Mattel was founded in 1945. It was the first manufacturer of photo frames and doll accessories. After the launch of the Barbie doll in 1959, the company shifted its focus entirely to toys.
The incredible success of Barbie filled Mattel's coffers, which soon diversified its line by buying small toy companies with different product lines. Today, with well-known brands like Hot Wheels, Barbie and a series of other acquisitions that include Fisher-Price and Tyco, Mattel is one of the largest and most successful toy manufacturers in the world.
In 1977, Mattel, under its line Mattel Electronics, produced the original Auto Race, the first electronic handheld game. It was coarse compared to current standards - the look was represented by red LEDs and the sound consisted of simple beeps. But the new product was a huge success, spawning many other handheld games like Football and Battlestar Galactica. These games sold millions and gave Mattel confidence to enter the unknown video game market with the Intellivision Master Component.
Despite allowing movements in an impressive 16 positions, the directional dial was widely criticized for being clumsy in some games. Some accessories were created by other companies to supposedly improve control of the disc.
Plastic sheets (overlays) were supplied with the cartridges and inserted in the controls, on the numeric keypad. Some overlays brought important information about the game.
Initially, Mattel Electronics delegated the game programming work to the company APh Technological Consulting.
In 1980, an own development team was formed, known as The Blue Sky Rangers - the name was chosen during a brainstorming process for new games, called "blue-skying".
Mattel aggressively advertised in famous magazines and, like Atari, used TV commercials as an important part of advertising. For most commercials until 1983, Mattel hired writer George Plimpton, who became known as "Mr. Intellivision".
The infamous Plimpton ads helped publicize the system and enhance its technological advantages over the Atari VCS (known as 2600).
The ads usually featured an Intellivision game - usually a sports game, which made full use of the system's capabilities - alongside a simple-looking 2600 game.
Following the path of Atari with its 2600, Mattel Electronics has sublicensed the rights to distribute the Intellivision Master Component under different brands, including Sears Tele-Games Super Video Arcade, the Radio Shack Tandyvision One and the GTE Sylvania.
Except for aesthetic differences, most systems are identical to the original. Sears Super Video Arcade features a different splash screen and the company has re-released some game titles under its own brand.
Despite the good commercial results, Mattel Electronics started to have problems with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Several customers complained about the delay in launching the Keyboard Component , a module with a keyboard and cassette player promised by the company for 1981.
Although a few units could be launched for testing on the market and for those consumers who complained vehemently, the Keyboard Component would cost the company a lot for large-scale production.
The 4,000 units produced (at a loss) were not enough to calm the FTC. They imposed monthly fines on the company, which prompted Mattel to pursue an alternative plan for a cheaper, yet less-resilient expansion module - the Entertainment Computer System (ECS) - launched only in 1983.
Mattel disclosed that, with the resources of ECS, in addition to the Master Component itself and other peripherals such as Modem, Printer and Speech Synthesizer, Intellivision would have practically the same potential as a microcomputer of the time.
The set of equipment would form the Entertainment Center.
Very innovative for the time, the PlayCable was launched in 1982: an adapter that allowed you to download games over the cable TV network directly into memory device, which would be read by the Master Component as if it were a cartridge.
The subscription service was a partnership between Mattel Electronics and General Instrument (developer of the Intellivision chip) and made around 20 titles available every month. It was discontinued in 1983.
Still in 1982, Mattel Electronics launched the synthesized voice module Intellivoice , the second accessory of its kind for a video game console (the first to be launched was The Voice, for Magnavox's Odyssey console).
With the ingenious use of pre-recorded sound samples on the equipment and recordings loaded from the cartridge, each title for Intellivoice had its identity.
Although impressive, even using low recording frequencies, only five games with voice were released. Intellivoice's poor sales forced Mattel Electronics to issue free module coupons for those who purchased a Master Component or games by mail.
In 1983, to reduce production costs, Mattel Electronics launched the sleek and smaller Intellivision II, with removable controls and an external power source.
Another "feature" was a secret hardware validation that did not allow third-party software to operate. This check affected the arcade versions of the Coleco 1982 - Donkey Kong,
Mouse Trap and Carnival - and inadvertently prevented Mattel's The Electric Company Word Fun from running.
Fortunately, internal and external teams have found a way to circumvent this verification. But malaise with partner companies was already established.
A special video output was added to the cartridge door and made System Changer possible, a module that allowed Intellivision II to run Atari 2600 games All other versions of Intellivision consoles require internal modifications to use System Changer.
In the same year, the second computer module was launched: the Entertainment Computer System (ECS), replacing the late Keyboard Component. ECS, like System Changer, had the same style as Intellivision II, although compatible with all models of Intellivision and Intellivoice.
The ECS has a pluggable keyboard, an expander box and a power supply, in addition to allowing the connection of a standard cassette recorder and a printer.
Despite all the releases, the future of the Intellivision modules, however, was uncertain. Mattel Electronics, after changing the company's direction in 1983, shifted its focus from hardware to software.
This change removed the priority of modules like ECS and Intellivoice; only the Master Component would continue to receive support for software and dissemination. In the end, only a musical keyboard (Music Synthesizer) and five cartridges were launched specifically for ECS.
Following general industry losses with the "big video game crash" and a lot of money spent on hardware development, Mattel Electronics closed its doors on 1/20/1984, and its estate was sold to a company owned by Terry Valeski, former senior vice president of marketing and sales for Mattel Electronics, for about $ 20 million.
In addition to carrying out the inventory, Intellivision Inc. sold cartridges for some complete games that had not been previously released.
