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The Penny Arcade

 The Coin Operated machine Information Site

                                 The Gunter Wulff Collection

                                                 

                                            Gunter Wulff 1912-1980  

  Although not yet 30 years old  Gunter Wulff was running his own business before WW2,but it didn't involve the coin op industry, in fact,according to his life long friend and business partner Harro Koebke he was actually opposed to it before the war. Gunter's company  was a  chemical/technical  business making ampules for lighters. 

After the war he picked up the same business but only as a means towards a different end. Described as a very deliberate man who didnt like taking chances he wanted to build up some collateral which would allow him to develop a vending machine. Having built a trial machine by 1949 he installed it in a Jewish Club in Berlin . Following the success of this test machine he founded Wulff Apparatebau GmbH in 1950.

                                                                  Totomat 1951

His second machine the "Totomat" was an immediate success selling over 6,000 units and this formed the basis for the company to grow from.

 

The slot machine industry in Germany at that time operated under strange laws. In an attempt to boost production and create jobs the law said that slot machines could only have a domestic  life of three years at which point they had to be broken up or exported.

This shaped the industry in several ways. Machines needed to made cheaply,they didnt need to be made to last, the variation in models was much higher than elsewhere (as it made sense to change the design at least every three years for each model) and the export market in cheap secondhand machines was large.

                             

              Build date plate which had to be displayed on the outside of every machine                    

 Another strange by law stated that the length of the game should be of a minimum time to give the player value for money. This feels very uncomfortable today with some of these machines seeming to go on forever before coming to a halt.

Wulff took advantage of all these and the number of different models( both mechanical and electro mechanical)  is quite staggering,although many are much the same inside the case.

                                           1955  Primas  & 1958 Duo-Mat, these parts were made of very cheap and weak "pot metal" meant to                                                    last ony three years ,many are still running today

The company continued to grow steadily over the next ten years making Gunter Wulff the best known and recognised slot machine  brand in Germany.

                                                                                    

In 1960 amid fears over Russian moves in Berlin he decided to move most of  the business to Hanover .

By 1972 ill health led Gunter to accept an offer from the  Bally Corp of Chicago and form Bally Wulff his friend Harro  Koebke took over as MD and Gunter became  a consultant.

                                                              Gunter Wulff & Harro Koebke  in 1980

The company continued to thrive and in 1980 produced a landmark machine in German slots with the  Monarch, the first machine that could use the 5mk coin, the machine sold over 30,000 units but was to be Gunters last contribution to the business as he died at only 68 on June 8th 1980.

                                                     The Monarch 1980                      

In 1981 the firm produced there first 100% electrical machine ,the Rototron Atlas which was another great success. Later the same year Koebke now in his 70's retired as MD.

Ten years later in 1991 Bally were re structuring their assets and sold Bally Wulff to Alliance Gaming .

In 2005 they too were looking to make changes and  concentrate on casino equipment and sold the company to a investment group and it was re named Bally Wulff Entertainment, this ,in turn, was sold to a Swiss investment group where it still continues with links to the vending machine industry.

Wulff machines are ,in my view, often underestimated, built to have a short life many are still going 70 years on. The Electro mechanical machines often have interesting play features and have stood the test of time well. The "pot metal" used to make the working parts on the mechanical machines causes many problems but the machines were only meant to last three years and needed to be cheap to produce,it was,perhaps ,the ideal material at the time.

No collection that wants to reflect a cross section of machines can be complete without at least one Wulff machine.

 

                                                 

                                                   Memorial to Gunter Wulff 1912-1980      

                                

                                                     A Small selection of Wulff Machines  

                           

                                       Perfekta 1960                                                           Novomat 1955

                   

                    The very collectable  Bingolett                                                The Jupiter

                   These are my two favourite Wulff machines and I have both in my collection

 

                      

                       the rather scary looking Astra                                                Duplomat 1965 

           no wonder people are scared of clowns

 

                          

                 The much sort after Duo-Mat 1958                                                  Adretta 1960

 

                      

                        Elektromat  Revue and Fussball (a good example of same machine different glass)

               

                                

                            Beromat(prototype)                                                                        Exacta

 

                           

                                           Rapid 1958                                                                  Addom           

         

                         

                                                   Astor                                                                 Additor

                                                                                     this interesting machine (like the Addom above) added                                                                                  together three  runs of the wheel to come up with a final score