Version 1.5


Created by Lance F. Squire 6/3/95 Updated 10/21/95

        Much Info taken from Arcadian news letters 11/5/82 to 10/31/84.


*       The existence of NEW or updated information will be denoted with a

vertical line "|" in the left border. Spelling & grammatical corrections will

NOT be marked. ;-)


        In order to keep this information as accurate & complete as possible

send any Corrections, Additions, or anything of interest,to me & I'll mention

you right here on the top! (No, Below this paragraph naturally.)


Thanks to:


G. Chance       For giving this FAQ a home! And providing a wonderful

                service to all the curious among us!


Mike Curran     Former Esoterica play tester ;-) for the possible existence

                of the Soccer cart.


Jay Fenton      For linking to us from his Personal Biography page!


Glenn Saunders  For asking some questions.


Brett Bilbrey   For a wealth of NEW knoledge. (Well, new to me anyway.)








        1) What is a Bally/Astrocade

        2) System Specifications

        3) Hardware & add-ons List

        4) Computer expansion

        5) Cassettridge/tape List

        6) Games written by users, slow and clunky?

        7) Publications of note

        8) People of Note

        9) Connecting to a monitor

        10) Joystick rewiring (Bally/Atari)

        11) Bally/Astro Basic

                Why only 1800 Bytes?

                Command list

                Keypad overlay

        12) Sources of Bally/Astrocade Stuff

        13) Closing





1) What is a Bally/Astrocade


        A short history


In 1978 Bally/Midway introduced a home video game system called the

"Bally Professional Arcade". Due to "stiff competition" they withdrew the

system some time later. (Date anyone?) A group of users who had enjoyed the

system's games & learned its potential through the Basic Programming

Cartridge got together & bought the system from Bally. They re-introduced it

in about 1981(?) as the "Bally Computer System". When you purchased this

system they gave you a Basic Programming Cart FREE.


The New company's name was Astrovision. In about 1982 it changed its name to

Astrocade & now labeled its system as the Astrocade. The system continued

till about 1985(?)



2) System Specifications



        Res:            True 160x102  Basic 160x88

        Colours:        8*               2

        Graphic type:   Bitmap, 2 plane bitpacked

        Palette:        32 Colours 8 intensities  256 total

        Cpu:            Z80

|       Speed:          3.579Mhz

        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


All versions of the system were physically the same except for the name plate.

The Astrocade version had small changes in the internal BIOS to display the

longer name on the built in menu screen.


Usually seen in Black with wood grain sides & gold trim there apparently 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.


Diagram:                        Top view




 R/F cable+ | 1   2    3           4            5    6   7



       |||                                                    |||

       |||                                                    |||

       |||                         8                          |||

       |||                                                    |||


       ||\                             ======9======         / ||

       || |-------------------------------------------------|  ||

       || |                ___________________________      |  ||

       || |                |.... | _________________ |      |  ||

       || |                |.... | |               | |      |  ||

       || |                |.... | |               | |      |  ||

       || |                |.... | |_______________| |      |  ||

3/4 s->|| |                |.... | __    _____       |      |  ||

       |||                 |.... | R-    Eject       |       | ||

       |||                 ---------------------------       | ||




1. On/Off switch

2,3,5 & 6. Controller ports 1,2,3 & 4 respectively

4. Expansion port break out panel

7. Light pen port break out panel

8. Smoked storage bay cover

9. Name plate

s. channel select switch

R. Reset button


Unlike MOST other video game systems, the Bally's cartridges 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. 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.


For this reason I personally like to call them "Cassettridges". 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.


Also Unlike MOST systems you were instructed to load carts WITH the power

ON! (In the 14 Years I have owned my system this has never produced a



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, (See BALLY fitness ;-) SAME BALLY).

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 that I have found. 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. After the 5th

resolder I actually placed the springs on an electric burner till the solder

melted, shut down the burner and placed the wire into the pool of solder.

I have NEVER had to fix my controller again!