In 1985, as soon as the remaining Mattel Electronics products were sold, Valeski bought shares from other investors in Intellivision Inc. for $ 1 million and formed Intv Corporation.
The new company hired programmers from defunct Mattel Electronics to produce new games for Intellivision.
The company also launched the INTV System III (which was later named INTV Super Pro system), based on the original Intellivision Master Component and with minor aesthetic differences.
Like the Atari 2600 Jr., the INTV System III was sold as a low-cost alternative to the most modern systems of the time, with prices below $ 60 and many games below $ 20.
Intv Corporation continued to produce new products until 1990, when it went bankrupt and closed in 1991.
Mattel was not idle after closing its electronics branch. The toy company became involved again with the games industry and joined Nintendo in 1986.
It not only produced new software and peripherals for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but also distributed them across Europe in 1987 and Canada, as a Nintendo representative, between 1986 and 1990.
Although most of the 1990s were quiet in the video game business for Mattel, in 1999 the company acquired a major computer software publisher called Learning Company, but got rid of it a year later due to the high costs associated with its acquisition. .
At the turn of the decade, in an effort to try to embark on the growing wave of nostalgia for electronic classics, Mattel successfully reintroduced reproductions of its classic line of handheld games.
A few years later, in 2006, the company acquired TV game maker Radica and launched the first console actually manufactured by Mattel since the Intellivision II, the Mattel HyperScan.
HyperScan combines a scanner of collection cards (cards) with fighting games for a young target audience.
For the first time, a company that had participated in the market before the 1984 crash was returning to the volatile market for electronic games.
Unfortunately, for Mattel, HyperScan did not arouse much interest and found its way into sales and inventory burns shortly after launch.
Exclusive rights to the Intellivision system and games were acquired by former Mattel Electronics programmers who, in 1997, joined and created Intellivision Productions Inc. The company chaired by Keith Robinson created free game emulators from Intellivision for PC and Mac, in addition to launching collections of classic console games for Xbox, Playstation, DS and GameCube.
The Intellivision logo and its mascot "running man" started to print T-shirts, mugs, caps and other accessories for sale on the official website. The participation of Intv Productions representatives in fairs and events kept the history of the console alive and helped to create a nostalgic wave of old games, reinforced with the launch of Intellivision Flashback on 10/01/2014, a compact version of the Master Component with 60 original games in memory.
The death of President of Intellivision Productions, Keith Robinson, on 6/13/2017, left a huge doubt about the future of the company. After a few months, already in 2018, the official website was redesigned and a new company was introduced: Intellivision Entertainment, led by Tommy Tallarico, a musician and producer of game soundtracks, as well as an Intellivision fan and collector.
Tommy assembled a team with big names from the gaming scene of the 80s, 90s and 2000s to create a new console: the Intellivision Amico.
With design similar to Intellivision II and extremely advanced hardware, the Amico was introduced at the end of that year and pre-sales started, with the motto of Intellivision classics recreated for the new console and the rescue of the meetings of family and friends around of the tv to play.
With a promised release for 10/10/2020, the Amico pre-order was a success and the few units were soon sold out. The launch, however, was postponed to 4/15/2021 and later to 10/10/2021 due to the pandemic of COVID-19 (New Corona Virus) that severely affected the world economy in those years.
Source: Classic Gaming Brasil, Gamasutra, Wikipedia, "1983: o ano dos videogames no Brasil" from Marcus Chiado, Sergio Vares
Officially, 125 games were released for Intellivision between 1979 and 1990, with a small portion that requires Intellivoice or ECS.
Many of the games contain some of the best graphics and sounds of all video games, until Coleco released its powerful Colecovision, although its gameplay seems a little slower compared to its competitors.
Mattel generally grouped its first games into categories called "networks", including Sports Network, Action Network, Gaming Network, Space Action Network, Strategy Network, Children's Learning Network and Arcade Network, with different box colors.
However, Mattel's marketing abandoned this concept in late 1982, launching most games within the Action Network category.
In the first two years of the original Intellivision Master Component, the console was accompanied by Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack, which features great versions of these games for 1 or 2 players, including sounds and animations from the dealer.
In the following years, it was accompanied by the Astrosmash, one of the most well-known titles on the console in which asteroids and other objects fall on the screen and must be destroyed.
The game has an automatic dynamic difficulty control that allows high scores even for beginners. Right after the launch of Intellivision II, a coupon for the excellent conversion of the famous arcade Burgertime has been included.
Intellivision is famous for its enormous quality in the field of sports games, including Major League Baseball, NFL Football, NBA Basketball, NHL Hockey and PGA Golf, all released in 1980 and among the first licensed games with professional sports associations.
Most of these titles have great gameplay with the directional pad of the controller and make good use of overlays on the numeric keypad. INTV Corp. released, years later, updated versions for some of these games, which introduced new features and support for 1 player, although without the expensive licenses of the brands involved.
Although the strategy was to gain market share with well-known brands, Mattel's talented developers did not really want to follow the example of creating bad games and appear on the recognition board just for the product to be launched. Mattel's list included the classic RPG Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, The Electric Company educational games, games based on the Disney movie TRON, in addition to Hanna-Barbera games for ECS.
Mattel eventually shifted its focus from development to action games, but for a time, Intellivision received several excellent releases that require more than just thought. In addition to releases such as Reversi and USCF Chess, there was the innovative and critically acclaimed Utopia, which allowed one or two players to control an island with constant natural disasters and provoked.
"Atari x Intellivision? Nothing I say can be more persuasive than your own eyes will tell you. But I can't resist telling you more." said George Plimpton in a magazine ad 1982.
