Author Topic: My History With Pinball  (Read 3209 times)

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Offline Itchigo

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My History With Pinball
« on: September 07, 2013, 09:14:52 PM »
My dad was an operator, and still is to this day. My brother and I used to ride with him on his routes and "test" the games while he counted the quarters. One place we went to was Worldwide Distributors in Chicago Illinois. We'd go there for parts, and service, and occasionally, new machines. I still remember the wood paneling on the walls inside the showroom. There we got to play while my dad was getting parts, or whatever. We got to play anything that was new, many not even relesed to the public yet (reffered to as "on test"). I remember (at age 8) seeeing Bally's Bow And Arrow- brand new, in 1974. I'm guessing that was my first pinball experience.

We went to Worldwide a few times a week, not to mention "collections" at customers, so needless to say I got a LOT of playtime. I was quite good at the time. When I played at Worldwide, the main play area was in the center of the room, and all the offices were around the perimeter of the play area, with office doors leading into the room. There were usually 5 or 6 pins, maybe about the same number of video games. It was a good day when I could get Mr Skor to close his office door from getting multiball, or whatever. Mr Skor was a close friend of my dad's, and he had dinner at our house occasionally. One time (only heard about this years later) he told my dad: "I don't know how he does it, anything he plays he beats. No one else wins that much." (referring to me playing, and the noise in the showroom).

I got to see so many significant games of the era there. And, BEFORE they were released to the public. I remember seeing Gorgar when it was new, it was almost magical. In no particular order these were some of the MANY I got to play.

Bow and Arrow
Flight 2001
Big Guns
Taxi
Pinball (Stern 1977)
Gorgar
Trident
Meteor
Swords Of Fury
Bobby Orr Power Play
Freefall
Black Knight

Just to mention a very few. This does not take into account the nearly 150 more on the upper level of the warehouse. They were not plugged in upstairs though, mind you this was just a storage area that you could walk through and see if you wanted to buy/lease one that was available. I bought my Defender (Video) from this very room in 1990. I had several pins I bought for myself during the years from this room, I had always opted to "shop" it myself. Hey, I did it at work, why can't I do my own machine? I had several that I had owned for a period of time, played, then sold for what I paid (at least), then bought another. This is a short list of what I have owned over the years.

Meteor
Silverball Mania
Lost World
Grand Lizard (purchased after Rukia and I were married)
Take 5 (Allied Leisure)
Roy Clark The Entertainer (Allied Leisure)
Real (Allied Leisure)
Star Trip (Allied Leisure)

Visual Pinball:

I used to think I had a leg up on everone because of my experience. How wrong I was. All it takes is talking to someone like Greywolf for 10 minutes to quickly squash that feeling. It was because of Visual Pinball that I even WANTED to learn the computer. See, I used to be one of those "computers are evil, they're taking over our lives" people. Unfortunately I was right - LOL. I never used a computer all though school, and even college. It was late 2008 when I bought my first one because it was getting harder and harder to find a better job through the paper, so I figured I'd give up and "join the 21st century" according to my wife. So I finally broke down and bought a laptop. Mind you, I had no idea what Windows even was, file structures, etc- no clue. By chance I happened upon IRPinball.org after seeing MS Pinball Arcade, and using the trial version which let's you score 200,000, and that was it- game over. I was not even windows literate, but I had to find a cd like that to buy! Then I found Visual Pinball!! "I REMEMBER THOSE GAMES!!" It was unbelieveable that I could play these games I had so loved on my laptop. In my mind there was nothing wrong with the old vp8's. This was late 2009, I had VP working, but not VPM. Again, I knew nothing about file structure, so a "roms" folder was lost on me. A friend came over and explained subfolders to me, and VPM was suddenly working.

After that, I had a controller I built called my "Kenwood Pinball", made from my old Kenwood stereo cabinet. It was about podium sized, and you stood at it, and played desktop. I had the idea of turning a screen sideways, and playing that way with my controller. I was so pissed when I found out cabs were already invented! I thought it was another good beer soaked idea! Yet another idea too late... By this time I had barely learned what an attachment in e mail was - LOL!  I could easily build and wire it, but programming it was another matter.

I remember doing some designs in VP during this time thinking, "ok, I can build a table, but I'll never be able to learn to code one". Faralos helped me code my first table. It was basic coding (no pun intended), but it worked. Eventually I learned subroutines from taking apart tables, and Bob's template. I had all the major commands saved to a page to copy from, and all I had to do was change the object names. Whoever invented copy and paste, I'd like to buy that man a beer! I moved from IRPinball to Pinball Nirvana, then to VPF. Then later back to Pinball Nirvana, and, my own site(s).

