Pinball History

Like many of you who are reading this, you may have grown up playing and enjoying Pinball! It’s an integral part of our American culture, and we should be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
The heyday of pinball was during the ’70s and ’80s. Pinball continued its popularity in the 1990s and 2000s, but the number of machines being produced diminished during that time, like video games, the internet, and cell phones took the interest.  Remember playing games created by Bally, Chicago Coin, Capcom, Gottlieb, Midway, Sega, Stern, and Williams?   Today there is only three primary pinball machine manufactures: Stern, Jersey Jack, and Spooky Pinball. They still building pinball machines in the United States…  but there are few public places where pinball can be played. Many of the older machines have been either destroyed, are in disrepair, or tucked away in someone’s private collection, where the public never gets to see these games.  This trend, along with fewer and fewer repair people that have the knowledge, skill, and ability to work on these machines, limits these machines from being played out in public. Pinball is a national treasure. If we don’t do something about saving this part of our history, it’s just gone. These machines really are a fantastic piece of American ingenuity. The good news….along with many trends, Americans have a grand love affair with all kinds of things from their childhood.  These retro games are now gaining popularity, and pinball is making a significant comeback.
As a teenager in the 80’s, Jerry Pinkas enjoyed going to the local arcades and the mall to play pinball machines.
During summer vacations as a child, he always looked forward to visiting the many arcades on the boardwalk. He would save his money up so he could play pinball, arcade video games, and coin-operated skill games during his vacation week. As an adult, he still has that same passion for the game.
“The way this thing got started was, …a couple of years ago, I bought a pinball machine for my real estate sales office. During the summer months, we had families who would come to our office. I wanted something that could entertain the kids, while parents talked with the Realtors. My first machine was a Williams Road Kings pinball. When I played that game, it brought me right back to a time when I was a teenager. I had forgotten all those memories, but they came rushing back! It was a blast! The kids and families that visited our real estate office really enjoyed playing it too, so I added another pinball machine and another. With a limited amount of room at the office, I started taking them home. It wasn’t long before I started collecting them.  Once I had a few games, I realized that maintenance was going to concern. Each machine has a hundred switches, bulbs, solenoids,  a 1/2 mile of wiring, and all kinds of things can go wrong with them. Not all these games were working when I acquired them. With labor at $75 -$125 an hour, I had to start figuring this stuff out for my self.  I really enjoy the restoring, troubleshooting, fixing, and bring these gems back to life.
So, why have a really cool collection of pinball’s that only a few people get to play?  I do believe that somehow, these machines have a personality begging to be played!  That’s when I decided to use these machines and do some good and give back to the community.  I realized I wasn’t the only person interested in these games. Over the years, I have met some really awesome people who are also into pinball and want to keep it alive and going.  So together with the love of pinball and children’s charities, we are moved forward with our plan to build the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum.”
The Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum is located across the street from Jerry Pinkas Real Estate Experts on N 27th Ave in Myrtle Beach.
At one point, there were thousands of machines out in public for people to play. Now they many are in a warehouse, a garage, or at some guy or girls house that doesn’t want you coming over that much.
When asked, “What do you like about pinball most? Pinkas says, “There is something really cool about the artwork, it’s pop culture art! And I also like the fact that once you pull back on the plunger and release that ball, it’s a different game every time. Have you ever played a game of pinball where everything happened exactly the same? With pinball, no two games are ever the same. It’s not at all like a video game! With most video games, the sequence is repeated. The difference with pinball is its a live ball with gravity and physics, and no two games are ever the same. To me, when you play a game of Pinball, it takes you away, back to the games of your youth.  And it’s a great way to hang out with your kids or reconnect with friends.”
The remarkable thing is….. my wife and 3 kids also enjoy playing these games and have a love of all things pinball.”
“As a Myrtle Beach Local I  had always gotten questions from locals and tourists asking; Where’s the best place to play pinball in Myrtle Beach? And for years other pinball enthusiasts commented that “Myrtle Beach is a total pinball desert! There are very few pinball machines in around.”
Well, our goal is to change all that!
It’s about sharing with others, the love of the game, the hobby and helping children’s charities.
Thank You For Your Words of Encouragement and Support!
 We are looking forward to seeing you soon at the museum!