So the mall arcade in 1995 decided to sell their Gain Ground. Since I was mostly the only person who played it the manager offered it to me for a couple hundred dollars and I hauled it home. It was the three player cabinet, so quite a bit larger than your standard arcade game. I was renting a room out in the country near Mason City, Iowa and my landlord loved having an arcade game at his house.
The computer lab at college had access to newsgroups. One I started reading was rec.games.video.arcade.collecting. There I found out about auctions in Des Moines. My first auction I came home with six games for under $200 total. Four worked. My truck was FULL! Met Brian Johnson, who was the KLOV Keeper in the late nineties. Soon after I discovered one of the UPS drivers was an amusement operator in town. He gave me a lead on one of the most desireable games - Tempest! I went to check it out. Not a Tempest. :( It was a Space Duel. Still, it had conversion potential so I bought it.
That's how my hobby began. I later obtained a Bride of Pinbot for $350 at auction. Eventually all but one of the games was sold. The Omega Race cockpit cabinet is the only one left and it's now a mame/Blu-Ray player and still a work in progress.
This year I decided I'm going to get better at playing pinball. Entered my first tournament today and made the finals round at #7.
I'll have a pinball or two by the end of the year. My wife & I both like Red & Ted's Road Show, Ripley's, and No Good Gofers.