3) Hardware & add ons


Hardware Known to exist


Name                            Comments


Extra Controllers               Usually labeled 3 & 4


Audio Cassette interface        for use with Original Bally Basic


Blue Ram                        16K or 32K Ram expansion with ZIF connector

                                for adding keyboard or other peripherals.

                                Usually accompanied by a Blue Ram Extended

                                Basic. allowing access to extra ram.


R&L 64K Ram Board               Expansion board sold with NO ram on it but

                                all the necessary hardware support. Use of

                                Blue Ram Ex. Basic recommended.


Viper 1                         16K computer add under with keyboard.

                                Optional 4 RS-232 ports.


Viper 5                         16K or 32K Computer add under. As above.


Astrocade Arcade style          Styled Like a real Arcade machine This

        Game system             display cabinet is beautiful! Bottom section

        display Cabinet!        Features glass door & racks to hold the

                                Many cartridge boxes the store would need.


|Light Pen                      Comes with Creative Crayon cart.

|                               Brett owns one! (but not the cart...)



Hardware Hoped to exist (Can anyone confirm release)


Name                            Comments


Viper Z-Grass System            Complete computer add under. Features:

                                64K Ram, 32K Rom, keyboard, 2 RS-232s

                                320x204 colour graphics,

                                3 channel Stereo sound,

                                4 channel DD 5.25 drive controller

                                8231 Math Processor

                                Z-Grass programming language, C/PM compat.



4)Computer Expansion?


        Alternative Engineering Corp. contracted to create the Z-Grass

ad-under, decided it was in everyone's best interest to release the unit

them selves. In August 198?(5) they sent an order form to anyone who had

ever shown interest in such a device on the Arcadian mailing list. The units

were then to be made on an on order basis. Unfortunately I being a kid at

the time had no funds to send my self, so I ordered the Manual, offered for

people to determine if they actually wanted the system. It took over a year

(I think) to receive my manual. If any units were produced they were surely

in extremely limited quantities. Probably only those who ordered the unit it

self know for sure.


(If ANYONE has or has seen one of these I want to KNOW!)




5) Cassettridge/Tape List


Name                            Comments


Built in



Gunfight                        Colour version of Boot Hill (Perfect!)


Checkmate                       Game that TRON Light Cycles is based upon.

                                0 players = demo


Calculator                      5 function, 10 memory, "Printing Calculator"

                                Stores a video papertape of 92 entries


Scribbling                      Doodle program. 0 players gives kaleidoscope



Action/Skill Series


2001    280 ZZZAP/Dodgem        Like Night Driver & any vertical racer


2002    Seawolf/Missile         2 variations of target shooting


2003    Panzer Attack/Red Barron

                                2 player Tank battle & 2 Player Dogfighting


2004    Brickyard/Clowns        Breakout/Circus (Very well done)


|2005   Star Battle             a simple 'star wars' like game that two

|                               people played in a 'trench' like setting. You

|                               could move up or down the trench while moving

|                               around to try and get the best attack angle

|                               on your opponent. Good sounds, but as many of

|                               the games of that time, very simple. (Not

|                               that simple is bad, it was fun to play a

|                               simple game that you did not have to memorize

|                               50 functions to play - like Mortal Kombat.)

|                               (Brett)


2009    Astro Battle            Space Invaders!!! Only they will LAND!


2010    Dogpatch                2 player skeet(can) shooting


2011    Galactic Invasion       Actually Says "Galaxian"!!! when on menu

                                Very good conversion.


