Nov 172011

Humpty Dumpty 1947

I have always been a great fan of Pinball machines.  I remember when I was very little, watching big kids playing a mysterious game at the local arcade.  It had crazy blinking lights, bells, strange hammer sounds and the big kid playing it looked like he was about to push the whole thing over with the violence of his movements.  I wasn’t even tall enough to see what was going on under the glass!  Once I got old enough to reach the flipper buttons and see the playing field, I was completely hooked.  I must have spent $100s a year in quarters up until the point that most of the arcades disappeared.  Luckily, in recent years a few new arcades have sprung up and I can enjoy playing again!

Humpty Dumpty Under the Glass

When I looked into the history of these machines, I was surprised to find that they have been around for a long time.  The evolution of the pinball machine took at least 300 years to get to from a simple bowling game to the complex ones we have today.  By the 1930s,  the machine had gotten; spring launchers(1871), coin operated(1931), electrified (1933),and  reactive bumpers(1933).

In 1947, Gottleib (Chicago, IL) released the next step with the inclusion of flippers in their game, Humpty Dumpty.  At first, Humpty Dumpty was too low powered and needed 3 of the 6 flippers to get to the top, but with a few tweaks, only 2 were needed.   The flipper idea really took off and soon other companies were offering kit to convert older machines to use flippers. With this innovation and others, Gottleib was able to top the market for many years.

Manufacturer: Gottleib (Chicago, IL)

Model:  Humpty Dumpty

First Producted: October, 5 1947

Flippers: 6 flipper bumpers

Production Run: 6,500

Design:  Harry Mabs

Artwork: Roy Parker



Nov 142011

Rubik's Cube Solved

Late this summer, my family and I took a trip to Duluth, MN for a get-away weekend.  After a great weekend of hanging out on Lake Superior, eating pie, and touring ore ships, we stopped at a toy store for souvenirs.  Instead of getting a Duluth lift-bridge snow globe or a Split Rock light house t-shirt, my 8 year old son fell in love with a Mini-Rubik’s Cube.  My wife gladly bought it for him, thinking that it would keep him busy in the car during the 4 hour ride back home.

Scrambling the cube and trying to solve it kept him busy for about an hour, but like all of his Transformer toys, he soon started asking me to figure it out for him.  I laughed at him and said, “No way!  I had one of those 20 years ago, and had to break it apart to solve it!”  He soon forgot about the cube, and we played I Spy for the rest of the trip home.

Scrambled Cube

When we arrived home, my son placed the cube on a shelf and didn’t touch it again.  About a week later, I noticed it again and got curious to see if it was still as hard to solve as it was 20 years earlier.  I picked it up and spent about 20 minutes twisting and turning the cube until I got frustrated and checked google to see if there was some trick to solving it.

It turns out that there are several different systems for solving them.  Some of them are very technical and hard to understand, but I found one that was pretty easy to follow.  You make a series of maneuvers, called algorithms on the cube.   Each one is used to solve a different part of the cube.  I spent about a month memorizing them and can now solve any standard 3×3 cube in less than 5 minutes.  5 minutes is pretty good, but the world record is around 6.5 seconds!


Rubik’s Cube

Manufacture Date: 1974-Present

Manufacturer: Ideal Toy Corp (US) Now part of Mattel Inc.

Creator: Erno Rubik

Original Name: Magic Cube

Possible Permutations: 4.3 x 1019  or the number 43 with 18 zeros after it!

Number Sold: More than 350 Million!

Trivia:  Erno Rubik did not set out to make a puzzle, but just wanted to see if he could make a cube made of smaller cubes that could be twisted and rotated and still stay together. Once he scrambled the cube, he realized he had made a puzzle!