My Life in Pinball

By slawson

January 24, 2024

This story got frontpaged on January 29, 2024

37 days ago

I've played Pinball since high school in the late 1960s.  Went to school at the University of Illinois where I played a ton of pinball at the Illini Union and even worked in the Recreation Center only to get on full time later and ultimately managed that area.  But another department managed the amusement games.  In 1985 I had the opportunity to manage that department (it's a long story) which I was responsible for our some 150 video and pinball games in a couple of campus locations, managed all of the 'vending' on campus except the dorms (some 300 pieces) plus managed the coin operated copiers in our some 35 libraries (some 120 copiers).  Of course, the games were the best part of this.  With our stature and programs set up by my predicessor, we were fortunatel to be very close (2.5 hours) from the manufacturers and distributors in the Chicago area.  With all of our play we almost always had a test piece or several on the floor providing data for the manufacturers and I would make trips to Chicago every few weeks to swap out old games not doing well for some of the newest and best.  So we saw most of the pinballs come through our location.  Some of the test pieces were unique in that they never panned out for public distribution.  In any case, I ran that area until I retired in the early 2000s but along the way picked up several pins via auctions, private sales and just being given a couple when folks moved out of town and could not take them with.  I'm currently working on getting them back up and running as when my kids were young and at home they loved to play those (and my two standup full size video games) but now that they have gone they have sat idle for a while.  That's about it.  I occasionally play some with the Illini Pinball Club (formed in the late 1990s by some of our players) and go to folks houses who have more and better games than I have (although I do like the ones i have).  That's about it.

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24 days ago

I'm outside of Kewanee. Keep the vibe, alive!

24 days ago

Awesome! I spent a lot f time at the Illini Union playing pinball and video games. Started going there in the late 70's and throughout the 80's.
Also played a lot of pool in the billiards room. We loved the full size Brunswick tables there. Still playing pinball and still enjoy it.

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