2012    Space Fortress          Better than the original! Extremely FAST!

                                (I forget the arcade name)


|2014   Grand Prix/Demolition Derby     Racing & Drive around and crash into

|                                               other cars for points!

|                                                (Brett)


|2015   Pirates Chase           A grid of 'pieces o' eight' (something like

|                               10x15) where one or more players tried to

|                               gobble them up with a bad guy that would

|                               chase you around. Sort of a Pac Man without

|                               the walls. (Brett)


2017    The Incredible Wizard   Wizard of WOR


2018    Solar Conqueror         Like Asteroids


2019    Cosmic Raiders          Like Defender


|2020   Missile Attack          "never made production" They may have put it

|                               on the list anticipating working out a deal

|                               to buy ICBM Attack from me. (Brett)


Sports Series



3001    Tornado Baseball, Tennis,       2 player only

        Hockey and Handball     Like the Old PONG games with little men

                                Instead of paddles. Baseball is decent.


3002    Football                2 or 4 player


3003    Demolition Derby/Grand Prix     Moved to 2014


|3004   Drag Race/Desert Fox    Released??? [I saw a proto, but I never saw

|                               it at a point that would be worth selling.

|                               (Brett)]


3005    Bally Pinball           Label change with release of the Astrocade.

        Astrocade Pinball       2 versions on 1 cart. Very good play!


|3006   Bowling                 Brett has one. "Not impresive"


3007    Soccer                  Mike Curran (Former Esoterica play tester)

                                & Dan Dresher report a recollection of owning

                                this cart. In a prototype form.

|                               Brett has one. "Not impresive"



Educational Series


4001    Bingo Math/Speed Math  


4002    Letter Match/Spell 'N Score



4003    Music Maker


4004    Biorhythm


4005    Creative Crayon         "never made production"?  colouring book?


4005P   Creative Crayon W/ Light Pen    "               "



Strategy Series


5001    Amazing Maze/

        Tic-Tac-Toe             Can you do the maze before the Cpu?


5002    Blackjack/Poker/

        Acey-Ducey              Good card games


5004    Conan the Barbarian     "never made production"

|                               Conan was never close to production. It

|                               was a pipe dream. (Brett)


5005    Artillery Dual          Can you shoot over that hill and hit your

                                buddy before he gets you???


Functional Series


6002    Bally Basic             Basic programming on your Bally Professional

                                Arcade. Needed Audio interface to save to



6004    Bally Basic             Originally released under the BALLY label.

        Astrocade Basic         Either version has the audio cassette

                                interface built into the cart its self.


|????   Dealer Demo             I have the dealer demo, it does some

|                               interesting things. Like playing checkmate at

|                               10 times speed. It also has a Bach fugue

|                               programmed in that plays in three part sound.


|                               (An interesting note is that although the

|                               demo cartridge plays three part sound, it was

|                               not till I wrote the three part sound player

|                               that anyone made three part music, either for

|                               a cartridge or for basic games (like George

|                               Moses).) (Brett)




Independent Carts



Muncher (Ltd. edition)          Originally Bally's version of Pacman. Not

        (Esoterica)             released by Bally due to Atari/Odyssey^2

                                Law suite. Excellent if slightly buggy.


Treasure Cove (Spectre Systems) Collect the treasure from the bottom of the

|(Distributed by Esoterica)     Sea, watch out for poisonous fish! Featured

|                               256 colors concurrent on screen with three

|                               part music. To date, the only game that ever

|                               did this. (Brett)


Blast Droids (Esoterica)        Like Asteroids


Machine Language Manager        Wright programs in Z80 Machine language

(Bit Fiddlers)                 


Ms. Candy Man (L&M)             Ms. Pac Man type concept, but different.


Sneaky Snake (New Image)        Centipede clone


Sea Devil (L&M)                 Protect your food stores from under sea

                                creatures & invading divers!


MAZEMAN (Dave Carson)           Pac-Man type game with 12 different Mazes

                                No Sound. All Game play?


|ICBM Attack (Spectre Systems)  A missile command rip off. but with a twist.

|                               Instead of the missiles coming in from the

|                               sky, a plane would fly by and drop the

|                               missiles. You could hit the plane or the

|                               missiles, and their were three bases to fire

|                               from and 6 cities to protect. Sold with a

|                               home manufactured Keypad that featured a TRUE

|                               XY positional joystick, 'pinball' like

|                               flipper buttons on the side, and a keypad for

|                               entering data. Sadly, I do not have one left

|                               (we sold them ALL). (Brett)



Tape Software                   Load these into Astrobasic to play.

