The little known, Intelliman constellation~
It is I, the Chairman!
I’m getting to that, Dr. House… Jeeze..
Anywho– I come before you today to discuss a veritible titan of pre-crash posterity.
I refer of course to the 2nd generation console by Mattel Electronics;
Frankly– it reminds me a bit of a marriage between the Colecovision and any piece of furniture from 1975– but here we are..
Actually though, development of this archaic machine began in 1977– the same year the Atari 2600 was released. A ballsy move if ever there was one.
What truly set this system apart from its competetors however, was it’s slew of peripherals and industry firsts.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and get right into it, shall we?
Toting a custom chipset developed for Mattel in 1977 called the GI CP1610– the Intellivision was already poised to deliver a blow to the current market king-of-the-hill: Atari.
524B S-RAM, 932B V-RAM and 7168B ROM, while not meaning a whole lot to me paritcularly– meant for faster, more powerful processing power, better graphics and a library of game concepts that had never before been attempted due to restrictions in hardware.
Why, even the controllers we’re state of the art for their time, in that they featured the first every ‘directional thumb pad’ known as the control disk. A cross between a joystick and a paddle, as it was described.
They even featured a numerical key-pad, much like the Coleco did, except many games featured custom overlays for this that served to dictate what each key did for that particular title.
Now as I mentioned, before– the Intellivision had a slew of peripherals that made it stand out amongst other consoles of the time.
If any of you happened to have taken a look at my Colecovision post, you’d know that I was rather excited about the add-ons available for it.
They pale in comparison to what the Intellivision could do…
We’ll start with the basics…
That’s right kids, much like the Colecovision’s Adam, the Intellivision’s Blue Whale or Intelliputer addon would turn your home console into a home computer.
This bad boy comes with a built-in tape drive AND an additional 8-Bit 6502 processor effectively turning the Intellivision into a dual processor HOME computer… In the 70’s…
It allowed users to load an execute programs from tape across both programming code structures afforded to the Intellvision by its two different processors.
Though never being meant as a business or hobbyist computer model, it would run pre-programmed software and Videotex instead of allowing users to write to tape themselves, as the Colecovision’s Adam had.
Or Entertainment Computer System was Mattel’s second attempt at producing a peripheral for the Intellivision– however this particular device was not without it’s problems…
Initially– it was developed as a form of internal competition against the team divising the Keyboard peripheral. Apparently, Mattel’s upper echelon was worried about the progress on the aforementioned peripheral, and decided it best to sic a secondary team on the problem lest they face the hammer of the Federal Trade Commission.
The result of this was a team who begun work on a BASIC development system which they’d planned to sell as an educational device to teach programming at an early age.
However in truth, this team’s real purpose was to fix the Keyboard Component– or replace it entirely.
You see– the FTC had been hounding Mattel due to their early promise of a home computer conversion that would be made available for the Intellivision. Infact– many people purchased the system with that very promise on the forefront of their minds.
It was taking longer than expected however– so the ECS was developed as a means to get the guv’ment off their backs.
In the end, it was significantly underpowered compared to hardware upgrades the Keyboard peripheral offered– but at least did include the BASIC development system that was originally touted– albeit buggy at best.
Though by far the coolest addition the ECS offered was the expansion of the Intellivision’s controller ports– bringing the maximum user base of a single unit from 2 players, to 4!
Eat that Gamecube.
One of my favorites here, very cool..
In 1982, Mattel had decided to go all in with the insanity– and introduced to the public, a voice synthesizing module.
The Intellivoice basically served as a speech synthesizer which would produce dialogue available for compatible cartridges. It was available in both male and female voices and even came with a slew of distinct accents.
Unfortunately, only five games were ever able to utilize this amazing piece of hardware.
In 1981, Mattel decided it would be neat to afford it’s users the ability to download titles over their cable service lines. The PlayCable was the first every peripheral to allow for DLC.
Unfortunately, it was not well recieved as it’s hefty price tag didn’t mesh well with the limitations of the hardware at large.
Sadly, this device was discontinued only two years after its release.
This one, I was actually able to nab a picture of…
Thats right kids.
With the aforementioned ECS module installed, you could toss this bad boy into the mix and make yourt own music.
It featured 49 keys, and thanks to the ECS’ built in additional sound chip– a slew of pre-programmed voices.
Now that we’ve managed to get through slew of available addons– let’s tackle what the Intellivision was actually MEANT to do.
By 1989, a total of 133 ‘games’ were released for the system.
I say that with airquotes, you see– because some of these titles were actually learning tools released on cassett for the keyboard component, but thats neither here nor there…
Most of the software available for the Intellivision was focused around realistic scenarios with an emphasis on said realism.
Sports games that ranged from baseball to boxing– from bowling to golf… hell even U.S. team skiing. Where as on the flip side of things– is America’s second favorite passtime. War.
Armor battle, Sea Battle and Sub Hunt are just a few examples of our collective lust for the blood of a thousand pixels.
And how could I close things out without mentioning Utopia!
Proudly touting the title of the worlds first strategy construction/management sim ever.
As I said earlier– many firsts, such wow.
So what are your thoughts on this archic system?
Did you ever own one?
Do you now wish you had?
Are you currently on ebay dropping thousands of dollars to get yourself one?
Yeah, me either– but you cannot deny it’s importance in gaming’s history at large.
With that– I take my leave of you my pretties. Until next time~