Teaching Students About David Gottlieb


Gottlieb, a name synonymous with the history and development of pinball machines, is an important topic to introduce to students in order to help them understand the cultural and technological advancements of earlier years. The company, founded by David Gottlieb in 1927, played a crucial role in shaping the arcade and amusement industry. In this article, we will explore various methods for teaching students about Gottlieb and its significance in the world of entertainment.

1. A Brief History of Gottlieb

Begin by giving students an overview of Gottlieb’s history, highlighting its founder, David Gottlieb, and how he started by producing arcade games before moving on to pinball machines. Explain how the company’s first major breakthrough came with the game Baffle Ball in 1931 which led to widespread success. Follow this by discussing some of the company’s most popular pinball machines such as Humpty Dumpty (1947) – the first pinball machine with flippers – and their impact on the gaming landscape.

2. The Evolution of Pinball

To help students understand Gottlieb’s significance in pinball history, teach them about the evolution of these machines over time. Start with a discussion on early pinball machines that were primarily played for gambling purposes and lacked flippers. Compare these to later developments including flippers and other features which made games more interactive and skill-based.

3. Hands-On Experience

Arrange for your students to have hands-on experience with different generations of pinball machines if possible. This can be done through field trips to local arcades or museums housing vintage pinball machines or by inviting collectors to bring these machines into the classroom.

4. Incorporating Art and Design

Incorporate art and design elements into your lessons by having students analyze playfield artwork from different eras and discuss the impact of changing aesthetics on the gaming experience. Students can also create their own pinball-themed artwork to help them understand the importance of visuals in these games.

5. Discussing the Social and Cultural Impact

Lead a discussion on the social and cultural significance of pinball machines during their heyday, including how they were perceived at different points in time. For example, discuss how pinball machines were once deemed illegal in many cities due to their association with gambling, followed by their eventual resurgence in popularity thanks to new designs that focused more on skill.

6. Exploring Innovations and Technological Advances

Teach students about Gottlieb’s role in introducing innovations and technological advances that transformed the pinball machine industry. Explore the development of electromechanical (EM) and solid-state (SS) technology, as well as the famous multi-ball feature and other game elements introduced by Gottlieb in various machines.


By teaching students about Gottlieb, you are giving them an opportunity to learn about an important part of entertainment history and appreciate the developments that have shaped today’s gaming industry. By implementing a comprehensive approach that balances history, hands-on experience, design analysis, and discussions on societal impact, students will gain a well-rounded understanding of Gottlieb and its significance in the evolution of pinball machines.

Choose your Reaction!