The Intellivision Master Component had been heavily advertised to be followed up by the release of a 'Keyboard Component' that would turn the Mattel games machine into a home computer.
The Keyboard Component was to be a larger casing that the Intellivision Master Component was inserted into and was to have a data tape drive and an external port for cartridges (you couldn't get at the original port from inside), support for a forty column printer and a keyboard that contained all the 'smarts' the Master Component didn't. The Keyboard Component would have also upgraded the system's memory to 64K which was very reasonable at the time.
The data tape drive would have had been able to provide an audio track as well as a data track (much like the Atari 1010 drive) making it ideal for educational software as the user could receive spoken information while programs loaded.
Sadly, mainly due to it being an amazingly ambitious piece of tech for the time, and being prohibitively expensive to manufacture it never got off the ground.
What it did do is trigger enough public outcry that the US Federal Trade Commission fined Mattel $10,000 per day until they made good on their promise to release the hardware to consumers.
Enter the Intellivision Entertainment Computer System was born. In 1981 Mattel management had started to become concerned that the Keyboard Component would never get up and running so had a secret team working on a much cheaper option, the ECS. The team was kept secret purely so it wouldn't cheese off the Keyboard Component development team.
When the FTC hit Mattel with the daily fine it was the ECS's time to shine as it barely scraped through the check list to turn the Intellivision into a home computer. Offering only a 2K memory upgrade and limited storage and output capabilities it saved Mattel's collective arses.
The ECS came with an very basic BASIC loaded on ROM. Users could write programs, save/load them and print. So now the Intellivision was a computer. The keyboard was HORRIBLE to use and prone to stuck keys.
The only really redeeming feature was that the ECS came with a decent sound chip which allowed you to plug a dedicated, forty nine key piano keyboard into it turning it in to a horrible looking, multi-voice synthesizer.
Very shortly after it was released software development halted for the ECS and Mattel moved away from add-on hardware.
It really is a horrible, brown chunk.
|Unit pictured has been sold and its location is unknown.|