At what age did you discover pinball and how? (Poll added)

(Topic ID: 235783)

At what age did you discover pinball and how? (Poll added)


By Pinballlew

6 days ago



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  • 81 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 26 minutes ago by Buzz
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    Topic poll

    “How old were you when you discovered and became interested in the Silver Ball?”

    • Zero to 10 years old 106 votes
      47%
    • 10 to 20 years old 75 votes
      33%
    • 20 to 30 years old 14 votes
      6%
    • 30 to 40 years old 21 votes
      9%
    • 40 to 50 years old 6 votes
      3%
    • 50 to 60 years old 1 vote
    • 60+ 2 votes
      1%

    (225 votes)

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    #51 5 days ago

    It was in the summer of 78, I was 13. I played at the local 7-11, bowling alley, pizza parlors and at the arcade at the mall.

    #52 5 days ago

    36 or 37 for me. I played a tiny bit when younger but really got grabbed only in the past few years

    #53 5 days ago

    It was ~50 years ago, at Pastime Lanes, in Dayton, Ohio. It was my father’s league bowling night. This was a very small 10 lane bowling alley/bar/restaurant. It had two pins, an anchient Gottlieb Humpty Dumpty and a fairly new Hurdy Gurdy tucked into what used to be an old coat room. As 7 and 8 year old boys, it didn't take much to keep me and my older brother occupied. After watching the pin setting machines reset about 20 thousand bowling pins, and the girl behind the shoe counter pass out her 15th pair of shoes, and the cocktail waitress serve her 37th highball, and after you have tracked down and captured the last unfriendly dust bunny from under every beer stained barstool, you ended up trying to find something to do for the rest of the evening after filling the first 11 minutes to the brim with excitement. At 10 cents a play, the Humpty Dumpty was cheaper than the Hurdy Gurdy at 2 plays for $0.25 but my brother thought Hurdy Gurdy was more fun. At the time, my little mind put 15 balls at $0.30 as being cheeper than 10 balls for a quarter, because I had yet to become your average snobby Pinsider, trashing poor old Humpty just because it shot like crap, had the weakest set of 6 flippers you have ever flipped, it’s scoring was unballanced and that Hurdy Gurdy’s artwork and backglass animation (“Ding!”) was so superior that the thrill of 1 ball on Hurdy Gurdy was like playing 3 on Humpty Dumpty, and complaining that Humpty was so old and “un-fun”, that “only dinosaurs and Neanderthals had ever flipped it”.

    #54 5 days ago

    Born in '85 and living in a small rural town from age 4, I didn't grow up with arcades or many games in the wild. I remember some swimming pools and a few restaurants having pins when I was a kid/juvenile. While I did play some of them occasionally, especially the one in the open air pool next town where I spent most summer afternoons anyway - iirc it was a T2 followed by a one of the Star Wars pins, I really did not know that these games had rules and stuff to do besides randomly shooting things to see random stuff happening.. But that was enough to form a fond memory of these games.

    Then the machines disappeared one after another and real life pinball was gone.

    I've always liked pinball pc games since I was a kid and in my 20s I came across a really good simulation (Dream Pinball 3D) and became slightly hooked. Some time later in 2012 the German computer magazine c't brought a big article about virtual pinball cabinets and pinball in general. In this article there was a link to database for public pinball locations. I entered my zip code and was hit by a whopping 40 something results in a small town 10km away in a place called "for amusement only e.V.", that was apparently open once a month

    Told my buddy who also liked pinball about it, we went there the next open day, and I was totally overwhelmed by what I saw: 2 old rambling, connected shops, packed with pinball and arcade machines. Blinking lights, electrical and mechanical sounds, the smell of heated components and ozone everywhere. Knowing arcades only from movies I was in paradise.

    My buddy and I went there the next month too. The one after that we became members. Since then we've both stayed regulars, spent countless evenings there, became pinball techs and started a collection of machines each.

    The club has since moved to a new much bigger location, gained lots of members (and lost some), expanded the collection greatly to the point where we are out of space again, and has become widely known and recognized, drawing up to 400 visitors each open day...

