The History of Skee-Ball®
March 19, 2021
If you have ever been to an arcade, you are familiar with the classic alley lane with the iconic colors of red, yellow and green. Perhaps you played it as a kid and remember struggling to even make it all the way down the alley, or maybe you still hold the high score in your hometown’s arcade. There is no doubt that Skee-Ball® is one of those games that has and will always serve as a nostalgic memory for everyone. Yet, many people wonder how this iconic game got its start, and why it quickly became such a classic.
How It All Started
The Skee-Ball brand and very first alley roller was born in 1907, when Joseph Fourestier Simpson of Vineyard, N.J. applied for a patent for his new game idea. This idea had a “skee-jump” mechanism on an alley to launch a ball to a target, along with an automatic scoring system that scored when a target was hit. It was in 1908 when, after several attempts, Fourestier finally received his patent and began building and putting his game everywhere and anywhere people gathered together in search of a good time.
The first ever ad for a Skee-Ball alley roller 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.”
Out of the gate, Skee-Ball alleys were remarkably successful money-makers and were immensely popular with players. However, in 1910, Fourestier ran out of money to continue investing in the growth of Skee-Ball and production came to a halt. Over the last hundred years, the Skee-Ball brand has transitioned from one owner to another, but still remained so popular, becoming the new pastime for many Americans.
"New and the most popular game ever invented..."
- From the first ever Skee-Ball ad.
Today Skee-Ball resides in Pulaski, WI – a small town outside of Green Bay where passion, hard work, and fun collide – and we aim to keep the legacy of Skee-Ball alive while revitalizing a brand that has lasted the test of time.
The game remains just as popular, with alleys around the globe, Skee-Ball licensing in table-top games, phone and switch apps, and even Skee-Ball alley rollers designed and built for the home. It is remarkable to think that an arcade game has come so far, in only a century. However, it is safe to say that Skee-Ball would not be where it is today without the people behind it, without all the people of the world making those special memories and making Skee-Ball part of their homes and hearts.