WhirlyBall history goes back to the early 1960’s but the earnest pursuit of the business of WhirlyBall began in 1979 with the company located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The development of the complete package of WhirlyBall has been an intense and laborious process. Stan Mangum’s development of the electrified floor was a necessary part of the concept. Prior to that time the only way to move any type of machine was via gas power, or battery power or a system used in the amusement industry with a metal floor and a metal screen grid ceiling of a positive and negative circuit. With the development of the low voltage open circuit electrified floor we could now move machinery across the surface without the danger of electrocution. This was a major breakthrough. Prior to that time our test machines were gas powered then battery powered. We became sick from the fumes during testing and play. We also had significant problems when we considered using battery powered machines.
The WhirlyBug machine has been an engineering challenge as well. To this day we dislike the comparison of the WhirlyBug to the more commonly known bumper-car. The WhirlyBug is built different, powered different, and steered different. It does however resemble in looks a bumper-car, but that is where the comparison ends. The challenges faced in developing a machine that had 360 degree steering while allowing the participant to free up one hand were significant. In addition the machine had to be able to take a significant impact, much greater than the existing bumper car had been designed for. There were other challenges too. A method and design for transferring the current from under the WhirlyBug machine through the special built motor was met with failure after failure. There were so many areas that needed engineering. We are not just talking correct tolerances and the like. We are talking major engineering and design changes. There was experimentation of numerous materials and designs and thousands of dollars spent and then discarded at the city land fill. The development of the WhirlyBall Equipment Package has been an intense labor of love these many years. It is very unique equipment and as such should not be labeled as “Bumper-Cars”, and so is the game/sport itself.