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  1. I have received many questions over the past fifteen years on how to use Bally BASIC and "AstroBASIC." In this thread, which I may pin if it becomes popular, I am creating a place where people can ask questions about Bally BASIC, "AstroBASIC," Blue Ram BASIC and Vipersoft BASIC, the four different BASIC languages available for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade game console/computer that was released in 1978. To get this thread started, I've created a video overview of "AstroBASIC," by far, the most common BASIC available for the Bally Arcade system. This 4KB cartridge, which includes a built-in tape interface, was released by Astrovision Inc in 1981. "AstroBASIC" is part #6004 of the Functional Series. You can view the video here: This video includes: An overview of "AstroBASIC" and the over 100-page "AstroBASIC" manual Explains how to type in BASIC commands and keywords using the Bally BASIC overlay for the 24-key keypad Shows examples of loading "AstroBASIC" programs via 2000-baud interface Shows an example of loading and listing a BASIC program (Chicago Loop by Mike Peace) from the BASIC manual The "Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ" says this about this "AstroBASIC:" "This updated version of the Bally BASIC cartridge is notably set apart from the original because it has a built-in 2000 baud interface that connects to a standard cassette recorder; there are also some additional commands added for the programmer. It's visually different from the original release as well. This cartridge was packaged with some Astrocade consoles (these consoles were designated as Arcade Plus). Astrocade, Inc. manufactured the later releases of this. Written by Jay Fenton." I would appreciate any feedback that you may have about this video. For instance, do you find it helpful? What would you like to see next if I decide to cover one or more of the various Astrocade versions of BASIC in more detail? I hope that you enjoy the video and find it useful. Please post any questions or comments that you have on this subject here. Adam
  2. Season 2, Round 10 of the Astrocade High Score Club will last about two weeks. This round ends on Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 10pm MST. The main game is a prototype cartridge called Bowling. The BASIC bonus game is called Ten Pins by Esoterica. Bowling Bowling is a prototype game that first became available for purchase in 1985 or 1986 as a 4KB cartridge. Bowling, which was to be released by Astrocade Inc. in about 1982, was supposed to be part of the Sports Series. It would have been cartridge #3006. The programmer(s) of this game are unknown. Here is the cartridge's main menu: Here are three screenshots from Bowling: Here is what the Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ (version 1.82) says about this game: "This cartridge, though never finished, is playable; it contains two games: "Regulation" and "Flash." It was created by Astrocade, Inc., but was never released. New Image released it in cartridge format in 1985 (between forty and fifty were made). Mike White owns the original prototype (the only one known to exist)." The Bowling cartridge ROM image (called "bowling.bin") is part of this archive: http://www.ballyalley.com/emulation/cart_images/ROMs/astrocade_rom_collection.zip The prototype, Bowling, is a one-of-a-kind cartridge. Copies of it were made in the mid-80s until (probably) the early 2000s, therefore, it's possible, though not probable, to get your hands on an actual cartridge. If you don't have it, then it is included on, I think, every multicart that has been released for the Astrocade over the years. Bowling does require the knob, but it doesn't require precise control with it, so it should run okay using the MAME Astrocade emulator with proper setup. I suggest using an X-Box 360 controller for the knob, as this work well. In about 1981 or 1982, Astrocade, Inc. published a 34-page color game catalog of the cartridges available for the Bally Astrocade. The catalog was called "The Professional Arcade: More Games... More Fun... and More to Come..." Among the 28 cartridges showcased in the catalog, five were never released: Bowling, Creative Crayon, Conan the Barbarian, Music Maker, and Soccer. The catalog listing for Bowling looked like this: Here is the game description for Bowling from this catalog: "It's like actually being at the alley. The game has all of the action and sounds of the real thing. Direct your ball with as much hook as you want. Make strikes, spares-- but watch out for splits and gutter balls! Keeps score according to official rules. Try your hand at a perfect game! Can be played alone or by up to 4 players." In June of 1982, Bally released a press release for Bowling that looked like this: The pdf of the press release is here: http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/press/Bowling_[Press_Release_06-06-1982].pdf I've OCRed the press release for Bowling. It says: "For Release June 6, 1982 --- "Astrocade unveils bowling video game cartridge at CES "CHICAGO-Astrocade, Inc. (formerly Astrovision, Inc.) unveiled its BOWLING video game cartridge at the Consumer Electronics Show here today. "BOWLING makes you feel like you're actually in a bowling alley. You can aim, control hooks, and watch the exciting pin action as the ball hits the pins with a bang. BOWLING keeps a running score on strikes, spares, and pins. "With a game variation called "flash bowling," you can also rack up bonus points by rolling over a moving dot, as in the popular commercial bowling machines. "BOWLING can be played only on the Astrocade home video game. It will be available this Fall at Astrocade dealers, priced at $29.95." Of course, since Bowling wasn't released, there is no official box. That didn't stop an enterprising go-getter with quite some artistic talent to create an "official" box for Bowling over on Hyperspin-fe.com. Thanks to "Avar" in the AtariAge forums, and member of the HyperSpin dev team, for sharing this picture with me (note, he didn't create it; I don't know who did). This is what the Bowling box may have looked like had it been released in 1982: I don't have a picture of the Bowling cartridge copy that was released by Michael White starting in the mid-80s. The cartridge's label was probably based on this screenshot that Michael printed to his printer (that was hooked-up to his Astrocade). I think that this label was probably originally printed in color: There is no manual for Bowling. Michael White did write some basic instructions for both versions of Bowling included on the cartridge ("regular" and "Flash"), I retyped these simple instructions back in 2001. Here they are: BOWLING Cartridge 1. Insert cartridge and press [RESET] 2. Choose #1 or #2 (from keypad or hand controller#1) 3. Set difficulty level (from keypad or hand controller#1) 4. Input number of players (1 to 4) Moving the joystick up or down positions the ball. Moving the joystick left or right aims the ball by moving the sight marker. The ball will roll straight towards (and over) it. Turning the knob puts a left hook on the ball (green marker below). The hook increases as the marker moves to the right. Sorry, there is no left hook for you left-handers. Pulling the trigger rolls the ball. Players use individual hand controls. FLASHING BOWLING works the same as FLASH-O-MATIC that can be seen on the coin-op "Shuffle-Alleys" found in bars and taverns. The "Flasher" gives strike and spare awards by its location. When the ball touches a pin the flash stops strobing. It does not resume on the second throw either (no DUAL FLASH). The highest scores are given by "freezing" the flasher at "dead center." The center of the alley gives 700 for a strike and 350 for a spare. If you can get any kind of score out of the upper three difficulties you are truly ready to BOWL FOR DOLLARS!! Even with Michael's directions, I'm not exactly how to keep track of this game's score, or even how close the prototype Bowling cartridge is to being complete. Here is a 30-second YouTube video (posted by "FunCade 64") that shows the basic gameplay of Bowling: Gameplay Options Bowling Options: Difficulty level: Intermediate Bowling (Scoring): Regular Bowling (Scoring) Up to eight points