Most games scheduled for release in 1983 were advertised as "Supergraphics". The intention of this label was to give Intellivision more strength against attacks by the most advanced supersystems Colecovision and Atari 5200.
In reality, "Supergraphics" was a marketing ploy, although the games used more sophisticated programming routines to generate better graphics and smoother gameplay than previously released games.
Anyway, the announcement helped to make the new games a little more exciting. This new batch of Mattel titles included the multi-screen game Masters of the Universe: The Power of He -Man and the arcade version Bump 'n' Jump.
Despite having released just five titles with Intellivoice in mind, what was created is something more characteristic and sophisticated for this system. This includes Space Spartans, Bomb Squad and B-17 Bomber, which simulates a bombing of World War II.
There is also the ECS version of the World Series Major League Baseball, which features one of the first baseball games with multi-angle, with fast gameplay based on real statistics, use of Intellivoice and ease of loading and saving games on cassette.
Unfortunately, the rarity of the combined equipment allowed only a few players to experience Eddie Dombrower's programming skills in simulating Major League Baseball - at least until the launch of his famous Earl Weaver Baseball for IBM PC and compatible, and for Commodore Amiga four computers years later.
In 1983, the remaining list of ECS cartridges was launched. These titles include Mind Strike, Mr. BASIC Meets Bits' n Bytes , which teaches basic programming through three games and a 72-page illustrated book and Melody Blaster, a musical version of Astrosmash and the only title, in addition to the internal music program, which makes use of the musical keyboard Music Synthesizer.
Unfortunately, while new titles were in development before Mattel Electronics stopped supporting ECS, no software took advantage of the additional control ports for games with four players.
Support for third-party software started slowly for Intellivision, with Mattel Electronics' attempt to block development with the launch of Intellivision II. In addition to the Coleco, Activision, Atarisoft, Imagic, Interphase and Parker Brothers launched cartridges for the system since 1982.
Although many of these companies work with other systems (mainly Atari 2600), some titles have been released exclusively for the Mattel platform, including Happy Trails by Activision and Dracula by Imagic.
In particular, Imagic invested heavily in the system, launching seven more exclusive games, for a total of 14 titles.
Among them, Microsurgeon and Swords & Serpents, both in 1982.
After Mattel Electronics closed in 1984, sales of the remaining items (now held by Intellivision Inc.) were going well. Terry Valeski decided to try to launch new games. These games included World Series Baseball (now with support for 1 or 2 players), Thunder Castle , World Cup Soccer (1 or 2 players) and Championship Tennis (1 or 2 players).
The first two games were developed at Mattel Electronics but never released, and the last two were completed at a Mattel Electronics office in France; they were previously launched only in Europe by Dextell Ltd. The success of these new launches spurred Valeski to buy the assets of Intellivision Inc. and found INTV Corp. to continue releasing new titles for Intellivision.
To save money, the new releases and re-releases were produced with thinner boxes, without overlays (or, when absolutely necessary, with inferior quality), labels and manuals printed in black and often without renewing licenses, which caused a change in name for some titles.
In four decades of existence, the console with more than three million units sold still brings news.
In terms of hardware, the highlights are the multicart Intellicart and Cuttle Cart 3, by Chad Schell, which allows you to load and play ROM files on the original console. These accessories are no longer produced, but new multicart were launched later, such as HIVE and LTO Flash!.
The converter software IntyBASIC by Óscar Toledo Gutiérrez also helped drive the development of new games. With the possibility of creating in a more accessible language, several players and collectors started to develop quite interesting games and even conversions of classics and arcades with admirable quality.
Some of these games won full versions with box, overlay and professional quality manual and were released commercially, such as Flapee Bird, Missile Domination, H.E.L.I. and the collection IntyBASIC Showcase Vol.1.
Some games have also been edited or reissued by the Blue Sky Rangers themselves. This is the case of Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball, considered the rarest in the official catalog, which received new packaging in a limited run and Deep Pockets: Super Pro Pool & Billiards, developed in 1990 by Intv Corp. but never released. The game King of the Mountain, started at Mattel Electronics, was finalized and also launched with box, manual and overlays.
Mattel Electronics held several competitions and championships in the early 1980s. The events were grandiose and held in partnership with radio stations, department stores and more.
In addition to the famous Astrosmash Shootoff Competition, the Intellivision Videochallenge Tournament brought parents and children together to compete in 6 console games: Frog Bog, Night Stalker , Astrosmash, Skiing, Golf and Lock 'n' Chase.
The tournament, in partnership with the radio station WBZZ-FM, took place between 10/09/1982 and 10/12/1982 and distributed several prizes such as a 45 "projector, cameras, consoles, cartridges and Intellivoice modules.
In addition to the partnership with cable TV companies to use PlayCable, Mattel Electronics also entered into another successful partnership with Marv Kempner, creator of the interactive game show TV POWWW!.
In the 1970s, Mark created the TV show using 'Fairchild Channel F' consoles modified to be accessed from voice commands and with simplified versions of games from that console. The POWWW TV! was created to be inserted in live programs, such as children's early morning. Basically, a player in the studio should compete with a player at home over the phone.
They were, for the most part, simple target shooting games - the player in the studio fired the shots shouting "POW!". After 15 or 30 seconds, the game was restarted and the player on the phone tried to beat the score of the studio player.
The POWWW TV! it was a success, but in 1980, Fairchild announced its exit from the video game market. In need of a replacement system, Kempner made a deal with Mattel to use Intellivision.