-------------                   -----------------------------------


Chicken! (Bit Fiddlers)         Frogger variant


L&M Soft



1. Claim Jumper/

        River City Gambler


2. Cosmic Saucer Battle/

        The Black Lagoon


3. Bombardier/Meteoroid


4. Target/Mind Bender


5. Search & Destroy


6. Star Base 2000/

        Space Quest 2001


7. Phantom Star Fighters/

        Space Checkers


8. Crazy Ball/

        Ayatollah dart board    An update would be the Husein Dart board ;-)


9. The Mummy's Treasure/

        Galactic War 2002


10. Coyote-Roadrunner Desert race/

        Atom Smasher                    Does Warner Bros. Know about this?


11. Sink the U-Boat/

        Rescue Air Drop


12. Mission: Impossible/

        3-D Tic-Tac-Toe


13. The Fox & The Hare/

        Space Sleuth


14. Alien Invasion I & II


15. Secret of Pellucitar        Find your way through the maze.


16. Exitor's Revenge            Space invaders with a few twists


17. Nautilus                    Sequel to Exitor's


18. Candy Man                   Pac Man but different.



Wave Makers


Max (Robot from Space)/

        Horse Race


Clue/Flying Ace                 Fly your TV at on coming biplanes.


Maze Race/Obstacle Course/

        Space Chase


Slot Machine/Perversion         Perversion?!?!?


Music Composer/Yahtzee          Does Parker Bros. Know about this? :-)


Mouse in the Hat/Speed Math/

        Note Match


Guitar Course/Tune/




        Obstacle Course Tournament


Pack-Rat I & II


Lookout for the Bull


Whiz Quiz                       Trivia game


Castle of Horror/

        Four Famous Freebies


Monkey Jump/Gong the Kong       Donkey Kong derivatives


Collision Course                Same as Arcade game of same name!


Character Analysis


Dungeons of Dracula             Wrap your chain around the monsters &

                                complete the mazes.


L.T. (Little Terrestrial)       Based on the movie E.T. 

                                "1000 times better than Atari E.T."


Gate Escape                     Lady bug clone



Tiny Arcade



T100    Space Gauntlet/



T101    Omega Valley/           Prevent 18 ships from landing in 3 valleys

        Astro terror            or defend your space station from missiles


T102    Viperian/Cruncher      


T103    Vindicator/             Looks to be a defender clone

        Art Show & Fire Works


T104    Gamma Wars              Space invaders?


T105    Beep!                   Maze game.(or is it Pengo-ish?)



HARD soft.



Gamepak G1

        Caterpillar             Centipede clone

        Tic Tac Tollah          Tic Tac Toe that Cheats

        The paper Chase         Based on those "Don't squeeze the sharmin"


        Micro Pac               Pac-Man clone

        Galactic Hitchhiker     "Three dimensional graphics"



GM (Gorge Moses Co.)



Make your Arcade Sing series:


Tape 1: Bach's 15 two part inventions


Tape 2: 27 Christmas Carols


Tape 3: Scott Joplin Ragtime Classics


Tape 4: Screen Ram 3 Voice Music Assembler


Tape 5: Sinfonia to Cantata 29 By Bach


Beatles Greatest Hits

and Flight Simulator


Other tapes:


Tape 6: Home Budget Keeper


|Life/Nuke the !$&!             ...should read "Life/Nuke the Bastard."

|Life/Soundvision               Nuke the bastard was a simple game that Jay

|Life/Macromind Director        Fenton wrote. It later became a Soundvision,

|                               then Macromind Director demo. (Brett)






Treasure Island/                Can you figure out the Map before your Pal?

        Fox & hound            


Wildcatter/                     Can you successfully run an oil company?

        Bomb Squad              Defuse the Bomb!


