Pinball Wizard

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My weekend of pure Americana continued, when we stumbled upon the annual Pinball Expo at theĀ Marin County Civic Center. There was obviously no choice – we had to go.

Bringing together machines from over fifty years, a one-time charge at the door allowed us to play on machines dating as far back as the 1950s, right up to the present day. It’s astonishing just how little the concept of the machines has changed; a pair (or perhaps a couple more) of flippers, a bunch of balls launched at unlikely, noisy obstacles. More than a few times, I got sucked into a cabinet, attempting to better my score, and I must say that some of the old machines were still a hoot to play. I guess this was the birth of the video game?

A hall full of machines … it felt like stepping into one of those documentaries along the lines of Air Guitar Nation, or King of Kong. And yes, the people (i.e.: men) were just as fascinating.


Machines followed a huge range of themes, from the frankly racist …

… to the simply racy.

A delight of the electric age.

Reflecting the culture of their day

Drawing the punters in

At the back of the hall, and on loan from the local pinball museum (yes, that exists), was a fully-transparent machine. It was fascinating to see all the gears and electro-mechanical parts whizzing away – it’s amazing that they could extract logic from this collection of wires.

I think I need one of these in my house

Don’t tell my Dad about pinball machines – he would take over the house!



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