The ad ran in the Lorain Journal on July 3, 1958 – 57 years ago this month.
So why are they called pinspotters and how did the machine work?
Here's an explanation that ran in the Arlington Times of February 20, 1958 when the same product was installed in a local bowling alley. "The workings of the machine are almost impossible to describe. Three motors drive the mechanism. One drives a huge wheel, which feeds the pins into the spotting machine, with one set of pins always ready to be set while another is on the deck.
"When the first ball is thrown, the machine picks up all those pins which are still standing and holds them up while a sweep cleans the deck of those knocked down. Then the machine re-spots the remaining pins. In the meantime, the ball is pushed through a small gate and lifted to the return gutter.
"Should a bowler get a strike, the sweep cleans the deck and the new pints are set into position ready for the next ball.
"The entire operation is uncanny to watch."
AMF even created an advertising mascot (seen in the Rebman ad) to promote their futuristic pinspotting machine. His name? Mr. Pinspotter of course!
The genial robot was featured in ads and promotional brochures.
Mr. Pinspotter decals were also affixed to part of the pinspotting machine.
I was trying to remember why Mr. Pinspotter seemed familiar to me. Then I remembered that he bears a clunky resemblance to the mischievous robots who made life miserable for Gumby in Robot Rumpus.
Come to think of it, the ever-grinning, bright-eyed Mr. Pinspotter looks a little like Gumby's longtime nemeses, the Blockheads, too (below)!
So what is “rhythm bowling” as mentioned in the various promotional pieces?
As explained in the November 23, 1956 Freeport Journal – where the local bowling alley Star Bowl had just installed their AMF Automatic Pinspotters, "Providing a consistently accurate spotting of pins, AMF's machines have generally been credited with improving not only bowling scores but bowler form. For it seems that the rhythmic regularity of the Pinspotter in setting the pins and returning the ball has invariably induced a clockwork-like bowling action that has resulted in improving bowler performance. With the machines no chance is allowed for any erratic activity in the pits. Thus the bowler reacts to the Pinspotter as automatically as the machine does to him.”
I guess you had to have been a bowler in the pre-pinspotter days to see any improvement. I’ve always been a lousy bowler, even with Mr. Pinspotter’s help.