There are a lot of people who are very knowledgeable about the history of pinball, either by being part of that history or by being driven by the desire to map it out for themselves and others.
I fall into the latter category. I am not an expert by any means, but have learned the basics by osmosis after having read the history of the game in 10 or 15 different books!
On this page I'll include links and references to others who know a lot about the game and are happy to discuss it. These are people that I've personally found to be all-knowing (or interested in getting to that state). Sorry if I've left anyone out who should be here. It's not a closed list and the people here don't meet at the club wearing gold "historians" crests on their smoking jackets or anything (that I am aware of).
If you are interested in the historical aspects of the game or have any
interesting stories then please contact me.
I'll gladly add you to this list if I know you and know that you know stuff.
For all individuals listed here I will provide email/web links if known, otherwise the best available non-computer information.
Note that I've now
obfuscated the email addresses in order to reduce spam address gathering. If copying or
clicking on a mail link, you will need to change "--AT--" to "@" in the address.
Gary Flower (England)
Tim probably has the largest collections of pins in the world, with a total over 1000. He has all Gottlieb games ever made. Needless to say, Tim knows alot about pinball. Stationed in Las Vegas, he has opened the non-profit "Pinball Hall of Fame", a large arcade housing over 200 vintage pinballs and other amusements.
Tim, along with Sam Harvey (see below), maintain a pinball serial number/game number database on paper. Not sure how the complete the info is now, especially compared to other databases that are popping up.
Tim has an easy to remember number if you wish to call him.
Harold is a collector out of Orangeville, Ontario. He has a large collection of varied games, and at one point concentrated on 30's-style bagatelle games. Harold is also the "pin video man", who tapes, buys and trades videos related to pinball. Also check out Harold's ebay auctions for great nostalgic images. He additionally has an excellent web site, full of stuff for sale, classic TV things, etc. See the links on the main pinball page for it.
Ron collects pinball flyers and states that he has learned a lot about pinball through collecting them, the flyers themselves (including lots of oddballs), contact with other collectors, IPDB, frequent contact with people like Sam Harvey etc. Ron says there aren't many games he hasn't heard of, having been involved with pinball for over 33 years now.
Check out Ron's website http://www.nypinball.com/. He maintains a registry of flyer collectors and flyers online for perusal.
John grew up during the golden age of games in the 40's and I believe that is the period of games he likes the best. I've talked to him about some late 40's Genco's, etc., at the Chicago Pinball Expos, which he attends every year.
This man lives at his "Silverball Ranch" (I believe that's the name) in California, along with some 500 or so machines. He is really into the old games, especially pre-flipper ones, and has been most helpful when I've asked for some advice from him.
Richard Conger 1947 Coffee Lane Sebastopol, California 95472 USA phone: 707-823-7532
The person who created this page. I am interested in any historical questions from any era, so if you wish to contact others please copy me also! I have access to thousands of ads from the 1930s and 1940s, plus many other resources. Mysteries welcome! My email address can be found here.
Federico is the biggest collector in Italy. He has amassed tons of information on Italian flavors of Gottlieb and Bally games, along with native European games. He also has a great web site, full of game information and pictures: http://www.tilt.it/
Recently Federico has released his long-awaited book on Italian versions of US games, Pinball Machines for Italy. The acknowledged expert in this area has put it altogether.
Gary Flower is one of the most knowledgeable pinball persons around. He co-authored the very popular book Pinball - The Lure of the Silver Ball many years ago, and has written many articles for pinball-related publications. Hailing from England, he provides a great non-North American view of the pinball world. Gary is a perennial part of the Chicago Pinball Expo and can be seen at a lot of the other major pinball shows.
Pat is from the Chicago area and is a large collector of old pins and neat stuff. A picture of him (along with a portion of his collection) can be found near the inside cover of Dick Bueschel's new Encyclopedia of Pinball, Vol. 1.
Mike is a friend of mine who lives in Mississauga Ontario. He has a large collection of games and related artifacts from all eras and enjoys talking about history. Mike and wife Christine run the "Church of the Silver Ball", a truly amazing place of pin worship.
Sam has a large collection of pins and flyers, and has collected a lot of statistical and trivia-type information about games over the years. A fountain of information exists inside his head! He maintains a pinball database of serial number and game number information along with Tim Arnold.
Sam Harvey 1655 N. Gibbs Pomona, California, 91767 USA phone: 1-714-622-1637
Gordon hails from New York and is the partner of Steve Young (The Pinball Resource). He and Steve published the superb Pinball Collector's Quarterly back in the early 80's. Gordon has given many fine presentations on pinball in the 50's at various Pinball Expo's and elsewhere, and had a display of 50's games in NY a couple of years ago that attracted the attention of the local press. He had a large collection of woodrails and generously donated hundreds of them to the Pacific Pinball Museum.
Gordon recently moved to Florida from New York. His writings on classic 50s pinballs appeared frequently in Gameroom magazine.
Rob has been a tremendous asset to the pinball community for decades, co-authoring and compiling with Don Mueting the incredibly useful Pinball Collectors Resource books listing all games ever manufactured. The most useful pinball reference in print IMHO. Rob also owns the distinction of perhaps writing the first book on pinball history, doing his masters thesis on The History of the Pinball Machine back in 1976. Rob also has a tremendous collection of magazines and paper related to the old days.