Flash forward to today, I have 15 tables or so, table templates, a real cab, videos, and 3 websites. I've actually picked up website coding (html, java) somewhat too. I've even become adventurous enough to build my own computers too. I built a laptop from parts on e bay, and a desktop. It's funny, each computer I upgraded from, I thought was so fast. Now any older machine is barely usable to me. Were it not for VP, none of this would have ever happened. I'm sure I would've had zero interest in learning what I have if pinball were not involved.

That's my long history with all things pinball, what's yours?
« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 09:20:11 PM by Itchigo »
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Offline faralos

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Re: My History With Pinball
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 07:04:21 AM »
I started on computers with my Atari 400  XL
and found both a love for playing the 'pinball construction set' to graphics
 then I get my Atari 800 ST with built in midi and discovered music with computers
 then I joined the air force for a  2 year stint
 then after that I got into vending by accident since after the usaf I needed a job
 and actually hooked up with a vendor at a go-go bar of all places!
he was bartending and we got to talking, one thing led to another and before I knew it
I was working 80 hours a week working on pins, pool tables, video game cabs,
juke boxes both with 45's and the newer cd ones,cigarette machines with bill units, kenos, joker pokers,
and loving every minute of it! this way back in the 80's when arcades were the norm in every mall!
the company which is now gone was Cue Vending and operated out of Clifton NJ
wed had over three hundred sites with at least one machine per each one!
 many places were bars where we had a pool table, juke, a few video games, maybe a pin or two
and a ciggy machine we made money hand over foot  even skimming some off the top
(quarters like to roll past the coin boxes at times and the Kenos and joker pokers were of course highly illegal)
 and honestly each pulled in over ten thou a week yes ten thousand
from every keno machine and joker poker of which we had over  a hundred!
 yes the mob was involved since the owner was Italian and we had a leg up on when the raids took place
we were given two days warning and had to round up them all and hide them in various storage units
 around town!
but my love for pins and fixing them began with that company
 than the home video game console market took off and our company began to lose money
I hurt my right knee moving a pin and was disabled for eight months
 during that time they hired another manager who proceeded to run the company into the ground
what took eight years to build up he trashed in under six months!
 by the time I returned to work the company was in closing process
and we eventually shut down for good.
 this was my start with both computers and pinball!
 and I am sorry I created a monster within Tim when I introduce him to vp!
he bypassed me in weeks with his grasp of vp!
thanks Itch!! :) but we made a few tables together for contests with vpf
and even though he knows far more than me now I am happy to have had a hand in that
so your welcome fellow pinballers for now he is running wild with pin ideas and designs
and god only knows where we go from here but the trip will be well worth it I am sure
only time will tell...
I am never wrong Once I thought I was
 but I was merely mistaken

Offline Pintrepid

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Re: My History With Pinball
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2013, 01:41:22 PM »
So jealous ... both you, Itch, and you, Faralos, worked the vendor routes at the height of the real golden age of pinball!

I have to find the time to write my own history ... but for me it was pretty much 1978-1980. With late model EM tables, including Bally's Aladdin's Castle and Capt Fantastic, and Gottlieb's Royal Flush and El Dorado, among several others, it was nice to go in to the local game room to see which among the 40+ tables were still there, which ones had been replaced with new ones, etc.

This was right at the time when the early SS tables started to arrive. I remember when Bally's Eight Ball arrived, all brand spanking new, and was hooked on its own unique chimes instead of the normal pinball bell sound.

But in the next short while, new tables were coming in all the time, with more intense graphics and sounds and much faster gameplay. These included Bally's Evel Knievel, Playboy, Paragon and KISS tables, Gottlieb's Close Encounters, Countdown and Sinbad tables, and Williams' Flash, Contact, Time Warp.

Late 79 and 80 was a definite escalation in pinball. Effects and graphics were getting more and more intense before our very eyes. Bally came out with Silverball Mania, Space Invaders, Mystic, Future Spa and others. Williams came out with a definite landmark table with Firepower, and scored a few other hits with Blackout, Gorgar, and Alien Poker.....

---Whooops----

Gotta go to work.

Wish I had more "game room" time ...

