The paper presents a fast, accurate and simple systematic approach for online condition monitoring and severity identification of ball bearings. This approach utilizes compact 1D convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to identify, quantify, and localize bearing damage. The proposed approach is verified experimentally under several single and multiple damage scenarios. The experimental results demonstrated that the proposed approach can achieve a high level of accuracy for damage detection, localization and quantification. Besides its real-time processing ability and superior robustness against the high-level noise presence, the compact and minimally-trained 1D CNNs in the core of the proposed approach can handle new damage scenarios with utmost accuracy.