My name is Scott and I live in Plano, TX. My love of pinball first started overseas.
I'm a army military brat and my dad was stationed in Mannheim, Germany. I spent 4 years in Mannheim and graduated from Mannheim American HS in 1983. Our school was converted from an old WWII hospital where about 400 students attended. Most American teenagers did not speak German, so we didn't venture out far and mainly stayed on the military post. We had only one English TV station, AFN (Army Forces Network) AFN had some awful TV shows. And the good shows like "Dallas" were delayed. So when JR gets shot, we hear about it months before. You can imagine there was not much to do... besides plenty of under age beer drinking. The only hang outs were the movie theater and the bowling alley. Thank goodness, the bowling alley had a small arcade.
The bowling alley had about 5 pinball machines and several video games. The arcade video games were:
Joust, Defender, Pole Position, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Tank Battalion
The pinball machines:
Superman, Space Invaders, Disco Fever, Black Knight, and Firepower
Firepower is my first passion. I played it over an over again. A typical Saturday night was simple but fun. I'd Hang with friends, drink a couple of great German beers, and then walk to the bowling alley. Back in 1980, the Susan B. Antony dollar coin was introduced. In the states, no one liked the dollar coin so they were mostly used overseas. The bowling alley pinball machines accepted the Susan B. Anthony coins, we got three games for a buck. I always thought that was a rip-off.
Firepower drew me in. Yes, the multiball is freakin awesome! But I was attracted to the sound. The constant background music was so different. If you play a good ball, Firepower responds with you. The audio pitch gets higher and higher. The playfield lights up. You start feeling anxious but excited. Firepower's build up of momentum is like no other. I remember playing and just sweating, feeling exhilarated and just having fun. The Black Knight arrived about a year after Firepower. Black Knight is a great pin and I spent plenty of money on it, but nothing is better then Firepower.
In 1983 we returned to the sates. Fast food and MTV... WOW
In college, I played some pinball. Video games were becoming dominate in arcades. I played Comet, High Speed and F-14 Tomcat. I remember thinking, F-14 is the coolest pinball machine ever. Even compared to my beloved Firepower, F-14 is fast and just loaded with excitement. The light show alone makes me smile. The Gen. Yagov kickback is so fast, I'd loose sight of the ball. I played F-14 for awhile and a couple of others, then the dark times began.
Starting in 1988, I played very little pinball. I focused on my job in television news. I'm a TV photojournalists and have been with CBS for many years now. Got married and had kids, all that stuff. It's funny, pinball is the ultimate combination of sight, sound, and physical play. Much like field television production (video and audio)... I believe pinball influenced my career path. As family became the driving force in my life, twenty four years passed without playing any pinball.
In 2012 I discovered the Texas Pinball Festival. It was a small piece of heaven. OMG, they had every pinball machine that I had ever played, and so many new ones. Music from Black Knight 2000 is my symphony. Gorbie from Taxi makes me laugh out loud. The new AC/DC gameplay is so innovating with those great LED lights. It just blew my mind. And my beautiful Firepower is in the house! I press the start button and I hear "firepower" and that sweet background music begins to roar. It was a homecoming for me. I didn't realize how much I missed pinball until that moment. Last year I purchased my first pinball machine. Of course, it's Firepower. And after spending three days at the 2014 Texas Pinball Festival, I bought my second pin... F-14 Tomcat.
My daughter and I now play pinball together. With the internet and smart phones, I doubt pinball will have the same effect on her as it did for me. But, when asked what machine she prefers.. It's Firepower.
Check out my news story about pinball.