Some Intellivision games have been modified to the program format, including Astrosmash, Skiing and Word Rockets, from The Electric Company Word Fun .
Four games made especially for TV POWWW! were later released in the Sharp Shot cartridge.
With Intellivision games, the program has become more popular than ever and many broadcasters have signed on. Some showed POWWW TV! only during children's programs, others targeted young people and adults. At New York's WPIX broadcaster, players were told to shout "PIX!" instead of "POW!".
The TV program POWWW! it spread across the planet, and was even shown in Brazil by TVS (later SBT, by businessman Silvio Santos). Although Mattel stopped creating new games for Kempner in early 1983, the program continued to be popular on several broadcasters until the end of the decade.
Kempner tried to contact Nintendo and Sega to continue the program using their newly launched consoles, but both were not interested.
In the mid-1980s, technology in Brazil was still restricted by the Market Reserve Law (Federal Law nº 7.232/84).
Approved on October 29, 1984 by the National Congress and with a previously established term of 8 years, the first law of the so-called National Policy of Informatics had noble ideals: to protect and develop the national electronics industry and encourage internal scientific research, legally preventing the import of components and forcing companies to manufacture parts in the country.
In return, these companies, established in a specific pole (Manaus), would be exempt from taxes.
In practice, the law brought about a setback for the country and a financial loss for foreign companies. Consumers were forced to buy obsolete, inferior quality equipment at exorbitant prices. At the international level, companies denounced the continuous breaches of patents and intellectual property violations committed by Brazilian companies under the protection of the law, as well as the impossibility of fair competition, as foreign companies (with very rare exceptions) could not even sell their products in the country.
Despite the new computer law passed by Congress in 1991 (Federal Law No. 8.248/91), the market reserve was maintained and expired, as planned, in October 1992.
For many, the Market Reserve Law was the government's endorsement for "technology piracy" by companies.
As Mattel Electronics was judicious in the development of its products, there was no major impact for Intellivision in Brazil. Only the authorized manufacturer (Sharp, by businessman Matias Machline) could making and distributing games and consoles.
Few companies have manufactured cartridges "compatible" with Intellivision, which had a much smaller catalog than its biggest competitor. This was not the case with the Atari 2600: a variety of compatible consoles and cartridges flooded the market at that time, involving even major manufacturers like CCE.
On 11/03/1983, Intellivision was officially presented to the Brazilian press during a lunch at the Maksoud Plaza hotel in São Paulo. On the afternoon of the same day, the console was presented to a group of about 400 retailers and resellers. Sharp showed a video with testimonials from psychologists and educators who defended the most intelligent games, the motto of the Intellivision campaign in Brazil.
Initially, the games were launched prominently from the Intellivision brand, with little reference to Digiplay only on the back of the box. Some games have had their titles translated into the local language, a strategy also adopted by Mattel Electronics in Canada - among them, The Dreadnaught Factor , which became Desafio Estelar and NASL Soccer changed to Futebol.
Another detail about the national releases is that all titles were sold in "book" style packaging, with side opening. The manuals are also noteworthy, all printed on glossy and colored paper. In the United States, only a few games were released in this more expensive format and, often, with simple manuals printed only in black.
The Astrosmash cartridge, on the other hand, has a curious history. Some copies sold in Brazil have a time limit, to be chosen at the beginning of the game. This version was used in the Astrosmash Shootoff competition, which took place in late 1982 in the United States. The reason that only a few copies have this version is unknown.
The cartridge chip is dated 1984, when Mattel Electronics had already closed its doors. It is speculated that these cartridges are part of a batch transferred by Mattel Electronics to empty its stock after bankruptcy, but considering that employees were discharged in January 1984, Mattel would not be able to manufacture new cartridges that year.
Much sought after by collectors, the "pirate games" (or bootlegs) for Intellivision were manufactured by a company called VLS Indústria Eletrônica Ltda, established on 11/13/1984 and installed in the 302 room of Rua do Catete nº 310, in Rio de Janeiro.
Available in video stores in the city, these games could be rented for much lower prices than the original cartridges for sale. The cartridge is larger than the original, had no overlays, was packed in a simple box, slightly larger than the cartridge and there was a simplified photocopy manual.
Some well-known games released by VLS are Armor Battle, Lady Bug and Worm Whomper, this translated into Portuguese as Pragas.
In addition to VLS, another company profited from games for the console. Installed in São Paulo, ShockVision manufactured about 50 titles of cartridges for Intellivision with an unusual feature: the games were packaged in Atari standard cases, which required the user using an adapter (called Shock Adapter) to fit the cartridge to the Intellivision.
The Venture cartridge was also launched by ShockVision, however, in a case in the Colecovision standard.
In the middle of 1984, when the North American electronic games industry was already collapsing, the Intellivision II arrived in Brazil, reinforcing the Digiplay brand on the console in place of the Mattel Electronics logo. The games sold from that year onwards also had their packaging changed from the original games, such as the title Happy Trails, which had the Activision logo replaced by the Brazilian brand.
To get closer to its audience, Digiplay created a newsletter with launches, records, championships and tips, in addition to using it as a communication channel for responses to letters sent by users. The newsletter Digiplay Games had only two print editions in 1984.
Digiplay manufactured and sold cartridges for Intellivision until mid-1985, when its name was changed to Epcom.
Until it ended its activities around November 1992, Epcom remained active with the manufacture of the Hotbit microcomputer (until 1988) and reinforced the Sharp brand in the electronics market.
In early 1983, the American company CBS approached Sharp and submitted a proposal for the manufacture of ColecoVision in the country.
