System Specifications

Resolution: True 160x102** / Basic 160x88
Colours: True 8* / Basic 2
Graphic type: Bitmap, 2 plane bitpacked
CPU: Z80
Speed: 1.789 MHz
ROM: 8K
Ram: 4K
Cart ROM: 8K
Expansion: 64K total
Sound: 3 Voice + Noise & Vibrato
Ports: 4 Controller, 1 Expansion, 1 Light pen

* The bitmap structure of the Bally actually only allows for 4 colour settings. However, through the use of 2 colour palettes and a left/right boundary control byte you could have the left section of screen (lets call this the play field) use 1 set of colours while the right side (Info field) used an entirely different set of colours

** Although the chips inside the Bally/Astrocade are the same as used in Gorf & Wizard of Wor, and have a high res mode of 320x204. The pins nessesary to add video memory are not connected to the expansion port.

All versions of the system were physically the same except for the name plate. Early on small changes were made in the internal BIOS to display better on B&W or low spec TVs. This caused some third-party games to malfunction.

Usually seen in Black with wood grain sides & gold trim there was a beige/white version advertised. The case measured 15" wide, 10 3/4" deep and 4 3/4" high. Under a smoke coloured lid that covered the back half of the unit, when viewed from above, was the built in cart & overlay storage bin with slots for 15 carts & 14 overlays. The front half sported a 24 key calculator pad, (where overlays went when used) a reset button and a spring loaded cartridge port, labeled "Insert Cassette", with Eject button.

The Bally's cartridges (or Videocades) do not protrude from the port. Instead they lay flat. The cartridges were designed like audio cassettes. Being the same width, height, and thickness as a cassettes opening.

Audio Cassette Bally Cassettridge
Where the write protect tabs for an audio cassette would be are two openings for the Eject button to hold on to. Where the tape in an audio cassette is exposed, there is an opening where the pins in the Bally's "Cassette" port press against the single sided board in the Cartridge.

To load a cart into the unit, you slide the open end in over a spring loaded guide then press down until the Eject spikes latch into the holes. You then press Reset to see the new selections on the menu.

Unlike other systems you were instructed to load carts WITH the power ON!

All Bally/Astrocades came with an on screen menu system that displayed the 4 built in programs (2 games 1 calculator 1 doodle) + any games on the inserted Cassette.

The Bally's Controllers were also unique. They consisted of a large pistol grip, appropriately contoured and knurled, a TRIGGER (NOT a button),a badge on both sides with the BALLY label. Plus a brown knob on top that functioned as both a paddle & an extremely short throw joystick. On the top of the knob is a gold plate with controller number 1-4. On the Astrocade the Bally logo was removed but the badge spots are still there.

To date I have never found a controller or joystick more responsive than the Bally's. I actually use a modified Bally controller on my ST's, Amiga and VCS.

The Bally controller does have 1 major weak spot. The wire to the trigger usually falls off as it's extremely difficult to get the trigger spring contacts hot enough to bond with the solder.