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In Short Supply: Pinball Wizards Who Can Fix Old Machines

Article in the WJS

Video games killed pinball for two reasons: one, because computerized levels of difficulty allow novices to play while aces never grow bored. Two, because pinball machines get banged up.

A plunger shoots a ball onto a steep wooden playfield where it gets bounced hard from bumper to bumper. Bells ring and lights flash until the ball dives into a drain. Whether a machine runs on motors (pre-1975) or microchips, “nudging” is the way to win. That is, jerking the table around just short of tripping the “tilt” switch.

No wonder games conked out—and no wonder every pinball maker except one—Stern Pinball Inc. (still alive in Chicago)—was out of business by 1999. Of course, any mechanical device treated lovingly can continue to work for a long time, but route operators who own and maintain soda machines and video games often allowed their pinball machines to waste away.

The pinball Ninja is in the article too

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