    #55 5 days ago

    2008, I would have been 10 at the time. I remember one day while my mom was taking me and my siblings out, we were driving by a video rental store and my brother asked if he could rent a game. My mom let him, and the game he picked was Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection.

    I don't know if it was because of easy physics of the game, the easy to understand instructions and goals, or just the fact that this was my first time playing classics like Funhouse, Whirlwind, and Taxi, but I was hooked! After we returned the game I remember I spent tons of time trying to find new pinball games to play, and discovered Future Pinball (Which helped me get into programming, which I do for a living now!) and Visual Pinball. When Christmas came around I finally got The Williams Collection to keep, and of course I knew I wanted to save up and buy my own pin some day. I finally did when I bought a Stargate, just over three years ago now!

    #56 5 days ago

    Myrtle Beach, 1977, I was Eleven. Played Aladdin's Castle with my brothers all afternoon on one quarter, it kept giving free replays. It's the very first pin in my collection.

    #57 5 days ago

    I was heavily into music and played in several bands as a teen into my late 20s, my buddy and I from one musical project grew apart a bit after the group dispersed. We decided to hang out one night and go bowling to catch up. I was 32, 35 now... Always knew of pinball never really understood it. Well we go to Stonehedge in Akron. Decide to hit the bar for a pitcher then go to the lanes and behind the bar is an area dedicated to pinball with 14 games lined up and glowing like xmas trees.

    So I'm like "Dude, screw bowling look all these pinball machines, lets just hang out here!"

    So after flailing around and probably chimp flipping and just playing like idiots, I go to plunge and this little lady runs over and yells "STOPPPP you gotta time the plunge to get your skill shot and you have the ark lit!" So not knowing anything about pinball my reaction is "WTF are you talking about..." She talks me through it. So Im on Stern Indy and I plunge into advance scene get 1million so im blown away, well before my brain could process the excitement, she yells "HOLD YOUR FLIPPER UP" and I trap the ball on the left flipper... Again never even considered this!!! Holy crap this is amazing...

    Then it happened.

    She says "Ok let the ball go about half way down the flipper and try to hit that box right in the middle" So I'm giggling like a little girl thinking there is no way in hell, my buddy is laughing at me too. So I try it. BOOM!!! I nail the ark and all hell breaks loose, I see the scenes from raiders on the DMD, lights are flashing, and that damn ark opens up.... NOW, if you have ever seen the movie Requiem for a Dream, there is the sequence they show when they do heroine, veins expand, heart beat quickens, pupils dilate... that was me.

    When that multiball started, I realized there was a science behind pinball and I got instantly addicted! Played every weekend since, joined 3 leagues, discovered pinside, bought a pin, did a full restoration, and completely replaced my musical hobby with pinball. Im still chasing that high of my first multiball with pretty much every game.

    For those that know Stonehedge it was Jessie that helped me get the damn life changing multiball lol and those that don't know Stonehedge @mjpinballs owns all the machines there. Go check them out sometime.

    #58 5 days ago

    When my parents (Santa) got me this amazing toy Christmas morning 1979 at age 5. Then later on, my older brother took me to the arcades. Around age 10, he would have been 14.
    There were two arcades in walking distance from our home. And every convenience store on my way to grade school had vids or pins
    .
    The mall by my highschool had an arcade as well. So many lunches, spares or cutting class was spent there. 1989-1992

    Screenshot_20190211-131617 (resized).png

    #59 5 days ago

    Its not so much, age I discovered pinball but the age I could afford to purchase any pinball games!

    #60 5 days ago

    Christmas, early '60s:

    marx-toy-co-1960s-electric-pinball_1_e05f7e45ae55758079b133b12976e379 (resized).jpg

    About 2' long, front to back. 4 "D" batteries.

    Flash forward to early '70s, when a new walk home from a new school went right past the House of Billiards, which had (at the time) Wiggler, Suspense, Rock 'N Roll, Expo, Doodle Bug, and Klondike.

    I was late for dinner a _lot_ that first winter.

    A couple years later, bought my first machine (Pit Stop) from them.

