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Sylvania Intellivision

For several companies Mattel made the Intellivision under a few other names and sometimes with a slightly different design: 

- T
ele-Games Super Video Arcade for Sears stores

Tandyvision One for Radio Shack

- Sylvania Intellivision for GTE phone stores



Intellivision II and III

Mattel also made an Intellivision II. This console was smaller and lighter, but could do the same as number one, like Mattel - of course - stressed in its advertising campaign. Advantages for Mattel were the lower manufacturing costs and the fact that the Intellivision II was easier to repair. Unlike those of the first Intellivision, the controllers of the II could be detached from the console. 

Intellivision II

Another difference was a trick in the Intellivision II, which blocked games developed by other companies. It was that effective that it even blocked on specific game of Mattel itself. But the competitors soon found ways to by-pass this obstacle.

In 1983 Mattel even promised to come with an Intellivision III, with a built-in speech module, more colours, a higher resolution and more technical tour de forces, but it never made it to the shops. It even seems that Mattel very secretly worked on an Intellivision IV, which should have been a totally different console.










Welcome to the nostalgic history of home and game computers  


With the arrival of the Mattel Intellivision in 1980 a time before online degrees and fancy touch screen phones, the monopoly of Atari in the world of game consoles came to an end. The Mattel Intellivision was the first real competitor for the Atari VCS 2600. Within three years, Mattel succeeded to sell three million Intellivision consoles. The toy manufacturer stayed far away from the record numbers of Atari, but yet it succeeded to acquire a substantial market share.

Overlay to put on the controller 
for the game Armor Battle

Hard advertising campaign
Mattel Electronics, the new division of Mattel, started an advertising campaign that was unprecedented in the world of game consoles. The company began a firm offensive on Atari, stressing the technical superiority of the Intellivision compared to the VCS 2600 from Atari. And indeed, the Intellivision was superior: with its 16 bits processor the console was ahead of its time.
The graphical performances were also better then those of the VCS 2600. Besides, the console had advanced controllers: the joystick (a little wheel) made it possible to move objects in sixteen directions. The freedom of movement of the Atari player was restricted to eight directions.

Large assortment of games
When Mattel started to sell the Intellivision (in 1980 in the U.S. and in Europe about two years later), the consumer could already choose from a large assortment of games. The Intellivision distinguished itself by the large amount of sport games, for which Mattel had obtained licences from many American sport associations. With those games Mattel appealed to a fresh segment of gamers.
A disadvantage of the Intellivision games was that many were for two players only.

Blue Sky Rangers
To keep the costs down, at least as long it was not clear if the Intellivision would catch on, Mattel Electronics first cheaply contracted out the development of games. Then the company contracted computer students, who wrote the games as part of their study.
When the Intellivision started to catch on, Mattel created a close-knit team of programmers known as the Blue Sky Rangers. Nowadays the Rangers are again active: in 1997 they took over the rights on the Intellivision and since then they redesign the classic game titles for the current generation of game consoles and for use of cell phones.

Cursed keyboard
Mattel may have indulged the Intellivision users with a large assortment of games (some 125 were made), in another respect the company seriously mislead the consumer. When the Intellivision was launched, Mattel promised it would quickly make a module with which it would be possible to transform the console in a fully-fledged home computer. The slogans in the advertising campaign left no doubt: 'Play games and balance your check book!'. For many consumers it was an extra reason to buy the Intellivision.

Washington puts pressure on Mattel
But the module didn't appear in the shops. Mattel spread some 4,000 among consumers for testing, but the company recoiled because of the high costs and the non-enthusiastic reception by the users. Only in 1983 Mattel came with an alternative, under pressure of the government instances that had received many complaints from disappointed Intellivision owners. The alternative was a stripped version of the originally developed keyboard, far away from the promises Mattel had made.

Production halted
In the same year in which Mattel finally came with this cursed keyboard, the company stopped manufacturing the Intellivision. De first signs of the crash on the console market were in the air. Besides, Mattel's advertising campaign, stressing Intellivision's technical superiority, came back as a boomerang in 1982. Then Coleco launched the famous Colecovision, which on its turned performed better then the Intellivision.

Intellivision still exists
But the Intellivision still exists. When Mattel stopped its adventure, vice-VP marketing Valeski bought the rights and developed new games with his company INTV. In 1985 it came with a new version of the Intellivision: the INTV System III. It was almost the same as the original Intellivision, except that it had a black instead of a wooden-like case. Manufacturing continued until 1991.

Six years later the Blue Sky Rangers Keith Robinson en Stephen Roney took over the rights from Valeski and founded Intellivision Productions. Like I told before, the company still (re-)develops games.

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History of Home and Game Computers, by Erik Klooster, the Netherlands

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