From Music Games to Pinball Machines

By darkchao

May 07, 2016

This story got frontpaged on May 07, 2016


7 years ago

My father owned and operated a company in Baltimore that manufacturered amusement equipment. I remember being four or five and having a Centipede machine for a babysitter. I grew up around video arcades and console games, but had only ever played pinball a handful of times growing up. The few times I did play, it didn't really stick with me like video games did.

I've been a long time fan of arcade music and rhythm games. Around 2005-2006 I started working on commercial music game releases for arcades. In 2011 I opened up a local game store, and in 2012 I purchased a video game related pinball machine for said game store. I didn't pay much attention to pinball, other than sometimes playing the one at the shop. We had picked up a Bally Space Invaders. One day the machine went down, and being tech-savy with arcades, I dove in to figure it out. The machine's MPU had gotten acid damage within the year that we owned it, and with a little help from people that logged their findings online, I was able to repair some traces on the board and get it functional again.

My father passed away in late 2012, leaving behind a warehouse full of "to-dos". He was notorious for saving everything. There was a 20-25' high pile of "stuff" in Kortek monitor boxes piled to the warehouses ceiling. Under the pile I noticed a pinball body laying on it's side, noticed the familiar Bally apron, and got super excited. My friends and I started dissasembling this mountain of stuff to unearth what we hoped to be the back box and legs of the machine, but we wound up finding a dozen machines in assorted states of repair. Between knowing a small bit about pins and wanting to fix things that belonged to my dad, the can of worms was opened.

Fast forward to present day, we have 40 machines in our aresonal and between 1/4 to 1/3 of the game store is taken up with pins. We participate in the local pinball league, and I find myself making crazy deals and driving half way across the country for something I "need" to have. I'm sure you guys can relate ;)

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