He’s a pinball wizard at heart, making the Illini Union bowling alley (circa mid-’90s) a place Majdi Abbas spent countless hours.
It had “one of the nicest, most well-maintained selections of pinball machines I’ve ever seen,” says the Phoenix-based network engineer, formerly of Yahoo, BrightRoll and Salesforce.com, among other stops.
“The mid to late 1990s were also an exceptionally good time for the Bally/Williams games. Based in Chicago, the home of pinball, Williams was making great games right up until the pinball division closed down in early 1999, and UIUC would get nearly every one of them: tables like Twilight Zone, The Shadow, Theatre of Magic, WHO dunnit, Circus Voltaire, Attack from Mars, and Champion Pub. All there, and all very well-maintained.
"If you had a problem, let the nice gentleman we called 'Pindude' know, and he’d come back in a day or two with parts. And if he wasn’t replacing parts, he was there cleaning and waxing those playfields.
“It was very special, and I don’t think most students ever set foot in the bowling alley, or even knew there were over a dozen pinball games in there.
“Sometime in the early 2000s, a year or two after Williams had closed down, the UI pulled the plug and all the machines disappeared. I had moved back to Ann Arbor by then, and it was quite the disappointment when I dropped by campus to visit a friend.”