Happy Gaming y'all  :Green:
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Offline Rukia

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Re: My History With Pinball
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2013, 07:33:59 PM »
I have very few “Tales from the Flipper” stories, but I will tell you one.
Most of my experience regarding pinball came after I met & married Itchigo.  But way before Itchigo, I did date other guys (that's right, deal with it).  Sometime in my Junior year of High School ('78/'79 school year), I had my first – official lesson with pinball that is!   My then at the time boyfriend and I went to a local seedy looking bowling alley where they had this very tiny little “game room”, which consisted of a video driving game, a another kind of video machine and they had just 1 pinball game, I believe it was a Grand Prix.  My boyfriend had instructed me simply by saying: “Just try to keep the ball in play for as long as you can.”  The more I tried, the worse I got.  He did demonstrate how to hold the ball in place on the flipper while you are taking time to aim and shoot the ball at a specific target, or ramp, or whatever.  I think I was able to do that once, I'm not sure.  He tried to teach me about nudging the machine, but I thought that it was just better to play it straight.  I think we went through a whole roll of quarters before I got bored with the whole pinball thing.  I obviously didn't have the skill for it, but it was something to do on a date (keep it clean boys!) that didn't involve Dungeons and Dragons.  (And pinball was easier to learn than D&D).
 
While I know that the premise of playing any pinball game is to keep the ball in play for as long as possible, that is the main lesson that I had taken away from that time.  I don't nudge, I don't concern myself with score too much, I just try to stay 'alive' until the ball falls down the drain...and it happens a lot.  LOL!
 
That's my story...another will be coming up soon.
Stay in play!
Rukia
Y'all behave yourselves or I'll have to smack ya's!

Offline faralos

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Re: My History With Pinball
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2013, 08:56:25 AM »
to be honest my D&D type of system is easy to get into and a blast to play!
 I ran my own custom made D&D type game system  for over 25 years!
it runs like a video game but I also let players input their own rules and weapons
 considering they were not too weird or outlandish in design
I am never wrong Once I thought I was
 but I was merely mistaken

Offline Rukia

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Re: My History With Pinball
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2013, 07:34:08 AM »
My second Tale from the Flipper story...
 
I should have known...I really should have known.  I've known about it since I met him, about his pinball obsession.  But I thought that since he had gotten rid of all his old worn out t-shirts that had stupid sayings on them, such as the old Wendy's “Where's The Beef?”, and “Official Breast Inspector” that he decided to grow up and be a responsible human being...especially since he asked me, no wait, nix that, begged me to marry him. 
Our wedding night hotel room was a gift from my new father-in-law, and was just the thing we needed to branch out on our new life as Mr. & Mrs.  Little did I know what was in store for me when we reached our honeymoon destination: Camp Sokol in New Buffalo Michigan, where his family had been going for decades.  We had decided that is where we would honeymoon since it was all we could afford and it was only a couple of hours away from where we lived.  Like any other bride, I dreamed that we would spend romantic moments at the beach and swim in Lake Michigan, and then have lunch, or dinner and maybe take a nice drive...or something romantic.  But no!  He found the Mario Brothers Pinball Machine in the recreation room and left me alone so he could play pinball!!!  THIS WAS A SIGN!  Anytime I went in there, all I could hear was “The bumpers Mario, the bumpers!”  Well then, I thought that if he was going to ignore me for Mario, then guess what he wasn't getting on his honeymoon!  Yeah, yeah...laugh it up!  He's really lucky that I didn't leave his corpse on top of Mario's, if you get my drift!
 
It's a joke to us now, the bumpers thing, and it was indeed a sign of things to come.  Look at him!  He's built a pincab of his own, and even as I type this, he's working on something pinball and ignoring me.  But sometimes I don't mind being alone. It gives me time to plan.  Plan what?  Well, never mind that now.  All is well.  Yes, that's the ticket...all is well.
 
Rukia
A future widow
 
Y'all behave yourselves or I'll have to smack ya's!

Offline faralos

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Re: My History With Pinball
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2013, 08:03:13 AM »
at least you kind of tolerate pinball
 my gal hates them with a passion!
and everything pin related she actually thanked me for not going to the Allentown expo this year
since she said last year she was bored to tears!
 yeah she puts up with me building/playing as long as I don't ignore her while she is here!
 we don't live together (yet) so when she is over I put all pin stuff on hold
and for the past month she has been staying with me while her moms condo gets fixed up
so I didn't get a chance all month to play any pins much less work on them!
you two belong together by what I gather from your type of humor
same as me and mine but you like pins where my gal doesn't and that is tough to get around
 she also hates video games...how did we meet up you ask?
DATING sites! enough said we each were cruising the dating sites looking for that one special person
 when I got wind of her humor and it melded with mine!
 so we mesh in everything except pinball!!
I am never wrong Once I thought I was
 but I was merely mistaken