WhirlyBall history goes back to the early 1960's but the earnest pursuit
of the business of WhirlyBall began in 1979 with the founding of the manufacturing
company. Flo-tron is an O.E.M. company, (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
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.
It was during this time frame in our early history that we built 12 specially designed battery powered machines for Walt Disneyland at the Anaheim location. You can find an abbreviated description of the story under History.
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.
Flo-tron has copy written the "rules to WhirlyBall" as they are unique to the game/sport of WhirlyBall. WhirlyBall, dubbed the "World's Only Totally Mechanized Team Sport" is unique to the world of entertainment and sports. The game/sport has it's own unique terminology, as do most sports. Webster's dictionary has informed us that at some point in the near future WhirlyBall, WhirlyBug, Whirlic (a score in WhirlyBall) and other terms will be added to the dictionary. They already appear in the www.wikipedia.org which is the largest and most popular dictionary site on the web.
WhirlyBall is the main focus of Flo-tron Enterprises, Inc. and that is likely to continue. The principles of Flo-tron have developed other products including the Power-tech infra-red Demolition Derby and the Electro-flo go-kart system. Each year there is held an International Tournament, this tournament has been hosted in many different locations around the country and into Canada. Teams many years old continue to compete at an international level.