Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Promotional sheet for Deluxe Baseball by Ramtek

This evening we have the front and back of an 8½-by-11 promotional sheet for Deluxe Baseball, an arcade game sold (and/or licensed) by the Ramtek Corporation of Sunnyvale, California, starting in 1976. As you can see, it was marketed as a "new, truly realistic game" that featured curveballs and fastballs, strikeouts, home runs, walks, hits, double plays, errors and a "big stadium." I'm not sure, though, if the realistic features also included stealing signs by banging on a trash can.

The back of the sheet shows the 23-inch playing field, which reminds me a bit of Intellivision's Major League Baseball, which didn't come out until four years later, in 1980. So Deluxe Baseball looked pretty spiffy for 1976!

Deluxe Baseball could be played by one or two players and additional features included repositioning outfielders. As this flyer was a sales pitch (no pun intended) to owners of amusement arcades and similar sites, it stressed that "Ramtek video games are backed by the most responsive service in the industry. When repairs are needed, they're done fast. And new logic boards can be in the air within 24 hours. When it comes to service, Ramtek doesn't play games." The logic boards had only a one-year warranty, though. There's no indication of how much these 210-pound machines cost.

Tooling around the internet a bit, I learned:

  • The game was created by Howell Ivy. According to Alexander Smith's 2019 book They Create Worlds: The Story of the People and Companies That Shaped the Video Game Industry, Vol. I: 1971-1982, Ivy had been in the Air Force before joining Ramtek as its only game engineer. Ivy first created the ball-and-paddle arcade game Baseball, which was rereleased one year later in a standard arcade cabinet as Deluxe Baseball. Smith notes: "The additional complexity of the game over ball-and-paddle concepts required two circuit boards instead of one, which led to problems during the manufacturing run. The first 1,500 of the roughly 2,000 units proved defective because the wooden housing containing the two boards proved too flimsy to handle the job. Ramtek ended up having to replace the wooden housing with a metal one at considerable cost."
  • You can learn more about Howell Ivy in this 2014 interview with Retro Gamer and at this page on the Valley Christian Schools website.
  • Writing on The Golden Age Arcade Historian blog, which was published from 2012 to 2016, Keith Smith has a detailed history of Ramtek's ups and downs in which he reports, among many other great details, that the company had sold more than 10,000 arcade games by the end of 1974, for a sales total of $6 million. (That would be about $600 per machine, which gives us a rough estimate of what Deluxe Baseball might have cost arcade owners in 1976.)

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