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The history of the bowling ball

Bowling can be traced back to approximately 5200 B.C., when the ancient Egyptians used stones for their balls.

The first bowling balls used in the United States were made of wood, especially oak. In about 1906 the first hard rubber balls were produced, and these remained the standard until the 1960s and 70s. These decades saw the emergence of plastic (polyester) balls.

In the early 1970s, people began experimenting with the hardness of the plastic balls, notably PBA member Don McCune. McCune at the time worked for Chuck Hamilton who invented the "soaker" - a plastic (usually polyester} ball he softened "in the garage" with chemical solvents such as MEK, sometimes to the point that the balls might even end up lopsided. These and balls subsequently manufactured with the resulting softer cover came under USBC scrutiny because of the increased scoring. A ball hardness rule of 72 was established, based on durometer readings, which barred some of the softer balls.
At some point in ball making and drilling the USBC introduced ball balance regulations to prevent people from taking advantage. It was possible to drill the grip at a location relative to the weight block so that it would achieve some effect, such as to help the bowler make it roll earlier or hook more.

In 1981 Ebonite began manufacturing the very first polyurethane cover stock bowling balls and sold the rights to AMF. Ebonite produced AMF balls at that time. Ebonite did not believe that bowlers would pay the $80.00 price this new technology would demand. That ball became the AMF Angle and this one coverstock change allowed the ball to get a better grip on the polyurethane finishes used on natural wood lane surfaces which changed the nature of the bowling game significantly.

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