Steve Kordek, who revolutionized the game of pinball in the 1940s by designing what became the standard two-flipper machine found in bars and penny arcades around the world, died on Sunday at a hospice in Park Ridge, Ill. He was 100.
Mr. Kordek actually revised a revision of what until the 1930s had been called the pin game. In that version a player would pull a plunger to release the ball, then shake the table in an often frustrating attempt to redirect the ball toward a scoring target — a cup or a hole.
In 1947, two designers at the D. Gottlieb & Company pinball factory in Chicago, Harry Mabs and Wayne Neyens, transformed that rudimentary game into one called Humpty Dumpty, adding six electromechanical flippers, three on each side from the top to the bottom of the field.
It was an instant hit — until, at a trade show in Chicago 1948, Mr. Kordek introduced Triple Action, a game that featured just two flippers, both controlled by buttons at the bottom of the table. Mr. Kordek was a designer for Genco, one of more than two dozen pinball manufacturers in Chicago at the time.
Not only was Mr. Kordek’s two-flipper game less expensive to produce; it also gave players greater control. For someone concentrating on keeping a chrome-plated ball from dropping into the “drain,” two flippers, one for each hand, were better than six.
“It really was revolutionary, and pretty much everyone else followed suit,” David Silverman, executive director of the National Pinball Museum in Baltimore, said in an interview. “And it’s stayed the standard for 60 years….”