Bally Astrocade

The Bally Astrocade is a video game console and simple computer combination manufactured by Midway. The original name was the Bally Home Library Computer released in 1977 by mail order only, but shipments were delayed and the system was renamed the Bally Professional Arcade. In 1979 Bally sold the Consumer Product Division and a partnership was formed and in 1981 the system was released as the Bally Computer System. In 1982 the name was changed to the Bally Astrocade and production of the system was discontinued in 1985.

The Astrocade was a cartridge-based game console that used Videocades which were close to a standard cassette tape. The units included two games, a calculator and doodle program called Scribbling.

The controller was shaped similar to a pistol grip with a trigger on the front and an 8-way joystick above the grip which could be rotated like a paddle. Located on the front of the unit was a hex pad keyboard for selecting games and options. Most of the cartridges contained two games and the unit had four built-in programs.

The system has a 1.789 Mhz CPU, 4k RAM, 8k ROM, 64k of expansion, four controller ports, a light pen, and produced sound through the TV.

On the back of the console were the power supply connector, the controller slot, and an expansion port. Astrocade had 47 games available for the system.

An accessory for the Astrocade was a unit called the ZGRASS which sat below the console allowing it to be upgraded to a computer. It had a full keyboard, a math co-processor, 32k Ram, and ports for a cassette drive and floppy disk.

Image Caption: Bally Arcade (an early version of the Astrocade). Credit: Evan-Amos/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)