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Thread: Who was Gordon Horlick? The unsung designer of Williams Pinball?

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    Who was Gordon Horlick? The unsung designer of Williams Pinball?

    Some may have heard that in May of last year (2009) my company, Pinball Inc., purchased a large portion of assets from Illinois Pinball Company. Included in these assets were all the Williams/Bally, Alvin G., and Capcom parts (minus cab art, some playfields, some translites, and backglasses). Also included was a heap of original Williams/Bally tooling.

    But the crown jewel of the entire purchase was one of the largest if not the largest collection of original documentation of the Williams and Bally pinball companies. I estimate that we have somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000 documents including the original files for the Williams pinball machines starting with machine #1.

    Greg (of RTBB) has been here and has seen all of it and has even opened a few boxes so he can attest to the absolutely remarkable mountain of unbelievable information that is here (he really liked the Madonna pinball concept drawings by Python Angelo). I have been invited to do some stories in Pingame about the history that is sitting in these boxes so I am starting to go through some of it.

    I've started with the Williams files going back to the first machines (from the 1940's) and the one name that keeps popping up is Gordon Horlick. It seems he was the chief engineer for Williams at the very beginning and was there until at least the 70's. While Harry may have gotten most of the credit for game design it appears the real man behind the designs may have been Gordon. As I now find myself intrigued about this person whom I knew nothing about until these files I am going to do some research and see if I can create a detailed bio of Mr. Horlick. If anyone knows anything about Gordon please let me know.

    What I plan to do is make periodic updates to this thread as I gather info about Gordon. I'll do some similar posts on RGP but to be honest I feel a continued thread there would just get lost so that is why I would like to keep the main thread going here in a more "cozy" environment. If it goes well then as I dig up more subject matters or goodies I'll do other threads of a similar nature.

    Cheers.
    -James

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    Definately sounds interesting, look forward to your updates

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    Nice post James. I'm looking forward to more updates too

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    Awesome post James. Great to see you posting here again and I look forward to some more updates and pinball trivia when you get the time.

    I have made the thread sticky, so it is easy to find in the Pinball Forum. Later, if it becomes very popular and more facts and trivia are posted, we will create a sub-forum for this stuff so it can be searched for quickly and easily by pinheads who love these facts and trivia.

    Cheers,

    Dan

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    Wow James!

    All that history - really hope at least some of it sees the light of day for the guys that are right into the history of these games.

    All I know is that Gordon Horlock was Chief Engineer of Williams around the 1950 - 60s era.

    Maybe if you get to Pinball Expo this year have a chat to Steve Kordek - he would be the guy to give you all the answers you need

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    Excellent, and great of you to share the info around ..
    Looking forward to see what you may dig up!

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    What they all said.

    Sounds amazing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fair Dinkum Dan View Post
    Awesome post James. Great to see you posting here again and I look forward to some more updates and pinball trivia when you get the time.

    I have made the thread sticky, so it is easy to find in the Pinball Forum. Later, if it becomes very popular and more facts and trivia are posted, we will create a sub-forum for this stuff so it can be searched for quickly and easily by pinheads who love these facts and trivia.

    Cheers,

    Dan
    Thanks Dan, I truly appreciate it. It's good to be back after spending 5 months in the really backwards town of Bloomington (I call it Bloomingidiotown), Illinois. I owe a big thanks to Greg Berry as he made the trip over twice and was a great help. There are stories to be told about all that as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by illawarra_steelers View Post
    Wow James!

    All that history - really hope at least some of it sees the light of day for the guys that are right into the history of these games.

    All I know is that Gordon Horlock was Chief Engineer of Williams around the 1950 - 60s era.

    Maybe if you get to Pinball Expo this year have a chat to Steve Kordek - he would be the guy to give you all the answers you need
    I did get a chance to chat with Steve at last years expo as I took just a couple pieces of this history with us and he was floored to see it still existed. His getting up in years so conversations with him are somewhat brief. At that time I had only spotted Gordons name so I didn't know enough about him to ask anything other than did he (Steve) know Gordon. His response to me was, "yes I knew him well...I'm the one that took over his position."
    Last edited by pinballace; 5th January 2010 at 10:27 PM. Reason: Auto Merged Double Post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pinballace View Post
    Thanks Dan, I truly appreciate it. It's good to be back after spending 5 months in the really backwards town of Bloomington (I call it Bloomingidiotown), Illinois. I owe a big thanks to Greg Berry as he made the trip over twice and was a great help. There are stories to be told about all that as well.
    I reckon quite a few of us would have loved to have been in Greg's shoes.

    I watched Pins & Vids #3 - Revenge of the Myth dvd, again late last week, where Al Warner and Paul Kiefert drove down to Bloomington, Illinois to pick up Al's Big Bang Bar pinball. It was an interesting dvd which showed a bit of the town and Gene's warehouse where the BBB's were stored. Pretty cool watching it again.

    I have been doing some light reading and found some cool old Pinball Expo transcripts written by Russ Jensen, where they mention Gordon Horlock, WILLIAM's chief engineer, in the speeches.

    Cheers,

    Dan

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    Doing some reading today, it appeared I had a slight mystery to resolve before continuing which is the spelling of Gordons last name. Some books and sites spell his name "Horlock" and some info showed the spelling to "Horlick". Most of the early documents in the files only had his initials "GTH" which btw he was very very good at putting his initials on almost all his work (THANK YOU GORDON!). I found this original test game play sheet from the Rainbow pinball file which has his full signature and the mystery is solved....


    His signature shows the correct spelling to be Horlick.

    Tomorrow I should have a bit of info of his beginnings at Williams.



    Last edited by pinballace; 13th January 2010 at 06:31 PM.

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