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Author Topic: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?  (Read 874 times)

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LightningBolt

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Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« on: July 05, 2024, 10:02:48 am »
The typical round, concave button with a bezel. It just occurred to me that maybe they weren’t invented for arcade games but had existing industrial/commercial use? Anyone know?

RandyT

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2024, 12:35:44 pm »
The typical round, concave button with a bezel. It just occurred to me that maybe they weren’t invented for arcade games but had existing industrial/commercial use? Anyone know?

No, they were invented for arcade games and kiosks.  Industrial-style buttons are very different.

LightningBolt

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2024, 01:11:02 am »
The typical round, concave button with a bezel. It just occurred to me that maybe they weren’t invented for arcade games but had existing industrial/commercial use? Anyone know?

No, they were invented for arcade games and kiosks.  Industrial-style buttons are very different.

Well that's still something similar - kiosks..did they get invented for kiosks first?

paigeoliver

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2024, 03:43:07 pm »
The typical round, concave button with a bezel. It just occurred to me that maybe they weren’t invented for arcade games but had existing industrial/commercial use? Anyone know?

No, they were invented for arcade games and kiosks.  Industrial-style buttons are very different.

Well that's still something similar - kiosks..did they get invented for kiosks first?

They are an evolution of pinball buttons and totally predate things like kiosks.
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pbj

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2024, 03:45:11 pm »
Paige is still alive??

LightningBolt

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2024, 06:49:19 am »
The typical round, concave button with a bezel. It just occurred to me that maybe they weren’t invented for arcade games but had existing industrial/commercial use? Anyone know?

No, they were invented for arcade games and kiosks.  Industrial-style buttons are very different.

Well that's still something similar - kiosks..did they get invented for kiosks first?

They are an evolution of pinball buttons and totally predate things like kiosks.

OH of course pinball! I can't believe I didn't think of that first. Thank you.

BadMouth

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2024, 10:11:07 am »
Paige is still alive??

I know...right?!

RandyT

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2024, 02:36:43 pm »
They are an evolution of pinball buttons and totally predate things like kiosks.

The first interactive kiosk supposedly happened around 1977, so that is true.  I mentioned it because it was an early use for consumer interaction, rather than an "industrial" application.  The reliability bar is much lower for non-industrial-use switches like those used in pinball, video games and kiosks.  They were/are considerably less costly as a result.

It's also interesting to note that some very early video games (like Computer Space, Space Wars, Tailgunner...) didn't even use the modern button style, so their use in other arcade machines definitely predated the video game genre.  Like a lot of things, manufacturers probably settled on the current design because it was already available and in use in the same space by the same consumers.  No tooling up costs and arcade clients were used to using them.

*edit*

I just saw a photo of 60's era pinball machine.  It's interesting to note that they did not yet use the modern button style.  The plunger appeared short and flat, and the bezel was virtually non-existent compared to the buttons of today.  So it would be interesting to know who originated the newer design and when.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2024, 01:03:11 pm by RandyT »

pbj

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2024, 02:12:43 pm »
Bally was using them in the late 60s.  Take a look at Surfer.  (1967)
« Last Edit: July 09, 2024, 11:56:30 pm by pbj »

pbj

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2024, 11:55:49 pm »
Well, the question intrigued me and I needed the mental distraction from Hurricane Beryl..




Looks like Williams switched over between World Cup and Contact in 1978.

Gottlieb used them on their System 80 games, but only for entry of initials.  Flipper buttons were still old school.  Then they went to buttons that felt old school but appear to have a bezel at some point in there.  First button I see that wouldn’t feel weird on an arcade control panel looks like Surf N Safari in 1991.

So from far too much time on ipdb looking at cabinet photos, those are my votes.




BadMouth

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2024, 02:22:01 pm »
I was curious and went down the rabbit hole as well, although I don't know much about pinball machines.

Oldest I came across was the Bally machine you mentioned and a couple others also released in 1967.
https://actionpinball.com/parts.php?item=AS-2443



I couldn't find anything older with a button of that appearance, pinball, EM or otherwise.

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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2024, 03:47:37 pm »
I knew a collector that had a room full of Bally EMs, mostly from the 70s.  They always stood out to me as the games that didn't feel so dated relative to their peers.  The licensed themes, artwork with bright colors and a style that doesn't look so antiquated, playfield layouts.  Really with just some minor tweaking you could believe they came out in the early-mid 80s.  So my suspicion was that if anyone did it first, it was them.



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Re: Origin of American style (leaf/IL/Happ etc) pushbuttons?
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2024, 01:09:20 pm »
I knew a collector that had a room full of Bally EMs, mostly from the 70s.  They always stood out to me as the games that didn't feel so dated relative to their peers.  The licensed themes, artwork with bright colors and a style that doesn't look so antiquated, playfield layouts.  Really with just some minor tweaking you could believe they came out in the early-mid 80s.  So my suspicion was that if anyone did it first, it was them.

Based on the image BadMouth found and your experience, I'd tend to agree.  Now what I am curious about is whether, at their inception, they actually had the internal spring or whether they relied entirely on the spring metal of the leaf switch to return the button home.  Based on the 1967-1971 part number description, it almost appears that the spring was an afterthought, possibly due to issues with the spring action of the metal leaf weakening over time, causing the buttons to feel mushy or less responsive.  If that was the case, this would further bolster the idea that Bally did it first, as it shows steps in the evolution of what would be the final design.