I grew up on the "mean streets" of Chicagoland and loved to play pinball as a kid. The first game that I can remember ever playing was a Gottlieb Subway at a vacation resort in Wisconsin and my single favorite game to play in college was a Gottlieb Jacks Open in the lobby of my college dorm. I distinctly recall the advent of early solid state games at the Illini (U of IL) Union that continuously called out with audio challenges like Firepower, Black Knight, and Eight Ball Deluxe; as well as the onslaught of video arcade games that quickly followed and soon seemed to be everywhere.
I bought my first game - a 1965 Bally Bus Stop - when I was 18. While it was a thrill to own at first, it unfortunately never worked 100% as repair info and parts weren't readily available at the time. It subsequently sat in my first homes' basements and was played only occasionally until I eventually sold it. Years later, while surfing the internet for billiards (my primary hobby interest at the time), I came across a link to a Sharky's Shootout and discovered the huge amount of pinball info, games, and parts that had become available online. What a difference from the dark ages of pre-internet days!
A long dormant passion for pinball was quickly reignited within me and I started acquiring and restoring the EM games of my youth. My collecting fever burned hot; the thrill of the hunt for scoring rare EM woodrails, AAB's, and arcade games took over; and I soon amassed more projects than I realistically would ever have time or space for. As my pinball game interests expanded into the "darkside" of newer DMD games that I was playing on route, I gradually came to my senses (sort of) and decided to significantly downsize my EM collection (my Pinside collection history only reflects games I've owned that were set up and working) and start purchasing the latest Stern games for my own. An expensive luxury to be sure, but it's also a true blast to be able to set up a new game as you wish out of the box, pimp them out to your heart's content, and play them whenever you want! While quickly escalating costs are putting a damper on my new game purchases, my pinball interests continue to evolve and I've started to broaden my collection wish list to include early solid states. Like most pinheads, I have no idea how long the current resurgence will last, but pinball is a bitchin' hobby and I hope that I'm fortunate enough to continue to enjoy it for many years to come!