The Great American Jigsaw/      Put the U.S. of A. together.

        Big City Slick          US city quiz


Garbersville/                   Missile command?

        Ten Pins                Bowling.


Starship Command/               Star Trek theme.

        Mini Golf


Road Toad                       Frogger


Super Slope                     Like Atari's Alpine Ski coin op


Hangman/Home Budget Keeper




6) Games written by users slow and clunky?



        Although It's true that games written entirely in Bally/Astro basic

were prone to be slow and somewhat Clunky, Most of the companies selling

programs quickly began to use Machine Language routines from the Built-in

games to power their games. This type of hybrid programming produced good

results with the limited space available in the unit. Others took to using

complete Machine language coding for their games. By hiding the ML code

at the bottom of the screen, by reducing the vertical resolution it was

possible to have 4-8 colour Cart Quality games on tape.



7) Publications Of Note:



Service Manual  PA-1            Parts lists, Schematic Diagrams, ETC.


Peek N Poke Manual              Useful information for the Basic Programmer.


On-Board Rom Subroutines        Helpful for improving your ML programs.


Handbook of Hardware            Source of most of the programming support

& Software   AKA                for most of the arcade quality games made

The Nutting Manual              for the Bally/Astrocade systems


Arcadian Newsletters            From which a wealth of information can be



Astrocade Underground           A news letter by ABC Hobby Craft. Contents





8) People Of Note:


        These people had a lot of influence in what you saw/heard or read

about the Bally/Astrocade systems


Robert Fabris   For the Arcadian news letters. Without which this FAQ would

                be a few pages shorter!


Bob Ogdon       Programmed "Bally Pin", "Brickyard/Clowns" and probably



Scot Norris     Credited with most of the music & sound effects on the

                various carts.


Jay Fenton      Creator of the Bally BASIC cart! Others? NOW has a Home

                Page of his own on the Net.



Gorge Moses     For continuously poking around with the Bally's sound chip

                and writing various music makers & other programs for the

                Basic enthusiasts.


Dave Nutting    For having something to do with the creation of this system

                and writing the Handbook of Hardware & Software. Referred to

                by some as The Nutting Manual.


|Brett Bilbrey  For writing the three voice music routine, the ONLY 256

|               colour game, and some new info here



9) Connecting to a monitor



        Yes, you can connect your Bally/Astrocade to a composite monitor.

Unfortunately the method described in the pages of the Arcadian (V5 #8 P129)

only gives a monochrome output.


        First you will have to open your machine. Not to worry you can't

void any warranties as there isn't one anymore! ;-) However I cannot take

responsibility for what YOU do under the hood. A little soldering will be

required, but NOT near major parts.


        Now that you have the cover off. Only the TOP please. you will notice

on the left (the front of the machine Facing you) an RF box.


        Lift the left edge & pull out to the left. There are now a row of 8

large square metal pins coming off the motherboard. For the sake of this

job we will number them from front to back 1 to 8. solder a 300 ohm resister

between pin 1 and the shield. Now get 2 single ended RCA cables. Solder

their shield wires to the shielding. Solder the centre of the Video cable to

pin 1. Solder the Audio cable to pin 3. Be sure to attach them close enough

to the board to allow the RF box to be replaced.


        Replace the RF box & close up your machine. You're ready to go!





        If you don't really want new cables coming out of strange places in

your machine You might try what I did. I mounted a 5 pin din connector to

the back left corner of the case bottom. Fit's nicely if installed with the

mounting holes 45 from horizontal. Wire to this and use a Commodore 64

monitor cable to connect.


        This allows you to remove the cable for storage, & is virtually

invisible when not in use.