will be awarded for playing "Regular Bowling." We're playing for the highest score. A perfect game should be 300 points. Flash Bowling (Scoring) I don't understand "Flash Bowling," nor have I played the mechanical versions of this game (although, I think I have seen them before). For this reason, "Flash Bowling" is being treated as sort of a bonus game. If you play "Flash Bowling," then you get one point. If you play it correctly (however that gets done), then you'll earn two points. It's okay if one person explains how to play "Flash Bowling" and then we all pile on and play it correctly. Scoring Exception Since Bowling is a prototype, it may be that all functions of the game don't work properly (which may just add to the fun-- whoopee!). If we discover some issues with this game, or if it's just not fun, then I may change the scoring to make this round more enjoyable. Ten Pins This round's BASIC bonus game is a rather nice-looking, first-perspective bowling game called Ten Pins. The "AstroBASIC" version of Ten Pins was released by Esoterica on Tape 5 with Garbersville in 1982. Ten Pins is "an exciting game of bowling complete with hook ball, gutter balls, AMF style pinsetter and every spare situation found in real bowling." Here are a few pictures of Ten Pins: For this round's bonus game, I had originally picked Bowl by Edge Software. After trying it, I realized it is a two-player-only game. I needed to choose another game, so special thanks to Paul for recommending his favorite Astrocade BASIC pinball game, Ten Pins. The cassette tape that contains Ten Pins looks like this: The Box for Ten Pins looks like this: The instructions for Ten Pins are here: http://www.ballyalley.com/tape_manuals/esoterica/Ten%20Pins%20&%20Garbersville%20(instructions)(b&w)(300%20dpi).pdf I'm not pleased with how the instructions for Ten Pins are laid out, so I OCRed them, reformatted and simplified them: Ten Pins Instructions Ten Pins from Esoterica is a realistic, fun game of bowling complete with strikes, spares, hooks, and even gutter balls, for 1 to 4 players. To load the game, type: INPUT; RUN To begin: After the game load, you will see N: Now, input the number of players directly from key pad. Line the ball up by moving the joystick to the right or left. To throw a fast ball move the joystick forward, to throw a slow ball pull the joystick back. After the ball has been released you can hook the ball by moving the joystick to the right or left---Once for a moderate hook, twice for a sharp one. DO NOT HOOK THE BALL TOO SOON! The computer will keep accurate score for all players. Some practice may be required before scores over 200 are achieved. You can download the "AstroBASIC," 2000-baud version of Ten Pins here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/2000_baud_programs/esoterica_ltd/ten_pins_[esoterica_ltd].zip Ten Pins is just one of many BASIC bowling games released on the Astrocade system. Not only are there plenty of bowling games for the Astorcade, but there are BASIC programs written to keep track of your really bowling league scores. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, at least by Astrocade standards, the world seemed crazy for bowling! The world of the Astrocade wasn't the only corner of the computer world that loved bowling. In about 1984, on my Commodore 64, I used to play a bowling game written in BASIC. It was given to me on a disk by a neighbor and, to me, was called "Bowling." I thought that I would try to find it today. To my surprise, I found it rather quickly. The game is actually called Bowling Champ by Joseph Ganci. It appeared in the December 1983 issue of Compute's Gazette. I had no idea that this was a type-in magazine listing! Bowling Champ looks very similar to the Astrocade game Bowl by Edge Software (the game we almost played this round). Here is a screenshot of the C64 game that I just made: Compute! Publications had pretty high standards. I just found the issue that Bowling Champ first appeared in. Check out this cool artwork that accompanied the game when it was published: There is nothing like this artwork in the Astrocade newsletters; that's too bad. In comparison to this simple Commodore 64 game, Ten Pins seems a little more sophisticated, but I guess I won't know for sure until I play it during this round. Bonus Points There are many bonus points available this round for both games. Bowling - Video Review - (1 Point) - Although I found examples of gameplay footage for this cartridge, I couldn't find any reviews. Anyone who makes a video review of Bowling will get a bonus point. Bowling - Multiplayer Game - (1 Point) - If you play a game with more than one person, than you'll get a bonus point.[/i] Bowling - Perfect Game - (1 Point) - If anyone manages a perfect game (300 points), then you'll get a bonus point. This seems really hard, but there may be a trick to it that makes it easy to do.[/i] Bowling - Documenting Bogs - (1 Point) - Since this game is a prototype, there may be some bugs in it. If anyone find any problems, and documents them, then you'll earn one bonus point. Just in case there are dozens of bugs, you can only earn one bonus point no matter how matter bugs are found. Ten Pins - Playing Ten Pins - (1 Point) - Yes, just for loading this game and giving it a quick in AstroBASIC will earn one point. Ten Pins - Highest Score - (1 Point) - The maximum points that can be earned are, of course, 300. Unlike bowling, there is no additional bonus for a perfect game of Ten Pins. Ten Pins - Video Review - (1 Point) - Anyone who makes a video review of Ten Pins will get a bonus point. Summary For such a late game in the Astrocade's history (1982), Bowling looks like it could have been released in 1978. Maybe Astrocade, Inc. didn't publish Bowling because it looked rather poor for the time. Or maybe its just not finished. I'm curious if anyone can figure-out a way to get the most out of this game. For instance, is it possible that "Flash Bowling" is more fun than the regular version of this game? I was pretty shocked to see Ten Pins when it first loaded; it looks really good for a BASIC game. I'm surprised that this wasn't released under a title such as "Bowling 3D" to capitalize on the game's first-person-like effect. Ten Pins has two separate loads, so I suspect that it may be using some machine language graphic routines, but I'm not sure. This round my strain us; I'm not sure I'm prepared to play one bowling game, let along two of them. However, this competition may make this round more fun than I expect. Please post scores early, as this will give us some scores to play against. I'll be gone for some key days during this round, including the weekend that this round ends. If it seems that it is taking me a little while to wrap-up Round 10 once it's over, you can be sure that I'll get to it when I can at the beginning of the next week. Adam
  3. Season 2, Round 8 of the Astrocade High Score Club will last about two and a half weeks. This round ends on Sunday, July 30'th at 10pm MST. The main game is the arcade game Gorf, which uses the Astrocade chipset. The BASIC bonus program is called Nuke the #%@$*&!!, released in 1982, by Jay Fenton. This is a 1982 B-Side to Life, a "game" which was originally released on tape. We're playing Gorf because it gives us a glimpse of what could have been had Bally stuck with the Bally Arcade system. Maybe if the original Bally Arcade console systems didn't overheat from their initial release, then Bally would have added more memory and supported the hi-res ("commercial") mode that is built into the Astrocade's chipset. Perhaps this would have been called the Super Bally Arcade and released in 1981 once the price of RAM dropped. I guess we'll never know, for in 1981 Astrovision, Inc. released the Astrocade in the same configuration as its original January 1978 release by Bally. What did we really miss out on? We'll never know. Gorf Gorf is an arcade game released in 1981. It was programmed by Jay Fenton, who (among many other arcade games and Astrocade projects) programmed Bally BASIC and "AstroBASIC" for the Astrocade. I will be playing Gorf using the MAME emulator. If anyone knows of any classic arcade collections that contain Gorf, then let me know and I'll add information about it here. Here are a few screenshots of