By Russ Jensen




            This will be my first "all original" article for PinGame Journal.  Way back in 1978 I began writing a column for a new coin-op magazine which had just started up called Amusement Review.  I decided at that time to call my column "Five Balls, Five Cents"  because that was the inscription on the instruction cards for almost all pingames from the early 1930's up until ten cent play began sometime around the 1960's, and my column was primarily to be devoted to older pinball machines.


            When publication of that magazine ceased about one year later, I started looking for someplace else to write.  Then in early 1981 I made arrangements with a magazine called The Coin Slot (at that time published by Bill and Roseanna Harris in Colorado) to put my column in their magazine - at first redoing some of my past columns I had done for Amusement Review, and then writing entirely new articles. 


            I continued writing for that magazine (under three different owners) until this June when that magazine sadly ceased publication - my articles having appeared in every issue (except for two, I believe) from 1981 until this year.  I have since made arrangements with Jim Schelberg to move "Five Balls, Give Cents" to PinGame Journal, probably appearing several times a year.


This time Five Balls, Five Cents will be devoted to my visit to the 1999 edition of the pinball show called "Pin-A-Go-Go" which was held in the Sacramento, California area in May 1999.  This was the third year for that show, but for the first two years something sadly always happened to keep me from attending.


The show this year was held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, May 14, 15, and 16, 1999.  Early Friday morning, my friend Ron Tyler and I left our home in southern California in Ron's Cadillac for the over 300 mile trip to the show site in Northern California.  Ron had to drive me since due to vision problems I am no longer able to drive.  We made the drive in a little less than eight hours (we stopped at several roadside rest areas, and once for lunch) arriving at our motel a little after 1 PM, checking into our room which we had reserved at the special "senior citizen rate".


After putting our luggage in our room we made the approximately ten mile drive to the show site which was a large fairgrounds building in the Sacramento suburb of Dixon.  After getting our badges (we had pre-registered) we began looking around the room to see what was there.


Near the back of the room we found a nice exhibit of early 1930's pins, supplied by my old friend, and pinball "super-collector", Richard Conger from northern California.  At least two of the games were of "mystery manufacturers" as Richard later told us he has never been able to verify exactly who made them.


            Also, sitting directly adjacent to Richard's games, was the newest pingame at the show - Williams/Bally's "hope for the future of pinball", REVENGE FROM MARS, the first in a planned series of what they call "Pinball 2000".  The placement of that game next to Richard's vintage pins ably demonstrated how much the pingame has changed over the years!


            In the remainder of the room there were many pingames already set up for viewing and playing.  During our initial pass through the room we bumped into my old friend Sam Harvey who was busily engaged in one of his "projects" - making a list of the games at the show, including their serials numbers.


            I then began my "project" - the photographing of electro-mechanical (and a few solid state) pingames which I don't already have pictures of in my 1000 plus game pinball photo collection.  In order to keep from duplicating my existing photos I brought with me a computer-generated listing of my photo collection.  As at other pinball shows, I was amazed by how many games were at the show of which I did not have photos.


            One of my personal favorite activities when attending any pinball or coin-op show is always getting to visit with many of my "pinball friends" with whom I have become acquainted over the years.  :This show was no exception.  In addition, I got to meet several people who I had either never known before, or with whom I have had previous contact  only through  computer email correspondence, or the pinball newsgroup on the Internet.


            As for dealers selling pinball related parts and literature, the major one who had a booth was Jim and Judy Tolbert with their "For Amusement Only" booth.  In addition, there were a few other people selling things, but most of these were primarily selling pingames.


Several weeks before the show I had made arrangements to meet (and possibly have dinner with) a gentleman named Bear Kamoroff who had recently published a very nice book for pinball owners called PINBALL MACHINE CARE AND MAINTENANCE, which by the way I highly recommend to anyone owning a pinball machine (both electro-mechanical and solid-state).  Shortly after arriving at the show on Friday I located Bear and we had a nice chat.  During this conversation I learned that Bear and I had another interest in common, the history of New Orleans Jazz music (which had been my major preoccupation back in the 1950's).


At that time we talked about having dinner together (possibly that evening), but due to an unexpected personal errand Bear had to perform we had to postpone that plan.  The next day, however, Bear, Ron, and I ended up sharing a nice lunch and good conversation at a small local café, during which we discussed pinball as well as New Orleans Jazz history.


