The New York Times has an awesome article about Gary Stern of Stern Pinball, the last pinball manufacturing company around. This may not be entirely true. There was a company in Australia that bought the rights to a bunch of Bally/Williams IP and is supposed to re-making some classics, but they seem to have disappeared (or it might have been a scam — I honestly don’t know what happened).
Pictured at left is Addams Family. It was the most popular pinball machine ever made, selling 22,000 machines (which is more than Stern’s entire annual production run, these days). Pat Lawlor, the designer, is now at Stern and continues to design some truly great tables.
I wasn’t entirely surprised to learn that most pinball machines are sold individuals and placed in homes. The economy of route operated — corner store / pub — pinball machines was always based on conflict that was quite easily resolved by simply replacing all the machines with video games. Lower maintenance, less square footage, easier to move, and easier to simply swap software (these days) to “upgrade” the play experience.
I may likely also be bringing a PIN-BOT. It is quite thoroughly beat and is going to be the target of some radical restoration experiments, I think.