Bay Tek Games, Inc. acquired Skee-Ball, Inc. and moved production to Wisconsin, the first time Skee-Ball production moved away from the East Coast. The company also launches a new modern alley with full lighting and electronic updates to meet the demand of the new, high-end entertainment center growth.
Skee-Ball celebrated its centennial anniversary by introducing a retro edition 13’ centennial alley bowler for avid collectors and the home market. The Skee-Ball app was launched and was the best selling paid app in the Apple iPhone app store for a few weeks until it was knocked off by the Angry Birds™ App.
Skee-Ball, Inc. updated its alleys by adding sound effects, musical selections and new electronic components.
Royalty agreements with Bergoffen and Piesen were finally fulfilled. Joe Sladek and his three partners bought Skee-Ball, Inc.
Philadelphia Toboggan Company split their Skee-Ball business off from the rest of their amusement manufacturing, as Skee-Ball, Inc. Bay Tek Games, Inc. was also formed in 1977 making roll down games for the carnival market.
Frank D. Johns, a Daytona Beach amusement park owner, received a patent that truly made Skee-Ball a “no attendant required” redemption game, with the automatic ticket dispenser.
Philadelphia Toboggan Company acquired the patents, trademarks and rights to produce Skee-Ball alleys from Wurlitzer.
Wurlitzer sold out of most of their stock, 5,022 units- an average of 600 Skee-Ball alleys per year. They realized Skee-Ball alleys may not fit their business and manufacturing model any longer.
Wurlitzer rapidly produced over 5,000 redesigned Skee-Ball machines on their highly capable assembly line in one year, and then stopped production permanently due to overstocking. *Photo courtesy of the Thaddeus O. Cooper Collection”
After the death of Bergoffen, and increased competition in the market, Skee-Ball was sold to a strong company in the entertainment market, The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. Wurlitzer had been watching Skee-Ball alley rollers earn up to four times what their jukeboxes did in taverns and saloons and they paid the price: $5,000 for the patents, trademarks and right to manufacture, and $200,000 in royalties to be paid over time. *Photo courtesy of the Thaddeus O. Cooper Collection”
The first national Skee-Ball tournament was held at Layman Sternbergh’s Skee-Ball Stadium, in Atlantic, NJ on September 24 and 25. Over one hundred players qualified from around the country with the top prize of $1,000, a large sum of money after the Great Depression.
Goldberg sold the manufacturing rights for Skee-Ball to Herman Bergoffen and Hugo and Maurice Piesen, who renamed the company the National Skee-Ball Company, Inc. Bergoffen, an attorney, trademarked the name “Skee-Ball” that year. After the stock market crash in 1929, the company began producing shorter alleys, easier to fit into both indoor and outdoor amusement venues. *Photo courtesy of the Thaddeus O. Cooper Collection
The Skee-Ball Company moved from Philadelphia to Coney Island, NY, a major growth area for the amusement industry in the 1920’s, and partner Morris Goldberg became the new face of the company. *Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
J.D. Este sold his interest in the company to his partners who changed the name to the Skee-Ball Company, Inc.
J.D. Este enlisted in the Army as a pilot in WWI and returned the following year as a decorated veteran, preparing to marry a nurse he met while overseas.
Skee-Ball Tournaments became extremely popular, particularly in the Philadelphia area, with both men’s and women’s teams, often sponsored by corporate employers, like US Rubber. *Photo courtesy of the Thaddeus O. Cooper Collection
J.D. Este of Philadelphia, a wealthy Skee-Ball player and enthusiast, purchased the Skee-Ball Alley Company from Harper for $15,000, hiring him as general manager, and purchased the U.S. patent from Simpson for $25,000. The J.D. Este Company aggressively marketed Skee-Ball into pleasure resorts, college locations, boardwalk venues and even a location in Times Square N.Y. *Photo courtesy of the Thaddeus O. Cooper Collection
Simpson negotiated a licensing arrangement, collaborating with William Nice Jr and John W. Harper who formed the Skee-Ball Alley Company, with manufacturing in Philadelphia and an office in Vineland, N.J. The early Skee-Ball alleys were manufactured in two 16 ft. sections, measuring a total of 32 feet in length. The first ad for Skee-Ball appeared in The Billboard with copy that read: For pleasure resorts, parks and amusement parlors. New and the most popular game ever invented. A most profitable and easily managed game, requires little attention, gives much pleasure, moderate exercise, becomes very fascinating. Send for booklet. Skee-Ball Alley Co, Phila PA. They sold dozens of alleys into amusement venues up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and into California, Utah, Colorado and many local venues around Philadelphia. The alleys were remarkably successful money-makers and were immensely popular with players. After the death of William Nice Jr. in 1910, Simpson and Harper ran out of money to market the game effectively, and stopped production in 1912. *Photo courtesy of the Thaddeus O. Cooper Collection
The patent was finally granted after several attempts by Simpson to prove he had something unique. Simpson’s attorney, Chas A Rutter, sent in the $20 filing fee to the Philadelphia Patent Office and a letter stating that half interest in the patent also belonged to William Nice Jr. *Photo courtesy of the Thaddeus O. Cooper Collection
Joseph Fourestier Simpson of Vineland, N.J. applied for a patent around a new game idea that had a “skee-jump” mechanism on an alley to launch a ball into targets that had a built in automatic scoring mechanism. *Photo courtesy of the Thaddeus O. Cooper Collection