Well, as it turns out, the weird '1980' Electronic Battleship board I have must be a cost-reduced, ASIC-ified version of the 1977/1979 version.

Front: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/79094972/bship1980front.jpg
Back: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/79094972/bship1980back.jpg

I haven't checked whether it has the book programming stuff (I doubt it), but it uses a single chip which has markings very similar to the ASIC-ified MB Simon chip seen here:

Hence I believe it is an ASIC. Its audio sounds very similar to the 1982 version when turned on, but the (much cheaper than 1977/1979) switches need some repair (carbon coated conductive paper disks are falling off the backs of the switches; the 1977/1979 version has metal conductive bell-shaped contacts attached to the switch shafts instead which are much harder to damage or fall off, but are also clearly more expensive to produce).

I assume this whole thing was done as a cost reduction measure, possibly as a buildup to lower the retail price of electronic battleship sometime in 1980.


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