Subsequently, the same proposal was made to Gradiente. The negotiations were not concluded and the companies entered into a partnership with Mattel and Atari, respectively.
When the Japanese company Sharp wanted to enter the country, it was a big surprise: the name Sharp had already been registered in Brazil by businessman Matias Machline. An agreement was reached and the businessman became a partner of the brand in Brazil.
Former jeweler and entrepreneur Joseph Maghrabi sued Sharp because, according to him, the Intellivision trademark had already been registered in his name with the INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property). The lawyers "cooked" the case for a while and nothing was resolved.
It is worth mentioning that this was not Mr. Maghrabi's only attempt in this field. In addition to registering the Intellivision trademark (and even copy the logo created by Mattel on "generic" cartridges for Atari), he also registered with the INPI and Jucesp (Junta Comercial de São Paulo) the company "Atari Eletrônica Ltda". Atari proposed an agreement and he continued to manufacture cartridges for that console.
In computer labs throughout the United States, mostly on college campuses, engineers and students create elaborate interactive games on mainframe computers. The games are rarely seen by the public and, since they run on computers costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, they have no apparent commercial potential.
First coin-operated video arcade machine, Nolan Bushnell's Computer Space, is introduced by (Bill) Nutting Associates. It flops.
Magnavox introduces Odyssey, first home video game system, designed by Ralph Baer, to moderate success.
Nolan Busnell introduces arcade game, Pong, from his new company, Atari. The game is a hit, becomes cultural phenomenon.
Atari enters home market with dedicated Pong unit. Stores sell out nationwide, put customers on waiting lists.
Midway introduces arcade machine Gun Fight, based on the Taito arcade game Western Gun. In redesigning the game for Midway, Dave Nutting Associates (headed by Dave Nutting, brother of Computer Space's Bill Nutting), incorporated an Intel 8080 microprocessor into the machine, making it the first video game, arcade or home system, that is effectively a computer.
Atari introduces the cartridge-based VCS (Video Computer System), later renamed the Atari 2600.
Under "Mattel Electronics" brand name, Mattel Toys introduces world's first handheld electronic games. The handheld units contain simple microprocessors.
Engineering on the Intellivision video game system begins at Mattel Toys in Hawthorne, California. Programming of operating system and games is farmed out to APh Technological Consulting in Pasadena.
Intellivision console and four game cartridges are successfully test marketed through Gottschalks department stores in and around Fresno, California.
Intellivision introduced nationwide. Mattel claims Intellivision is heart of a home system that will soon include a computer keyboard component. Fifteen more Intellivision titles released, bringing total to 19. Console sales reach 175,000. Mattel hires programmers to start developing software in-house.
$6 million ad campaign touts Intellivision's graphic superiority over Atari 2600. News media take note, start covering video game "war," raising profile of entire industry. Although the $300 Intellivision is twice as expensive as the 2600, sales soar, reaching 850,000 consoles by year's end. Computer keyboard and educational software become low priority; release is delayed. Mattel Toys spins off Mattel Electronics as separate company. Hiring increases.
Video game industry valued at $1.5 billion. Mattel Electronics announces profits of over $100 million, with Intellivisions in over 2 million homes. Most popular Intellivision games sell over a million cartridges each. Companies publishing Atari 2600 cartridges, including Activision and Imagic, start releasing games for the Intellivision system, too. Total Intellivision titles available climbs to over 50. Mattel Electronics releases Intellivoice module and three voice games; raises ad budget for year to over $20 million.
Computer keyboard released in limited test markets at $600; general release is repeatedly delayed. Mattel game development staff hits 100. TV Guide magazine, in an article about Intellivision, dubs the developers "The Blue Sky Rangers." The name sticks. Higher-resolution ColecoVision video game system hits market with popular arcade game titles, taking sales away from Intellivision and Atari. While Christmas season for industry is strong overall, there are not enough sales to go around for all of the companies now in the market.
Classic brown-and-woodgrain Intellivision console is replaced by cheaper ($150) light gray Intellivision II. Computer keyboard component is officially cancelled in favor of cheaper, less powerful Entertainment Computer System (ECS). System Changer module is released, allowing Atari 2600 cartridges to be played on an Intellivision II console. Marketing campaign now pushes Intellivision as the system that plays the most games. New systems are released by other companies, including the Atari 5200 and the Vectrex. Games for all systems flood the market, many rushed and of poor quality. Titles available for Intellivision alone approaches 100. By midyear, glut of video game hardware and software creates huge losses and panic within the industry. Mattel Electronics cuts price of Intellivision II console to $69, cancels all new hardware development, and lays off hundreds of employees, including two-thirds of programming staff. Mattel Electronics ends year with over $300 million loss.
Mattel Inc. closes Mattel Electronics, laying off remaining programmers. Sells rights to Intellivision system and games to new company headed by former Mattel Electronics marketing exec. The company (INTV Corp.) continues selling Intellivision in major toy and department store chains, and through mail order. Other companies close or get out of the business, leaving Intellivision the only video game system still sold in the USA that Christmas. Experts proclaim video game industry dead.
When leftover Mattel inventory of Intellivision II consoles runs out, INTV Corp. starts manufacturing the INTV System III console based on the design of the original Intellivision. Starts reprinting most popular games as inventory is exhausted. INTV has U.S. market to itself until Japan's popular Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is test marketed in America during Christmas season.