Gorf. Some of these screenshots include the bezel overlay, which is actually nearly-required to play the game, as there is analog feedback that lights up part of the bezel to tell the player which rank they have reached: Here is a zip file that includes all of the files needed to play Gorf on any version of MAME that doesn't emulate the Vortex voice synthesizer. I think that this means any version of MAME that is pre-version 0.181. Just place the files in the three appropriate directories in MAME (artwork, roms, and samples): Gorf (MAME).zip The upright version of the Gorf game looked like this: Here is a close-up of the game's marquee: The front of the arcade flyer for Gorf looked like this: Gorf uses a non-standard joystick. It looks like this: I have a little experience playing the arcade version of Gorf. This arcade joystick made my index finger tired, so I'm glad that I'll be playing the game in MAME using either an Atari CX40 joystick or the Edladdin Supreme 7800 joystick. I'm not overly familiar with Gorf, so I'm relying on background information from its Wikipedia page, which you can read in its entirety here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorf I've excerpted some of the key points and paragraphs from Gorf's Wikipedia entry: "Gorf is an arcade game released in 1981 by Midway Mfg., whose name was advertised as an acronym for "Galactic Orbiting Robot Force". It is a multiple-mission fixed shooter with five distinct modes of play, essentially making it five games in one. It is well known for its use of synthesized speech, a new feature at the time. [...] "The player controls a spaceship that can move left, right, up and down around the lower third of the screen. The ship can fire a single shot (called a "quark laser" in this game), which travels vertically up the screen. Unlike similar games, where the player cannot fire again until the existing shot has disappeared, the player can choose to fire another shot at any time; if the previous shot is still on screen, it disappears. "Gorf consists of five distinct "missions", each with its own patterns of enemies. The central goal of each mission is to destroy all enemies in that wave, which takes the player to the next mission. Successfully completing all five missions will increase the player's rank and loop back to the first mission, where play continues on a higher difficulty level. The game continues until the player loses all their lives. The player can advance through the ranks of Space Cadet, Space Captain, Space Colonel, Space General, Space Warrior, and Space Avenger, with a higher difficulty level at each rank. Along the way, a robotic voice heckles and threatens the player, often calling the player by their current rank (for example, "Some galactic defender you are, Space Cadet!"). Some versions also display the player's current rank via a series of lit panels in the cabinet." The five different screens in Gorf are: Astro Battles Laser Attack Galaxians Space Warp Flag Ship You can read more about the Gorf arcade game at the Arcade Museum website: http://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=7983 The newer versions of MAME don't use the prerecorded voice samples, and instead emulate the Vortex voice chip that was included with the game. I prefer to play the game using my slightly-older version of the emulator (MAME 0.177). If you have trouble emulating the game, then try reading this thread on AtariAge: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/260595-gorf-on-mameproblems/ There are quite a few fun-to-watch video for Gorf, both using real hardware and emulation. Here is a selection of a few that I've browsed: "John's Arcade Game Reviews & Tech" has a video called "GORF Arcade Game Review - Bally/Midway 1981 - John's Arcade on the Road!" The video allows you to hear the digitized speech and see how a real machine functions: Here is a video by "gan9e" called "GORF 1981 HD." This shows Gorf running in MAME, with speech and with the bezel overlay. This is how it looks when I play the game in MAME: "bill heatherly" has a short video that does a good job of capturing the voice in the game. This video is called "Gorf Video Arcade Game:" This video, by "Gaming History Source," shows the arcade game and various different home conversions of the game. The video is called "Let's Compare ( Gorf ):" Midway sold a 28-page manual called Gorf Combat Manual for $1.95. It gives many hints on how to play the game. I've never seen another manual like this before for an arcade game. I'm also not sure where this manual was available for sale. The manual has been scanned and is available here: http://flyers.arcade-museum.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=2837 Gorf (Options): There is only one option for Gorf: start the game with three lives. You can insert additional quarters to start the game with more lives, but please don't do that for this round. Gorf (Scoring): Up to ten points are awarded for playing Gorf. We are playing for the highest score. Nuke the #%@$*&!! The BASIC bonus "game" is Nuke the #%@$*&!! by Jay Fenton. This was released in 1982 on a tape as the "B-Side" to the game Life. George Moses sold Jay's Life program. Advertisements for Life are here included in the October and December Arcadian newsletter: Arcadian 4, no. 12 (Oct. 07, 1982): 122. Arcadian 5, no. 2 (Dec. 3, 1982): 35. Here is what the ad says about Life (and "Nuke"): "Sure, you've seen Life games before. A BASIC program was published in a magazine a year or two ago. It took 5 or 10 minutes per generation! Well, how about one generation per second? Yup!!! Jay Fenton, the guy who wrote Bally BASIC, Gunfight, Scribbling, Calculator and Gorf has revved-up you Z-80 processor to give you a full screen scan and a new LIFE generation each second! Put some LIFE in your Arcade (and give some spending money to Jay Fenton to keep him in "programming mode!"). Buy Life and get Nuke the !$&! free!" The 12 pages of instructions for Nuke the #%@$*&!! and Life are available at BallyAlley.com: http://www.ballyalley.com/tape_manuals/misc/Life%20and%20Nuke%20the%20---.pdf The twelve-page manual has ten pages devoted to Life, and just one page devoted to the "B-Side." Here is a picture of the one page of short instructions for this round's bonus "game:" I've OCRed the short instructions for Nuke the #%@$*&!!: NUKE THE @%$* © Jay Fenton, 1982 Nuke the @%$* will automatically start after loading with the command: :INPUT GO. Use hand control trigger one to drop the bomb and to "speed up" the program. (Pulling the trigger will shorten the wait period for the title and score frames.) After Arcade power-up you should RESET without BASIC inserted before loading Nuke the @<%$?. This will set the alternate color map registers which are used to display a "fallout" pattern. The object of this game is prevent nuclear war by showing the emptiness of life even if you win the battle, because you have no human organisms left to share the victory with. So, if no nuclear war breaks out in the next five years, please give the credit to this program and its creator, Jay Fenton. In the meantime, have fun and remember... aim for the nuclear power plant for the most devastation for your bomb dollar!!! You can download the "AstroBASIC" version of Nuke the #%@$*&!! here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/2000_baud_programs/jay_fenton/jay_fenton.html#NuketheBaddiesAB Bonus Points There are many bonus points available this round for both games. Gorf (1 Point) - Video Review - Unlike most games we play, there are scores of videos for Gorf. Still, as always, anyone who makes a video review of Gorf will get a bonus point. Gorf (1 Point) - Highest Rank - The player who reaches the highest rank among us players will receive one bonus point (i.e. you don't have to earn the rank of "Space Avenger" to get a bonus point-- just the highest among us players). Gorf (1 Point) - Play Home Versions - Gorf was released for many home systems in the early 1980s, but never for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. Anyone who plays home computer/console versions of Gorf from the 1980s will be awarded one bonus per version that you play. Some suggestions of versions of Gorf that you can play are for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200/Atari 