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Coin op video games, and pinballs machines!

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Hello everyone!


To those of you who do not know me I cut my electronics teeth on coin operated pinball machines and video games.


It all started in the early 70's when my dad took me to an ice cream parlor. You know the kind! They have tubs of ice cream, and you hand scoop them unlike the modern style where they pull a handle and it oozes out of the machine.


Imagine a kid with a nose pressed up to the glass fronted freezer trying to decide from chocolate, or rocky road, or mint chocolate only to be distracted by all kinds of choices of ice cream imaginable, and your dad is trying to pressure you into making a decision right then and there!


Bing Bing!


Chink Chink Chink!


Ding Ding!


Flap Flap!




What is this?


I turn around, and what do I see? Holy Smokes Batman!


It is a row of pinball machines! These things were loud! All kinds of bells, and chimes, and blinking lights! I had to go see right then and there what these machines were!


Imagine the frustration of my dad in line trying to get an order to the ice cream clerk, and you have a kid running out of line to look at some dumb pinball machines, and you have to yell to get the child back to the freezer to make an order.


I went back to my dad, and got my ice cream, and instead of leaving as planned he allowed my sister and I to look at the machines. My dad pulls his hand out of his pockets, and gives my sister, and I some quarters.


Love at first sight! I new that I wanted to spend my life around these machines for the rest of my life! This started a life long trend for me!


In high school I was working for a very small ice cream parlor when they rented a back room, and placed some pinballs in there!




I was in hog heaven!


Balls would get stuck on the playfield, and I soon learned how to open the door, and pull off a rail, and slide down the glass to pull the ball out, and place it back in the launch area.


There was a day when I had to lift up the whole play field to fix something, and Whoa! Here is all of these wires, and solenoids, and light bulbs! I felt like I was looking behind the scenes of the Wizard of Oz!


Over a time frame I learned to fix various things on a pinball machine.


The ice cream parlor rented the large space to the side of it, and put in video games, and pool tables, and a juke box.


They has some video games, and then one day a new game showed up. After it was plugged in and it booted up, and then went in to the "attract mode" and played the now famous tune, and history was made!


Four songs I heard played over, and over in 1980 on this juke box was Cocaine by Eric C. (I had no clue at the time what that meant)! Train Train by Blackfoot, and I loved the intro! Dirty Deeds by AC/DC, and Ah Leah by Donnie Iris!


I left my home in Florida to go to Texas, and attended DeVry Inst of Tech. I worked for Taco Bueno. This was weird for me as I am familiar with Taco Bell in Florida, but this place acted like an upscale restaurant with a fireplace, and fancy decor! They had a side room where they had video games. Note: This is the first time I ever saw a drive through with it's own kitchen!


Bingo! I got a job in the right place! Wow! Frogger, Defender, Tempest, and a funky new game called Donkey Kong! It was the ****tail table style. My friends, and I could not get enough of this game!


I get a call from my dad who says "I have a surprise for you"! I say what is it? He says "we are now proud owners of an arcade"!


I would love to have a photo of my face at that very moment! I am sure my jaw was on the ground! I felt like I owned DisneyWorld, or something!


Remember this is my life's dream coming true at that very moment in time!


I came back to Florida to find an arcade with old ancient games. My dad bit the bullet, and put a second mortgage on his house, and bought 9 Games! We bought Mrs Pac Man, Stargate, Robotron, Donkey Kong, Tempest, Frogger, Centipede, Xaxon, and Mr, and Mrs Pac Man Pinball.


The place went nuts!


I was finding broken machine in the back storeroom. I built a bench, and started working on them. The one that caught my eye was this biggest pinball machine that I ever saw in my life! It was called Hercules! I kid you not the pinball was actually a cue ball from a pool table!



Recently I was talking to some friends when the conversation turned to pinballs, and video games.


It brought back great memories from a long time ago, and I had to go and create a group on Facebook.


I would love to hear your stories about coin op video games, and pinballs, and to hear your stories about the places where you played your favorite games.


What funny stories do you have to share?


Pinball Machines



Video Games



Sorry for the ramble! I hope you enjoyed my story! I look forward to hearing yours!

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I have been a coin op game technician for over 35 years now. I started out working on electromechanical arcade games and pinball machines. If you google my name and "Monitor repair guides" you can see some of the arcade game monitor repair guides I have written over the years.


Recently, I have started documenting how to install LED's on Gottlieb System 80 pinball circuit boards for diagnostics.


Look for me at these forums:



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Hey! How is it going?


For the new year I am going to try and open a 6500 sq ft italian restaurant with games and pins. We are going to try and open the old family gameroom.


I have been surprised at how many games I can find on Craig's list and how cheap they are.


I rescued a 1970 Gottlieb Baseball from a garage. It has severe rust on the legs, and some wear on the playfield. Everything was there and it worked!


Here is a youtube video of what it looks like.


I have been debating if I should leave it in its original condition and charge two plays for 25 cents, or if I should pull the playfield, remove everything, sand it down, repaint the worn areas, and then put a multi layer polyurethane clear coat and then install LED lighting to give it color to match the playfield paint, and to liven up up the back glass.


Space Mission really looks great in the video


This pinball is the first to have the star shaped rollovers (seen in the video around the bases in the center of the playfield). I had debated to also paint in the faces of the 1970 World Series. I did not know how people would react seeing Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Pete Rose and also the first African American Umpire Emmett Ashford.


Then again would it be considered plasphemy to change an old game like this?

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Memories, indeed. in the late 80's I worked in a repair shop where we worked on pinball machines, as well as video games, and just about anything else. I vividly remember the Williams Hyperball game, we had one that had a slightly warped playing field that would cause the ball to jump up and shatter the glass! Fixing that one was fun, it fired the balls REALLY fast!


And don't get me started on those laserdisk based games, those were an absolute pain in the a$$.....


Right now, I've got a Mario Brothers game in my living room, getting ready to turn it into a MAME console.

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Putting LED's in electromechanical machines looks so wrong! IMO I would not add in any additional images of famous players to the playfield. It would definitely detract from the value of it, plus it would look so out of place.


Sure it's ok to doctor up the playfield where the paint and original graphics are worn and then clear coat it. That is a good improvement that adds value to the machine.

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Last night I found a 1964 Williams Stop N Go pinball machine. Used and abused, but in pretty good shape for being 47 years old.



I agree with you about detracting from the original game design. The Smithsonian Muesum will only take a game in its original state with worn paint and other "bruises".


The only reason I would go crazy with LED and extra graphics is that it is going in a long row of other pins.


I plan on highlighting some of the more important games.


The 1970 Baseball by Gottlieb is the first to have the rollover switches in the playfield.


For people walking around and looking at pinball games I want them to actually stop and look at the game. I plan on making plaque cards for each game describing the history, and about the people who designed them.


Nothing really stands out about the game itself.


With the graphics it will cause the disinterested viewers to look more so, and it will stop the sports fan. It would help identify it being a 1970 year machine as well.

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