Thursday, January 8, 2015

Pong

During the 1960s I played pinball at the arcades on Boston's Washington Street. My skills flourished and I competed against older wizards on machines such as Centrigrade 37 and Strikes and Spares. We loved the lights and bells accompanying our struggle to keep the steel ball from ever dropping into the death hole.

Pinball machines were also very popular in bars up and down Commonwealth Avenue and I was # 1 on Royal Flush at Concannon and Sennett's Bar. My good friend Franka and I played doubles against BU co-eds for beers. At a quarter a pint we could afford to be losers to pretty sophomores from New York.

No one at the Combat Zone amusement centers was ready for the November 1972 appearance of PONG.

Few of us had seen a computer, even though I was a math major in my first two years of university. Frank and I tried our hand at PONG. One hand and good eyes controlled the paddle and the game sped up the longer you kept the ball in play.

The 2-D table tennis game cost a quarter.

Frank and I were soon the best in Boston, but we tired of the game and returned to pinball, which was a much more physical exercise.

Neither of us foresaw the demise of pinballs in bars.

Electronic games exiled them to museums or basement rec rooms.

Electronics were the wave of the future and that future is today, although no one plays PONG anymore.

Especially not Frank and I.

We like drinking beer instead.

And we did in the 1970s too.

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