8-Bit, Commodore 64 and any of the many other systems that this game was released on. If you like emulating other systems, then there are a ton of points that can be earned here. To keep this semi-fair, the maximum amount of points that can be earned for playing other versions of Gorf is five points! Nuke the #%@$*&!! (1 Point) - Playing Nuke the #%@$*&!! Nuke the #%@$*&!! (1 Point) - Secret bonus point - I'm not saying how to earn this bonus point. Try playing the game in a number of different ways to see the ending of the game. Post screenshots of what you find. To be fair, I don't qualify for this point. Nuke the #%@$*&!! (1 Point) - Video Review - Anyone who makes a video review of Nuke the #%@$*&!! will get a bonus point. Summary Nuke the #%@$*&!! isn't much of a game. It's not meant to be one; it's more of a political statement. I didn't miss the irony of the distribution of Nuke the #%@$*&!!. This game, which could have just as easily called Death to Them All!, is on the opposite side of a tape on which the main game is called Life. The game "Nuke" is everything that Life is not. Nuke the #%@$*&!! gives us an interesting glimpse into the human condition: do we want to play a "game" in which, with the push of the trigger button, we can kill millions of people? In this "game," we're not out to save the Earth from invaders from space. No, it's simply "us against them," and we just might be the bad guys. Can we handle that? Will you drop your one bomb, or will you allow yourself to be ridiculed for being weak and flying over the city without releasing death to millions of people? Post your scores as you play Gorf over the next couple of weeks. If anyone finds any tips while playing these games, then please share them. In the next round, we'll be back to playing a regular Astrocade game on cartridge. For now, enjoy playing a classic arcade game that's got a touch of the Astrocade inside of it. Have fun! Adam
  4. Season 2, Round 7 of the Astrocade High Score Club will last about two weeks. This round ends on Sunday, July 9'th at 10pm MST. The main game is an unreleased Astrocade, Inc. prototype called Conan the Barbarian. The BASIC bonus game is a 1982 Arcadian type-in dungeon-crawler called The Crown of Zeus by Todd Johnson. Conan the Barbarian Conan the Barbarian is a prototype 8K game that never had an official release on cartridge. There is quite a bit of information known about this cartridge, which was known by three different names during its development: King Arthur's Adventure, Conan the Barbarian and Quest for the Orb. Since Conan had no official release, the only cartridge label that is available is one that I scanned in black and white: I used to have a version of this cartridge that was made for me in about 2001 by Michael White. I seem to remember that the label was printed in color on a dot-matrix printed. I think that the background was yellow. This game has a very long and convoluted background. The Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ has some interesting information on this game under its various titles: King Arthur's Adventure Astrovision Inc., #5005 Suffered the same fate as Roman Checkers. This time the number went to Artillery Duel. It was supposed to be a Dungeons & Dragons type game. (Cursor pg.73). It may be an early version of Conan the Barbarian, before the movie license was attached. (Brett Bilbrey, Astrocade Discussion Group, Message #7175) Conan the Barbarian Astrocade Inc., Strategy Series, #5005, 8K cart AKA Quest For The Orb. This cartridge is not finished, but did see a limited release through Dave Carson Software in 1985 (about forty were made). (Michigan Astrobugs Newsletter JUL.82 pg.1, Arcadian vol.4 pg.33,75, vol.5 pg.16,36,46,66, vol.6 pg. 99, vol.7 pg.2,13,46,67,94) Hyped up to be one of the greatest games Astrocade players would ever see, and the first video game to spin off from a movie. (Astrocade press release) They failed to secure the rights, however, and the game continued development as Quest for the Orb. Quest for the Orb Astrocade Inc., #5004 AKA Conan the Barbarian. When Astrocade failed to secure the Conan license, the game continued development as Quest for the Orb. According to a news item in Astro Bits that was published on page 11 of the August 1982 Electronic Games magazine, Quest for the Orb, like Conan, would also have also been a licensed property: "Two major licensing agreements soon bring star characters from other media into the world of videogaming. Astrocade has concluded agreements for games based on Conan and G.I. Joe. The two titles, both reworkings of programs already in development, should be available quite soon. (Conan is based on the Quest for the Orb game which the game-maker had previewed at 1982 industry shows)." I looked into this, and came across a few links about Orb Quest, a pen and paper role playing game based on The Fantasy Trip game system. Here is a picture of the book's cover: Here are some interesting links if you'd like to follow-up on this never-to-be released book tie-in. This is an overview of the Orb Quest game, including some interesting pictures: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/18161/orb-quest Here is a scan of the Orb Quest booklet: http://www.mocagh.org/otherbook/fantasytrip-mq8.pdf Conan the Barbarian seems to have first been mentioned in a 1981 Astrocade, Inc. catalog. I have extracted the Conan ad from page 30 of the catalog: Here is a link to the complete catalog: http://www.ballyalley.com/ads_and_catalogs/bally/astrocade_game_catalog-(150dpi).pdf Here is the brief description of the game from the ad: "Fearsome monsters give chase through a series of mazes as Conan, armed with his sword, battles them. Various levels allow you to play this adventure game with skills ranging from novice to professional. See how many monsters you can get." The game, when it was known as Conan, was mentioned in a June 6, 1982 press release, which you can read here: [url=http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/press/Conan_[Press_Release_06-06-1982].pdf]http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/press/Conan_[Press_Release_06-06-1982].pdf Here is an ad for Quest for the Orb: I have OCRed the text for game's ad: Quest for the Orb "Ancient scientists of the lost civilization Morte managed to extract the essence of the universe and fuse it into a single precise object-- the Orb. You must find the Orb, hidden in the castle's labyrinth, and return it to its owner, the White Magician. "Demons, monsters and traps are threats along the way. Beware the powers of black magic, cursed items and other evil influence. In your aid are spells given to you by the White Magician, along with other magic items and weapons strewn along the way. Ancient treasures are hidden here also! Fare ye well, adventurer, in your quest for the Orb!" After reading this game description, there is no doubt that this Astrocade game was meant to be based on the game Orb Quest. You can view the full More Games. More Fun. More to Come... from the leader in video game technology catalog, which features nine cartridges. Four of these games were never released: Coloring Book with Light Pen, Munchie, Music Maker I, and Quest for the Orb. http://www.ballyalley.com/ads_and_catalogs/bally/BPA_Catalog_(With_9_Games).pdf Since Conan is a prototype cartridge, there are no official instructions, but Mike White did write these very brief instructions and send them to people who bought the game cartridge from him: CONAN THE BARBARIAN Cartridge 1. Insert cartridge and press [RESET] 2. Pull trigger #1 twice to start the play This game is for one player only, and all control is on hand controller #1 The joystick moves Conan around inside the arena The knob raises and lowers Conan's sword The trigger exchanges the sword between Conan's left and right hand To slay evil creatures, use the sword by turning the knob If strength, stamina, or defenses fail, "FAREWELL WARRIOR!" The Conan the Barbarian cartridge ROM image (called "conan.bin") is part of this archive: http://http://www.ballyalley.com/emulation/cart_images/cart_images.html#AstrocadeROMCollection I think that Conan is included on every multicart that has been released for the Astrocade over the years. This game is best played on real hardware. Since there is