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Pinball Hall of Fame

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The Pinball Hall of Fame. How did it start? Well it was the dream of Michigan's Tim Arnold, and one that he made come true.

I remember when Tim started telling the story of how he wanted to open a pinball museum, and we all made fun of him. "Yea sure Tim, you just need a place to store all your pinball machines!" Well to a degree that was true, but it also was a bit unfair. So let's start at the beginning.

Tim started operating pinballs games in the Lansing Michigan area when he was just 16 years old in 1972. Tim was a very avid pinball player, and knew all the tricks to "beating the game". This is when Tim bought his first used pinball, and soon realized every kid in the neighborhood wanted to play it. Being the capitalistic punk that we was, Tim decided to charge 10cents a game in his garage. Though I'm sure that didn't go well with his friend, Tim decided to upscale that and actually put his machine out in the public for coin use. This mushroomed into him buying more used games, learning to fix them, and putting them out in laundry mats and grocery stores for coin play.

By September 1976, Tim opened Pinball Pete's in Lansing (and later in Ann Arbor), as a large pinball arcade. His arcades were hugely popular, partially because of Tim's management, and partially because of luck. The late 1970s was the hey-day of coin operation, as video games were soon to make huge money for their owners. By 1982, Tim (and his brother/partner) were shoveling quarters into 5 gallon pails, and taking them to the bank. Tim told me once, "in the early 1980s you could have a pile of dog crap hooked up to a video monitor, and people would put a quarter in it for play."

But in 1990 Tim made a change. He sold his interest in the Michigan arcades to his younger brother Ted and moved to Las Vegas as 'retirement'. And his collection of nearly 1000 pinball machines made the move to Las Vegas also. Tim never "lived like a rock star", always watching his pennies and saving his money. But he decided he could go one step further, and make his Las Vegas pinball machines help the less fortunate in his community.

Tim collected masses of pinball games as a operator in Michigan. Tim says, "The local distributor would only give us $50 credit if we traded in an old game." Tim treated his equipment well and just could not bare having them scraped for $50 credit. So he kept all the old machines he grew up with, operated, and loved. The problem was, this made his pinball collection one of the largest in the world. Where do you store 1000 pinball

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