It was 1974 or so. I was 4, and had been introduced to pinball at a very early age. It was a natural babysitter, as my parents were in the local bowling league. They would bowl, and give the 5 year old a bunch of quarters to go play pinball. I didn't really know any better, slapping the flippers haphazzardly until the ball would drain. I played on and off, but migrated to video games fr most of my play.
But then I turned 10. The year was 1980. The place was Space Port in the local mall. I was playing the likes of Asteroids, Pac Man, and Space Invaders. All these were okay, but then I heard it. "What is THAT?!" i asked myself. Then I saw it. The flickering displays, the shine of the silverball, the artwork on the backglass. and that mesmerizing background noise.
It was Steve Ritchie's masterpiece, Black Knight. And I would never be the same. Something about that machine captivated me as no other pinball machine had before that.
I think it was at that moment that I appreciated the pinball machine. It's intricacies, it's art, the way it was laid out, the sheer machinery of the game.
From that time it has been a wonderful 33 years of on again, off again collecting. For me, the fun is in claning up machines that may have been neglected. I am by no means a restorer, but I can usually get the machines into presentable condition and working.
The real joy for me is seeing others enjoy the machiens who might not otherwise be able to do so. When we have people ove, or when the machines are at shows, seeing the joy people get from playing pinball is worth the hard work and time required to fix them up.