During the late 1960s and early 1970s 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 prevent 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 FM and I played doubles against BU co-eds for beers. They were good, but we were better, but at a quarter a pint we could afford to be losers to pretty sophomores from New York, although none of us were ready for the November 1972 appearance of PONG.
Few of us had ever seen a computer, even though I had been a math major in my first two years of university. FM 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.
FM 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 future demise of pinballs in bars, but electronic games were the wave of the future and exiled pinball machine to museums or basement rec rooms.
No one plays PONG anymore, especially not FM and I.
We like drinking beer instead.
And we did in the 1970s too.
And so did BU co-eds, because some things never change.