My Mattel Electronics Page

Contents

 Background

 The systems I own

 Current Projects

 Favorite Links

 Return to my home-page

 

Background

After successful test marketing in 1979, Mattel released its Intellivision system nationwide in late 1980. Armed with twelve games, better graphics and sound than its competitors, and the promise to release a compatible keyboard that would turn the system into a home computer ("Play games and balance your checkbook!"), the Intellivision had its sights set on taking down the "invincible" Atari 2600. They got off to a good start, selling out the first production run of 200,000 units quickly.

Mattel also released the system under different names to expand its market. The Intellivision was released in Sears stores as the Super Video Arcade, at Radio Shack as the Tandyvision I, and as the GTE / Sylvania Intellivision.

Many people bought an Intellivision with plans to turn it into a home computer when the keyboard was released. There was a huge marketing campaign for this (one-third of the back of the Intellivision box was dedicated to the "Under Development" keyboard), but months and then years passed without the keyboard being released. Actually, it was released in a few test markets in late '81, but the price was too high and the initial reaction poor. So in 1982, Mattel scrapped plans for the infamous keyboard, but later (due to government pressure), they had to make a computer add-on anyway (see below).

Intellivision tried some new things in 1982, releasing a voice-synthesis module called Intellivoice that made sound and speech an integral part of gameplay when used with compatible cartridges. Intellivision also released the Intellivision II which was described as "smaller and lighter than the original, yet with the same powerful 16-bit microprocessor." The Intellivision II was designed for a few reasons: to lower the production cost, make repairs easier (for example, it replaced the hard-wired controllers with removable ones), make expansion easier (for the upcoming 2600 adapter and other accessories), and to prevent Coleco Intellivision games from working on the system. Yes, Mattel actually put in a subroutine to prevent the Intellivision II from playing its competitors games. This subroutine also prevented one of Mattel's own games from working as well. When this was discovered, Mattel claimed it was the fault of the competitors' software. This change also led to a slight timing error in some games with sound effects. Competitors soon found a way to bypass this subroutine, to get their future games to work.

In 1983, Mattel introduced the Intellivision III at CES (Consumer Electronics Show). Heralding it as their "next generation" system, the Intellivision III was supposed to feature a built-in Intellivoice, higher resolution, unlimited colors, faster sprites and higher sprite capabilities, six channel sound, remote controlled joysticks, four controller ports, more ROM and RAM, and be compatible with all Intellivision and Aquarius titles (the Aquarius was an unsuccessful home computer by Mattel dubbed "a system for the 70's" due to its obsolencence). Later, Mattel announced they were killing the Intellivision III and including most of its features into their long-awaited computer expansion, now known as the Entertainment Computer System. Mattel didn't publically mention their top secret Intellivision IV project, which was a totally incompatible console system with all new technology.

The Entertainment Computer System (ECS) promised a keyboard, 64K of RAM (with RAM expansion modules), a music synthesizer, a data recorder, a 40-column thermal printer, and an adapter which would allow you to play Atari 2600 games on your Intellivision. The RAM expansion modules, data recorder, and thermal printer were never released and the music synthesizer had only one software title. While the 2600 adapter was a nice feature, the Coleco Vision already had one. It was too little, too late.

Despite Mattel's awful marketing, the Intellivision sold over 3 million units.

Back to top

The systems I own

 Handheld Baseball , Released 1977.

Intellivision I, Released 1979.

Click here to see my cartridge collection

Intellivision II, Released 1979

Aquarius Home Computer, Released 1982

This computer is able to run all the intellivision games with a special accessory.

Only 20,000 units were manufactured!!!

In addition, I also have its original tape-player, both with boxes and manuals.

 

Back to top

Current Projects

None at this time.

 

Back to top

Favorite Links

To be added.

 

 

Back to top

 

Last Revised: December 22, 1999

  This page had been reviewed 375times since Dec. 22, 1999