    #61 5 days ago

    I should share my story. Born in 1972 during the Arcade boom it seemed when I was old enough Pinball was everywhere and so were arcades. 7 eleven’s, laundrymats, arcades, and bowling alleys always had games around. I was hooked at 8. I was attracted to pinball because with skill I could stretch my money by winning free games. This value seemed great to me and occasionally I could earn enough credits to sell 2 or more credits for my quarter back. Essentially playing for free. I had two great arcades with a good line up of pins that were perfectly maintained by the owner/tech. The arcades were named Family Fun Fair and Time Warp, and both were within walking distance from my house in San Luis Obispo. Frontier was the game that I excelled at earning lots of credits Which living in a college town made it easier to sell the credits to college students. I am sure I spent more time living in these arcades then at home.

    Well life happens, and I forgot about pinball from 19 to around age 29, until I discovered MAME online which led me to remember my true love of pinball again. The rest is history and I foresee pinball will be in my life forever now.

    #62 5 days ago

    I was at least 5. Small town Manitoba east of Winnipeg. Mom took me along to the drug store (a Rexall) it had a lunch counter, and two pinball machines in the back. I had watched some men playing the games, possibly just older teenagers. Mom always tried to steer me away from those guys. One day we go there, and there were no pinball players, I some how got a dime from my mom and I made a bee line to those 2 light flashing and ringing games.

    The game I played had a shelf in front of the coin door, there was a smelly ashtray on that shelf I put the ashtray on a close by table. Dropped the dime in the game, and played a game. That silver ball flying around, the bells, the flashing lights had me. Didn't know what to do but I was hooked.

    Williams games built between June 1960 to May 1961, had the "Style of The 60's". The shelf in the front, with like 50's coffee table legs. I can't remember the pins theme, so can't even guess which Williams game it was. At that time those games would of been over 5 years old.

    #63 5 days ago

    When I was 15 (1975). There was a bowling alley, a local laundry mat, a local diner, a 7-11 and a sub shop that all had machines. The one at the sub shop was a Capt. Fantastic. I don't remember the others except they were all EM's. Bought my first porn magazine at the laundry mat. My mom would have had an aneurism if she had known I was there.

    #64 3 days ago

    Just wanted to bump this thread in case anyone missed it...I love all the stories and was wanting more

    #65 3 days ago

    Rossi's Arcade in Madison WI 2013. Went with my cousin to play the vids, played a Black Knight 2000 and the rest is history.

    #66 3 days ago

    I am 55 and it started when I was 7 playing EM's. I remember when I was 15 at the local small town bar and the Bally Playboy came in. What 15 year didn't want to play that. Progressed to EBD and finally High Speed came out. Was hooked

    #67 3 days ago

    I used to live right across a mall in Marion, Ohio and it had a small arcade in the back and I started playing some pins there when I was 12 in the years around 1972 or so. Interesting thing that came up a few years ago I learned that Trent Augenstein used to visit there as well during this time and he told me that but can't remember meeting him there. Need a Way back machine so I could talk to Trent then. I also wish I could remember the pins we played there but after 45 years I have forgot but we got pretty good at playing them and usually left credits on the machine when we had to leave to go home for supper after playing them after school. Maybe Trent can remember the pins that were there around that timeframe

    #68 3 days ago

    around 12 years old . played a em volley. still love that game to this day.

    #69 3 days ago

    I spotted a Bally KISS machine at a pizza place at my 5th birthday party. Fast forward 35 years, and I bought that game. Then it quickly became a hobby/addiction and I owned 10 games within two years.

    #70 3 days ago

    I was born in 1980 and when I was 5 years-old my parents took me with them to visit some of their friends. These friends happened to have two EM pinball machines in their basement. The adults chatted away upstairs and I never left the basement, opening the unlocked coin door after each game and popping the one quarter back through the slot to play again. My Dad came down to check on me and saw I had a surprisingly decent score. He said that I was not "flailing away like I thought you would be doing" but instead had figured out that trapping the ball allowed me to actually hit what was lit.

    My parents were in the process of finishing the basement in our house around this time. I remember the carpeting guys finishing up as I heard the garage door being opened and there was a delivery truck with two guys bringing a massive rectangular object on a dolly into our house, my Dad was with them smiling ear to ear. The object came into the basement and once unwrapped it was a Gottlieb Amazing Spider-man and I played it at least an hour a day until I was 12.oint I was only able to dedicate a half hour a day to it from 13 until I left for college. They still have the machine and I am sure to play it every time I visit.

