The father of modern pinball is gone, but will never be forgotten

Steve Kordek
Steve Kordek

The visionary behind the two flippers and two buttons approach to pinball machines, Steve Kordek, died on Feb. 19 in a Park Ridge, Ill. hospice, The New York Times reports. Kordek is responsible for ushering in the age of pinball machines in the 1940s in which players control a silver ball using just two buttons attached to two flippers. It has been the standard for over 60 years.

Kordek's take on pinball, according to NY Times, is actually a revision of the original 1930s pin game, which had players fire a ball with plunger at either a cup or a hole, shaking the machine in an effort to guide its path. In 1948, Kordek came out with Triple Action, a game that employed the designer's revolutionary control scheme while reducing production costs. It was a win-win.

Basically, every single pinball game released in your lifetime--both digitaland physical--has Kordek's Triple Action to thank. "Steve's impact would be comparable to D. W. Griffith moving from silent films through talkies and color and CinemaScope and 3-D with computer-generated graphics," "Pinball!" author Roger Sharpe told NY Times. "He moved through each era seamlessly."

The father of modern pinball was also father to four children--two daughters, Catherine Petrash and Donna Kordek-Logazino, as well as two sons, Frank and Richard. Kordek told The Chicago Tribune in 2009 that he "had more fun in this business than anyone could believe," and we're willing to bet kids will continue to have fun with his contributions for another 100 years.

[Image Credit: Alex Garcia / Chicago Tribune]

Did you know before now the story behind the standard in pinball games? What are your favorite pinball games, both digital and physical? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.

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