The Intellivision video game console was released by Mattel in 1979. Intellivision was Mattel’s first and only console until 2006, when they developed HyperScan.
Intellivision was first released with four games, and posed a serious threat to the Atari 2600’s dominance of the market. This was due to advertisements which compared the two consoles side-by-side and demonstrated Intellivision’s superior graphics and audio.
The console featured a unique 16-bit microprocessor with wider instructions and registers, allowing for more variety and speed, as well as an advanced sound chip. Intellivision also featured other innovations: it was the first console to have downloadable games, even though they were wiped from the console when it was shut off; it was the first console to have a controller with a 16-directional pad; it was the first console to have a musical synthesizer keyboard; and it was the first console to have a built-in complete character font.
Intellivision continued to upgrade their features, developing Intellivoice, a device that produced speech in different games. However, the amount of speech that could be contained on the console’s cartridge was small, and Intellivoice did not sell as much as Mattel had expected.
Mattel then designed Intellivision II, released in 1982. This new model was created to be easy and cheap to manufacture, and included an internal ROM program to try and block competitor’s titles. However, the competition quickly found their way around Intellivision II’s software.
During the video game crash of 1983, the division of Mattel which produced Intellivision shut down, though games designed for the console were revamped for more modern consoles such as PlayStation 2.