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The Intellivision is a second generation gaming console. It was released in 1979 by Mattel Electronics. The name Intellivision is a contraction of ‘intelligent’ and ’television’. It is considered the first 16-bit gaming console. Unique for this generation.

The intellivision had to distinguish itself from its main competitors, the Philips Videopac and the Atari 2600, in particular by its superior graphics. However, with a price tag of $250 it was relatively expensive in the late 1970s.


The Intellivision sold relatively well. An aggressive marketing campaign was started for this purpose. The console was particularly popular in the US. Many of its games are based on real-world concepts, such as sports games. A genre that sold well in the US. In Europe, the Intellivision had little success because of various PCs, such as the Commodore 64 and MSX, which were especially popular in the Netherlands. Those ‘home computers’ ensured that the Intellivision and other game computers remained a niche market. The system sold a total of 3 million units, and 125 games were made for the system.

The Intellivision was not marketed as a toy, but more as a console for a somewhat older audience. An example of this is that the games did not work according to the pick-up-and-play principle of the arcade games. The player first had to immerse himself in the gameplay by reading the manual before he could play the game. Every cartridge produced by Mattel Electronics includes two plastic controller overlays to help navigate the 12-button keypad, although not every game uses it.

Inside every Intellivision console is 4K of ROM containing the Exec software. It provides two benefits: reusable code that can effectively make a 4K cartridge an 8K game, and a software framework for new programmers to develop games more easily and quickly. As a result, an extensive game library could be created quickly. The same strategy and technique was applied by Philips with its Videopac console. An important disadvantage, however, was that the games started to look very similar. After all, it was very tempting to develop games to earn money quickly by using reusable code.

The computer games released by Mattel do not contain the names of the designers, only the name of the team: Blue Sky Rangers. Until 1982, this was a general guideline applied by almost every game console developer to prevent programmers from being lured away by the competition.

Look and feel

The appearance of the intellivision is special in the sense that the console combines black, brown and gold-colored accents. However, just like the Atari 2600, it has a wood-look on the top. It’s clearly having the same design philosophy of many other console builders of the second-generation.

The console has two hard-wired controllers that can be placed back into two recesses on the top of the console after use. The control works via a turntable. This was not very intuitive and one of the main criticisms of the console. Furthermore, the console has an antenna connection.

The end

Intellivision was one of the few video game systems to survive the 1983 Video Game Crash. However, Mattel discontinued the console in 1984 and sold the rights to INTV Corporation. Game consoles and new games were made until 1989.

TypeHome console
Worth150 euro
ProcessorGI CP1610
RAM1kb RAM, 6kb ROM
units sold3 million

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