    Pinball was not a focus of my life again until this past August when my wife and I got a sitter for our kids and had a dinner date. After dinner we were walking around and I saw a neon sign that said "PLAY PINBALL HERE" and "PIZZA BY THE SLICE" I pulled her inside and learned that she had never played pinball because "it looks so random...." an hour later and my love of pinball was back in full effect (even if my wife was only mildly enthusiastic). I started taking my kids to this spot every Friday after school and making trips alone when I could find the time. My kids and I entered some tournaments and I joined a league. Our first pin (Maiden Premium) was delivered to our house on December 22 and set up late-night Christmas Eve as a present for the kids (although I play it more than anyone). I am currently looking for the next pin to add to my basement....

    #71 3 days ago

    < 10 years old traveling through the US of A campgrounds with the family

    every one of those campgrounds has an arcade with EM pins and arcades

    #72 3 days ago

    Lots of great stories so far!

    I was about 7 or 8. My father was a Jaycee in Mundelein, Il back in the middle 70's. When they had their weekly meetings on wed night, I'd get to go and tag along (my younger sisters had to stay home). They had a pin in the house (one of the members must have been an OP, for the life of my I cant remember which pin) that was always loaded with credits. I'd get to flip away for a couple hours during the meeting. Hope dad didn't get offended that I was more interested in the pinball than hanging out in their meeting!

    Video games captured my interest in the late 70's/early 80's. It wasn't until I was in college at Illinois State in the late 80's that I discovered pinball again. They had a Jokerz in the student union that i'd play during study breaks & there was a Party Animal at the local pizza place, other than that pinball was scarce and hard to find. When I found a nice Jokerz close to me, I had to pick it up for the nostalgia factor, still looking for that Party Animal...lol

    I'm glad to have introduced the next generation (my daughter & nieces and nephews) to pinball, my fam loves coming over for pinball parties!

    #73 3 days ago

    I discovered pinball while trolling Craigslist for old cars. I found a 1974 El Dorado (Cadillac) that I thought was pretty cool, so I did a broad search for the year 1974 and stumbled across a Sky Jump that was a couple of blocks away from me.

    I thought the asking price of $500 was rediculous and walked away looking for “better deals”. After a couple weeks of shopping around I went back to the SJ and happily paid what he was asking. That was June of 2017.

    Now there’s 4 of the darned things in the basement. There would be 12 if I were single.

    #74 3 days ago

    At the age of 6 back in 1975!!! My uncle owned a arcade in Turtle Lake, ND. where we lived at the time. He gave me keys to all the games so I played for free! Can't remember any of the pins but I do remember I was hooked at 6. Wish I had a time machine!?!

    #75 3 days ago

    probably around 7 or 8 yo, so early 70s
    i remember that a milkbar we went to during holidays had a wall of 4 or 5 machines
    i dont remember playing them though

    #76 2 days ago

    I discovered this hobby much later than most at 35. If I had ever played
    when younger it didn't make an impression. When I bought a larger house,
    about twice the size of the old one, it looked really empty so was
    searching for some interesting things to fill it up. Found a Gtb Spiderman
    needing work for what turned out to be a fair price (this was 1990 so
    no 'net or ebay).

    Ever since then I've been trying to make up for lost time.....
    Great hobby that still provides lots of entertainment either
    restoring or playing.
    Steve

    #77 2 days ago

    For me, it was 79-80 in St. Louis. My dear mom was on a weekly bowling league. I would accompany her to her league and she would give me a dollar or two to play games with. At the time, I quickly realized I could get more value on the pinballs vs the arcade games. Between the $2 she gave me and the dollar I could sometimes hustle from my dad, I could keep myself entertained for a good while and sometimes close till she was done. I distinctly remember the machines being dirty, with nasty ash trays attached to the front that was annoyingly close to my face as I played. I quickly realized my love for fried cauliflower as well. Those loves still remain.

