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The Skee Ball - Over a Hundred Years Old

One of the country's most enduring games is the Skee Ball bowling game.

From the early 1900's to today, the skeeball is one of the popular games featured in amusement places. At first, the game was manually operated by an attendant. In 1936, the National Skee Ball Company introduced the coin operated skeeball. It was so popular and so well made, that even today with all our electronic and video technology, the skeeball shape and action remains virtually unchanged.

Unknown to most coin op collectors, the promoter of the coin operated skee ball was not an arcade manufacturer. Believe it or not, the machine was first promoted by the Rudolph Wurlitizer Manufacturing Co., which purchased the National Skee Ball Company in 1935. In fact, the case of the coin operated skee balls was designed by Paul Fuller, the designer of the Wurlitizer Jukebox cabinets of that time.

Just as in regular bowling, the National Skee Ball Company promoted the fact that the alley was of "regulation" size, 10 feet long. This standardization was done so players could compete at any location. What they didn't tell you, however, was that the "Hump" that elevates the ball into the air before reaching the target could be adjusted to make it easier or harder for a player to get a high score.

Want one for your home, the skee ball built of heavy red oak, weighs 450 lbs. It is 14'2" long, 6' high and 29" wide, not an item for a small game room. If you have the room, you'll be happy to know that the skee ball comes apart so it won't be as difficult to move as it looks.

Once the skee ball became so popular, many other companies began to imitate it. However, since the skee ball name was a registered trademark, no one else could use that name. However, similar sounding names were soon devised. The International Mutoscope Corporation developed a pinball size version of the skee ball game called Hurdle Hop for the small penny arcade. Even a smaller version called the Gyro was created for countertop use.




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