A fixture in just about every mall on Long Island, Time-Out is perhaps the best-remembered arcade of the era. These dark and smoky tunnels were filled with a cacophony of electronic noise, flashing lights, and people of all ages (and walks of life) eager to empty their pockets of any and all quarters.
So, to whom do we owe our thanks for these psychedelic coin-gobbling tubes of fun? Believe it or not, the guy who gave the world a confection known as Turkish Taffy, a candy maker named Tico Bonomo. After making his fortune in sweets, he started pondering his next venture. Coin-operated games were gaining popularity in the late 60s, and so were shopping malls. He thought a mall store filled with these machines might just make a few bucks. He opened his first Time-Out Family Amusement Center in 1970, in a mall in Colonie, NY. People loved the place so he opened more, in places like the Massapequa and Smith Haven malls. He soon found himself making far more than he ever had in the candy business. Little did he know what was on the horizon.
In 1975, Atari released “Pong”, the first commercial video game. Mr. Bonamo made sure there was one of these new-fangled machines in each of his outlets, and the public lined up to play. Thanks to the popularity of Pong, a flood of video games soon followed, and Time-Out was perfectly situated in the market. By the time Space Invaders hit in 1978, there were over 20 Time-Out locations on the east coast. Time-Out flourished until the end of the 80s, when the popularity of arcades began to fade, replaced by a wave of superior home gaming consoles.
Time-Out no longer inhabits many shopping malls, and the arcade game industry is a mere shell of its former self. But back in the day, there was almost no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon with your friends than with a pocket of quarters and a couple of hours to kill at a Time-Out arcade.
Were you one of those 70s kids? We hope you’ll take a moment to share your Time-Out memories with all of us in the comments section.