    #78 2 days ago

    Born in '74, around '81, played my first pinball an hour or so north of Mississauga, ON (where I grew up), on the grounds where my family rented a summer cottage. Black Knight. It took my money, kicked my ass and laughed at me. Grrrr. So I played Space Invaders instead.

    For most of the early '80's, my older brother and friends would bike all around our area, visiting every arcade, variety store, fish 'n' chip, or roti shop where we could to play vids.

    Didn't really get into pins until the '90's when DMD's like ST:TNG really grabbed my attention and appreciation. But then computer games stole my attention from coin-ops for years.

    ... but I've been back for close to a decade now, appreciating all the pins I missed. High Speed was my first in 2009, which I vaguely remember playing it in my youth, and not leaving any time soon.

    Game on!

    #79 2 days ago
    Quoted from mrm_4:

    When that multiball started, I realized there was a science behind pinball and I got instantly addicted!

    I had a similar experience. I never really understood there was actually rules and strategies to pinball. It just seemed like a random game of chance. In college, I watched this guy play who didn't just flail at the flippers. He trapped the ball, moved the game without tilting avoiding drains, made shots on command, and won free games every time. I was amazed that you could actually do that.

    Quoted from Tvpinballs:

    At the age of 6 back in 1975!!! My uncle owned a arcade in Turtle Lake, ND. where we lived at the time. He gave me keys to all the games so I played for free! Can't remember any of the pins but I do remember I was hooked at 6. Wish I had a time machine!?!

    I remember having keys to all games working in arcades in the late 80's. I didn't really get pinball but it was sure fun playing them for free lol.

    #80 2 days ago

    As a teen in late 80s early 90s in So Cal when there were 3-4 arcades a few minutes bike ride from my house. The glory days when arcades were somewhat seedy weird places where a kid could hide from the adult world and find just a little bit of trouble. I was mostly there for the vids but there was usually a few pins. I remember Xenon in particular and the clear plastic tube ramp - just trying to get the ball through it. In later teens I had a cousin who was more into pinball and he showed me the depth and finer points with Funhouse, Addams Family, Comet, Earthshaker. It was the Williams/Balley Pat Lawlor golden days. That was what really hooked me
    and inspired my later purchases.

    #81 2 days ago

    Other than one of those cheap plastic pinball boxes like Sears would sell, I don't remember how I was introduced to pinball. I grew up in a small town; There was a place where the kids hung out that always had a couple of pins. But we moved to the big city when I was 10 years old in 1962. and I don't remember ever going into that hangout until I started to go back and visit my best friend from 1963 to 1969.

    My first recollection of pinball is when we moved into a rented house and my dad told me there was a pinball machine in the basement. It was a woodrail. The coin push unit had been jimmied so you could push in for a free play. I don't remember what that pin was; I remember that the play field dominant color was a creamy light green.

    I liked playing that pin. I did not love playing it. When my cousins would come over we would play and work for that Special to light up. The rest of the time I was out on the streets with my bicycle.

    One time in 1963, we stopped at a roadside restaurant and there was a pin. 5 balls for a dime. Years and years later, like 2013, and I was getting reacquainted with pinball, in the depths of my mind that pin floated to the top and I remember it was Gottlieb Slick Chick but what I remember most about it is that some of those pop bumpers did not work.

    I played several other pins during the 60s but the only one I can remember by name is Moulin' Rouge.

    I graduated high school in 1970, joined the navy, started hot rodding cars, hitting the bars, and smoking the rope.

    The next time I remember playing a pin was when a Williams Fire was placed in the convenience I would stop at when coming home from my 2nd shift job. That would have been in 1987.

    So, I liked pinball. I did not love pinball. And I certainly was no Wizard.

    2012. This is when I first saw a visual pinball on Youtube. I did not know what it was but I was fascinated. Once I figured out what was going on I built a visual pinball machine. Then I bought a beater Bally Playboy. Then the Playboy broke and sat idle for a few months before I learned to repair it.

    In the meantime, one of the games on my visual pinball machine was Stern's Big Game. At first I did not like Big Game very much but it started growing on me.

    In November 2015, I located a for real Big Game in Oklahoma City. And then I discovered Pinside. People were talking about these classic Sterns. I paid attention. Now my little house is full of these old Sterns.