INTV introduces games that were completed at Mattel Electronics but never released. Success of the new games spurs INTV to contract with former Mattel Electronics programmers to complete unfinished Intellivision games, update old ones, and create new ones. Although sales of cartridges are only in the 10,000 to 20,000 range, by running a bare-bones operation INTV Corp. is profitable. Nintendo releases NES nationally, quickly followed by new consoles from Sega and Atari (the 7800). The video game industry starts comeback.
Popularity of NES temporarily boosts Intellivision sales: stores that had dropped video games in 1984 now stock them again, including some Intellivision titles. But Christmas clearly belongs to Nintendo.
Stores stop carrying Intellivision console and games. Sales are strictly through mail order.
INTV appeals to patriotism, putting an American flag on the cover of its mail-order catalogs and proclaiming that Intellivision is the only All-American video game system (even though the consoles are made in Hong Kong). Too late, INTV starts developing games for the NES.
INTV files for bankruptcy protection. Production of new games ends. 125 titles have been released for the Intellivision system since its introduction. Over 3 million consoles have been sold.
INTV closes. Remaining inventory of games continues to be sold through Telegames Inc. (mail order) and Radio Shack (in-store catalogs).
Blue Sky Rangers create web site on the history of the Intellivision system. Traffic to web site proves continuing interest in Intellivision.
Intellivision Productions, Inc., formed by ex-Mattel Electronics programmers, obtains exclusive rights to the Intellivision system and games, posts free PC- and Mac-emulated versions of several games on the web.
Intellivision Lives! collection for PC and Mac published by Intellivision Productions.
The independent company Intelligentvision is born, with the objective of creating new games for the console.
Intellivision Classics collection for PlayStation published by Activision Inc.
Intellivision Rocks collection for PC and Mac published by Intellivision Productions. Intellivision games for cell phones are published by THQ Wireless. First independently published Intellivision game is released at Claassic Game Expo in Las Vegas, starting the flood of "homebrew" games that continues to this day.
Intellivision Productions releases Intellivision in Hi-Fi, a CD of music played on or inspired by the Intellivision console.
Intellivision Greatest Hits collections (10 and 25 game versions) for PC and Mac hit store shelves early in year, followed by Intellivision 25 and Intellivision 10 direct-to-TV units in August and the PS2 and Xbox versions of Intellivision Lives! at year's end. A line of handheld games is marketed under the Intellivision brand name.
Programmers and collectors come together and form Intelligentvision, with the proposal to launch new games and recover old games that were finalized and not released by Mattel Electronics.
Due to success of Intellivision Lives! for PS2 and Xbox, publisher Crave Entertainment adds a GameCube version.2004 Intellivision 15, a two-player collection of 15 games in a direct-to-TV unit with two hand controllers, is released exclusively through Bed, Bath & Beyond stores for Christmas.
Intellivision 2nd Edition direct-to-TV unit hits store shelves with improved versions of Astrosmash and Space Armada plus versions of the original Intellivision hits Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, renamed Crown of Kings for legal reasons, and Deadly Discs. By Christmas, the combined sales of the four Intellivision-branded direct-to-TV units approach 4 million, more than the total sales of the original Intellivision consoles.
Elektronite is founded, with the aim of keeping Intellivision's memory alive with new games.
Space Patrol hits the market, the first cartridge launched by Joe Zbiciak's Left Turn Only company.
Microsoft chooses Intellivision Lives! for Xbox to be one of the first releases for the Xbox Originals service for Xbox 360, allowing players to buy and download the game online.
Intellivision for iPhone and iPad are released in app store by VH1 Classic. Microsoft includes a dozen Intellivision titles in their launch of GameRoom for Xbox Online. Intellivision Lives! for Nintendo DS hits stores for Christmas to rave reviews!
Elektronite launches its first cartridge, DK Arcade, proving that the version of Donkey Kong created by Coleco did not take advantage of the full potential of the Mattel console.
Intellivision featured in "Art of Video Games" exhibit at Smithsonian. Updated versions of Astrosmash, Shark! Shark! and Night Stalker come to Playstation Home.
Retail release of Intellivision Flashback console, by AtGames. Intellivision Productions releases the Flashback Supplemental Overlays to supply the missing overlays for Flashback customers.
The Intellivision Revolution website, created in 2011, starts to develop and commercialize games for Intellivision.
Blue Sky Rangers and Intellivision participate in SxSW in Austin, Texas. "Videogame Pioneers: Intellivision Panel + Meet & Greet"
Founder Keith Robinson passes away on June 13.
Intellivision Productions and Tommy Tallarico join forces and create Intellivision Entertainment, LLC. and announce the upcoming Intellivision Amico, a new console featuring cutting-edge hardware and releases based on classic Intellivision games. The launch is announced for 10/10/2020 and the pre-order is a success.
Intellivision Productions, Inc, becomes Blue Sky Rangers, Inc.
On 08/05/2020, Intellivision Productions announces the postponement of the launch of Amico to 04/15/2021 due to the pandemic of COVID-19 (New Corona Virus) that severely affected the world economy that year. At the beginning of the following year, the launch was again postponed to 10/10/2021, exactly 1 year after the original date.
The effects of the pandemic extended throughout 2021, affecting electronics supply chains and triggering the third delay of the new console.
The PlayCable service, a partnership between Mattel Electronics and Jerrold, was launched in 1982 and allowed downloading games over the cable TV network directly into the Intellivision's memory.
Jerrold employees Joe Jacobs and Dennis Clark used their knowledge, technical information, and PlayCable to create their own games for fun.
The "fun" expanded and culminated in the creation of the Intellivision version of the classic arcade "Bump 'N' Jump".
