Back in the late 70's and 80's I was roller skating at the local rink and playing every new coin-operated game that was put at this location. Around the same time, TV consoles such as the Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Odyssey 2 were very popular. Playing coin-operated arcade games, pinball machines, and arcade console systems had a big impact on my childhood and eventually led me into a career of computers and electronics.
Shortly after college, I made my first purchase of six machines from a local laundromat. These machines looked like they were in the "Battle of the Bulge", but I enjoyed trying to fix them. Starting in the early 90's I was placing ads in newspapers in three states and had infiltrated many local coin operator warehouses. Can you say, "Warehouse Raid"? I always got a big thrill going through all of their machines and finding some real gems. Most of the local coin operators knew nothing of the internet back then and didn't realize how many people were collecting pinball and arcade machines. For years I was buying broken pinball machines for $200 or less. The internet played a big part in finding the parts and actually putting these machines back into collector's hands. Eventually, more collectors were in my area and the cheap pinball machine market dried up. I think I could have probably retired early if I would have kept all the machines I sold. Most of them now cost three or four times more than what I sold them for.
I primarily only buy broken or project machines now. This allows me to get an affordable price while providing me with a good challenge of trying to get them working again. I have seemed to have caught the pinball bug again and started buying again. I currently enjoy going to the pinball shows near me and reading stuff on Pinside.