The Intellivision is a video game console released by Mattel in 1979. Development of the console began in 1978, less than a year after the introduction of its main competitor, the Atari 2600. The word intellivision is a portmanteau of "intelligent television". Over 3 million Intellivision units were sold and a total of 125 games were released for the console.
The Intellivision was developed by Mattel Electronics, a subsidiary of Mattel formed expressly for the development of electronic games. The console was test marketed in Fresno, California, in 1979 with a total of four games available, and was released nationwide in 1980 with a price tag of US$299 and a pack-in game: Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack. Though not the first system to challenge Atari, it was the first to pose a serious threat to Atari's dominance. A series of ads featuring George Plimpton was produced that mercilessly attacked the Atari 2600's lesser capabilities with side-by-side game comparisons.
One of the slogans of the television advertisements stated that Intellivision was "the closest thing to the real thing"; one example in an advertisement compared golf games. The other console's games had a blip sound and cruder graphics, while the Intellivision featured a realistic swing sound and striking of the ball, and graphics that suggested a more 3D look, although undoubtedly crude when compared with modern gaming consoles. There was also an advertisement comparing the Atari 2600 to it, featuring the slogan "I didn't know".
Like Atari, Mattel marketed their console to a number of retailers as a rebadged unit. These models include the Radio Shack Tandyvision, the GTE-Sylvania Intellivision, and the Sears Super Video Arcade. The Sears model was a particular coup for Mattel, as Sears was already selling a rebadged Atari 2600 unit, and in doing so made a huge contribution to Atari's success.
In its first year Mattel sold 175,000 Intellivision consoles, and the library grew to 19 games. At thi...