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Williams Entertainment Inc.

Overview

Founded in 1946 in Chicago, Illinois, Williams Manufacturing Company was a pinball machine manufacturer. The proprietor was Harry Williams who was responsible for developing automatic scoring, kicker-bumpers, and the "tilt" mechanism. Williams became one of the giants in the pinball machine industry during the "Golden Age" of pinball (1960's through the 1980's). Its main competitors were the big names in the industry of the time - Bally, Gottlieb, and Midway.

The company changed its name several times: Williams Electronic Manufacturing Company in 1954 and Williams Electronics, Inc. in 1967.

Structural changes occurred in the company in 1985 when WMS Industries Inc. was formed as the main corporate entity. All of the subsidiaries and divisions were placed neatly underneath the WMS Industries umbrella, which acted as a holding company.

WMS Industries and Williams Electronic Games Inc. made headline news with their $8 million acquisition of Bally Midway Manufacturing Co., Inc. in 1988. The purchase included all of Bally Midway's coin-operated amusement game manufacturing business. More importantly for the videogame industry, it also included Midway, which had become very successful in the development of coin-operated arcade games as well as videogames. Midway Games Inc. was incorporated and added to the WMS group of subsidiaries at this time. In 1992, Williams began to manufacture pinball machines with the Bally name after acquiring the exclusive name rights.

Up until about 1992, Williams Electronic Games Inc. had been developing videogames as well as manufacturing pinball machines. Most of the videogames containing the Williams label were renditions of coin-op games. In 1994, WMS Industry purchased Tradewest and renamed it Williams Entertainment Inc. Williams Entertainment Inc. published, developed and distributed their own unique games as well as those made by their fellow subsidiary Midway Games.

Then in 1996 WMS Industries acquired Time-Warner Interactive Inc., which included Atari Games. It is believed that this purchase kick-started the 1996 formation of Midway Home Entertainment Inc., a division of Midway Games Inc. Williams Entertainment Inc. was merged into the new corporation and an Atari Games Division was formed. In 1998 Midway Games Inc. was spun off and sold to its stockholders to become independently owned and operated.

In Oct. 1999, WMS Industries shut down all pinball operations and the Atari Games division to focus on slot machine development. The company changed its name to WMS Gaming Inc., the name it is still using in 2009.

Also Known As

  • Williams Electronic Games, Inc. -- Former Name
  • Williams Manufacturing Company (from 1946 to 1953)
  • Williams Electronic Manufacturing Company (from 1954 to 1966)
  • Williams Electronics Inc. (from 1967 to 1984)
  • WMS Industries Inc. (from 1985 to 1998)
  • WMS Gaming Inc. (from 1999 to present)


Trivia

Company location and contact information (2009):

WMS Gaming Inc.
800 South Northpoint Blvd
Waukegan, IL 60085
Phone: 847-785-3000
Fax: 847/785-3058
Website: http://www.wms.com/

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