Skee Ball slinging got its start in 1909 and marked the start of arcade games. The original Skee Ball alleys were 36 feet long and were an outdoor sport, requiring much more strength to play.
In 1936, the first coin-operated machine was created in Chicago, Baffle Ball, the precursor to pinball machines. However, coin-operated machines were referred to as “Games of Chance,” and were therefore considered gambling. Flippers at the bottom of the pinball machines were added to make them appear as more of a game of skill, rather than chance.
Then, in the 1970s, the video game arcade became an obsession with many teens, and it’s thanks to one video game—Pong. Developed in 1972, Pong became the first successful coin-operated video game, eventually selling over 35,000 units. Pong led the way, and video games began replacing pinball machines in arcades. Between 1972 and 1984, more than 15 different companies began designing different video games. In 1975, “Gun Fight” was introduced, the first game to use a microprocessor.
And then came a series of well-known and well-loved games: “Space Invaders” in 1978, “Asteroids” in 1979, “Pac-Man” in 1980 (the most successful video game of all time), and “Donkey Kong” in 1981. Between 1978 and 1982, the arcade business boomed, with the most popular games bringing in $400/week in quarters. “Donkey Kong” sold 60,000 units in one year and earned $180 million.
By the late 80s, the saturation of arcade games and the invention of at-home consoles led to the decline of the arcade industry. While the arcade has diminished in popularity since the 80s, it is certainly still a staple of American culture. The arcade continues to evolve, incorporating the traditional with the new in a way that delights both the young and old.
Information is courtesy of http://www.wired.com/2014/05/arcade-history/. For more information, check out this video from theverge.com: http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/16/3740422/the-life-and-death-of-the-american-arcade-for-amusement-only