    And I am having a blast.

    #82 2 days ago

    Born in 1973, first time I saw a pinball was 1991 when I went to Uni, they had one in the games room along with a table football and 3 arcade machines.
    I soon got on the JCR committee, specifically responsible for liaising with the operator as to which games we had in. It soon changed to 2 pins.
    Every day was the same, I'd go down and meet the engineer, who came in every day to clean the machines, he'd put a few credits on one game while he cleaned the other, and I'd play test the machines to try and find faults.
    It then got to the stage where I'd follow him to all of the other halls of residence (7 in total) and repeat the same thing with their machines. With me cherry picking the best games to come to my hall.
    At that time in the UK, many pubs had machines in and me and my mates would go on a pub crawl from one pub to another, only stopping for a drink if they had a machine.
    After leaving Uni, work got in the way of my pinball activities. Over the following years machines disappeared from pubs, being replaced with quiz machines instead, so pinball was off the radar altogether.

    It wasn't until about 8 years ago while on holiday at a seaside resort I found an Addams in an arcade. I put 1 credit on and played for about 3hrs, walking away with half a dozen credits on and the highscore table full of WWJ. My interest was piqued.

    I googled where to play pinball and discovered the UK pinball league, sent a message on FB, and was told that the last meeting of the season was the following weekend at someone's house. I went along and discovered that people actually owned their own machines. Terry had about 15 machines set up, both in the house and in a custom built shed.
    I have missed only 1 league meet since then, and have won the regional league 4 times and am now the overall co-ordinator of the UK League.

    At that first league meet I was made to feel welcome and invited round to Terry's house the following Thursday evening to meet up with a couple of others, epotech was one of the others. That tradition has continued almost every single Thursday since, with us rotating between 3 or 4 peoples houses and between us we have owned the vast majority of games released in the last 30 years at some point or another.

    That one TAF has a lot to answer for.

    #83 1 day ago
    Quoted from jackd104:

    As a teen in late 80s early 90s in So Cal when there were 3-4 arcades a few minutes bike ride from my house. The glory days when arcades were somewhat seedy weird places where a kid could hide from the adult world and find just a little bit of trouble. I was mostly there for the vids but there was usually a few pins. I remember Xenon in particular and the clear plastic tube ramp - just trying to get the ball through it. In later teens I had a cousin who was more into pinball and he showed me the depth and finer points with Funhouse, Addams Family, Comet, Earthshaker. It was the Williams/Balley Pat Lawlor golden days. That was what really hooked me
    and inspired my later purchases.

    I totally miss those seedy arcades. Dark, smelly, loud, and electric. What memories. Kids these days don't even know. Games are better on the xbox/playstation but not the experience. My kids don't even do the get on the bikes and go find a little trouble thing. I actually encourage it but nope. Guess that's the result of the digital age.

    #84 1 day ago

    Growing up in MI, my dad owned a small town burger joint, and an operator (Reggie) brought in a juke box and a pin. I started playing when I’d have to stand on an upside down milk crate to see the game. If I wasn’t playing, I loved watching the bigger kids play...loved the art, the colors, the sounds. If I put my fingers up on the side rails to watch, I’d get chewed out by whoever was playing...”get off the game, kid!” If I was there on Tuesdays when Reggie came to take the money out of the machines, I’d watch him take care of the games and he’d toss a few free games onto the pinball machine. Needless to say, I kind of forgot about pinball after my dad closed the store and life shuffled me around through college and the Navy.
    3 years ago, I was chatting on the phone with my dad, and he told me Reggie had died. I started reminiscing about how good of a guy he was, and how good he was to me. I decided I was going to buy a machine in Reggie’s memory. I went to Chicago to play as many different games I could to find the best game...because why would I need more than 1 machine? I found Wizard of Oz...and I loved the clips from the show, the different playfields, the spinning house, multiple flippers...plus the show had a special nostalgia for me. I called a distributer, ordered it, and he laughed when he found out it was my first game, “Well, the one thing I can promise you is that it won’t be your last.” I insisted I only needed one in my house.
    3 years later, I’ve got #8 and 9 to be delivered in the next 2 weeks, and I just found my first 2 Bally’s that I’ll be adding to my collection. What a fantastic trip down the addiction path...I just wish Reggie was still around to see what he’s done for me

