Jan 092014
 

Time-Out arcade

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.

Time Out

Time-Out, Smith Haven Mall location.

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.

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  12 Responses to “Time Out”

  1. I use to go to the Massapequa, south shore mall (I remember it being near Hammerheads) and the old Gardener-Manner mall with its skybridge. At the Massapequa Mall I remember playing digdug, Sinistar (I LIVE!) and millipede. eating at the sabarros once (I remember the owner making fun of kicking a bunch of handicapped people out of the resturant once, never went there again. heck! I remember there was a hot air baloon event in the parking lot of the Massapequa mall I wen to once as a kid. I also watched The Terminator and Beverly Hills Cop in the upstairs theater manny moons ago.

  2. Ah Time-Out. I lived near Sunrise Mall in Massapequa so I was lucky enough to have two arcades, Time-Out and the Galaxy Arcade, both sadly gone. Galaxy had a HUGE light up in blue logo in between their two entrances and when they left, a nail place took over and kept the sign calling themselves Galaxy Nails. Back to Time-Out, I was pretty much there through every instance and remodel. My dad knew a few bucks in tokens would keep me out of trouble for a few hours while he and my mother shopped away.

  3. This came along just before I nailed a driver’s license in 1979 I think it was, so I missed it. I was given an old Ford Pinto because I was able to get electronics assembly work right behind Westbury Toyota on Bond Street. Instead, I had a Radio Shack color computer and typed in all the game programs by hand, which led to getting the $70 cassette recorder and cable to “save” them to tapes. Remember that piece of work? Then I grabbed an Atari 2600 used via the “Buy Lines” with ~16 games. Too fun! 2.5 million on Asteroids, I broke the damn ioystick! Yeah, but then the Apple ][+ came along and it was night & day, hands-down far more fun. After that was an Amiga 1000 and that’s right about the time my Unix Administration career really took off, worked my way up to Senior level positions and consulting during pre-Y2K.

    There was an arcade for the longest time which a Korean girl I dated just HAD to be taken to, it was on O.C. Road also, just west of here next to where the Nathan’s hotdog place is. You could get Coney Island dogs and such, then go thru an adjoining set of doors to the arcade and LOSE YOUR FRIGGING MIND! What was that place called? I think it’s Dave & Buster’s now. If you ever venture down south though, these arcade venues still exist and are quite popular, albeit most of them are Chuckie Cheese places. One thing you can/t get down south is REAL pizza so although NY taxes suck, you’ve got the better food!

    • I remember the cassette storage system from Radio Shack. I had a TRS-80 Model III, so you did better than me cause color options for that thing only added green and cost over $800 for the attachment. From there we went to an Atari 2600, which we never called anything but “an Atari” until the 5200 came out and there was a need to tell the difference. After that, it was an Intellivision, then a Vectrex (remember THAT?), then the PC clones started really hitting so we got a Tandy 1000 in the late 80’s, then a Tandy Sensation in the early 90’s.

      I was too young for arcades in the 70’s so I didn’t get to a Time Out until somewhere in the early 80’s. But by then we had moved to L.A. and had Captain Video and Westworld nearby, so we were always hanging around there with our friends, boyfriends (girlfriends for my brothers), etc. I miss arcades so much!

  4. I started with a Color computer with the chicklet(square) buttons like the gum. Upgraded to the Coco 2 and eventually the 3. I typed games from Rainbow and Color Computer magazines. I had also started out using a cassette drive and later upgraded to an external floppy drive. I actually still have my coco and most of the magazines!!

    I loved playing the games in arcades and still do. I collect arcade machines and currently have 5, used to have over 20 but needed space.

  5. What store is now in its place at the smithhaven mall where time out used to be

  6. I remember playing a very unusual game at Timeout in the Smithaven Mall. I think it was only there for a few years after they opened. It was a shooting game with a giant film screen. It was all the way in the back and it was huge! You could shoot a gun at real film footage of war planes flying by. When you hit one, the film would show the plane crashing into the ground and blowing up!! It even played the real sound effects of a whining plane and then the explosion! I have never played a more satisfying game ever!!!!! Does anyone remember it and/or it’s name? I think they finally got rid of it because it took up too much space and required a lot of maintenance.

    • Indeed I do remember that game! I can’t recall its name, although I can visualize it quite well. I recall that it started out near the front of the Time Out, but didn’t stay there for very long. My friends and I tried to figure out exactly what would trigger the crashing plane video, as it never seemed quite to coincide with pointing the gun at the flying planes — and then, when you got a “hit”, it took a few seconds for the crash video to cut in and run …

  7. What year did Time Out open in the Smith Haven Mall? Also what year did it close?
    Also Eva has a great question. What current store is in the location where Time Out use to be?

  8. […] arcades and video games occupied a very real part of our lives. From standalone arcades like TimeOut! in the nearby Smith Haven Mall, to walls of flashing lights at local roller skating rink, Studio […]

  9. I grew up on Long Island and worked at Time Out starting from 1975 or 1976 for about 2 years.

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