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Keeney History
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History of J.H. Keeney & Company

It was Keeney that capitalized on the concept of a full line of enormous and colorfully lighted console Bell machines. J.H. Keeney & Company introduced the Keeney SUPER BELL models in 1941 which hit the market in a rush, for there was an overriding concern that the materials used to fabricate coin machines would soon be in short supply as a result of loudly whispered sentiment that the United States would soon be embroiled in World War II. The fears were well founded, for a few months after its introduction the SUPER BELL machines were out of production.

The console makers had a major shakeout which started before the war ended. The only prewar console maker that came back bigger than before was Bally, and they planned to start with a bang. The other big gainer was J.H. Keeney & Company sustained by war work in electronics and jumping back into the market place with new models of its most successful prewar machine. Keeney added a lot of payout muscle to the prewar SUPER BELL, introducing the postwar version, now called the BONUS SUPER BELL.

The electrical consoles, breadboard circuitry, scoring techniques and assembly skills used in slot machines suddenly had military applications. J.H. Keeney & Company greatly expanded its wartime facilities as it produced a new wave of electronics equipment and military training devices which would lead to a whole new series of coin operated amusement machines once the war was over. By the end of 1944, the year of the invasion of Europe and the beginning of the bombings of Japan, when it became quite obvious that the war tide had turned and the United Nations forces would win the war, the slot machine industry had fully converted to war work while it kept its eye on the future. Games would come back, and an eager and revitalized coin machine industry would lead the way to greater advancements.

Between the mid 1950s and early 1960s, J.H. Keeney & Company became the largest producer, bringing the genre to their ultimate peak of development that inspired the next step in electronic upright development. Uprights were considered as games without any reel mechanism which they had to get around the reel mechanism because of the Johnson Act. So they came out with the Panascope with lighted symbols at the top.

After the government outlawed the interstate shipment of slot machines in 1951, Keeney introduced multiple-coin console machines, with three rear projection read-out units that displayed the symbols. Because they didn’t look like a conventional slot and paid out in free games they were able to operate in marginal areas. The Keeney multiple-coin, free play pin games, using bingo cards, also met the demand for gaming machines during this era. Back To Keeney


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