A highlight of Pinball Expo '88 was the tour of the Williams Electronics pinball machine factory. We watched metal parts fabrication, playfield construction, component wiring, cabinet assembly, final testing, and crating for shipment. The two dozen photos that accompany this story show how raw materials were transformed into Williams Taxi pinball machines.
Pinball machine collector David Silverman brought nine of his games to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC on Halloween Day 2009 to promote his planned National Pinball Museum. Smithsonian visitors could play Silverman's games before and after his 90-minute lecture about pinball history and art.
My friends and I operated the Dickson Nickelodeon, a pinball arcade/coffee shop in the basement of a dormitory at Cornell University. We had acquired 23 (very) used coin-operated machines: pinball machines, arcade games, vending machines, and a penny scale.
During the 16 weeks of the fall 1974 semester, I recorded the cash box receipts for each of the 17 working machines. I don't know why I retained those records; I wish I had kept all the machines instead.
Can you guess which games were the most popular?
In the shipping section, we watched the final step in the birth of a Taxi pinball machine. Packers folded the backboxes down onto the lower cabinet and tipped each game into a waiting cardboard carton. Legs, coin boxes, manuals, and other loose items were packed in the cartons before they were sealed.
We rode back to back to Rosemont in charter buses for afternoon sessions and dinner. When the exhibition hall opened at 7 PM, we found a half dozen Taxi pinball machines ready for us to play.
In the testing section, we saw dozens of completed, legless Taxi pinball machines powered on and ready to play. Testing technicians ran through self test sequences and briefly played each machine. The games were left on to stress any faulty electronic components into early failure.
Defective games were repaired in place or pulled aside to the troubleshooting area. Here technicians had more sophisticated testing tools to diagnose and correct problems. As we saw in the playfield wiring section, some playfields were returned for rework.