            When it got to be dinner time on Friday evening, my friend Ron and I joined my old friend Sam Harvey and another friend of his and drove to the nearby town of Vacaville (where our motel was also located) and had dinner at a local restaurant.  After then returning to the show site and doing some more looking, visiting, etc., Ron and I returned to our motel to retire for the night.


            The next morning; (after having breakfast) we returned to the show site.  There were apparently a few more games which had been added since the previous evening.  I again photographed a few additional games for which I did not have photos in my photo collection.  My friend Ron played many of the games, but I just continued roving the aisles and visiting with some of the pinfans who were there.


I shall now attempt to give a "rundown" of approximately how many games were there from each decade.


            From the 1930's there were 14 games - all for display (not for sale) from the collection of Richard Conger that I mentioned earlier.  From the 1940's there were only three pingames in the showroom - two owned by Richard - none of them set up.  From the 1950's there were five games.  There was also an interesting coincidence - two games from that decade were both the same game, Gottlieb's CRISS CROSS from 1958, one of which was beautifully restored by one of the people hosting the show.  There was one other game in good condition, plus two others in "as-is" condition.


There were also 16 pins there from the 1960's. And from the 1970's decade there were 18 electro-mechanical pins, plus 14 more solid-state machines.  There were also 25 pins from the 1980's, plus 32 from the current decade.


The following is a chronological listing of most of the pingames which were on display at the show:







GAME                    MFG.             YEAR              PRICE


Bingo                    Bingo Novelty   1931

Whiffle                  Automatic Ind.  1931

Baffle Ball              Gottlieb        1932

Ballyhoo                 Bally           1932

Daisy                    Peo             1932

Jiggilo                  Ace Novelty     1932

Midget                                   1932

Shooting Star (square)   Specialty Mfg.  1932

Six Star                 ?               1932?

Unknown                  ?               1932?

Zipper                   ?               1932?

