Bally Alley Astrocast

This podcast covers the Bally Arcade videogame console released in 1978. This system was also called the Astrocade and the Bally Professional Arcade.
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Bally Alley Astrocast









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Now displaying: July, 2016
Jul 26, 2016

Episode 3 of the Bally Alley Astrocast covers the cartridge game Crazy Climber and the BASIC game (released on tape) Missile Defense. Chris and I discuss what we've been up to lately. Arcadian newsletter issues 1 and 2 (November and December 1978) are covered in detail.  We discuss a bit of feedback. Chris, Paul and I go discuss the very first ad for the Bally Home Library computer (from September 1977). I read from a few letters that JS&A (the mail order company that originally sold the Bally Home Library Computer) sent to customers. The show ends with a one-minute rendition of the Happy Days theme song.

Recurring Links 


Cartridge Review - Crazy Climber

Tape Review - Missile Defense 

JS&A's First Ad for the Ballly Home Library Computer

Arcadian Newsletter 

  • Arcadian 1, no. 1 (Nov. 6, 1978): 1-8. - The first issue of the Arcadian newsletter.
  • Arcadian 1, no. 2 (Dec. 4, 1978): 9-16. - The second issue of the Arcadian newsletter.
  • Music-Cade by Ed Horger - In the Arcadian segment, a "Toy Organ Keyboard" is mentioned. I remembered this previously unpublished article form the Bob Fabris Collection. It contains suggestions, ideas and methods on how to hook up a music keyboard to a Bally Arcade/Astrocade. Includes a machine language 3-voice music program.
  • Blue Ram Modem Interface Owner's Manual (with optional Printer Port) - An add-on for the Blue Ram unit that allowed the addition of a modem and printer. The Blue Ram Utility was used to control the modem.
  • Chessette by Craig Anderson - A two-player chess game written in Bally BASIC. Published in Cursor 2, no. 4 (November 1980): 74-75.
  • Connecting a Printer to the Bally Tape Interface - "The Bally BASIC audio cassette interface was originally designed to have a third 1/8" jack into which a printer could be plugged." The Bally BASIC Hacker's Guide by Jay Fenton, published in about 1979, gives the required details on how to modify the interface for use with a printer. The finished modification provides a TTL level RS232 standard ASCII at 300 baud.
  • Keyboard Attachment - Basic instructions and schematic on how to hook up a Jameco 610 keyboard to the Bally tape interface (Arcadian 2, no. 8 (Jun. 23, 1980): 69.)
  • Blue Ram Keyboard Owner's Manual - These are directions on how to assemble the Blue Ram Keyboard.
  • 3x5 Character Set Review - This article is by Al Rathmell. It was submitted to the Arcadian newsletter on September 15, 1982.
  • Arcadian RDOS 1.0 by Stu Haigh - This is a CP/M compatible resident Disk Operating System written in 1980. This code is designed to interface into the Cromemco software system and is provided with an autoload feature that will load track zero, sector zero of Drive A starting at RAM location 0080. Control will then be passed to the just loaded code at location 0080. The code uses a 5501 as a COM. controller and a 1771 Flex Disk controller. It will support four 5 1/4", or two 5 1/4" and one 9", or two 9" disk drives.
  • Three Voice Music with Bally BASIC - Article by George Moses and program (probably by George Moses and Brett Bilbrey) from the "AstroBASIC" manual.
  • Game Over Tutorial by Tom Wood - This tutorial, from January 1979, provides a machine language subroutine usable to BASIC users so that they can print "GAME OVER" in large letters on the screen using a subroutine that is built into the Bally's 8K System ROM.
  • BASIC Zgrass--A Sophisticated Graphics Language for the Bally home Library Computer - Article by Tom DeFanti, Jay Fenton, and Nola Donato. Published in Computer Graphics, 12, no. 3, (August 1978): 33-37.
  • ZGRASS Documentation - Various documentation on ZGRASS, including the user's manuals.
  • Bally On-Board ROM Subroutines - Originally called Executive Software Description and submitted to the Arcadian by Tom Wood on October 7, 1978. This was later republished by the Cursor newsletter without credit being given to Tom Wood. This booklet explains what the On-Board ROM routines do that are built into the Bally Arcade/Astrocade 8K ROM. This manual is used as a reference for BASIC programmers so that they can save a few bytes when programming and also take advantage of the faster routines that machine language offers.
  • Peek 'n Poke Manual by Brett Bilbrey - An introduction to Astrocade machine language programming in Bally BASIC. Although the manual doesn't credit Brett Bilbrey, he gave all this information in 1980 to Fred Cornett of the "Cursor Group."
  • Bally Videocade Cassettes Catalog - This catalog contains these 13 cartridges, including some that were not released.

Classic Letters from JS&A National Sales Group 

  • February 28, 1978 letter to JS&A Customer - From William Mitchell; JS&A National Sales Group; Marketing Director. "Enclosed you will find your Bally Home Library Computer." JS&A urges their customers to order the add-on soon to receive free items such as a modem and diagnostic cartridge.
  • October 11, 1978 letter to JS&A Customer - From William Mitchell. "We trust you have your Bally Home Library Computer and have found it quite satisfactory." JS&A asks their customers if they want to wait for the Bally add-on module.
  • October 19, 1978 letter to JS&A Customer (Robert Simpson) - From William Mitchell. "As you are well aware, there has been a delay in the shipment of your Bally unit. The delays have been caused by almost every problem imaginable and have lasted almost one year now."

End-Show Music 

Jul 1, 2016

Episode 2 of the Bally Alley Astrocast covers the cartridge game Red Baron/Panzer Attack and the BASIC game (released on tape) Castle of Horror.  Issues 3-5 (from June to October 1978) of the Arcadians newsletter are covered in detail.  We also discuss: news, feedback, a few classic letters to the Arcadian from Ernie Sams (who discusses JS&A, the company that originally sold the Astrocade) and Richard Belton (who covers the Maryland User Group).  Finally, there is an interview with Ward Shrake, who created multicarts for several systems, including one for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade.


Recurring Links


Cartridge Review - Red Baron/Panzer Attack


Tape Review - Castle of Horror






Arcadians Newsletter


Classic Letters


Maryland User Group


Ward Shrake Interview


End-Show Music