ECE alum Linda Guillory breaks two world records for vintage video game collections
A University of Michigan alumna, Linda Guillory (EE), will be officially recognized in the 2022 Guinness Book of World Records as the holder of two record titles: “Largest Collection of LCD Gaming Systems (1,599)” and “Largest collection of playable gaming systems (2,430).”
“When I was a kid, I used to get a lot of games from the Goodwill or Salvation Army, or other places like that, but they were usually broken,” Guillory says. “So I would take them apart and try to fix them and make them work. And I knew I wanted to be an engineer, because I wanted to design the games.”
I knew I wanted to be an engineer, because I wanted to design the games.
Guillory never thought of herself as a collector. Originally, she was only interested in collecting video games for posterity thanks to a visit from her brother in 2003.
“We were up late one night talking trash about who had been the best player for various games we had as kids,” she told Guinness World Records. “Then he asked, ‘whatever happened to your tabletop PAC-MAN?’ The next thing you know I was on eBay looking for the Coleco Tabletop PAC-MAN.”
When she had amassed enough games to fill two curio cabinets, she conceded that she had become an official collector. From that point on, she approached collecting like engineering: with strategy and discipline. She’s traveled the world acquiring vintage systems and is the proud of ultra-rare box sets for Tiger King Kong and Space Invaders Tiger tabletop.
“I’m very happy I got those games when I did, because you don’t get a second chance to purchase them,” Guillory says. “I’ve had so many people asking for those, but I’m not ready to sell or trade those.”
Guillory’s favorite games as a kid included the Coleco Tabletop Pacman, Digital Derby, Conic basketball, and any handheld football game. Her favorite games continue to be anything Zelda related.
“I just love Link from the Zelda Series,” Guillory says. “I remember solving that with my sister, and the music, the scenes, everything brings back fun memories.”
As Linda’s aptitude for fixing games became apparent, family and neighbors were soon calling on her to repair other electronics and a variety of household appliances. Her mother, a homemaker known for her delicious coconut cakes, conscripted Guillory to fix the blender so she could fulfill her orders in time for an upcoming holiday.
“It had a broken O ring, so I replaced it with a very hard rubber band, and it worked,” Guillory says. “After that, all of the neighbors started sending broken items over for me to repair.”
In high school, as a part of Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), Guillory took a career assessment test that said she was well suited to be an electrical engineering technician.
“My sister, who was a teacher at the time, said, ‘No, you’re not going to be an electrical engineering technician. You go for electrical engineer,’” Guillory says. “And I said, ‘Okay.’”
In addition to her plans to become an engineer, Guillory always knew she wanted to be a wolverine. Two of her siblings are also U-M alums – her brother studied law and her sister studied social work – and she grew up rooting for Michigan football.
“The University of Michigan prepares you to work in teams and problem solve together while at the same time allowing you to be more independent and gain skills needed for your chosen career path,” Guillory says. “Professors Linda Katehi and Leo McAfee had a huge impact on me, and I enjoyed my time at U of M.”
The University of Michigan prepares you to work in teams and problem solve together while at the same time allowing you to be more independent and gain skills needed for your chosen career path.
Originally, Guillory planned to pursue a career in the automotive industry, but then she took a class on semiconductors taught by Prof. Emerita Stella Pang.
“Everything just clicked,” Guillory says. “I’d been struggling with systems and controls, but then I started focusing on semiconductor classes, and I absolutely loved it.”
Guillory went on to earn a Master’s degree from Michigan State University in Electrical Engineering, and then joined Texas Instruments as a Product Engineer fabricating semiconductors. She now works as an Assembly Strategy Manager, ensuring the best sourcing for TI’s products.
“It’s fun, because it’s kind of like a video game,” Guillory says. “You have to do problem solving and root cause analysis, then come up with that best strategy. In role playing games you often work with your friends to get further in the game where one person navigates a particularly tricky area, or you might have to change controllers to provide better flexibility. It’s the same in real life, you are working with a team to solve problems and using the best tools available to do it.”
In the future, she wants to use vintage gaming systems as a method to teach children about electronics. She hopes to design electronic gaming kits for kids one day, so they can build a gaming system from scratch in an electronics workshop or at home.