For almost 40 years, what was known about this story was what was portrayed on the official website and told by the Blue Sky Rangers: a small portion of the story that, in the end, put Joe and Dennis as "blackmailers".
In late 2021, one of the most assiduous members of the Intellivision community at AtariAge (decle) contacted the duo to hear their versions of this story that goes far beyond the BSR version.
Joe Jacobs and Dennis Clark are engineers who worked for Jerrold, the cable television division of General Instrument and manufacturers of PlayCable. Dennis joined Jerrold in the summer of 1978 working in Hatboro PA. Back then, in the early days of PlayCable development, Jerrold anticipated that, like Mattel, it would write games for the Intellivision to be distributed over PlayCable.
In part, Dennis was recruited to go into arcades and scout for titles suitable for conversion. As it turned out Jerrold never wrote a game for the PlayCable, and Dennis did not make it to an arcade on company time. Instead, he worked in the Software Department writing firmware for cable boxes and PDP-11 software for Jerrold's cable head-end infrastructure. Development of the PlayCable hardware was well advanced by the first half of 1979, and over the summer Dennis worked to develop the firmware for the PlayCable adapter. He was also responsible for the music tracker used by the PlayCable menu program, and he arranged the version of The Entertainer that can be heard playing on the splash screen of the menu.
In early 1981 Joe Jacobs left Siemens, where he worked on automated test equipment. He was hired by Jerrold to work in their Head-End Division as a Project Engineer to develop hardware and software associated with the distribution of cable services. This equipment was used by cable companies to distribute and control their subscribers' access to channels. The systems that Joe worked on communicated with the converter boxes installed in customers' homes that Dennis helped to develop.
Whereas Dennis is primarily a software specialist, Joe is more of a hybrid engineer, his focus is on hardware development, but he also writes software. Although Joe and Dennis looked after different aspects of Jerrold's products, they worked in close proximity to each other, and became good friends. Dennis recalls how Joe nicknamed him "Grumpy" because he always had a determined look on his face. Joe explained that "In the early 1980's, Jerrold was still a small to mid-sized company and most of Jerrold's engineering was in one building". Dennis says that, under the management of Charles Dages, Jerrold's engineering department was very supportive of engineers' creativity and fostered collaboration.
It should be noted that when Mattel partnered with Jerrold to develop the PlayCable the two companies had a symbiotic relationship. Jerrold brought hardware knowledge specific to the cable industry and Mattel supplied access to the secret sauce for the Intellivision. This included the APh assembler and linker, and details of the EXEC and how to use it. Joe describes a "HUGE listing called the Mattel 'EXEC'.
This listing was an assembler list file generated when Mattel compiled the library routines that went into each and every Mattel Intellivision main unit. It was dot-matrix printed, on that wide paper with the holes at each end and was about two-inches thick. It described each and every routine available to the game developer, calling conventions, parameter passing, object creation and interaction, etc".
Dennis noted that the interrupt driven model of the Mattel EXEC was unusual for the time and something he thinks was very innovative. Although General Instrument could provide Jerrold with information about the Gimini chipset on which the Intellivision is built, it needed these Master Component specific resources to write software for PlayCable. Remember that Jerrold had to write the firmware ROM in the PlayCable adapter, the menu program used by customers to select games, and potentially original Intellivision titles. Therefore, Jerrold, like APh, was one of a small number of trusted partners, and Jerrold engineers like Joe and Dennis had an inside track on writing software for the Master Component. Interestingly, Dennis recalls that during the development of the PlayCable he visited APh in Pasadena to learn more about the Intellivision, a trip that led to him meeting Glen Hightower and the Intellivision developers.
It seems that at some point in late 1979, one of Dennis' colleagues, possibly Joe Rocci, realised that the head-end infrastructure could be used to create backups of Intellivision games that could be played at home. PlayCable games were transmitted from dedicated microprocessor controlled cards, housed in a PDP-11 minicomputer. These same cards were also used by cable company head-end systems to communicate with consumers' cable boxes. A side effect of the encoding scheme used to transmit PlayCable titles was that the game data could be recorded directly off the transmission cards onto a regular audio cassette. The image below shows one such a DCX11A (Dual-Channel Xmitter) card connected to an audio adapter that was used to record Intellivision games.
Jerrold engineers could load games into the transmission card, connect the digital output to a tape machine using the adapter box and record the resulting stream. At home, they could then connect a regular audio cassette tape machine to a hacked PlayCable adapter and play the recorded game directly into the PlayCable's memory. To make this work required some changes to the PlayCable adapter firmware, and for the digital board within the adapter to be connected to an audio input, rather than the normal cable receiver.
These hacked PlayCable adapters were based on the earlier, limited-production Jerrold model which, unlike the later PlayCable branded units, had their digital sub-system implemented using standard off-the-shelf components. This made them much more hackable by exposing their inner secrets to those in the know, or with access to oscilloscopes and datasheets (see Sections 8.1 and 8.2 of the PlayCable Technical Summary for more information). Jerrold's engineers christened these audio backups "PlayTape".
This innovation gave unrestricted access to the entire Intellivision PlayCable games library and was shared amongst some of the members of the engineering department. As Joe says, "all of us engineers had a modified PlayCable setup so we could play Intellivision at home. Remember, at the time, Intellivision was the 'cat's meow' of video games, handily beating the Atari 2600; Colecovision had not yet come on the scene". Dennis believes that the management of Jerrold's engineering department were probably aware of what their engineers were up to, but turned a blind eye, not seeing any harm in it. This image shows the default PlayCable splash screen (left) and Joe's PlayTape screen (right).
