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Dead medium: Mattel Intellivision I/II/III, Tandyvision One, Super Video Arcade, Mattel Entertainment Computer System, INTV System III/IV, and Super Pro System
From: bruces@well.com (Bruce Sterling)

Source(s): Source: "Mattel Intellivision Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)" by Larry Anderson

"Version 3.0 == June 27th, 1995

"Copyright (c) 1995 Larry Anderson larry_a@netcom.com.

"All rights reserved. This document may be copied, in whole or in part, by any means provided the copyright and contributors sections remain intact and no fee is charged for the information. Contributors retain the copyright to their individual contributions.

"The data herein is provided for informational purposes only. No warranty is made with regards to the accuracy of this information.

"1.1 A Brief History of the Mattel Intellivision

"At the end of 1979, Mattel Electronics (a division of Mattel Toys) released a video game system known as Intellivision along with 12 video game cartridges. Poised as a competitor to the then king of the hill Atari 2600, Mattel Electronics called their new product 'Intelligent Television,' stemming largely from their marketing plans to release a compatible computer keyboard for their video games console. Mattel's marketing was anything *but* intelligent and almost destroyed the company by 1984. In one sense the system was very successful, with over 3 million units sold and 125 games released before the system was discontinued by INTV Corp. in 1990.

"The original Master Component was test marketed in Fresno, California in late 1979. The response was excellent, and Mattel went national with their new game system in late 1980. The first year's production run of 200,000 units was completely sold out! To help enhance its marketability, Mattel also marketed the system in Sears stores as the Super Video Arcade, and at Radio Shack as the Tandyvision One in the early 1980's.

"1980 was a turbulent year for the Intellivision. Mattel announced that an 'inexpensive' keyboard expansion would be available in 1981 for the master component to be dropped into. This was to turn the system into a powerful 64K home computer that could do everything from play games to balance your checkbook. There was a great deal of marketing money and press coverage devoted to this unit; a third of the box for the GTE/Sylvania Intellivision describes the features of this proposed expansion. Many people bought an Intellivision with plans to turn it into a computer when the expansion module was released.

"Months, then years passed and the original expansion keyboard was released only in a few test areas in late 1981. With the price too high and the initial reaction poor, the product was scrapped in 1982 before being released nationwide.

"1982 saw many changes in both the videogame industry and the Intellivision product line. A voice-synthesis module called Intellivoice made sound and speech and integral part of gameplay, through the use of special voice-enhanced cartridges. The Intellivision II was also released this year, which one company spokesperson described as 'smaller and lighter than the original, yet with the same powerful 16-bit microprocessor.' The new console was more compact than the first, and its grayish body made it look more like a sophisticated electronic device than the original design.

"1983 brought more promises from the folks at Mattel, the most significant of which being the Intellivision III. This was shown off at the January 1983 CES show, and lauded in the videogame mags for many months afterwards. In June of 1983 at the Summer CES show, Mattel announced it was killing the Intellivision III and including most of its high-profile features into their long-awaited computer expansion, the Entertainment Computer System.

"Probably the most ambitious effort the Intellivision team had undertaken, the Entertainment Computer System was comprised of a computer keyboard add-on, a 49-key music synthesizer, RAM expansion for the keyboard add-on to expand it to a full 64K RAM and 24K ROM, a data recorder to store programs, 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 never made it past the drawing board, and the music synthesizer had but one software title to take advantage of its capabilities. While the 2600 adapter greatly expanded the library of available games, much of the steam this generated had already been stolen by Coleco's own expansion module."

Bruce Sterling (bruces@well.com)