so much that is unknown about this game, there are some fun ways to earn bonus points this round-- so make sure to give some of them a try. Quest for the Orb - Game Review Oddly, although Quest for the Orb was never released, it was reviewed in the 1982 book The Complete Guide to Conquering Video Games: How to Win Every Game in the Galaxy by Jeff Rovin. Here is the full review: "This is a well-developed, multifaceted action game which crams a great deal of activity into a single cartridge. It is similar to Quest for the Rings [for the Magnavox Odyssey 2 system], though played without the aid of a game board. "Long dead scientists of the lost civilization of Morte once unlocked the essence of life itself and encased it within the orb. This was sealed deep into the catacombs of a castle, which was subsequently invaded by an evil enchanter. He tried and failed to crack the orb. He perished years ago, but his demonic familiars live on. Making your way through the labyrinths and dungeons of the castle, you will be protected by magical spells and enchanted weapons belonging to your sponsor, the White Magician, who seeks to use the orb for good. You will also uncover ancient treasures along the way, as well as monsters, traps, and curses, any of which can slay you. Be prepared to dip into your bag of tricks for the power to induce sleep, hurl magic missiles, become invisible, confuse your enemies, launch fireballs, teleport and so on!" Rating **** There's a lot to learn in order to master this game, but it is almost without peer as engrossing, escapist, and entertaining videogames go." Bilbrey's Suggestions for Conan the Barbarian In the early 1980s, Brett Bilbrey, saw Astrovision's Conan cartridge at a "show." He didn't like what he saw and made suggestions at the time for what he thought would have made for a better game. You can read his handwrittten suggestions here: http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/spectre_systems/Suggestions_for_Conan_(Brett_Bilbrey).pdf The much-preferred method to read Brett's suggestions are in the above pdf document, but I have also re-typed Brett's handwritten notes. Note, that these lack his drawings, which add quite a bit to his suggestions: "This would be better than what was at the show!" Rooms (Type) ---------------------- Set Patterns for: Open Plain Tunnel Stone Hall Rough Room Stone Room Colors ------ Define Rooms better 10 or 12 color sets (How about 256 colors in the game! Four at a time, but still 256!) Things in Rooms --------------- Chair Table Doors (Special Case) [This entire line is circled] Chests Treasure Objects to get (Special) - Keep with you (swords) or objects of game) Monsters --------------- Easy, Dumb ---> Hard, Smart A situation would (or could) be defined by: (Room type)(Color Set)(Number of things in Room) 0 -> # 1-? 0 -> ? (1) (3) (6) " " " Chair Door Chest 0 -> # (Number of Monsters)( )( )( ) 0 -> ? So that, 5,4,4,1,2,4,1,3 would define a stone room with brown floor, gray walls, black outlines, and light brown objects, a chair, a table and a chest and one monster. Matrix for room connection: Room 6 gets to 7,8,9 and 11, but room 11 only goes to 6! [Example drawing of hallway to illustrate the matrix idea]" For a prototype game, there really is a lot of information available for Conan, isn't there? Conan the Barbarian (Options): There are no options for Conan. You get one life, which you lose as your stamina wears down. Everyone playing this game starts on equal footing. Conan the Barbarian (Scoring): Up to ten points are awarded for playing Conan the Barbarian. Since there is no score in Conan, we will be playing for the highest level reached. On my test-run of the game today, I was able to reach level 20 on my first (and only) try. For available bonus points, see "Bonus Points" section below. The Crown of Zeus The BASIC bonus game is The Crown of Zeus by Todd Johnson. This game appeared in the November 1982 Arcadian newsletter. This game "takes you to a dark decaying castle in the evil land of Sorom. You've been asked, as the best warrior in the land of Beekum, to retrieve the Crown of Zeus which the Scromites have stolen." According to ads in Arcadian 5, no. 1 (Nov. 5, 1982): 9. and Arcadian 4, no. 10 (Aug. 06, 1982): 103., The Crown of Zeus is the first in a series of four programs that take place on the planet Gibeleous. The other three games in the series are available only on tape and are called: The Rescue of Catherine Escape from Rantanam IV The Tower of Machor Regular and Expert versions of this game are included in the archive. I'm not sure what the difference is between the two programs. Six issues after The Crown of Zeus was published, the Arcadian newsletter printed this small note about user maps: "Crown of Zeus castle floor plan - Have you determined what the castle looks like? We have one idea here and would like to get other opinions, so send in your version." (Arcadian 5, no. 7 (May 6, 1983): 106.) As it turns out, two people sent The Crown of Zeus maps to Bob Fabris, but they were never published in the Arcadian. Luckily, there are part of the Bob Fabris Collection, and I was able to scan and archive them. You can view them here: 1) The Crown of Zeus Maps, Set 1 - Castle Map by Edward Mahoney (April 20, 1983) http://www.ballyalley.com/tape_manuals/misc/misc.html#CrownofZeusMapEdwardMahoney 2) The Crown of Zeus Maps, Set 2 - Floor Plans by Kent Brenden (July 9, 1983) http://www.ballyalley.com/tape_manuals/misc/misc.html#CrownofZeusMapKentBrenden The original program submission letter from Todd Johnson to the Arcadian is available here: http://www.ballyalley.com/type-in_programs/arcadian_progs/arcadian_vol_5_progs/Crown%20of%20Zeus%20(1982)(Todd%20Johnson)/Crown%20of%20Zeus%20(1982)(Todd%20Johnson)(Original%20BASIC%20Listing).pdf The Crown of Zeus instructions, minus the parts on how to type in the game, from the Arcadian are here: This program, for AstroBASIC only, takes you to a dark decaying castle in the evil land of Scrom. You've been asked, as the best warrior in the land of Beekum, to retrieve the Crown of Zeus which the Scromites have stolen. The crown, when worn, gives the wearer the awesome ability to cause anything he or she wishes to vanish. Apparently the Scromites have not yet discovered the crown's powers. But as you hid in the forest outside the castle, you saw a troop of orcs from the warring land of Machor slip in through the front gate. They surely know the power of the crown and will have to be dealt with... [Detailed directions for typing in the game have been excluded here.] Now rewind your tape and input the main program with :INPUT. Say RUN and you're on your way. The computer will print: ROOM: STRENGTH: EXPERIENCE: ENEMY: EXITS LEAD: ACTION? Keeping strength above zero is the key to this game. You can survive a negative strength value as long as it's not too much negative and there is not an enemy in the room, but generally a negative strength value means you're dead. Strength can be increased to its maximum by resting. Finding a magic sword in the castle will also increase your strength and increase your maximum strength too. The number after ENEMY: is a code number which tells you which enemy from the enemy list is in the room. EXITS LEAD: Tells you which directions, (north, south, east, west, up, down), you can go. ACTION? prompts you to enter the number code for the action you wish to take from the action list. When you reach a room that has no exit, you are at the entrance to level 3. If you wish to enter this level, press HALT then type: R=R-24;:INPUT @(0),192 <GO> Now press the play button on your recorder to load the array for the next levels. Then RUN the program and you're on level 3. If instead you want to stay on level 2 a little longer, type HALT then type: R=R-24;RUN GO <GO> You'll be back up the stairs. This program must be reloaded after you are killed or find the crown since the data in the array gets altered. If you want to quit for a while during a game you can save it by halting it and loading it onto a blank tape. Also, you don't have to get any treasure at the time you are asked by the computer. If you wish to get it later Just press 1 when asked for an action and the computer will let you get the treasure. Enemies ------- 0 Nothing 1 Orc(s) 2 Killer Bees 3 Rats 4 