On joining Jerrold in 1981, Joe quickly discovered what was going on and got involved, contributing to the modified firmware that ran on the PlayTape adapters. Before joining Jerrold, Joe had put together a small PDP-11/03 "Frankenstein" system of his own at home. This was compatible with the computers that were used to develop Jerrold's cable head-end software and write Intellivision games. Through the summer of 1981 Dennis continued to tinker with Intellivision development, stripping sounds from Mattel games and building a sound board application to play them back.
Joe's interest in video games led him to start reverse-engineering the Arcadia Supercharger following its release for the Atari 2600. He figured out a way to read some of his Atari game cartridges and transfer them to the Supercharger replicating the "game-backups-on-tape" principle behind PlayTape.
Through the fall of 1981 the library of PlayTape games was extended as new titles were released for the Intellivision, the pair also wrote diagnostic programs, and started to investigate the inner workings of the Intellivision's EXEC. Joe realised that it would be possible to use a specially-modified PlayCable adapter, along with his Frankenstein PDP-11, and the tools he had access to at Jerrold, to develop rudimentary Intellivision games. Inspired, Joe suggested to Dennis that they "try and write a game for the Intellivision". Dennis was up for the challenge and explained the methods Jerrold used for Intellivision development. Joe recalls that the process was pretty simplistic. "It wasn't a whole lot, in my mind, it was basically EPROM burn and crash and burn and crash and... development".
By this point Dennis also had a PDP-11 at home, put together from spare Jerrold equipment. Building such home systems was supported by Jerrold, as it allowed engineers to continue to work on company projects in their own time. In the meantime, Joe had started to think about how to improve the development tools, "I was, and still am, an in-circuit emulator kind of guy and prefer to do my software debugging in that environment if possible". According to Dennis, testing was done using "something like ROM simulators to load the code from the LSI-11 to a modified Playcable type adapter". This allowed test code to be uploaded from their development machines directly to the PlayCable, bypassing the need to use a broadcast card and audio cassettes. Joe says that "the whole concept was loosely modelled on the then-popular Motorola ExORciser development environment".
In the spring of 1982 Dennis and Joe concluded that they needed a demonstration to showcase their maturing Intellivision development capabilities and grab the attention of Mattel. They tossed some ideas back and forth and settled on writing Clone-Man, a homage to PAC-MAN. At the time PAC-MAN had just been released on the Atari 2600 and was at the forefront of public consciousness. Unfortunately, this next step in the journey coincided with Dennis suffering a back injury. Despite this, Joe and Dennis pressed ahead with Clone-man over the next two or three months whilst Dennis was off work recovering from his back injury. This led to Clone-Man initially being credited to "Bedside Productions". Within the team, Dennis' focus was on core software, with Joe sorting out the hardware necessary for their development systems and providing some additional utilities. Dennis says that he saw porting PAC-MAN as "just a challenge to see how to copy an arcade video game onto Intellivision".
The resulting "Demonstration Program" was a pretty comprehensive recreation of the game, with a landscape version of the original maze, power pellets, bonus fruit, and sound effects. However, the algorithms that drive the movement of Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde were not replicated and there are no intermissions. Overall, the game is clearly superior to the Atari 2600 version, but is not as polished as the Atarisoft version for the Intellivision, for example the sound effects are not replicated as accurately. As Joe says, Clone-Man "came out pretty good. Not good enough for commercial appeal, but good enough". Dennis' opinion is that "it would have been hard to tell it from Pac Man", which is probably stretching things. However, with its more accurate maze, it clearly attempts to be more faithful to the arcade original than either the Atari 2600 or official Intellivision ports.
Throughout this period, Joe and Dennis continued to enhance their PlayCable test systems. The modified adapters were linked to their PDP-11 computers using an RS-232 serial connection, and ran enhanced firmware containing a debugger called CYBER (see Section 8.3 of the PlayCable Technical Summary for more details).
In addition to modifying the PlayCable adapters to support RS-232 communication, Joe added what he calls a "vector" board to their development Intellivision Master Components. These enabled breakpoint and single stepping features to be added to the CYBER debugger being developed by Dennis.
A video showing CYBER being used to debug an Intellivision program can be viewed here.
The modifications made to the PlayCables were pretty extensive, and together with Dennis' CYBER debugger, they led to the early MAGUS-like ROM emulator turning into a system that had similar features to Mattel's Blue Whale test harness. This can be seen in this list of CYBER commands.
Once Clone-Man was complete, Joe says he "did some checking with Jerrold management about our intentions of writing something for Mattel; they didn't have a problem so I went for it". He used a Betamax video camcorder to record Clone-Man running on the Intellivision and sent the tape to Don Daglow at Mattel. At this point Joe says that "evidently, the crap hit the fan at Mattel".
Joe doesn't really remember any fallout at Jerrold over Clone-Man, but the Mattel people were clearly "spinning in their seats". Given Mattel's paranoia over industrial secrecy, this was perhaps inevitable. Many phone conferences ensued over the next couple of months as Joe negotiated a deal with Mattel to write a game. This led to an agreement in December of 1982 that Technology Associates, the fledgling computer consulting company founded by Joe in 1981, would write a port of Bump 'N' Jump for the Intellivision under contract to Mattel.
Effectively, Technology Associates became a second-party developer for Intellivision, like APh. As might be expected, Mattel seems to have been concerned that Joe and Dennis could take their skills and knowledge to a competitor. However, Joe and Dennis are clear that this was never an option for them and, despite what is reported elsewhere, they did not threaten to do so. In fact, