The glass on the front of the backbox.

In the early days of pinball, the backglass was quite small, as the backbox was also. It started out used for scoring purposes. The glass would have listings of point values across it, and the backbox would have a system of lights inside. As the player scored on the playfield, the lights would change, indicating the current point total. The points would usually be listed in multiples of 10, and one value from each multiple would be listed.

As pinball progressed, the backglass and backbox grew. As the backglass was usually the most visible part of the machine - as the playfield is horizontal - they started to be used to attract customers. Lights were added for decoration, and fancier and fancier artwork started to show up.

Eventually, first reel scoring, then alpha-numeric displays and later, dot-matrix displays, were used with the machines to keep track of the score, but the backglasses didn't disappear, but grew even fancier as they no longer had to represent the score.

Some people collect pinball backglasses - I've seen one restaurant with a number of them gracing the walls.

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