Din Pinout:              O---NC--O

                Video-----O     O----Audio





|       Thanks to the people at Active Surplus, and Brett Bilbrey I now have

|a complete pinout list for the RF box inside the Bally/Astrocade systems!

|Pins will be numbered as above.



|               Pin     Tech            Comment

|                8      GND             Ground

|                7      B-Y             Blue-Luma

|                6      R-Y             Red-Luma

|                5      Chrom Bias      Chroma no sync??? Guessing.

|                4      Chrom 3.57Mhz   Chroma with Sync??   "

|                3      Sound           Sound

|                2      +12V            Power for RF

|                1      Video           Luma + snyc.


|       Any techno whizzes that can fill in the ????s or gets a full colour

|RGB video working please let me know. I will try myself some time Next year.


|Note from Brett: The 'video' is really just the luma ('Y') portion of the

|video signal, the chroma is made up of the Red minus the luma, and the Blue

|minus the luma. With this, you have enough information to reconstruct RGB

|information. The reason Y, R-Y, B-Y signals are used is they conserve

|bandwidth. The chroma signals can be half the bandwidth of the luma and

|still maintain the full signal content. High-end broadcast digital tape

|machines use this format and it is called 4:2:2 sampling. As far as being

|able to provide you with a circuit, I don't have the time to play

|(sorry), but it is not hard.




10) Joystick Rewiring



        As I indicated earlier I use a rewired Bally controller on other

systems. There are 2 ways to do this. 1) remove the existing cable and use

a joystick extension cable to rewire.(Ok if you don't need to use it with

the Bally any more) or 2) make a translation plug or "Gender Bender" of



        Those wishing to keep the knob function should note that the Bally

uses a different restive value for the pot than Atari/Commodore. To this

end I actually removed the resistive board from the Bally pot & replaced

with 1 from an Atari Paddle. (Tricky but doable)


        It's also possible to wire an Atari/Commodore joystick to replace

a Bally/Astrocade one. However I'm not sure how to include the Knob

function. In anycase the important wiring chart is Below.


        Bally/Astrocade                             Atari

        Controller port                         Joystick port


        1. Trigger                              1. Up

        2. Right                                2. Down

        3. Left                                 3. Left

        4. Down                                 4. Right

        5. Not Connected                        5. Paddle B

        6. 50K Pot (Knob)                       6. Fire button

        7. Ground                               7. +5v

        8. +5v                                  8. Ground

        9. Up                                   9. Paddle A




                             1 2 3 4 5  (Looking at Plug end)

                              6 7 8 9





11) Bally/Astro Basic



        As you may have noticed above there are 2 versions of the Basic

Cartridge, and possibly 3 Labels. So what's the difference & why should I



The original Bally Basic is a robust & serviceable programming language. The

only complaints could be the extra purchase of an audio cassette interface.

The package came with a ring bound manual & Tutorial. The "Basic Expansion

Kit" included a tape library pak with some programming demos, and the audio

cassette interface. The interface saved data at 300 baud.


The Second release of Bally Basic, later called Astrocade Basic, Had the tape

interface built in! The speed of the interface was also increased to 2000

baud. This made the Old Bally Demo tapes virtually useless, but allowed

more data to be stored on a tape & shorter load times! There is a translation

|program available for those owning BOTH the Interface and the NEW basic.


For the sake of ease of identification the news letters & Tape manufactures

referred to any Basic Cart with the built-in Audio cassette interface as

AstroBasic or AB for short.


Other new features to Astro Basic were the introduction of Music Processor

Commands, allowing direct control of the sound chip without using the memory

consuming port access array.


Why only 1800 Bytes?



        Q: Why with 4K of Ram does the Bally/Astrocade only get about 1800

Bytes of program space, when a PET or TRS-80 had a lot more?


        A: The Graphics! Both the PET and TRS-80 use character based graphics

and were only B&W. The Bally/Astrocade uses Bitmaped graphics in 4 colours.


        Lets look at the PET first. 40 columns by 25? rows equals 1000 Bytes

used for screen display. This leaves 3096 minus operating expense (say 16

Bytes or more). With the TRS-80, 64x25?=1600 Bytes leaving 2496 minus

operating expense.(BTW within 2 months My TRS-80 got a RAM expansion!)


