This past weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda. I was expecting to play a few old favorite pinball machines, but got a whole lot more, including an education in the history and engineering behind both older and more modern pinball machines.
The Pacific Pinball Museum was founded 8 years ago and has dedicated itself to teaching the science, art and history of pinball as well as preserving and promoting this important part of American culture.
The museum has over 80 pinball machines, spanning from an 1879 Montague Redgrave Parlor Bagatelle (the predecessor of the modern pinball machine) all the way to modern classics such as the Addams Family and The Twilight Zone. As you walk through the museum, the progression of technology within the pinball machines is evident as each of the five rooms introduces visitors to another era, a different technology and an evolving philosophy about the game.
Best of all, you can play pretty much all the machines for free with the cost of admission.
I had the pleasure of getting a tour of the museum by its founder and Executive Director, Michael Schiess. Michael’s vast knowledge of the history of pinball and admiration for the machines and the mechanics behind them is evident and deeply enriched my visit.
One of the coolest machines at the museum is a modified a 1976 “Surf Champ” Gottlieb pinball machine which was transformed into a totally transparent pinball machine. If you’ve ever wondered how pinball machines work or wanted to gaze into the mechanisms inside, this is the machine to play.
The Pacific Pinball Museum is a great destination for families, pinball enthusiasts and makers who want to learn more about the evolving mechanics behind these machines. For more information on visiting the museum, check out their website.