Collecting Arcade Video Games has been a passion of mine for the past few years. I started collecting in November of 1997 when I attended my second Auction. The first auction that I had gone to was a couple of months before and I just happend to wander into it with my brother-in-law and he ended up buying two machines. On my second auction I bought 4 games - Magic Sword, Final Fight, Champion Baseball, and AmeriDarts. I borrowed my father-in-law's truck and my brother-in-law had just gotten a new van for his business. My brother-in-law picked up 6 games himself along with a slot machine. Now we were faced with the problem of moving 10 machines home using the two vehicles. We were able to get two machines in the van and we stood 3 machines in the truck and tied them together/down. At least that's what we thought.
As I pulled out onto a two lane highway, I took the turn too sharp and the three machines I was carrying fell off the back of the truck! We were lucky that they didn't hit anyone (it is usually quite busy, but it was a bit late). My Brother-in-law pulled over to the side of the road and started pulling the various carcusses and parts to the side of the road. In 3-5 minutes the road only had some broken glass still left on it. He looked at me and said "well, let's get going" in a rather disgusted voice. I said, "We can't leave this stuff here, they'll trace it back to us." He said, "Well, what do you want to do?". I asked him if he thought that we could possibly put the various parts in the van and attempt to maybe re-stand the three machines back up on the truck, You have to understand that partical board falls apart when dropped off a truck. The monitors were the only things that kept the machines together. They were rather wobbly but we got them to stand. This time, my brother-in-law was driving the truck. It was 10:00PM, the auction dudes said they would be closing the doors at 11:00pm. It's a solid hour long round trip between home and the auction. I got on the cell phoine and frantically woke up my wife to get our two-year-old out of bed, put her in the car, and drive to the Auction for me to have our other games put outside where she could watch them. She did a great job; was there 20 minuutes before we were. When we got back, we loaded the rest of the games up and came home. The good thing was that the ones that fell off the truck were mine. They were Magic Sword (junky Track & Field cabinet), Champion Baseball (monitor problems), and Final Fight (in a two monitor Punch Out cabinet). My brother-in-law sold me the Magic Sword that he had and I ended up rebuilding (See the Magic Sword Page).
I was thouroghly done with the hobby! I took off from work the following Monday because I was both sick from the weather and also to take the remaining games apart. It took almost two days to get the machines down to just components. I threw out most of the broken wood and kept all of the brackets, screws, and other miscellaneous hardware. All of the parts and wiring were put into a pile that would be there for two weeks while I sorted it out. Over the next few months, the components that survived would be used in various projects and/or sold to pay for other projects. From a pure money standpoint, I broke even on the games, I really have little to complain about other then the fact that the initial experience itself was a nightmare!
This may have had an opposite effect on my attitude. I now had the knowledge required to do things to these machines. I still had two working machines that needed help. So began the Magic Sword project.
Magic Sword and Ameridarts use a wiring layout known as JAMMA. JAMMA allows games to be easily converted from one game to another. At first, I decided that all I wanted to buy from this point on would be JAMMA games. When I went to the auction, I took a sheet that I had downloaded from the Wiretap archive. Then, while siphoning through the newsgroups I came across an ad for my favorite game of all time, Battlezone! It's story can be found on my Battlezone page. At this point, I evaluated the choice that I had made, Did I really want to do this? The best and most classic games are NOT JAMMA. There are a few exceptions, but they are not on the top of my list. I decided that I wouldn't let this decision hold me down. Since then, I have bought/worked on many different types of machines. My various pages show how complicated these things can be (look inside the Stargate on the former video game page - Wow!).