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Complex orthogonal designs (CODs) of rate 1/2 have been considered recently for use in analog transmissions and as an alternative to maximum rate CODs due to the savings in decoding delay as the number of antennas increases. While algorithms have been developed to show that an upper bound on the minimum decoding delay for rate 1/2 CODs with n=2m-1 or n=2m columns is ν(n) = 2m-1 or ν(n) = 2m, depending on the parity of n modulo 8, it remains open to determine the exact minimum delay. This paper shows that this bound ν(n) is also a lower bound on minimum decoding delay for a major class of rate 1/2 CODs, named balanced complex orthogonal designs (BCODs), and that this is the exact minimum decoding delay for most BCODs. These rate 1/2 codes are conjugation-separated and thus permit a linearized description of the transceiver signal. BCODs also display other combinatorial properties that are expected to be useful in implementation, such as having no linear processing. An elegant construction is provided for a class of rate 1/2 CODs that have no zero entries, effectively no irrational coefficients, no linear processing, and have each variable appearing exactly twice per column. The resulting codes meet the aforementioned bound on decoding delay in most cases. This class of CODs will be useful in practice due to their low peak-to-average power ratio (PAPR) and other desirable properties.