Bally Professional Arcade
Developed by Midway, the arcade subsidiary of Bally, using the new chipset designed in partnership with Dave Nutting Associates.
The chipset was used in their new series of arcade machines, such as Gorf and Wizard of Wor, and Midway decided that a machine for the home could be brought to market.
Originally named the Bally Home Library Computer, it was released for sale in 1977. The console was only available by mail order, production problems meant that no consoles were delivered until 1978. The name was quickly changed to the Bally Professional Arcade. Bally grew tired of the arcade business and put the consumer business up for sale. A collaboration was the result, and Astrovision, a company that had been trying to bring it's own console to market became a partner in the project.
In 1981, the name changed again to the Bally Computer System, and then a year later to the most known name, the Bally Astrocade. The console was a victim of the American videogame crash, and was gone by 1984.
The machine is known for it's advanced graphics of the time, making excellent ports of the Midway classics such as Gorf possible. But the internal architecture of the machine was complicated, so the games were very difficult to make.
The controller was also very complex, shaped like a gun handle, it has an arcade stick on top, with a fire button underneath. There is also a potentiometer on the stick for rotary controls. The controller is prone to failure with age, especially the fire button.
On the front of the console itself is a rudimentary keyboard, this is used to select games, and also the four built-in programs, Scribbler, a drawing program, a calculator, Gunlaw and Checkmate.
The machine turns on to a menu, listing the built in software. The games and Basic software came on cartridges shaped like cassettes, that were inserted horizontally. Unusually for a console, it needed to be powered on to load a cart game, most consoles require the power to be off. When inserted, the cartridge game is listed at the top of the menu list.
Under a plastic lid on top of the console is a rack for storing up to 13 games. In all 28 were released for the machine, and are called Videocades.
There is still a homebrew scene for the console in America with occasional releases for the machine. The Bally is sought after for it's arcade conversions, and prices are high for the hardware.
This exhibit has a reference ID of CH62664. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
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