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The father of pinball games, Steve Kordek, passes away at 100

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Steve Kordek, who invented the twin-flipper pinball game that defined an industry for decades, passed away at his home on Sunday at the age of 100.

Pinball Machine Flipper Flickr
Pinball Machine Flipper Flickr

Engineer and game creator Steve Kordek — who almost single-handedly invented what we think of as the modern pinball game — passed away Sunday at the age of 100 at his home in Park Ridge, Illinois. Pinball gaming was an evolution of what was 70 years ago called a "pin game": a user would release a ball, and then try to navigate it through a forest of pins to reach the goal at the end. Several other manufacturers tried to modify the games with an array of mechanical flippers, but it was Kordek who created a version with two flippers placed at the end of the tilted playing field in 1948. Kordek's version quickly took off, and the pinball game was born. Kordek also took the step of powering his flippers with DC current, providing them greater power and bounce, rather than the AC current used by other models.

Though he was employed by gaming company Genco at the time of his dual-flipper invention, Kordek later moved on to work for Bally Manufacturing and Williams Manufacturing, where he created games like Space Mission and Grand Prix. With the clink and clang of pinball ingrained in our collective cultural awareness as deeply as any other form of entertainment, it's safe to say Kordek has left a lasting impression. We've included some videos of Steve Kordek-designed pinball games below.