Skeleton 5 Ghost 6 Zombie 7 Bear 8 Wolf 9 Black Knight 10 Giant Viper 11 Giant Spiders 12 Minotaur 13 Goblin 14 Tiger 15 Evil Warlock 17 Evil Wizard 18 Mummy 19 Dragon (Small) 20 Dragon (Medium) 21 Dragon (Large) 22 Dragon (Immense) 23 Demon 24 Giant 25 Giant Slime Monster 26 Orange Blob 27 Fire Fiend 28 5-headed Hydra 29 Cyclops 30 Demon King Actions ------- 1 Fight 2 Leave Room 3 Rest Treasure -------- 1 Magic Wand (detects traps) 2 Magic Sword (increases strength) 3 Magic Helm (increases experience) 90 The Crown! All other numbers refer to gold pieces. Traps ----- 1 Needles shoot at you 2 Small rocks fall on you 3 A pit opens beneath you 4 Poisonous gas fills the room 5 Crossbow bolt hits you 6 You receive electrical shock from treasure THE CROWN OF ZEUS is the first in a series of programs that take place on the planet Gibeleous. Others now available are: THE RESCUE OF CATHERINE: After you went to save the crown, the Scromites became angry with you and have kidnapped Catherine, the princess of Beekum, hoping that you will be sent to save her. They've set some traps so Watch Out! ESCAPE FROM RANTANAM IV: You've been captured by mechanical aliens who have come to Gibeleous for unknown reasons. You must escape and warn the leaders of Beekum. THE TOWER OF MACHOR: The orcs are after you again in this one with 8 levels. You must destroy the alien computer which has been leading the orcs in their quest for domination of Gibeleous. You can get all three great programs on one cassette tape with complete descriptions and instructions for the low, low price of only $10.00! To add these programs to your Gibeleous series collection, send check or M.O. to: Todd Johnson [Address removed] You can download the "AstroBASIC" version of The Crown of Zues here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/2000_baud_programs/arcadian/programs_a-h/programs_a-h.html#CrownofZeusToddJohnsonAB Bonus Points There are many bonus points available this round for both games. Conan the Barbarian (1 Point) - Write directions on how to play this game. Conan the Barbarian (1 Point) - Listing the different monsters that you encounter. Conan the Barbarian (1 Point) - List the differences between this game and the prototype (called cononp.bin). Conan the Barbarian (1 Point) - Video Review - Anyone who makes a video review of Conan the Barbarian will get a bonus point. The Crown of Zeus (1 Point) - Playing The Crown of Zeus. The Crown of Zeus (1 Point) - Getting the Crown of Zeus in the game. The Crown of Zeus (1 Point) - Video Review - Anyone who makes a video review of The Crown of Zeus will get a bonus point. Summary Obviously, much more was to be done for Conan the Barbarian before it would have been considered complete. What is finished are the fighting and level progression, which work okay. The game lacks any depth-of-play, which would have made the game much better. This game reminds me, in some ways, of one of my favorite games: The Temple of Apshai. Much more about this game can be read in the AtariAge "Temple of Apshai Map" thread that I started in 2011: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/183584-temple-of-apshai-trilogy-maps/ I wonder how Conan might have worked had it been completed, or was somehow actually based on an Apshai-type game? I have no experience with The Crown of Zeus, but I love the deep concept of the game. It is amazing to me that there were three sequels to this game, none of which have been archived in any way. Post your scores (i.e. level) as you play Conan the Barbarian over the next couple of weeks. If anyone finds any tips while playing these games, then please share them. As we make our way through the Astrocade's tape and cartridge library, we're bound to encounter some usual games. These two games probably aren't for everybody, but do your best to enjoy both games for what they are: a glimpse into the creative potential of two similar games in the fantasy genre that were represented in two completely different ways on a platform that didn't really have a chance to experience other games of this type. Adam
  5. I added an article to BallyAlley.com called A Power Transformer Substitution for the Bally/Astrocade Computer System by Michael Matte (MCM Design). Michael wrote this article in April of 2018. If your original Bally power supply fails, and you have experience in electronics, then these detailed instructions with schematics and picture explain how to build a substitute power transformer. You can read the article in various formats, here: http://www.ballyalley.com/faqs/faqs.html#AstrocadePowerTransformerSubstitution Here is an example of the finished power supply (more pictures are included in the article): Thanks to Michael for writing this article. Enjoy! Adam
  6. Every once in a while I'll just type in the word "Astrocade" (and remove my BallyAlley.com website) in Google and see what I find in the deep links, you know, the ones that no one ever clicks because they're dozens of pages from the top of the searches. The recent links that I've been posting are coming from these not-at-the-top search pages. It's fun to find "hidden" Astrocade links! Bally Astrocade RGB Schematic I came across this Bally Astrocade RGB schematic by someone named "hotdog6394." https://easyeda.com/hotdog6394/Bally_Astrocade_RGB-4W86GgdNn Can anyone vouch for this hardware? Does anyone know if this is an original design? The Bally Astrocade, A True Hidden Gem Here is a blog post about the Astrocade called "A closer look at the Bally Astrocade, a true hidden gem among game consoles." This was posted by zadoc on April 11, 2018. The "article" is quite general, but I like the pictures: https://imgur.com/gallery/tQJJI Not too bad, right? Revived Astrocade by drunknretro! On June 24, 2016, a blog post was written by "drunknretro." He fixed his Astrocade that had bad video and he shows pictures of the steps that he followed to do it. https://drunknretro.blogspot.com/2016/06/up-from-crypt-bally-professional-arcade.html It's always nice to see an Astrocade live again! Twitter has Astrocade Hashtag?!? I'm not a Twitter user, but maybe I should join the "fun." There are several people that use #astrocade. I didn't expect it to be about the Bally Arcade/Astrocade, but the "tweets" (I hate that word) all seem to belong to the little console that could(n't). https://twitter.com/hashtag/astrocade Does anyone here use this tag on Twitter? 3D Moveable Model of Astroade Here is a link to a 3D moveable model of an Astrocade: https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model/ue9c95c6f-746c-4cc9-9eae-882e23ac2289/Bally-Astrocade This is kind of cool. You can move the Astrocade console around in 3D! "Meet me in the Astrocade" Lecture (June 2018) Rachel Weil gave a lecture at the Joy of Coding 2018 conference on June 8, 2018 called "Meet me in the Astrocade: peace, love, and 8-bit hardware hacking." You can read about it here: http://joyofcoding.org/2018/rachel-weil.html I met Rachel a few weeks ago when she was passing through town. We had a three player game of the homebew game "War" together. Great fun! If anyone else has weird or unusual Astrocade links, then please post them here. Adam
  7. On April 30, 2018, Allen Schweitzer sent Ken Lill, Michael White and myself a private email about a possibly undocumented Astrocade motherboard modification. I asked if I could toss this question out to the public. Allen said that that was fine with him. Here is what Allen said to us: Here are the eight pictures that he included in his email. After the pictures are some comments that Allen got from Michael. Allen followed up his original email to me with this telling me that he did get a reply from Michael about that board. Does anyone know anything about these modifications? Adam
