Playful Mathematics: Sweet Add-A-Line


Last weekend I visited the Vintage Flipper World pinball museum just outside Ann Arbor, Michigan. Among the games there was Gottleib’s 1955 table Sweet Add-A-Line. It’s a peculiar table by modern standards, since nearly all the playfield is a bunch of lanes, channels through which the pinball might roll. But …

Gottlieb's 1955 pinball table _Sweet Add-A-Line_. 'It figgers!' says the backglass. It shows an underdressed 'patio secretary' on the adding machine, while a portly Mr Dithers-esque guy walks on the beach wearing striped swimming costume and holding a ledger. Also some guys in the background are singing, because the game's name demands it.

In this round of Sweet Add-A-Line I managed to get the 9, 7, 15, and 2 rollovers, lighting up the total of 33 on the lower-left adding tape. And scored overall 1,840,000 points. See the lights at the bottom. Unanswered question: so, “patio secretary” was a thing in 1955? I guess?

I apologize for the Coors sign reflected in the back glass. I didn’t even see it when I was taking the picture.

Each of the lanes is numbered. Rolling one down lights up that number in the backglass, as above. And if you roll all the numbers in one of the eight strips of tape, the game opens up bonus opportunities. It’s a fun game and certainly one of the top adding-machine-themed pinball machines I’ve ever played. I grant this is of marginal mathematical content, but, heck, I smiled.

The Internet Pinball Database has a scan of the game’s advertising flyer, which I like if nothing else for its defensive “Amusement Pinballs: as American as Baseball and Hot Dogs!” slogan.

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