Monday, October 1, 2012

Pinball in Space - A Tribute to Steve Kordek

I received my annual Chicago Pinball Expo email today and as usual, wished I could attend but t hat weekend is taken.  I do this every year it seems, and am saddened that yet one more year will pass without me shaking the hand of my favorite pinball designer and telling him how much I appreciate what he did.  Not just him revolutionizing the pinball machine, but how he was the only one that made realistic spaceflight machines, and about my quest to obtain those machines. 

A few years ago I finally secured the hardest one to get, completing my collection, from a barn.  With only 700 of Friendship 7 ever made (and it being common practice to destroy or repurpose machines) it took years to find one in good shape.  I had only seen a couple in person and one for sale on line.  She didn't work - but of course, I got her up and running!  You can see a gallery of space related pinball machines on my space pinball page here.

Below, is a picture of Kordek in his office as he shows some of the reference material that he used for the Space Mission/Space Odyssey machine.

I would ask if he always had a love for space since so many of his earlier machines were futuristic (for then) space designs.  Would be an amazing conversation with plenty of humble nods shedding my praise.  I did a quick google search realizing it may finally be too late and my fears were realized.  After seven decades of designing pinball machines, he died back in February.  He was 100 years old - man, what a conversation that would have been!  I am greatly saddened and only hope that he can see me now and know how much he touched my life - and how much I enjoy playing those machines!

Article about his death.
Great photos with audio recordings of his Pinball Expo appearances.
An interview.
1994 video of Steve... still in the Williams factory.
Video of his 100th Birthday.
There is a tribute page on Facebook - I will link this blog post there so his family will know how much I appreciated him!

And get this... during WWII many of the Genco cabinets were made from excess birch panels from Howard Hughes' H-4 Spruce Goose!