I own a pinball machine (Williams Earthshaker, from the 1980's). Is asking questions about how to fix it or maintain it on-topic here? Part of me thinks it's not, because it's not really about "computing", and yet part of me thinks that it is because at its core this particular machine at least is just a 6808 CPU computer that happen to have a bunch of switches, lights, and solenoids. It almost seems like older electromechanical pinball machines probably wouldn't be on topic, but newer embedded video game systems mostly are, so I'm not sure where the line should be.

And if not, is there a better StackExchange place that would fit?

2 Answers 2


Let's try it.

Since the expertise of this site lies largely in maintaining and restoring old hardware including video games, I would be inclined to at least try it and see how well it fits.

I don't suspect there will be a huge deluge of pinball-restoration questions to annoy anyone who might not be intense about the subject, but based on posts like this

What constitutes computing?

I would be inclined to see how these work in actual practice before dismissing them out of hand.

(it's not as if we're likely to create a pinball-restoration site, so this seems like a reasonable audience to take advantage of that space)

  • Okay, I've tried it, with the most computing-related first question I could think of: retrocomputing.stackexchange.com/q/849/616
    – user616
    Jun 9, 2016 at 10:37
  • The question in question appears to require particularly specialist knowledge to answer. This doesn't mean its wrong here, but I don't expect many good answers. Maintenance/debug questions might be better suited to getting answers here. Jun 9, 2016 at 10:55
  • @SeanHoulihane: I'm not expecting a whole lot, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask, and I may end up answering it myself eventually. I was planning to ask a more maintenance/debug question as well, but I think I'd need to take some pictures for it to make a really good question, so that may take a bit longer.
    – user616
    Jun 9, 2016 at 11:46

I'm pretty sure I'd vote off-topic. Even though some of these old machines have a fair amount of computing in them, they are primarily mechanical devices that have more to do with PLCs than general purpose computers or gaming systems.

How those hybrid video/pachinko games would fit is an exercise left for the reader. Likewise questions about embedded 6809 boards that might be used in a pinball machine.

Though, the latter might be a better fit wherever embedded systems are discussed.

I'm not sure where pinball game questions might go, but The Arqade might be the best fit. They even have a pinball tag, though this might be used more for 2D video pinball.

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