  8. I have created a video overview of the Blue Ram hardware expansion for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. It includes video of the hardware, as well as video of ten examples programs. You can watch the overview on YouTube, here: You can watch or download the 3GB, 720p, 10Mbs video on Archive.org, here: https://archive.org/details/BlueRamHardwareExpansionbyPerkinsEngineeringVideoOverview The Blue Ram expansion was created by Perkins Engineering. It was first released in 1980 as a 4KB RAM expansion for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. The Blue Ram was originally meant as a stop-gap upgrade until Bally released the add-under (AKA the ZGRASS) keyboard/upgrade. When the add-under was never released, the Blue Ram became one of three available RAM upgrades for the Astrocade. Here is some additional information about the Blue Ram from the "Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ:" "The Blue Ram plugs into the 50-pin connector on the back of the Astrocade and expands the programming capabilities of the Astrocade. Available either fully assembled or as a kit, it was originally released in June, 1980 as a 4K unit. Over the next couple of years the memory capacity increased, so several different versions exist (4K, 8K, 16K and a small handful of 32K versions). Several confirmed accessories for this unit were released, including: keyboard, printer interface, modem interface, EPROM burner and BSR controller. The Blue Ram could be switched into a mode that simulated a cartridge; several of the third-party game cartridges were programmed using this unit and either the Machine Language Manager cartridge or the Blue Ram Utility." This video covers the Blue Ram in detail, including explanations of how the extra hardware, such as the Blue Ram keyboard, plugs into the ZIF socket. Details of how the three toggle switches (Range, Mode and tape I/O) work are also provided. Without examples, it's hard to get a clear idea of what the Blue Ram can be used for by a user. Short videos of ten different pieces of software are shown that require a Blue Ram and are written in either Blue Ram BASIC or machine language (or a combination of both). The ten videos that are shown after the explanation of the Blue Ram hardware are: 1) Four Blue Ram BASIC (BRB) games by WaveMakers (Mike Peace): 1. Gate Escape 2. Monkey Jump 3. Outpost 19 4. Wack-A-Mole 2) Two other BRB games: 5. Astro Zap, by George Moses 6. Snake Snack, by Ken Lill. 3) Two Perkins Engineering products: 7. Blue Ram BASIC 8. Blue Ram Operating Guide (by Ken Lill) 9. Blue Ram Utility 4) Programs for External Hardware: 10. Plotter Drive Program with Space Shuttle and Robot - By Leroy Flamm Some of these programs, if used from the UltiMuli Multicart, are also compatible with the Lil' White Ram that was created by Ken Lill and Michael White. Enjoy the video! Adam
  9. I posted this to the Bally Alley Yahoo group, but it might get more traction here. Plus, the AtariAge forums are much more popular-- and you don't have to be a member to view most of them. I'm using my library's special services to search the Newspaper Archive for Bally Arcade/Astrocade material: https://newspaperarchive.com/ This is a pay site, but I can use the website for free using my library card. I've come across some newspaper ads that I've not seen before now. I've noticed that in 1978/79, there are a number of ads from mom and pop TV stores around the country who are selling the Bally Professional Arcade for $300 (the retail price at the time). If you buy it from them, then they would throw in the Tornado Baseball cartridge for free. Here is an example of such an advertisement (This ad is from page 29 of the December 2, 1978 issue of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph newspaper): (Don't those kids look like they're having so much fun? Man, I love ads from the 1970s!) I've never seen this Tornado Baseball promotion anyplace. Since the promotion seems to be from different stores in various area of the United States, I wonder if this was something that Bally pushed when the system was first introduced. I've also noticed some ads from the same period of time promoting Tornado Baseball World Series tournaments at bowling alleys! Anyone ever heard of that before now? I may post an example of this separately. Did anyone here get a free Tornado Baseball cartridge with their Astrocade when they bought it in the 1970s? Adam
  10. Last week I began to disassemble the 4KB, 1979 pinball game for the Astrocade called Bally Pin. The game looks like this: Today I've reached a point where it's worth sharing. You can download it here: http://www.ballyalley.com/ml/ml_source/ml_source.html#BallyPinDisassembly Most of the ROM can be seen in Z80 mnemonics now. Sure, it's hard to follow, but it beats reading hexadecimal! This code can be assembled using the Zmac assembler and the Home Video Game Library (HVGLIB.H), which are both available here: http://www.ballyalley.com/ml/ml_tools/ml_tools.html I became interested in disassembling this game in May of 2016 when we played Bally Pin in the Astrocade High Score Club, here: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/252219-hsc01-round-7-bally-pin-pinball/ The game's manual looks like this: The game cartridge looks like this: I'm learning to use the MAME debugger a little better, which makes disassembling the game go a bit faster. Most of the ROM has been disassembled, but I have not started to follow the game's logic yet. Although, to a certain extent that isn't true, for it's impossible to disassemble a game without following the logic a little bit. Today I disassembled the music "scores" used by the on-board ROM's music routines. By "score" and music, we're actually talking about sound effects. I hope that tomorrow I can start looking into the graphics of the game. I'd also like to see if I can follow how the game gets laid out. If possible, I'd like to add a few well-placed pixels so that the ball doesn't drain. It would be cheating, sure, but it would make disassembling the game go faster, as I have been playing the game without mixed results. If I can't prevent the ball from draining, then maybe I can at least add more default balls when the game begins. As progress continues, I'll post the disassembled source code to BallyAlley.com and mention it here. Adam
  11. I have uploaded to Archive.org a collection of the 46 patents cited by both of the Bally Arcade/Astrocade patents 4,301,503 and 4,296,930. It's pretty neat reading/browsing the patents referenced in the Astrocade patents. Some of the referenced patents go back as far as 1958. Also, some of the patents are for systems from Atari, Magnavox's original 1972 Odyssey or even very obscure computers like the VideoBrain. Here is a link to all of the patents: https://archive.org/details/46PatentsCitedbytheBallyArcadeandAstrocadePatents Here is some general information about both the Astrocade patents and the patents that are cited by them. ------------------------------ Bally Arcade/Astrocade Patent 1: "TV Game Apparatus" United States Patent #4,296,930 Inventor: Jeffrey E. Frederiksen (Arlington Heights, IL) Assignee: Bally Manufacturing Corporation (Chicago, IL) Patent Granted October 27, 1981 Abstract A TV-type game employs a raster screen television for presenting game symbols. Player operated control switches are encoded to move the symbols. A microprocessor reads the switches. A dually addressed random access memory is employed as the interfacing between the screen and the processor which otherwise function as essentially separate and distinct devices. The memory provides a static storage of the screen pattern for each point in the raster lines with a portion assigned as a processor scratch pad. The memory may be dynamic with periodic refreshing and constructed with individual chips for each of the several bits in a word. The chips are grouped for alternate refreshing and powered during access periods. The processor updates the memory during idle display access periods. The memory is accessed in multiple bit words or bytes for display and processing. For display, a parallel to serial output latch is employed. The previous symbol position and pose is stored in the scratch pad and is erased and rewritten in a new position and pose. The controls may provide encoding. A hardwired bit shifter with programmed shift level rapidly shifts the symbol bits before placing in memory. A high speed memory and low speed processor are shown with separate clocks and a special synchronizer unit. ------------------------------ Bally Arcade/Astrocade Patent 2: "Home Computer and Game Apparatus" United States Patent #4,301,503 Inventor: Jeffrey E. Frederiksen (Arlington Heights, IL) Assignee: Bally Manufacturing Corporation (Chicago, IL) Patent Granted November 17, 1981 Abstract A home computer system