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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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Now displaying: April, 2020
Apr 27, 2020

 

In episode #14 of the Bally Alley Astrocast, Adam and Paul cover the October 1979 issue of the Arcadian newsletter (vol. 1, #11) along with sixteen letters, postcards, notes and even one telegram that were sent to Bob Fabris, editor of the Arcadian newsletter, in the late 1970s/early 1980s. The two programs in this issue are "Microtrek" by Bill Andrus and "Resequencing" by Ron Schweitzer.

This episode also covers many letters to the Arcadian that were sent in the fall of 1979.

Recurring Links 

Arcadian, October 1979

  • ARCADIAN 1, no. 11 (Oct. 31, 1979): 85-92. - This is issue #11 of the Arcadian. It is ten pages long. It is covered in detail in Astrocast #14.
  • Bally Astrocade Document Collection, Astrocast #14 - These are the sixteen letters, postcards, notes and even one telegram that were sent to Bob Fabris, editor of the Arcadian newsletter, in the late 1970s/early 1980s. These documents are in pdf format and all of them are covered in Astrocast #14. Those that were typed have been OCRed but several of these documents are handwritten, so character recognition was not possible. There is a wealth of information inside of these documents which have been scanned from the Bob Fabris Collection. The names of the documents, along with extremely terse overviews about what is in some the documents, are at archive.org. The only way to really know what is inside of these documents is to dig into them and read them from start to finish.
  • "Microtrek" by Bill Andrus (AstroBASIC Program) - "Microtrek" is a very small but interesting version of the Star-Trek game. This version was originally shared by the North Carolina TRS-80 User Group. In playing, watch your energy level and remaining time.
  • "Resequencing" by Ron Schweitzer. (Bally BASIC, 300-Baud) - This program renumbers a BASIC program by using a tape as output, meaning the program in memory isn't actually changed, only the program on the tape is changed.
  • "Space Chase" by WaveMakers (Bally BASIC, 300-Baud) - Uses few graphics, but has good sound effects. You try to guide your ship through 200 light years to your destination. You may be attacked by enemy ships, run out of fuel, collide with meteors, etc. You're at the controls: warp 1, warp 2, wait for help, fire phaser or evasive actions. It's a long way to go, but a good captain can make it with a little help from friendly alien. Tape 3 (1980)
  • "Space Chase" by WaveMakers (AstroBASIC, 2000-Baud) - WaveMakers' take on a Star Trek-type game. This one uses few graphics, but has good sound effects. You try to guide your ship through 200 light years to your destination. You may be attacked by enemy ships, run out of fuel, collide with meteors, etc. You're at the controls: warp 1, warp 2, wait for help, fire phaser or evasive actions. It's a long way to go, but a good captain can make it with a little help from friendly alien.
  • MAGFest 2020. Presentation: "The Arcadians: Exploring the History of Homebrew for the Bally Astrocade" - The Bally Professional Arcade (or Astrocade) was little more than a minor player in the early programmable console space, suffering from hardware shortages, endless software delays, and vaporware expansions. Yet since its 1978 debut, the system’s passionate fanbase has taken matters into their own hands, developing and selling a quirky library of homegrown games unlike that of any other console library. Join Rachel Simone Weil and Kevin Bunch as they dig into this fascinating corner of game history, including a hands-on session in the museum afterward.
  • "Have a Ball with Bally" by Richard Nitto - Article from KILOBAUD MICROCOMPUTING (November 1979): 142-144. A review of the Bally Arcade console. This review, unlike many reviews for this system, concentrates strongly on Bally BASIC, so much so that it nearly avoids the topic of the cartridge games altogether. There are numerous short examples of Bally BASIC syntax. This article also includes a type-in game called "Battlestar Galactica." This is also one of the few mainstream publications of this system aimed at a general audience.
  • "Bally Professional Arcade by Karl Zinn - Article from "Creative Computing," 4, no. 5 (Sept-Oct 1978): 56-59. This article covers the Bally Arcade, not as a game playing console, but as an entry-level computer for use with BASIC. The only way that games are covered at all is using Bally BASIC to create games. There is a sample type-in BASIC program included called "Guess the Number."
  • Palo Alto Tiny BASIC, Version 3 by Li-Chen Wang - Article and source code excerpted from PCC's Reference Book of Personal And Home Computing, Edited by Dwight McCabe. 1977. Pages 58-88. Bally BASIC (and "AstroBASIC") are a superset of the original Palo Alto Tiny BASIC. This version of Li-Chen Wang's Palo Alto Tiny BASIC will run on either the 8080 or Z-80, and only uses 2K of core memory. It contains a number of nice features including command abbreviations and error messages. At the end of the listing is a cross reference table for symbols used in the program and also the object code for the program. For further information on Tiny BASIC languages, see Dr. Dobb's Journal, Volume 1.
  • Video Brain. Another System Bites the Dust! - "Recently, our Los Angeles Bally Users Group found out that Video Brain went bankrupt, and we were able to get a fantastic price on the basic units and cartridges by buying out the complete stock of a Texas dealer." Fred Cornett, the editor of Cursor, is selling three new, overstock Videobrain computers for $125 each. CURSOR 1, no. 3 (March 1980): 21.

Feedback

There is no feedback covered in this episode,but we would love to hear your thoughts and comments about this (or any) Astrocast episode or about your history with the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. The best way to contact us is via email at BallyAlley or through via the Bally Alley Discussion Group at Groups.io.

Next Episode's Coverage

Astrocast #15 will be a user interview with David Kindred. David was a user of the Astrocade in the early 1980s and the system helped to shape his career in programming.

 
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