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The Penny Arcade

 The Coin Operated Machine Information Site 

              Make him laugh










                                            See Them at Work

      Some of the more complex coin operated machines at work




                                                                                           THE WORKING MODEL

The working model was for amusement only, it gave you no prize in return for your penny, but it did let you see some form of animated entertainment, but this rarely lasted for more than 20 seconds and was a good form of income for the showmen who ran the arcades. This type of amusement machine became very popular in the second word war when sweets and small gifts were hard to obtain, in fact some prize giving machines were converted into working models for this reason.    below are a few examples of the working model.



                           The Fireman                                          The Gillotine                                  The Night Watchman


                            The Execution                                                                                         the night watchman in action




                                                         A  selection of working models in action




                                                                                  The Guillotine in action




                                      This photo shows a row of working models in a typical setting







                                                       THE ALLWIN

One of the most common arcade machines of the forties fifties and sixties was the Allwin, the idea was to flick a steel ball around a spiral track and deposit it in one of many winning holes, and if successful you would get your penny back and receive a free go, although some Allwins paid out prizes of sweets or cigarettes. Most Allwins worked on the same basic mechanical principles but each manufacturer would have there own style of artwork on the playfield of their machines, the artwork would be changed and updated to reflect what was popular at the time. There were lots of companies making and selling amusement machines by the 1950’s and 60’s, names like Parkers of Rhyl, Oliver Whales of Redcar, Jamieson of Bridlington and W.E. Bryan of Kegworth and many more, but by the mid 1970’s the Allwin was on its way out of fashion, the fact that the old penny had been replaced and the popularity of the microchip meant that the mechanical machines were no longer viable.






                                              ABOVE ARE A SELECTION OF ALLWIN STYLES



This picture shows a row of Allwin machines  outside the Casino Cafe in Brighton in the 1960's



                                                                                   THE MUTOSCOPE                              

                                                        also remembered as the "What the butler saw machine"





In the days before television took over our lives the stereo-viewer and the mutoscope became a popular form of entertainment for the working man. The stereo-viewer came in lots of different types of cabinets, and with lots of subjects: entertainment, topical, erotic, etc.usually for your penny you would be able to see between five or ten stereo pictures after which you would have to put another penny in the slot to see more.
With the Mutoscope you got a better deal for your penny because as you cranked the handle it showed moving pictures in the form of a short sketch, but the machines were usually set to stop part way through a sketch and you would have to put another penny in the machine to see the end.Arcade operators would change the reels In the mutoscopes each week to keep the customers coming back for more. The photographs  show some of the different types of machine.the first two machines  are Mutoscopes and the three in the middle are types of viewer, the green viewer with the words Live peep show is a bit of a con, because all you see for your penny is an ants nest under glass. below is the somewhat misleading info plate on the green viewer.






                               THE ELECTRO-MECHANICAL MACHINE                                           


The 1950’s saw an upsurge in what was termed the electro-mechanical amusement machine. This was due to the fact that lots of war surplus electrical equipment came on to the open market. It was not long before these surplus relays and motorised switches were being used to produce the types of machines shown in the surrounding photos. Most of the machines had a fast moving set of lights, which on inserting a penny could be stopped by pressing a button, if it stopped on a wining light or combination of lights it paid out a prize, but like most other types of machine the odds of getting a big payout was quite low, after all the showmen who ran the machines were in business to take your money off you not to give it away, some of the machines would have bells or buzzers which sounded on payout to add to the excitement.
Other types of electro-mechanical machines gave no prize for your penny. You could instead get a prediction or have your fortune told. The workings of this type of machine were quite simple, each time a penny was inserted and the handle was turned a switch would move on to the next light, giving the affect of a random selection, you would then read the caption next to that particular light to get your prediction, two such machines are shown below, they are the Brains trust and the Love Test.  








     The "beat the bandit used nixie tubes as display        




    Perhaps the greatest mechanical slot machine was the "Paces Races" this horse race simulation was powered by a single,quite small electric pump which worked air bellows and the entire machine ran on the vacume caused by the pumping bellows, coin control, the horse race, odds setting and payout, all vacume powered. This is one of the most collectable machines today.





                                                                                  THE TWO PLAYER GAME

Some of the larger machines in the arcades were the two player games, With this type of 
machine two people would do battle each trying to beat the other, sometimes for a small cash reward but mainly just for the satisfaction of winning your opponent, the penny going to the arcade owners profits.
The two-player game came in allsorts of styles, Horse or car races, Monkeys climbing trees, 
Babies drinking milk the fastest etc. Below are a few examples of this type of arcade machine


                                   This is the Bryans Allsport    wall mounted machine




Ruffler & Walker produced a number of two player machines in the 1940s & 50s, machines like the Grand Prix Racer as pictured above, the second photo gives you some idea of how the machine works,
the only electrics here are for the lights, all the power was provided by players via levers, pullies
and chains etc as the they turned the handles, The idea was to get your car to the finish line
first, It sounds a bit tame by todays standards but they were good money makers in their day.


                                                                 Watch the Ruffler & Walker Grand Prix Racer




                                       Basketball                                                                   The Twins



                                                                                      Monkey Climb



                                 The "one armed bandit Fruit machine"


             The one armed bandit type machine arrived on the scene in the mid 1920's and quickly became the standard for payout slot machines. There were many makers of which Mills, Jennings and Watling were among the largest. The engineering on this type of machine was incredible ,complex yet reliable and ,by the end of its run, pretty much cheat proof. The big restriction on this type of machine was its max auto payout which was restricted by the space available for the payout slides. This was helped by introducing a variable jackpot but by the 1960's casinos were adapting their machines to pay larger amounts that had to be claimed from an attendant. The electrification of the bandit allowed for a hopper controlled payout for the first time giving this type of machine infinite payout options but by that time the all electric fruit machine was on the horizon and the iconic one armed bandit was pretty much dead by the mid 1970's