Episode 161: Stern Pinball CEO Gary Stern
Note: Hey listeners, we’re launching a Patreon. Please consider supporting the show to help keep us afloat. By the 80s, the pinball machine had seemingly been all but replaced, making way for machines like Asteroids and Pac-Man, which quickly began to dominate the arcade landscape. Within the next few years, a home gaming console explosion led by the NES would deal the industry an even further blow. It was precisely around this time that Gary Stern doubled down. A second generation pinball professional (his father having served as the co-owner of the profoundly influential Williams Electronics), he launched Stern Pinball, Inc. in 1986, as many of the leading forces in the space began fleeing in droves. Thirty years later, the company is the one of the last producers of the game, having weathered the storm long enough to see a modern pinball resurgence, through an explosion in the popularity of barcades and home collections. It’s made the company a bit of an outlier on the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show, flanked on all sides by drone manufacturers and virtual reality companies. Stern took some time out of the show to discuss the game’s lasting appeal in an era of instant gratification.