Jump to content

Recommended Posts

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bally Fun & (Video) Brains

The Bally Professional Arcade's original slogan was "Fun & Brains." The Bally Arcade patent cites the VideoBrain patent called "Computer control of television receiver display" (weird!), so maybe the slogan should have been "Fun and (Video) Brains."

Check out the VideoBrain patent as a web page:

https://patents.google.com/patent/US4177462

Here's a pdf of the VideoBrain patent:

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/68/4e/39/14031164add3be/US4177462.pdf

The VideoBrain patent has F8 CPU source code for a Tennis game. I typed in this source code back in 2012 (see, I'm not only an Astrocade fan!):

https://www.orphanedgames.com/videobrain/f8_programming/f8_source/Tennis%20(patent%20source).f8

I wish that more source code for classic game systems was available. Did the patent for the Colecovision have the source code for it's on-board ROM?

Lance Squire uploaded game footage of the VideoBrain playing "Gladiator," a game with "384 unique games:"



There sure are some oddball video game and computer systems out there-- the Bally Arcade can't even compete in the strangeness level with systems like the VideoBrain console.

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Screen Overlays for the Astrocade... kinda, sorta, maybe?

It's really fun going through the patents that are cited from the two Bally Arcade patents. I came across this patent from 1974 for a "Television combat game." With just one look at it I realized that the game was for the original Magnavox Odyssey game "Submarine." I had no idea that the games for the original Odyssey were patented on their own! That's so strange.

Here is a link to the second page of the pdf for the "Television combat game" patent. Look at the drawing of the "combat" game's overlay:

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/4b/76/eb/e9df22d1583b2f/US3809395.pdf#Page=2

Compare that overlay with the final image to the final "Submarine" overlay:



And, of course, don't miss the original promotional film for the Magnavox Odyssey:



What the heck is the connection between this submarine game that uses screen overlays to the Bally Arcade? Investigating the Astrocade has sure lead me into some unexpected areas over the years. The history of all the videogame systems are intertwined in some unexpected ways more often that I expect.

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Warner Owns Midway... so Warner Bros. Owns the Bally Arcade/Astrocade?

 

The last time that the Bally Arcade patents changed hands was in 2000. At that time, Midway got the patents. The patent for the console expired after twenty years (so, I guess in 2001?). Here are the details of that transaction:

2000-07-14 AS Assignment
Owner name: MIDWAY AMUSEMENT GAMES, LLC, ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MIDWAY GAMES, NC.;REEL/FRAME:011027/0864
Effective date: 19990701

This information is from the bottom of the Google Patents page, here:

https://patents.google.com/patent/US4301503A/en?oq=4296930

If Midway owned the Astrocade rights, then they probably owned the rights to the 8K onboard, right? I understand that Midway has exchanged hands quite a few times since 2000. Who the heck owns Midway now?

"Ubersaurus," posted the answer to who owns Midway to the Bally Alley Yahoo groups, "Midway is currently owned by Warner, and has essentially been rebranded as Netherrealm Studios under their umbrella. Functionally they just make Mortal Kombat and Injustice games, but they do own all the rights to their arcade (and apparently console) library."

Trolling through these videogame-related patents sure is fun!

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't Bally/Midway sell the Astrocade rights to Astrovision in 1980?

 

No, Bally didn't sell the rights to the Bally Arcade to Astrovision (aka Astrocade, Inc). From what I understand, it was only licensed to them. I wish I could find paperwork that stated this as a matter-of-fact.

 

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...