The Intellivision is a 16-bit gaming console by Mattel Electronics. It was released on December 3, 1979 in North America. It was later released in the UK, South Africa, Germany, France, Japan (distributed by Bandai), and Brazil. It was a competitor of the Atari 2600 and the ColecoVision. The console's name is a portmanteau of the words "Intelligent" and "Television."
The Intellivision has an interesting controller; a rectangular-shaped controller with 2 side buttons on each side of the controller, a numeric keypad, and a big round disc at the bottom which has 16 directional values instead of the more typical 8. Overlays were made for the games to slide over the keypad to assist the players in playing the games.
The Intellivision also had many peripherals including an expansion called the Intellivoice Voice Synthesis Module which used a General Instrument SP0256-012 and the Entertainment Computer System which included a AY-3-8917 and ports to hookup a musical keyboard.
The console was discontinued in 1990. However, Intellivision CEO Tommy Tallarico announced a new Intellivision console, the Intellivision Amico (Italian for "friend"), to be released in October 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the release was pushed back to April 3, 2021. The console is still awaiting release.
The Intellivision had several models.
The Master Component is the most well-known of all the Intellivision variants. It is compatible with all Intellivision cartridges.
Electronic Computer System (ECS)
The ECS added a keyboard peripheral to the Intellivision. A piano keyboard was also made for the ECS.
The Intellivoice was a voice synthesis module. It plugged into the cartridge slot of the Intellivision and utilized speech synthesis using a SP0256-012. However, only a few games were made for the peripheral; B-17 Bomber (INTV), Bomb Squad (INTV), Space Spartans (INTV), and Tron: Solar Sailor (INTV).
The Intellivision II was a smaller, more compact version of the Master Component.
The Intellivision III was to be an upgraded version of the Intellivision, compatible with all games. Unfortunately, it never saw the light of day, and only ads exist to show pictures of the console.
Super Video Arcade
The Super Video Arcade was released by Sears, and was only compatible with Sears Super Video Arcade cartridges.
The Intellivision Amico is an upcoming game console.
Music and Sound
The Intellivision uses a single AY-3-8914 PSG chip.
Most of the time, Intellivision games' audio was done by the programmers, as there was no way to import MIDI data into the games. Instead, programmers would have to code a sound driver and write the music in CP1610 assembly language. In the rare circumstances that professional composers would hire, they would send their compositions via sheet music or recordings to the programmers to implement into the game.