provides a video processor for use with a television receiver. The video processor can selectively perform a variety of modifications to pixel data under the direction of the CPU of the computer system before the pixel data is stored in a random access memory to effectively increase the speed or data handling power of the system. ------------------------------ Here are links to both of the Bally Arcade patents: Bally Arcade Patent 4,296,930 (Oct. 27, 1981) "TV Game apparatus" Filed: July 05, 1977. http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/Astrocade_Inc/Bally%20Arcade%20Patent%204296930/Bally_Arcade_Patent_-_(4296930)_(Oct_27_1981).pdf Bally Arcade Patent - 4301503 (Nov. 17 1981) "Home Computer and Game Apparatus" Filed: May 30, 1978. http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/Astrocade_Inc/pdf/Bally_Arcade_Patent_-_4301503%20(Nov%2017%201981).pdf ------------------------------ 46 total patents are cited between the two patents. It breaks down like this: 15 Patents Cited by Bally Arcade/Astrocade U.S. Patent 4301503 ("Home Computer and Game Apparatus") 31 Patents Cited by Bally Arcade/Astrocade U.S. Patent 4296930 ("TV Game Apparatus") Here is a list of each of the 46 cited patents: Rectangular coordinate point data display Charles F Althouse U.S. Patent #2847661 1958 Translation system Dick Co Ab U.S. Patent #3017625 1962 Training appliances for marksmen Bolkow Entwicklungen K G U.S. Patent #3046676 1962 Symbol generator circuit George H Balding U.S. Patent #3122607 1964 Method for the representation of the movement of two bodies by means of electron beams and apparatus for carrying out this method Bolkow Entwicklungen K G U.S. Patent #3135815 1964 Digital storage and generation of video signals RCA Corp U.S. Patent #3345458 1967 Digital storage and generation of video signals RCA Corp U.S. Patent #3388391 1968 Display systems RCA Corp U.S. Patent #3422420 1969 Arrangements for indicating the state of adjustment of optical components in a television camera Fernseh Gmbh U.S. Patent #3435136 1969 Digital marker generator for cathode ray tube Us Navy U.S. Patent #3462639 1969 Logical expansion circuitry for display systems Sperry Rand Corp U.S. Patent #3497760 1970 Means for limiting field length of computed data Fairchild Camera Instr Co U.S. Patent #3577130 1971 Computer for generating animated images with overlap prevention and animation recording Computer Image Corp U.S. Patent #3585628 1971 Character generator for cathode ray tube display device IBM U.S. Patent #3657716 1972 Television gaming apparatus Sanders Associates Inc U.S. Patent #3659284 1972 Television gaming apparatus and method Sanders Associates Inc U.S. Patent #3659285 1972 Video data display system Viatron Computer Systems Corp U.S. Patent #3685039 1972 System and method for the continuous movement of a sheet having graphic subject matter thereon through a window of a display screen IBM U.S. Patent #3716842 1973 Method of perspective transformation in scanned raster visual display Singer Co U.S. Patent #3725563 1973 Graphics display system Atomic Energy Commission U.S. Patent #3736411 1973 Digitally controlled computer animation generating system Computer Image Corp U.S. Patent #3747087 1973 Source data entry terminal Sycor Inc U.S. Patent #3760375 1973 Circle or arc generator for graphic display IBM U.S. Patent #3789200 1974 Video image positioning control system for amusement device N Bushnell U.S. Patent #3793483 1974 Television combat game Magnavox Co U.S. Patent #3809395 1974 System for generating orthogonal control signals to produce curvilinear motion Hughes Aircraft Co U.S. Patent #3809868 1974 Portable computer terminal using a standard television receiver Digi Log Syst Inc U.S. Patent #3822363 1974 Special effect generator for a simulator visual system Singer Co U.S. Patent #3826864 1974 Visual display system Raytheon Co U.S. Patent #3872446 1975 Electronic device for the simulation of an animated game, in particular the game of football Rosalba Ariano U.S. Patent #3874669 1975 Waterborne vehicle trainer visual system Us Navy U.S. Patent #3895183 1975 Method and means for reducing data transmission rate in synthetically generated motion display systems Sperry Rand Corp U.S. Patent #3899662 1975 Apparatus and methods for computer graphics Nat Res Dev U.S. Patent #3906197 1975 Synthetic terrain generator Singer Co U.S. Patent #3911597 1975 Preprogrammed television gaming system Sanders Associates Inc U.S. Patent #3921161 1975 Method and apparatus for generating character patterns Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd. U.S. Patent #3936664 1976 Computer automated information system DMA Data Industries, Inc. U.S. Patent #3949375 1976 Data display terminal having data storage and transfer apparatus employing matrix notation addressing Lear Siegler U.S. Patent #3955189 1976 Microcomputer terminal system Zentec Corporation U.S. Patent #3973244 1976 Multi-channel data color display apparatus Midwest Analog And Digital, Inc. U.S. Patent #3978470 1976 Multi-microprocessing unit on a single semiconductor chip Burroughs Corporation U.S. Patent #3980992 1976 Digital video modulation and demodulation system Sanders Associates, Inc. U.S. Patent #3993861 1976 Television display control apparatus Alpex Computer Corporation U.S. Patent #4026555 1977 Method for generating a plurality of moving objects on a video display screen Atari, Inc. U.S. Patent #4116444 1978 Digital joystick control interface system for video games and the like Texas Instruments Incorporated U.S. Patent #4142180 1979 Computer control of television receiver display Umtech, Inc. U.S. Patent #4177462 1979 ------------------------------ One of the two Bally Arcade/Astrocade patents (U.S. Patent 4,296,930, "TV Game Apparatus") references 31 patents. Among them are two by Ralph Baer, usually referred to as the father of home video games. These both refer to patents related to the original 1972 Odyssey home video game system. Here is some information about them: Preprogrammed Television Gaming System Baer U.S. Patent #3921161 November 1975 Abstract Apparatus for playing games on the cathode ray tube screen of a television receiver is disclosed comprising a gaming device having components for providing location controllable spots on the screen, a source of prerecorded modulated audio frequency control signals, and means for demodulating those control signals and for supplying them to selected gaming device components to thereby provide gaming capabilities where the progress of a game is in part controlled by the recorded signals and in part controlled by the actions of a player. The signal source may be a magnetic tape or record/disc player and a selected prerecorded game tape or disc with control signals recorded thereon as a plurality of modulated audio frequency signals to thereby allow signal separation based on frequency and waveform control techniques and subsequent demodulation of each so separated carrier to provide a plurality of control signals. Here is a link to the above patent (check out the cool drawings of the console!): https://patents.google.com/patent/US3921161 ------------------------------ Digital video modulation and demodulation system Baer U.S. Patent #3993861 November 1976 Abstract In a television system, a digital video system permits the transmission of data along with the usual television picture. The television picture field includes one or more selectively addressable areas and the data is impressed on these areas as digital, binary-coded brightness modulations at rates greater than the vertical field rate. At the receiving end of the system, the viewer positions one or more light sensors opposite these screen areas. The light sensors respond to the binary-coded brightness modulations by developing corresponding binary-coded digital electrical signals. The data stream from a light sensor can then be decoded by a demodulator/decoder operated by the viewer. Here are links for the second patent: https://patents.google.com/patent/US3993861 ------------------------------ I have opened and glanced through all 46 of these patents, but I have not really read them, nor even browsed most of them. If you find anything interesting, then please leave some comments. Adam
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