        Now the Bally. 160x102x4, 160 pixels at 4 colours a pixel(2 Bits) =

40 Bytes, (But Astro Basic only gets 2 colours! Ya, Ya, I'll get back to

that.) 40x102=4080 Bytes leaving *16 BYTES!* That IS the operating Expense!


----------------------->*THERE IS NO FREE MEMORY!!!*<------------------------



The Wizardry of Jay Fenton......

                or How to get 1800 Bytes out of 0!


        This must have been the question when Mr. Fenton took to programming

the original Bally Basic Cart. The answer IS use every other bit for code.

This would leave a terrible mess on the screen, and it does. So you hide it!

Set & keep the colour palette so Code+Graf=Grafcolour NoCode+Graf=Grafcolour

Code+NoGraf=Background and NoCode+NoGraf=Background. Or simply Colour1&2 are

always the same, as are Colour 3&4. If you have a Bally/Astrocade you can

set &(9)=80 and half the screen will show the program underneath.


As this is not the place for a tutorial of Bally/Astro Basic, I shall simply

include the entire list of Astro Basic commands. For those who have the cart

and no manual to try out, and those familiar with other Basics to marvel at!


Astro Basic Commands:



Basic Statements & Commands


BOX X,Y,A,B,1                   Draw a box at position X,Y of Width A and

                                Height B, Mode 1

                                Modes available: 1 Foreground Colour

                                                 2 Background Colour

                                                 3 Reverse box (xor)

                                                 4 Invisible (Useful?)


LINE X,Y,1                      Line to X,Y, mode 1 (See above) from last

                                Pixel location. Use BOX, XY or mode 4

                                to set start location.


CLEAR                           Clears screen. Not memory.


FOR/TO/STEP/NEXT                Same as any For/Next loop function


IF                              NO THEN E.G.: IF A=5GOTO20 is not only valid

                                but actually preferred to save ram!!!


INPUT A                         Wait for Keypad Input

INPUT "HOW MANY?"A              Prints message & waits for input


LIST                            AS all Basics

LIST ,5                         List the FIRST 5 basic lines

LIST 100                        List starting at line 100

LIST 100,5                      Start at line 100 list next 5 lines


PRINT "A"                       Print Character A

PRINT A                         Print Value of A

PRINT #A,B                      Print A spaces then B value


GOTO A                          Goto line number A

GOSUB 100                       Gosub line 100

RETURN                          Return to GOSUB


RND(A)                          Generate number between 1 and A


RUN                             Execute program



General Functions


ABS(A)                          Absolute Value of A


CALL(A)                         Goto assembly routine at A


RM                              Remainder of last division


SM=A                            Scroll Mode A

                                Modes:  0 Normal

                                        1 No Scroll

                                        2 Clear screen, Cursor at bottom

                                        3 Clear screen, Cursor at top

                                        4 Auto Pause. press key to continue


STOP                            Stop program here


SZ                              SiZe of available programming space


XY                              Location of last Box or LINE command


PX(X,Y)                         Is PiXel on or off?



Input Output Functions


JX(1)                           Joystick 1 horizontal position -0+


JY(1)                           Joystick 1 Vertical Position 0


TR(1)                           Trigger for Joy 1


KN(1)                           Knob (Paddle) position for Joy 1


A=KP                            Wait for key press, store ASCII in A


TV=A                            Display ASCII character A to TV


MU=A                            Play MUsical Note value A


MU="A"                          Play same note as character A

                                (All characters in Bally Basic Produce a

                                 Tone when displayed unless NT=0)


FC                              Foreground Colour


BC                              Background Colour


NT                              Note Time, Duration of note play


CX                              Cursor X position


CY                              Cursor Y position



Tape Commands


:PRINT                          Save Program/Variables & Screen to tape


:PRINT @(0),100                 Save contents of @ array 0-99


:INPUT                          Load program from tape


:INPUT @(0),100                 Load data into @ array locations 0,99


:LIST                           Check stored program against memory.

