16-bit Game Console - Dismantled for reference and curiosity
Originally released in 1979 by Mattel, the Intellivision was Atari's first real competitor for its Atari 2600 console.
The Intellivision is a game console that uses ROM cartridges to provide program data. The main unit or 'Master Component' houses the smarts, the controllers when not in use and the internal power supply. The unit outputs both audio and video via an internal RF modulator to the television via a coaxial cable.
It was a great system, the graphics and sound are more often than not superior to those produced by the Atari 2600 but sadly it didn't have the 2600's huge catalogue of games to support it.
The controllers, similar to those released with Coleco's ColecoVision game console made use of a directional pad. Having been designed before the ColecoVision makes the Intellivision the first console based game system to offer a directional pad. The controllers also offer two fire/action buttons and twelve function keys. The function key pad allowed for game manufacturers to supply thin, plastic overlay sheets that slot into the controllers customising them for that specific game. While this concept rapidly fell out of fashion, it was a huge help for players not used to more complex games needing them to remember a lot of functions linked to random buttons; eg Golf allows for stroke type, length and club selection.
It's not all good though; to start with the controller cables are criminally short. The cables are nice and robust but as a result, they take up a lot of space when packed away inside the unit. This meant they had to be short to compensate. Storing the controllers in the console I'm sure looked good on paper. Unfortunately in practice it was regularly frustrating. Also, if you got a little excited you were fairly likely to pull the whole console off of whatever piece of tacky 70's furniture it was on and onto the shag pile carpet.
The directional pad on the controllers are horrible to use, especially for any prolonged use and the fire buttons aren't much better.
Technical Firsts: the Intellivision was arguably the first 16-bit game system as its General Instrument CP1610 CPU is 16-bit. It was also the first to offer an upper and lower case font set with most standard punctuation, a music synthesizer keyboard and the addition real-time human voices during games with the addition of the Intellivoice; see separate page on this site for that hardware. Another first was the ability to download games via the cable TV networks with the use of the PlayCable adapter. A number of games for the system saw the creation of new genres and software design standards. The game Utopia is celebrated as the first CMS / Construction and Management Simulation (SimCity style) title.
INTV System III: In the mid 80's Mattel sold the rights to the Intellivision to INTV Corporation who later released the INTV System III. Technically it's identical in function to the Intellivision and the main PCB bares a strong resemblance to the KALEX version; see Intellivision page on this site. The biggest innovation the INTV System III brought to the user experience is the addition of a power LED.
This unit should not be confused with the Intellivision III or even IV that were in development by Mattel before the electronic game market crashed in the early eighties. The Intellivision III and IV were destined to be far superior consoles but sadly were never released.
Technically this isn't even really an Intellivision at all, it's an INTV System III but obviously it's still an Intellivision.
We shouldn't be too harsh. INTV Corporation was set up by some of the Intellivision developers Mattel felt they no longer needed. They had plans to release advanced Intellivision consoles, presumably developed with funds gained from the sale of the INTV System III.
Unfortunately the cost of such an endevour was too high and combining that with Nintendo moving into the home game market the plans were abandoned.