper caps? Special Force, 1986
First secondary player button controlling a game feature other than a flipper? Special Force, 1986???
First bumpin' popbumper caps? Elvira And The Party Monsters, 1989
First game to acknowledge a death save? Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle And Friends, 1993
First tilt warning, audio? (Some Williams game)
First tilt warning, light effect? Centaur, 1981
First sequel? Eight Ball Deluxe, 1981 (Sequels where likely seen a number of times for EM games)
First million points award? Comet, 1985
First multi-ball at game start? Black Water, 1988 (Honorable mention to Goin' Nuts, 1983)
First CPU controlled GI-light? Blackout, 1980
First LCD on playfield? None yet, but the awesome Tron Legacy arcade game mod has shown the path
First banked shot? Nine Ball, 1980???
First ramp shot returning ball to an inlane? Comet, 1985???
First event triggered action backbox topper? Whirlwind, 1990???
First game to taunt you for holding the ball, missing shots etc.? Centaur, 1981