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1979 Bally Voltan Escapes Cosmic Doom Pinball Machine In Action

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Published on Dec 15, 2012

Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Corporation (1931-1983) [Trade Name: Bally]
Project Date: January 18, 1978
Date Of Manufacture: February, 1979
Model Number: 1147-E
MPU: Bally MPU AS-2518-35
Type: Solid State Electronic (SS)
Production: 365 units (confirmed)
Serial Number Database: View at The Internet Pinball Serial Number Database (IPSND.net) (External site)
Theme: Fantasy
Notable Features: Flippers (2), Pop bumpers (3), Slingshots (2), Standup targets (5), Spinning targets (2), Star rollover (1).
Design by: George Christian
Art by: Dave Christensen
Notes:
Allan Reizman, Engineering Lab Supervisor at Bally 1977-1983, tells us that some examples of Voltan were used to test a newly developed AS-2518-51 sound module. We asked him to tell us the story around it, to explain how it was different from what Voltan already had, and how owners could recognize one of these prototyped games. He responds:

As you noted Voltan was produced with original analog sound board AS-2518-04. As you noted, the manual explains the limited settings with the dip switches, sounds, no sounds, or chime bells only. After Williams introduced Flash with its electronic programmable sounds and background sound effects, Bally quickly developed its own microprocessor controlled sound board. That board was introduced in Future Spa and was later incorporated into the Squawk and Talk speech board.

Before we put that sound into production I led a research project to determine the effect of electronic sounds on the cashbox earnings of the game. We chose to experiment on Voltan because the game was performing poorly and was not scheduled to be further produced beyond its 330 game pilot run. I had a lab game and 2 maybe 4 field games modified by removing the analog sound card and replacing with the newly designed 6808 microprocessor card. These games were located at Aladdin's Castle arcades in the Chicago area that were owned by Bally.

My audio engineers hastily re-programmed the game for psychedelic electronic sounds replacing the crude analog notes with sci-fi like effect, worthy of science fiction. Interestingly, we chose not to include a background effect as to not tip off Williams we were going to have that with our next production game.

After the modifications were complete, I monitored the previous and following 30 days of collections to determine if the sound upgrade would have an effect. The results showed a modest increase in plays. This was enough of an improvement, considering the poor earnings performance of Voltan, to justify the production of that sound system.

The upgraded Voltans are identified by having the newer style sound board and special unlisted PROMS on the mother board. They were never de-modified although I left the old sound board and chips in the game should Aladdin's have decided otherwise. I know there are at least 3 of these games in existence and possibly a fourth.

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