In The News

Pinball wizard Steve Kordek passes away

Pinball wizard Steve Kordek passes away

THE death has taken place of Steve Kordek who is credited with transforming the game of pinball. He was 100.

The modern pinball game can incorporate sophisticated software and images, but when Mr. Kordek became involved with the game it was low-tech.

His initial introduction to the game came about as the result of a shower of rain. He had been out looking for a job in his home city of Chicago in 1937 when he was caught in the shower and had took shelter in a nearby building.

The building turned out to the headquarters of the Genco company — one of the main manufacturers of pinball games. The receptionist asked if he was looking for a job and he was soon working on the production line.

By the late 1940s he was working in Genco’s design department. His first major innovation, which helped transform the game, came about after he was put under pressure to come-up with a design to counter a rival company’s new game. He found himself in the design ‘hotseat’ because his boss had fallen hill. 

Mr. Kordeck’s innovation was to turn pinball into a defensive game by removing flippers from the upper portion of the game and leaving just two electrically-powered flippers at the bottom. Now players were able to use these flippers to keep the ball in play.

In the years that followed, Mr. Kordek was to design nearly 100 games and introduce further innovations to enhance the player experience. In his Vagabond game (1962) he introduced drip targets for the first time. These were obstacles on the playing surface which when struck (earning extra points) would drop down.

He was also responsible for coming up with the Beat The Clock system which saw players having to deal with up to six balls at once in a bid to earn extra points.

Mr. Kordek never lost his enthusiasm for designing new games or with keeping abreast with technologies or techniques. When he was in his 80s he took night classes to learn about software development.

He contributed his last game, Vacation America, in 2003.

To view the 100th. birthday tribute to Steve Kordek, click here.


View previous In the News items: Funeral takes place of former politician Addie Morrow, Banjo player Earl Scruggs passes away, Former pirate radio DJ Tom Lodge passes away, Skateboard innovator Larry Stevenson passes away, Tributes are paid to Scottish darts legend Jocky Wilson, Former aerospace chief Sanford McDonnell passes away, Respected Northern Ireland journalist passes away, Tributes are paid to motorcycle expert Mick Walker, Actress Faith Brook passes away, Chemist who warned of global warming passes away, Illustrator behind the famous Ponderosa map passes away, Ashes of singer Davy Jones to be brought back to UK, Songwriter Robert Sherman passes away, Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie passes away, Bishop says Frank Carson was the prime minister of fun, Tributes are paid to Richard Carpenter of Catweazle fame, The actress Marion Mathie passes away, Actor Peter Halliday passes away, Fans pay tribute to comedy legend Frank Carson, Last of the buccaneers John Fairfax passes away, Tributes are paid to opera singer Elizabeth Connell, Rock musician Michael Davis passes away, Friends celebrate the life of Whitney Houston, Former royal commentator James Whitaker passes away, Tributes are paid to the actor David Kelly, Canadian adventurer Don Starkell passes away, Tributes are paid to race horse trainer Josh Gifford, Last surviving service member of World War I passes away, Science fiction writer John Christopher passes away, Actor Ben Gazzara passes away, Legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee passes away, Tributes are paid to opera singer Camilla Williams, Character actor Ian Abercrombie passes away, Jazz composer Clare Fischer passes away, Actor James Farentino passes away, Tributes are paid to the actor Nicol Williamson, Plan for new crematorium is given the green light, Former goalkeeper Ernie Gregory passes away, Tributes are paid to soul singer Etta James, Music therapist Clive Robbins passes away, Soul singer Jimmy Castor passes away, Former US Ambassador Charles Price passes away, Prolific writer Penny Jordan passes away, Tributes are paid to the author Reginald Hill, Former child actor who became a top political analyst passes away or Tributes are paid to doctor who helped save thousands of lives


If you have a relative or a friend who has passed away and feel they should be mentioned in our In the News section, then please email us.