David Gottlieb, founder of Gottlieb Pinball, was one of the inaugural inductees into the Amusement Industry Hall of Fame. One of the Hall’s legacy (non-living) members, Gottlieb founded D. Gottlieb & Co. in 1927. The company originally manufactured the Husky Grip Tester and Majestic Moving Target.
In 1931, Gottlieb found tremendous success with a countertop pinball machine named Baffle Ball. He sold some 50,000 machines at $17.50, establishing D. Gottlieb & Co. as a dominant early manufacturer of pinball machines.
During this time, Gottlieb could not fulfill the orders of his customer Ray Moloney, who went on to start Lion Manufacturing, which later became Bally Manufacturing. Throughout many decades in the coin-operated amusement business, David Gottlieb and Ray Moloney were fierce competitors but very close friends – raising money for charities such as the Damon Runyon Cancer fund.
A proud supporter of the coin machine industry, Gottlieb served as president of Coin Machine Industries (CMI) in 1939. Also a proud American and patriot, Gottlieb did his part during World War II, manufacturing parachute hooks, rubber rafts and other wartime supplies.
Gottlieb & Co. had many innovations, including the first 4-player pinball machine (Super Jumbo) and the first 2-player pinball machine (Duette). Another key innovation was the “Add-A-Ball” feature that allowed pinball machines to be operated in territories that did not allow free play. The most notable invention was in 1947 when Gottlieb employee Harry Mabbs invented the flipper. First placed on Humpty Dumpty, the flipper was a revolutionary invention and soon after, all pinball machines had to have flippers.
Heavily involved in charity throughout his life, David Gottlieb’s dream was realized when Gottlieb Memorial Hospital opened in 1961. An active and engaged member of the Chicago area Jewish community, he was also involved in both the West Suburban Temple and Oak Park Temple in Oak Park, Illinois. A devout family man, David was married to his beloved Dorothy from 1926 until his passing in 1974.
David and Dorothy had three children, Marjorie, Alvin (pictured with his father above in the 1930s) and Roberta. After David retired, D. Gottlieb & Co. was run by his brother Nate, his son Alvin and Marjorie’s husband, Judd Weinberg. D. Gottlieb & Co. was sold in 1976 to Columbia Pictures.