My guess is that my relationship with pinball started like many members here. I don't remember how young I was when I played my first pin, but I do remember the moment it hooked me. In the bowling alley where I bowled saturday morning youth league (called "Bantam League") around 1975 they added a single machine in the small game room (which only had one pool table in it). It was "Hokus Pocus." I was 11 years old at the time. I would deposit most of the money my mom gave me for the snack bar into the machine and just get an order of fries and a coke to eat. All those spinners kept me coming back for more! In 1976 Hokus Pocus went away and was replaced by Royal Flush. That's it. Game over. I don't even think I would waste any money on fries and a coke after that. That long row of drop targets had me hooked permanently.
The next machine I remember playing with any regularity was at a 7-11 within walking distance of our house. It was "Pinball" by Stern (1977). In the summer of 77 my best friend Darren and I would scrounge up a few quarters and walk down to that store every day and play it for all it was worth. We usually wouldn't have more than 50 or 75 cents, but on a good day we would win a few games and get to extend our play time before ulitimately losing all our credits and sent packing. If we somehow ended up with one credit at the end, we would always play co-op flippers (or just "flippers" as we would call it).
That Christmas, I asked for a pinball machine out of the wishbook. It was Coleco's "Pinball Champ." It only had a single pop bumper in it, a few spring pops and crappy mechanical flippers. But Darren and I played the crap out of anyway. Free pinball in my own room? That was just crazy talk! The first picture in my images is Darren and I playing in my bedroom, Christmas 77. I'm on the right flipper.