Pop-A-Shot literally created the electronic basketball shooting game. Over time Pop-A-Shot introduced electronic scoring, arcade versions, infrared scoring, steel frames… a litany of firsts in the industry. That’s why Pop-A-Shot is synonymous with electronic basketball shooting games.
In 1981, Ken Cochran was recuperating and restless after undergoing heart bypass surgery. The longtime college basketball coach’s idle mind found inspiration in a mini basketball on his desk.
His initial idea was to put three small basketball rims on side-by-side backboards with a net that would return the balls to the shooters. He had a local machine shop build a frame and a cabinet shop make the backboards. He then attached a volleyball net to function as the return ramp. He called this first game the “Triple Shot.”
He set up his invention at one of his sports camps and charged campers $1.00 for 10 shots, with a free T-shirt awarded to anyone who made at least seven. When the games consistently drew long lines of campers, he realized he had something special.
The first ever Pop-A-Shot was a triple shot!
1981 - Salina, Kansas
The first Pop-A-Shot Single
1982 - Salina, Kansas
The Triple Shot proved too cumbersome to transport, so Cochran eliminated two of the baskets. He built a new single basket game with a frame and net return made especially for it. He put this game, “Mini Basketball,” in a local bar and charged $1.00 a minute to play.
Cochran knew the game needed some type of electronic scoring. He added a “scoring collar” to the bottom of the rim nets, so that when the ball passed through a mechanical switch could record the score. A 40-second clock was added. If a player scored 40 points, they received a free game. The ball return ramp was changed from netting to fiberglass, and a heavy-duty polycarbonate piece was placed in the center of the game to contain the three balls when the time expired.
Pop-A-Shot 1990 World Championship
But with success came competition. As the coin-op market became saturated, Pop-A-Shot created its first home electronic basketball game. Over time Pop-A-Shot left the coin-op world (so any basketball arcade game you see in your local arcade or bar is not a true Pop-A-Shot). The current Pop-A-Shot Classic game is very similar to the model built almost 30 years ago.
Original Pop-A-Shot Home Single
Pop-A-Shot Premier Single
Cochran retired in 2016, 35 years after creating Pop-A-Shot. That fall, new management introduced the first Pop-A-Shot game designed especially for home play—the Home Dual Shot. The following years saw more new games for the home, including the Home Single Shot, Dual Shot Sport, and Indoor/Outdoor Dual Shot. In addition, a new premium, the commercial-grade game debuted in 2018—the PRO Dual Shot (followed by the PRO Single Shot the following year). More new designs and features are on the drawing board as Pop-A-Shot looks ahead to its 40th anniversary in 2021.