[Troy Livingston] The first year Paddle Battle came out, we used to buy Hitachi and Zenith black and white TVs and maybe a few Motorolas. The salesperson for black and white televisions for one of the major chains came to our plant January 2nd and we bought his entire allotment for the year on January 2nd. The salesperson went away and said “That’s it for me, I’ve got my bonus and I’m done for the year” and he retired for the year…We took out the circuitry that made them a TV and all the tuner circuitry, went into the video amp circuit and made them into monitors and dropped them into the box and sent them out that way.
After gutting the televisions of their electronic innards, Allied was left with thousands of TV tuners. Unable to find a use for them or get rid of them, they ended up tossing them in a dumpster. Technical challenges or not, Paddle Battle proved a huge hit for Allied – the biggest hit, in fact, that the company ever had.
Jack Pearson remembers that the game sold even more.
While Atari eventually got the best of Allied in the personnel department, in 1973 it was Allied who was getting the best of Atari by beating them on their own game. In fact, with a likely 17,000+ units sold, Allied may well have had the bestselling Pong clone of them all. In some ways, it isn't surprising that they were able to outproduce Atari. While Allied wasn't exactly a seasoned veteran, they had 4 1/2 years of coin-op experience under their belt at a time when Atari was only a few months removed from the days they had to struggle to make just 10 Pong units. Allied also had a much greater production capacity. This was probably a matter of necessity rather than choice. As practically the only coin-op company in Florida, Allied didn't have a network of suppliers ready at hand like there were in Chicago. Allied had to make everything itself.
Allied more than tripled the size of its facilities in 1973 and were sprawled out over 3 separate buildings: a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing, headquarters, and R&D facility; a 28,000-square-foot cabinet shop, and a 38,000-sqaure-foot complex that housed silkscreening, fiberglass, a paint shop, and metal working (including a $30,000, 110-ton punch press).
Given their edge in manufacturing, it's no wonder that Allied was able to out-produce Atari, but how did they manage to top the sales of other veteran coin-op companies like Chicago Coin, Williams and Bally/Midway who produced Pong clones of their own. It may have been because they got to their game to market first.
In some ways it was a bit surprising that Allied was able to get a game to market so soon and build so many so quickly. In earlier years, they had been plagued with production delays. In 1972, Allied had never had more than one game in production at a time and often had lags between one game in the next. For the entire month of April, their production line had sat idle - a potentially fatal situation for manufacturing company. In addition, they rarely brought a game back into production after it had stopped and usually kept little inventory on hand. In 1973 they had as many as four games in production at once and scheduled overruns and brought games back into production to meet renewed demand (Crack Shot, for instance, was brought back into production twice). In 1972, Allied had only been able to turn out 40 games a day. In 1973 they were cranking out 150.
|This chart appeared in Allied's 1973 Annual Report|