A Peek Into The History Of Air Hockey - TRsports

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Air hockey is one of the simplest games you can physically play. It is also one of the most enjoyable you can partake in. The game, as it exists in its present avatar, has an interesting history. Here’s the story of how air hockey came to be one of the most popular arcade activities of the century.

A Brunswick engineer has a brainwave

The table gaming industry was coming into its own in the 60s and 70s. Foosball and pool tables had caught the fancy of the public, and were making their appearances in malls and homes. A group of engineers from Brunswick Billiards, one of the world’s top producers of pool tables, were brainstorming about creating a miniature hockey game where players could make a puck float around seamlessly on a frictionless table. They knew that using ice was not an option, but one of the engineers – Bob Lemieux – wondered if they could use the principles of ice hockey to develop the game they had in mind. He decided to incorporate two goals at opposite ends and a puck, and the air hockey pool table was born.

Air hockey captures the public’s imagination

The new game was marketed to consumers in the 70s and became an instant success. Air hockey associations started mushrooming in Texas, and the state quickly became an air hockey hub. A defining moment in the history of the sport was the first Air Hockey World Championship at a New York City hotel in 1974. What made the event historical? One, it was hosted by legendary sportscaster and ‘voice of basketball’ Marv Albert. Second, the finalists were a Centenary College student and a player who called himself ‘The Spiderman’ and who had signed up for community college just to play air hockey! Spiderman could not weave his magic on that day and had to be content with the runner-up trophy.

In the following year, the United States Air-Table Hockey Association was formed and the first national tournament was held in Houston in 1978.

Resurgence in the 80s

In a surprise move, Brunswick halted production of all its air hockey pool tables because they believed that the market had become oversaturated and the air hockey ‘fad’ was wearing off. After a quiet period, foosball and pool table manufacturer Dynamo breathed new life into the game, and began making tournament-style tables in 1985.

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