Bally Home Library Computer
Bally Professional Arcade
Bally Computer System
Announced:October 1977
Available:Some time in 1978
CPU:Zilog Z-80 @ 3.579 MHz
Memory:8K RAM, 4K ROM in carts
Display:TV channel 3 or 4
 160x102 graphics, 4 colors out of 256
Storage:audio cassette with BASIC cart
Ports:4 joystick ports, 1 system bus

The Bally Home Library Computer was announced by Bally in 1977. It was only home video game or computer system that they ever released.

Bally has long history in the entertainment industry, from pinball machines and gambling in the 1930s, to the 1970s when they acquired Midway Manufacturing, an amusement game company which focused on arcade video games. Midway obtained the licenses for three of the most popular video games of all time: Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Ms. Pac-Man, and Bally placed 60,000 coin-operated Space Invaders machines around the country.

At around the same time, Bally made an entry into the growing market for home computer games. In late 1977 they announced their Bally Home Library Computer - a home computer and game system created by their Midway Games division.

Bally decided that the only outlet for their system was to be "JS&A" (link) - a Chicago-based mail-order company that introduced and market high-technology, high ticket items. The new Bally Library Computer provided more entertainment and services than man has ever dreamed possible from a single consumer product (their words, not mine).

The system proved to be in-demand - JS&A received over 8,000 orders for the Bally Home Library Computer, but due to production delays, Bally couldn't deliver - no systems shipped during 1977.

Eventually the production issues were straightened out, and in early 1978 the system was available in computer stores, while JS&A was phased-out. The system is now named the Bally Professional Arcade.

The Bally is definitely a home video game system, it even has three games built-in - Gunfight, Checkmate, Scribbling, as well as Calculator - but is it a computer? Yes - the BASIC programming cartridge was released in August, 1978. This ROM cartridge contains a version of Dr. Wang's Palo Alto Tiny Basic, and a full-size keyboard add-on module was promised.

In 1980, deciding to focus on casino and stand-alone video arcade machines, Bally sold their Consumer Products Division to AstroVision, Inc., a Columbus-based company that controls E. F. Johnson, the CB two-way radio manufacturer. Johnson had been constructing the Bally motherboard for some time under subcontract. The system is relaunched as the Bally Computer System

At the outset of 1982, AstroVision's right to use the Bally trademark expired, so they changed the company name to Astrocade. The computer system was also renamed as the Astrocade, but Astrocade, the company, eventually ran into financial difficulties, and filed for "chapter 11" in 1984, and the long history of the Bally system came to a close.

Related Links

  • The Videogame Critic
  • Video Game Console Library
  • Bally Alley
  • Giant Bomb
  • RetroAuction
  • DeHipGahn Gaming
  • The Dot Eaters

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