Developed by Mattel and consulting firm APh, the Intellivision (Intelligent Television) provided the first serious competition against Atari’s popular VCS game console.
With its advanced graphic capabilities and versatile keypad/disc controllers, the console was a success when released wide in the U.S. in 1980. Mattel’s aggressive advertising push for the Intellivision, which highlighted the superiority of its many sports games over Atari’s offerings, sparked a marketing war between the two companies. As Intellivision spokesperson George Plimpton was quick to point out, between Atari’s Home Run and Mattel’s Major League Baseball, there was simply no comparison. While Atari promoted their library of popular arcade game translations unavailable on other systems, hits like Night Stalker and Astrosmash help solidify the Intellivision’s success.
Speech synthesis via the Intellivoice module, as well as a game delivery system through Cable TV called Playcable, were eventually made available for the system. In 1983, Mattel redesigned the original Master Component console into the Intellivision II, simply a retooled box and controllers with the same capabilities at a reduced price. The Intellivision III was announced early that year, with such features as a built-in voice synthesizer, colour LCD display on the case and wireless joystick controllers. It and the top-secret Intellivision IV next-gen console project were cancelled by the end of the year as the home video game market collapsed.
After the company made a tenuous grasp for the home computer market with the ill-fated Aquarius computer, Mattel Electronics went out of business in 1984. All rights and existing stock for the Intellivision were sold to T.E. Valeski, former VP of Sales and Marketing at Mattel. As Intellivision, Inc. (later changed to INTV), the company marketed a cosmetically altered version of the original Master Component called the INTV System III in the fall of 1985. They met with enough success to produce several new games for the console, until this new venture closed its doors in 1990.
For more information on the history of Intellivision, consult your local Dot Eaters article.