Like most of the people on this site I spent much of my childhood/teen years in the arcades. I played games like Pac-man, Galaga, Q-bert, and Asteroids during my younger years and later on games like Punchout, TMNT, X-Men, and NBA Jam. Believe it or not, I wasn't really into pinball until much later in my life. Sure, every once in a while I'd see a cool pinball machine like T2 or TAF and put a game or two in but I remember thinking that pinball was tough and I used to really suck at it. I could stretch a quarter much further on video games because I understood them better.
I finally found pinball a couple years after graduating from college. I was over at a new friends' house who had 5-6 pins setup in his spare room. To this point I didn't really know that people actually collected these big games. Sure, I had friends growing up that would have a single EM pinball machine setup in the rec-room along with a pool table and darts, but nothing like this. I remember that he had a GNR pinball machine which I thought was the coolest thing ever since I was a big fan of the band growing up. At the time I lived in a small condo which didn't have room for a game, but shortly after buying my first house a year or two later I setout to buy my first machine.
The pin I really wanted was still GNR but it took a while for me to find one. While in my search, I came across an Apollo 13 on Ebay which I bought for $1100 which was semi-local and within my price range at the time. I was happy having one game but about 7-8 months later I finally found a GNR that was affordable from a guy that re-imported games and sold them at the Chicagoland show for $1500. It was filthy and needed to be converted, but I was super happy to have finally found my favorite game. From this point moving forward I started figuring out how to work on games and started slowly adding games to my collection. I later sold off these first two games as I figured out which games I liked to play.
It has now been about 7.5 years since I bought my first pinball machine, and it's amazing to think about everything I've learned, all the games that I've owned, and all the great people I have met over the years. It's a great hobby to have found and I look forward to collecting games for many years to come!