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B > BALLY > Astrocade   


In September 1977, Bally, the famous pinball tables manufacturer, announced shortly after the Atari 2600, the Bally Professional Arcade. The first versions were shipped in early 1978 for $299.

This video game system featured a Z80 processor, three built-in games (Gunfight, Checkmate, Scribbler), a calculator with numeric keypad and up to four controllers that were a unique combination of joystick and paddle, which resembled the grip of a revolver.

Furthermore, a BASIC cartridge gave this system the ability to save programs to a cassette tape. For about 6 months, it was thus the world's cheapest computer.

Even though is was slightly superior to the competition (Atari VCS), the unit was too expensive and the sales remainded at a low level. In 1982, Bally withdrew the system and sold the rights to Astrovision Inc., a group of users who had enjoyed the system. The console was then reintroduced as the Bally Computer System. The same year, the company changed its name - and the system name - to Astrocade.

After that, Astrocade tried to keep the system alive and marketed it as a video game console for several years. In 1985, the game consoles market crashed and finally, the Astrocade company closed their doors and the Astrocade system disappeared.

NAME  Astrocade
YEAR  September 1977
BUILT IN SOFTWARE / GAMES  4 built in programs (Gunfight, Checkmate, Calculator, Scribbling)
CONTROLLERS  2 pistol shaped controllers with 1 trigger and a short 8 directions joystick / analogic knob
CPU  Z80
SPEED  3.579 MHz
GRAPHIC MODES  160 x 102 (Basic cartridge : 160 x 88)
COLORS  8 (Basic cartridge : 2)
SOUND  3 voices + noise & vibrato
SIZE / WEIGHT  15'' (W) x 10 3/4'' (D) x 4 3/4'' (H)
I/O PORTS  Cartridge slot, 4 controller connectors, Expansion port, Light pen connector
MEDIA  Cartridges
NUMBER OF GAMES  About 40 cartridges released
PERIPHERALS  2 additional controllers, audio cassette interface, RAM expansions, Computer expansion, light-pen
PRICE  $299 (USA, 1977)

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