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Tim Arnold

Tim shares his personal collection, the largest collection in the world,
at the Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame. His not-for-profit interactive museum graciously donates to the Salvation Army and other philanphropies.
Tim's silver balls help make the world a better place
one shiny quarter at a time!

MT> I understand that your initial childhood pinball addiction was fueled by petty theft and other shenanigans?
        Exactly what did you do as a young ruffian to play the game?
TA> All the kids in East Lansing would go and steal pop bottles from the fraternity house soda machines to get dimes to play pinball.
If you took them to just one store that would let you trade them in for 2 cents, even they were marked MACHINE BOTTLE and were not supposed to be redemed.

MT> Why were you known as the “Pinball Pimp?”
TA> I was known as "Pinball Pete." This was the name we put on the building when we opened our first arcade on Sept. 1st 1976

MT> Tell us about “Pinball Pete’s.”
TA> We had been operating machines in pizza parlors and fraternity houses, and I was totally sick of school. So when a building on the edge of town that had an arcade in it closed, we got a hold of the landlord and rented it.

MT> You have perhaps amassed the largest pinball collection in the world.
        Are there any machines that have eluded you?
TA> I might or might not have the largest collection. There are a lot of people that buy machines and stack them up in a warehouse.
This does not count. I have 200 operating in the museum now, and after we move, I will have over 400.

MT> With over 1,200 pins in your possession, what is the next milestone or cap?
TA>I have pretty much stopped getting machines, I have enough to last my whole life.

MT> All those machines obviously do not fit into the 10,000 square feet Pinball Hall of Fame Museum.
        So, where do the rest of the machines reside? Where did you keep them in the beginning and before the museum?
Machines in the collection but not in the museum are in THE BIG HIT SHED, located in my back yard.
This is where all the sh!t heads used to gather on FUN NIGHT, twice a year, to play pinball.

MT> We know that you have one of the two existing “Pinball Circus” pins in your possession. What happened to the other prototype?
TA> The other Pinball Circus is in the basement of the president of Williams, now WMS. I have heard that his is not as finished as the one I got, which used to be in the lunch room at the Williams factory, so the designers took the time to get this one more complete.

MT> What other gems do you have in your personal possession…? Brag man, Brag!
TA> I have several more rare machines. I will try and get more of them in the new location, but there is usally a reason prototypes are not produced. They are not fun. Fun games that test well get built. Cancelled protos are most likely dogs.

MT> Exactly how nostalgic do visitors get when they see an old pin that they had forgotten about
        or have been dreaming to have a reunion with?
TA> We get rushes of pure nostalgia every day. Pinball was a huge part of a lot of peoples youth, and unlike music and movies that can be replicated and played at home, pinball can only exist in the REAL WORLD and takes huge amounts of labor and parts, so it is never avaliable.

MT> How do you feel about the current trend of new pins going into people’s homes instead of public gathering spaces?
TA> I am very disturbed by the trend of people staying at home for everything. Get out of the house and off your a$$.
Roller pinball.....shoot pool. Drink in a bar.

MT> The museum is not-for-profit and I understand that past the operating costs, all additional income goes to charity.
        With over $400,000 in donations, we want to know more…
TA> We pay rent and electric. We buy one of every new game that comes out. We do not pay anyone for labor. The rest goes to local charites or to our building fund. When we purchased the building, we had 700K of the 1.2 million price in the fund, and had to mortgage only 500K. We have also given away over 500K to local charites. See the cancelled checks at

MT> Since you certainly spend a great deal of time repairing and working on pins on a daily basis,
        do you have an estimate as to how many man hours (days, years) you have spent keeping the hobby alive, literally?
TA> I spend the time working very hard for NO money because I believe in saving peoples lives, not saving pinball. Our help at the local Salvation Army means a whole lot more to me than the machines. I have never been a collector, I have always been an operator. These machines are industrial equipment, not art. Pinball is all I have ever done, starting in 1969.

MT> How do you acquire parts to maintain repairs in an ever-decreasing hobby?
TA> Parts are getting to be more of a problem all the time. A lot of it comes from scrap machines, A few parts have been reproduced.

MT> What’s so great about “This Old Pinball” and how can someone obtain copies of the DVDs?
TA> This Old Pinball is a series of how to fix your machine discs you can use to gain much knowlege.
They are at

MT> In mymind, the Pinball Hall of Fame is the only reason to go to Vegas.
        Why on ear th do people play slots when they could be having fun playing pinball?
TA> The public keeps playing slots for the same reason they watch too much television. It is the path of least resistance.
No effort is required. Pinball takes skill to play. I am resigned that the PHOF will always be a niche market,
and the wide general public will never "Get It".

We salute Tim and his partners for helping keep pinball and human lives alive.
If you wish to aid Tim in helping millions of needy individuals,
support the Pinball Hall of Fame next time you visit Las Vegas,
or donate directly through your local Salvation Army branch.

If you have questions for Tim,
you may e-mail him at:
or visit the official Pinball Hall of Fame website:

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