    #85 1 day ago

    8 or 9 years old. arcades and bowling alleys

    #86 1 day ago

    Born in '75 and my parents (who were great parents BTW) raised me in bars and bowling alleys. There was a lot of video games, pitch and bat, and pinball obviously and my folks were happy to feed me quarters. My uncle also had a Surf Champ in his basement that I would play whenever we visited. I really didn't play a whole lot of pinball after going away to college, but I fell back into it after moving near a bar with a great collection of tables a year ago.

    #87 9 hours ago

    I enjoyed reading the stories. A lot of variety and similarities.

    I'm 52, and these are my stories.

    My first memory of pinball is getting to go with dad to league bowling night somewhere in Cleveland or the east suburbs. I can't recall the exact age. It might have been 8-10, but I feel like I'd remember more if I was that old, so it might have been 6-7. What I do remember is the atmosphere of an early 70s bowling alley, just a bit grungy, with tall counters and cases full of bowling paraphernalia, the back room (ie, the bar), manual scoring, and the noise. And while it was neat to be with dad and his bowling buddies, the real thrill of the evening was getting a small stack of quarters and getting to sit on a stool and play the one or two pinball machines behind the scoring tables. Don't remember what games they were. Wish I knew what lanes we were at. I am sure that this is the reason I asked my dad to teach me bowling when I was in college, and why I bowled league from 1996-2015. In a year or two I'll return to league.

    I recall having a small table top pinball machine as an early teen, maybe 12"-16" high, 8"-10" wide. I liked it well enough, but it was no match for the handheld Mattel Electronic Football game. Man, I loved that thing.

    In junior high and early high school, I remember playing the video arcade games - Space Invaders, Galaga, Asteroids, etc, and loving them. Main reason to go to Pizza Hut. I also recall the arcade at Cedar Point in Ohio. One cool place to go for a break when it was really hot.

    Video and pinball fell out of my consciousness for a while in high school and college. I would play a pinball game if I came across one in the wild, but the video games had moved beyond me and I didn't care to learn new games and rules. Just liked the "straightforward" pinball.

    My love of pinball was rekindled in graduate school at the University of Mississippi. They had a few arcade games at the student union. I'd take a break from studying or lab work, and play Cyclone. A lot. I got so I could hit those ramps repeatedly and build the score. From then on I was hooked, and would always play a game when I came across it in the wild. I never sought out arcades, but if I was in one with my kids, I always played pinball if there was a machine.

    It never really dawned on me that you could have a pinball machine in your home. If I had thought about it, I would have assumed that you had to be an arcade owner or restaurant owner, and buy a pinball machine from a dealer that only sold them commercially.

    Then, shortly after Thanksgiving, my lovely wife said she wanted to get me a pinball machine for the holidays. She was going to make it a surprise, but after 2 minutes of research, she realized that I had to make the decision. This led to another discovery - in 2018, there are a lot of really cool arcades and bars in the Seattle area that actually cater to pinball players!!!! Who knew that pinball was enjoying a renaissance? There are leagues. There is an arcade show in the summer. (OK, I knew this last one because we almost went last year.)

    So began the fun ride of playing a lot of pinball, and that eventually led to the purchase of a Lord of the Rings machine in December. I love it. My wife loves it. Her son and my daughters enjoy it. I'm also learning to fix it. Already replaced 2 VUKs and (with help) re-wired the Balrog hit switch. But now the Balrog return is finicky, and the right slingshot activates when both flippers are pressed or other high energy events occur. More repairs on the horizon.

    This has led us to the decision to buy a NIB machine. You know, so that there is still a machine to play at home when LOTR is down for repair. This of course requires more research, including a trip to Canada this weekend to visit Nitro headquarters.

    What a fun ride!

    #88 26 minutes ago

    Since I've read so many great stories about how things started in bowling alleys. When I saw this while stopped at a traffic light while working a 24hr shift after a rain storm I couldn't help but think and remember how cool bowling alleys were back in the day. Sorry not a great picture, but it was so mesmerizing.

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