I grew up on Nintendo, back in the early 90's, and kept gaming a large part of my identity ever since. My first exposure to pinball was an MS DOS game with blocky 2-D tables and a ball that I'm pretty sure was a 4-pixel square. I played that much less than Captain Comic or BattleChess though.
When Windows 98 came out, I had my first "3-D" virtual pinball experience.
First time I played a real pinball machine, I remember being too short to see the playfield properly, and everything moved so fast. Literally the quickest $0.50 I ever spent.
Around highschool, my dad picked up a Last Action Hero pinball table. I don't remember the specifics, I just remember it showing up. And then experiencing how much fun real pinball was. It had a few bugs, the crane didn't lock balls right, and for the longest time the 'chicken' scoop registered as the 'dynamite feature' scoop. But it was playable and he kept working on it until the only thing that didn't work consistently was the crane. Anyway, I got pretty good at it, and developed a huge appreciation for pinball in general.
LAH was just about the only table I played while going through college--whenever I'd come home I'd play a few games. I had a pinball haitus when I moved out to move in to an appartment with my then-girlfriend, found a job, and started saving money. A friend of ours started organizing LANs and that got me in touch with the people who revitalized my interest in pinball. They owned pins of their own: Jack•Bot, The Getaway: High Speed II, Revenge from Mars. And they knew where others were around town. They invited me to "Pinball Crawls" where we'd barhop to play the tables (and we still do). It was just a matter of time (and probably "all part of the plan") before I wanted a table of my own.
So yeah, now that I have a wife who also wants a table, and a house to put it in, life has kind of settled down a bit, and we can afford to put some funds towards a fun hobby, we're looking for a table ourselves!
I hope to brag about scores and complain about broken parts soon!