Airway                   Bally           1933

Bullet                   Pierce Tool     1935

Finance                  Chicago Coin    1936

Formation                Genco           1940

Sky Ray                  Keeney          1941

Hot Rods                 Bally           1949

Slugfest                 Williams        1952              1250

Can Can  (As Is)         Williams        1955

Casino  (As Is)          Williams        1958                50

Criss Cross (2)          Gottlieb        1958

Merry Go Round           Gottlieb        1960

Corral                   Gottlieb        1961

Egghead                  Gottlieb        1962

Flipper Clown            Gottlieb        1962

Preview                  Gottlieb        1962               250

Skill Pool               Williams        1963

World's Fair  (2)        Gottlieb        1964          595, 650

Fun Cruise               Bally           1965

Central Park             Gottlieb        1966               850

Eight Ball               Williams        1966               200

Pitch & Bat  (Baseball)  Williams        1966

Subway                   Gottlieb        1966

King of Diamonds         Gottlieb        1967

Sing Along               Gottlieb        1967               695

Pit Stop                 Williams        1968               200

Target Pool              Gottlieb        1969

Rock N Roll              Williams        1970           675 OBO

Fireball  (German)       Bally           1971

Jackpot                  Williams        1971               695

Klondike                 Williams        1971               595

Space Time               Bally           1972

Time Zone                Bally           1972               650

Darling                  Williams        1973               200

Hee Haw                  Chicago Coin    1973

Travel Time              Williams        1973

Flicker                  Bally           1974           625 OBO

Wizard                   Bally           1974

Captain Fantastic        Bally           1975               675

El Dorado                Gottlieb        1975               795

Hi Deal                  Bally           1975               425

Old Chicago (2)          Bally           1975      275, 650 OBO

Top Score                Gottlieb        1975

Aladdin's Castle         Bally           1976           675 OBO

Blue Chip                Williams        1976

Fandango                 Playmatic       1976               495

Playboy                  Bally           1976

Spirit of 76  (2)        Gottlieb        1976          200, 475

Evel Knievel             Bally           1977           450 OBO

Lost World               Bally           1977               425

Contact                  Williams        1978               200

Middle Earth             Atari           1978               200

Space Riders             Atari           1978

Buck Rogers              Gottlieb        1979

Dracula                  Stern           1979

Hercules                 Atari           1979

Stellar Wars             Williams        1979           600 OBO

Xenon  (2)               Bally           1979          200, 600

Counterforce             Gottlieb        1980

Fathom                   Bally           1980

Firepower                Williams        1980               400

Panthera                 Gottlieb        1980

Spiderman                Gottlieb        1980

Time Line                Gottlieb        1980

Black Hole               Gottlieb        1981

Spectrum                 Bally           1981

Eclipse                  Gottlieb        1982

Haunted House            Gottlieb        1982

Spirit                   Gottlieb        1982

Grand Slam               Bally           1983               200

Sharpshooter (2)         Game Plan       1983               150

Time Fantasy             Williams        1983

High Speed               Williams        1986           800 OBO

Pinbot                   Williams        1986

Fire!                    Williams        1987               795

Heavy Metal Meltdown     Bally           1987               795

Spring Break             Gottlieb        1987           750 OBO

Cyclone                  Williams        1988               500

Swords of Fury           Williams        1988

Taxi                     Williams        1988               795

Big House                Gottlieb        1989               400

Elvira -                 Bally           1989              1695

  And The Party Monsters

Police Force (2)         Williams        1989     825,  750 OBO

Back to the Future       Data East       1990               875

Bugs Bunny's            Bally           1990              1295

  Birthday Ball

Diner                    Williams        1990              1195

Funhouse                 Williams        1990               800

Game Show                Bally           1990               725

Whirlwind                Williams        1990          1000 OBO

Class of 1812            Gottlieb        1991              1475

Gilligan's Island        Bally           1991               950

Harley Davidson          Bally           1991              2300

Terminator Two (2)       Williams        1991              1175

Black Rose               Bally           1992               895

Getaway                  Williams        1992

Lethal Weapon 3          Data East       1992              1100

Rocky and Bullwinkle     Data East       1992          1175 OBO

Super Mario Brothers     Gottlieb        1992               850

Judge Dreed             Bally      1993              850

Star Trek -             Williams        1993              1195

  The Next Generation

Tales From the Crypt     Data East       1993              1750

Twilight Zone  (2)       Bally           1993

Dirty Harry              Williams        1994

Freddy (A Nightmare)     Gottlieb        1994              1495

Road Show                Williams        1994

Stargate                 Gottlieb        1994              1250

Baywatch                 Sega            1995

Breakshot                Capcom          1996              1695

No Fear                  Williams        1996              1495

Tales of the              Williams        1996

   Arabian Nights

Cirqus Voltaire          Bally           1997              2500

No Good Gophers (2)      Williams        1997

Cactus Canyon            Sega            1998              3995

Monster Bash             Williams        1998              3900

Revenge From Mars        Bally           1999


When it came time for dinner on Saturday evening, my friend Ron and I drove into Vacaville and went to a very nice Mexican restaurant (I LOVE Mexican food!).  After that great meal we returned to the show for some evening playing for Ron, and roving and visiting for me.


            That evening I got to talk with two nice people (among others).  First, I got to meet (I may have met her several years ago - I'm not sure) a young lady named Kelly Altmueller who, up until a few months before, had been the publisher of the interesting pinball magazine PINHEAD CLASSIFIED.  That publication was always enjoyable to read because it always contained some very obtuse humor which was generated by Kelly herself.  I really enjoyed talking to Kelly in person (one of my personal highlights of the show) as I had subscribed to her magazine for several years, as well as communicating with her via email many times.


Another person I got to meet Saturday evening (and again I think I may have also met him several years ago) was a gentleman named Steve Charland with whom I had also communicated via the Internet on several occasions.  Steve had brought to the show for display, and for people to play, his collection of early Gottlieb solid-state pingames, which was a highlight for many of the show attendees.    Not too long after visiting with these two nice people Ron and I left the show for the evening - and for that matter for good, since we had seen and done all we had come for.


            On Sunday morning we had made plans to meet my friend Sam Harvey and one of his friends for breakfast at a small local restaurant/bar - Sam had been bragging about their food ever since we met him at the show as he had eaten there in past years when attending these shows.  Sam was right about the food, and we also enjoyed the "small town atmosphere" at this establishment.


After breakfast we said goodbye to Sam and his friend and began our trip home.  Our drive home was uneventful, and we arrived back in our town in the late afternoon.  Both Ron and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the show!


If the Pin-A-Go-Go is held again next year we will probably attend, barring any conflicts.  During the show I heard it rumored that the two people who have put on the show for the past three years don't want to continue since it's too much work.  But they are trying, I understand, to get someone else to host the show next year.  So, if there is indeed a show we will probably attend.