The Murky History of Foosball

by Christopher Paul on January 11, 2013

The Smithsonian looks into the not-so-clear history of Foosball:

Some say that in a sort of spontaneous combustion of ideas, the game erupted in various parts of Europe simultaneously sometime during the 1880s or ’90s as a parlor game. Others say that it was the brainchild of Lucien Rosengart, a dabbler in the inventive and engineering arts who had various patents, including ones for railway parts, bicycle parts, the seat belt and a rocket that allowed artillery shells to be exploded while airborne. Rosengart claimed to have come up with the game toward the end of the 1930s to keep his grandchildren entertained during the winter. Eventually his children’s pastime appeared in cafés throughout France, where the miniature players wore red, white and blue to remind everyone that this was the result of the inventiveness of the superior French mind.

There again, though, Alexandre de Finesterre has many followers, who claim that he came up with the idea , being bored in a hospital in the Basque region of Spain with injuries sustained from a bombing raid during the Spanish Civil War. He talked a local carpenter, Francisco Javier Altuna, into building the first table, inspired by the concept of table tennis. Alexandre patented his design for fútbolin in 1937, the story goes, but the paperwork was lost during a storm when he had to do a runner to France after the fascist coup d’état of General Franco.

It appears as if it first hit America in the late 1920s but never caught on. In Europe, however, it was very popular. In the early ‘60s, after a US soldier stationed in West Germany imported and licensed them as arcade games, Foosball enjoyed some modest success. It really took off in America after two guys started making their own tables in 1970. But once electronic video games became popular, though, table sales plumeted and the game became a novelty again.

via Boing Boing

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