This year, as in previous years, Pinball News was invited to contribute an article for the Texas Pinball Festival’s show guide. After much head-scratching and with Pinball News celebrating its first twenty years of reporting, we decided to look back at the last twenty years in the pinball industry and hobby.
We examined how much had changed in those two decades, the companies around then compared to now, who was working in the business, the issues facing the collector community, the various games being produced, and predictions for the future.
Of course, since we wrote it a new game-changer has emerged which nobody could have predicted.
We haven’t seen the true impact of the Coronavirus on pinball manufacturing, or what happens to pinball prices when vendors, collectors and their machines are all on lockdown.
But an early casualty of the virus in the USA was the Texas Pinball Festival, which was cancelled two weeks before it was due to open its doors to the public. (You can help support the organisers by buying some of their show swag bags of unique branded merchandise or some of their bespoke show posters.)
So, with the TPF show guide no longer being produced, we decided to publish our article here as a look back to simpler, happier times – be they twenty years ago, or a mere twenty days.
We look back to how pinball was twenty years ago
The year 2020 marks twenty years of Pinball News and nearly twenty (OK, nineteen, but work with me here) years since the first ‘Pinarama’ – which would go on to become the Texas Pinball Festival – was held.With the number twenty at the forefront of our thoughts, we thought it would be fun to look back twenty years to see how the pinball landscape looked then, what issues were facing the pinball community, and how various predictions about the future of pinball turned out.In early 2000, the pinball world was still reacting to the recent closure of Williams’ pinball division and the first releases from the only remaining manufacturer, a new company called Stern Pinball. Of course, Stern Pinball wasn’t really