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Bally-Midway-Williams records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 117.9889
The Bally-Midway-Williams records contain documentation from the Bally, Midway, and Williams pinball companies, with the bulk of the materials dated between 1947 and 1993. Materials within this collection include parts lists, bills of materials (BOMs), memos, notes, correspondence, reference, playfield drawings, parts diagrams, wiring diagrams, engineer change notices (ECNs), copyright registration information, tradename search reports, engineering logbooks, packaging testing information, and some financial documentation. The majority of information in this collection is on pinball games, though documentation on video arcade games, slot machines, billiards, and other amusements is also present. Additional scope and content information can be found in the “Contents List” section of this finding aid.

The Bally-Midway-Williams records are arranged into three series, one of which is further divided into subseries (and sub-subseries). The physical materials are housed in 108 archival document boxes and one map case drawer.


  • 1933 - 2000
  • Majority of material found within 1947 - 1999



The majority of this collection is in English, though there are instances of German, French, and Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

Some materials of financial nature have been restricted by the museum. The documents in Box 108 will not be open for research use until the year 2048. They are denoted as such in this finding aid and are separated from unrestricted files.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) have not been transferred, The Strong may make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


60 Linear Feet (108 boxes, 1 flat file drawer)


The Bally-Midway-Williams records are an assemblage of documentation from the Bally, Midway, and (predominantly) Williams pinball companies. Materials within this collection include parts lists, bills of material forms, corporate memos, notes, playfield drawings, parts diagrams, wiring diagrams, packaging testing documentation, change notice forms, copyright registration information, engineering logbooks, and more. The majority of this collection is on pinball games, though documentation on slot machines and video games is also present. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1947 and 1999.

Historical Note

What we now recognize as pinball evolved during the 20th century in America, with several well-known companies leading the way.

Raymond Moloney founded the Chicago-based Bally Manufacturing Company in 1932 to make pinball games. Along with pinball, Bally fabricated mechanical slot machines and gambling devices. (During World War II, Bally halted production of recreational items and instead made ammunition and airplane parts.) The addition of flippers and bumpers transformed pinball from a gambling machine to a skill game. In 1969, Bally purchased Midway Manufacturing Co., another amusements manufacturer (previously established by Henry Ross and Marcine “Iggy” Wolverton). Midway operated under its own name for another decade, until Bally merged its own pinball division with Midway’s to form Bally/Midway Manufacturing in 1982. Meanwhile in 1943, Harry E. Williams founded Williams Manufacturing Company, also in Chicago, Illinois—the American center for pinball production. His company rose to prominence as one of the most important arcade and pinball game manufacturers in the United States after World War II. Williams pinball designers introduced many pinball innovations, including ramps, scoring reels, drop targets, and modern 3-inch flippers. The company was acquired and incorporated several times, resulting in company name changes (becoming Williams Electronics, Inc. in 1974 and then WMS Industries in 1987).

In 1988, WMS purchased competitor Bally/Midway. The pinball division of WMS closed in 1999, after more than 50 years of designing and manufacturing electro-mechanical and solid-state pinball machines. As of 2018, WMS is retained as a brand of Scientific Games.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Bally records, 1933-1983

Series II: Midway records, 1966-1986

Series III: Williams records, 1946-2000

Subseries A: Williams Manufacturing Co., 1946-1974
Subseries B: Williams Electronics, Inc., 1972-1996
1. Game/part design documentation, 1972-1980
2. Engineering logbooks and notebooks, 1980-1996
Subseries C: WMS Industries, Inc., 1963-2000
1. Game/part design documentation, 1972-2000
2. Staff project files, 1963-1999
3. Packaging testing, 1982-1999
4. Financial documentation, 1983-1999

Custodial History

The Bally-Midway-Williams records were acquired by The Strong in October 2017 from James Loflin. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 117.9889 and were received in 34 boxes and two rolled storage tubes.

Related Materials

Researchers interested in Williams pinball games may also want to access the Williams pinball playfield design collection in the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play. Other relevant collections include James Loflin’s Bally-Midway-Williams collection, the Steve Kordek coin-op and amusements collection, and the Atari Coin-Op Division corporate records.

The International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) houses several dozen pinball machines by Bally, Midway, and Williams.

Processed by

Julia Novakovic, March -September 2018
Finding Aid to the Bally-Midway-Williams Records, 1933-2000
Julia Novakovic
25 September 2018
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)