This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with Tim Arnold.
Tim Arnold is owner, curator, director of the Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame, which houses the world’s largest pinball collection. The Hall of Fame, open to the public, is a standalone and dedicated museum, with operating pinballs spread over 10,000 square feet.
The museum is run by Tim Arnold, a veteran arcade operator who made it big in the 1970s and 1980s during the Pacman era.
In 1976 Arnold and his brother opened “Pinball Pete’s” in Lansing, Michigan, and it quickly became a gamer’s mecca. At the height of their success, the Arnold brothers weren’t counting coins; they were counting shovelfuls of coins.
When Arnold sold his part of the business and moved to Las Vegas in 1990, he picked up the phone and started talking to the Salvation Army. Midge Arthur, the administrative assistant of the Las Vegas branch of the Salvation Army says, “I got a telephone call from Tim about 15 years ago, and he said, ‘If I had money to give, what would you do with it?’
“We had a long discussion about our different rehabilitation programs. He was, I think, kind of skeptical of all organizations. He wanted to make sure the money was going to help people.”
Not long after that conversation, Arthur started receiving checks for thousands of dollars from the man she says is, “one of my strangest, out-of-the-ordinary donors we have ever had.”