Sad to report that Russ Jensen has passed away on or about November 10, 2007. Rest in peace.
Russ grew up with the game in the 40's and 50's. He has contributed a ton of information towards the pinball story, most notably doing alot of the grunt work in building the original game lists published in Roger Sharpe's Pinball book, and for Meuting and Hawkins Pinball Collector's Resource game list.
Russ spent a lot of time perusing through microfilm of old Billboards to extract details on game introduction dates, features, etc. He also authored the fine book on EM troubleshooting, Pinball Troubleshooting Guide (still available I believe).
Russ also wrote the "5 Balls 5 Cents" column in the For Amusement Only magazine around 1980. Later he wrote a regular column on pinball for the Coin Slot. He has also had articles published elsewhere.
One of Russ's greatest contributions to pinball history was his series of phone conversations or interviews with legendary great Harry Williams. They were especially timely as they occurred in the last years of Williams' life and many details of pinball history would have possibly been lost forever without Russ's work to document that information.
Russ had web pages up with text copies of his various interesting articles on pinball history. http://members.aol.com/rusjensen/. This is a must read. Not sure how long they will remain up but I believe the pages are mirrored elsewhere.
Frank used to operate games in the early 40s, and knows Genco games and their features from that era inside out. He also has created game lists incorporating the game number information, and is involved with the Internet Pinball Database project (for which he has done a lot of work). Frank also supplied me with a missing bumper cap for my Formation for which I am very grateful.
Jeffrey ("Dr. Bingo") actively writes for PinGame Journal and GameRoom magazines. His specialty is bingo games but he also has knowledge of many electromechanical games, old flipper pins, bowlers, slots and one ball payout games, although he claims not to know about juke boxes.
He had published a serious comprehensive book on Bally Bingo Games, published by Schiffer called Bally Bingo Pinball Machines. This was followed up with the recent title The Bingo Pinball War: United Vs Bally, 1951-1957
He take calls and letters from people all over the world, helping them with their bingo game questions & problems. If you've read his entertaining articles you'll know that he has been a big help to many people.
Jeffrey's phone number is 513-231-1998.
Dave is a rec.games.pinball regular who knows a lot about the history of the game, having been an operator for many years. He is also very up to date on current industry happenings, etc. Dave has large collections of pinball flyers and pinball related music albums, and also organized the New England Pinfest's of years past. He is also a regular speaker at seminars at the Chicago Pinball Expo.
Wayne is a collector of 1930s games and other coin-ops and is very knowlegeable about them. He also has a nice web site (pinballhistory.com) for historical info.
John was a game designer for Premier/Gottlieb up to the time of their demise. He later was designing games for Sega pinball. His origins were as a pinball collector however, and he collected a lot of older woodrail-type and 1960's games. Being a collector of Gottlieb's and working for Gottlieb was a pretty enviable position to those who are interested in the history of the company and it's games!
Jon has actively helped to dig up information about the company's history to everyone's benefit.
Mike has more flyers than anyone and has put on the Chicago Pinball Expo for 26 years. He also owns hundreds of machines (including many rare ones) plus has a huge collection of schematics and manuals. See his website at pinballmike.com,
John was a designer for Bally, designing the hit games World Cup Soccer, Theatre of Magic, Tales of the Arabian Nights (my favorite) and the Pinball 2000 title, Star Wars: Episode 1. Like Jon Norris, he has a tremendous interest in the history of the game, which gives him great insights into the game design process. John is also heavy into neon, old clocks and cool 1960s Rally pinball games. If you have a Rally for this ex-Bally, give him a shout.
More recently John re-emerged in the pinball industry as a director of R & D at Zizzle. Their child's pinball games (Pirates of the Caribbean and Marvel Super Heroes) were a hit and sold in large quantities at major retailers.
John has continued with iPhone-related pinball products including a historical presentation. He also has started building the limited-edition Magic Girl pinball machine.
Marco is the author of The Complete Pinball Book, a fantastic compilation on all aspects of pinball. If you don't own this book get it! Tons of color game photos plus a lot of accompanying detail. He has also just come out with a new book, Pinball Memories, 1958-1998 which has received rave reviews. Marco says:
"I seek the truth like everybody else....my main passion is to take really nice photos of pins, and hopefully write books about pinball so that everybody can enjoy the photos for a long time to come. I hope that in some small way, I'm doing my bit to keep pinball alive."
Check out the book here.
Marco Rossignoli 6 Fourth Street Seahampton 2286 Newcastle N.S.W AUSTRALIA Phone: +61 2 49534042 (h)
Michael is another Aussie author who has worked hard to create four recommended classic pinball books, The Pinball Compendium 1930s - 1960s, The Pinball Compendium 1970 - 1981, The Pinball Compendium 1982 - Present and most recently The Pinball Compendium Electro-mechanical Era. He also is planning on opening a pinball museum down under.
Note the new email address and yes, a web domain finally: http://www.pbresource.com. Steve is "The Pinball Resource". A former engineer with IBM, he decided to pack it in and get in the pinball parts business full time awhile back. Steve knows coils like Aunt Jemima knows pancakes. He has a tremendous selection of new and old parts for almost any pinball, and knows the mechanics of the older games better than almost anyone. He also can reproduce parts.
Last update: August 31, 2011© Terry Cumming, 1996-2011