                                Used to confirm saves.


:RUN                            Load & execute ML programs



Punctuation and Operators


+,-,Multiply and Divide symbols Standard math functions


;                               Separate multiple statements on same line


,                               Continue printing on same line.

                                E.g.: 10 PRINT "A",

                                      20 PRINT "B"

                                Gives  AB


.                               REM statement


#                               NOT equal to


B=%(A)                          PEEK A,B


%(A)=B                          POKE A,B


@(N)                            First array in Bally Basic


*(N)                            Second Array Astro Basic Only


&(N)                            Read/write port N


Down Arrow                      Stop ALL sounds



Music Processor Commands                Astro Basic ONLY


MO                              Master Oscillator Freq.


NM                              Noise Mode


NV                              Noise Volume NM must be 1


VR                              Vibrato Range NM must be 0


VF                              Vibrato Frequency


TA TB TC                        Tone A,B or C


VA VB VC                        Volume A,B or C



Error Messages


WHAT?                           Syntax error


SORRY                           Out of Memory


HOW?                            Catch all Error Code

                                E.G.: GOTO 50   No line 50     HOW?

                                    GOSUB A   A=10 NO line 10  HOW?

                                    NEXT Y      NO FOR Y       HOW?


Bally/Astro Basic Overlay



Most keys on the keypad have 5 functions. Except for the 4 bottom keys which

are your shift keys.


Default Values:


        GO      Pause   Halt    Divide

        7       8       9       Multiply

        4       5       6       -

        1       2       3       +

        Space   0       Erase   =

        green   red     blue    WORDS(gold)


Green Shift:


        Blank   blank   blank   blank

        A       D       G       J

        M       P       S       V

        Y       <-      up aro  &

        $       <       (       #

        GREEN   red     blue    WORDS(gold)


Red Shift:


        Blank   /       blank   [

        B       E       H       K

        N       Q       T       W

        Z       '       .       @

        ,       "       ;       %

        green   RED     blue    Words(gold)


Blue Shift:


        Blank   \       blank   ]

        C       F       I       L

        O       R       U       X

        !       ->      dwn aro *

        ?       >       )       :

        green   red     BLUE    WORDS(gold)


WORDS shift (GOLD):


        Go+10   blank   RUN     LIST

        FOR     TO      STEP    NEXT

        GOSUB   RETURN  RND     IF

        CLEAR   LINE    BOX     GOTO

        blank   INPUT   blank   PRINT

        green   red     blue    WORDS(GOLD)


I realize that this format may not be the best to work from. If you devise

a more usable & understandable format Please send it to me.




12) Sources for Bally/Astrocade Stuff


        Well, The usual yard sales & thrift shops. If you can't find

anything there. (Not much luck here.) You could try those listed below.


        I neither endorse nor condemn the services of these parties. I merely

list them for those whom may wish to acquire systems, carts or other related

paraphernalia. (Usual legal crap ;-))


Jerry G         Jerry G Visionaries



Steven Tucker


        These gentlemen carry a range of systems and carts for most of the

Classic systems. Drop them a line & they'll tell you what they have in stock!




13) Closing


        All of the information in this FAQ is as accurate as I have info for.

If there are any errors omissions or other things of note that belong here

please let me know so I can expand & enhance this FAQ. No special formatting

is necessary, I'll sort it out & plug it in! ;-)


If anyone is interested, I have a number of Basic program listings here from

the Arcadian news letters. Although I'm uncertain of the Legalities involved

in reproducing this material(Mr. Robert Fabris Did smartly (c) every page!)

I would like to hear if anyone would be interested in reprints of the

listings or preprogrammed tapes.


Whether I actually DO this will depend mostly on the response & my available

time. It takes a long time to type a 59 line program into a 4x6 keypad!


        Also If anyone Knows Mr. Fabris (or anyone else associated with the

Bally/Astrocade) I'd like to talk with them & possibly include some of there

information here or in an additional source.


Lance F. Squire            Web




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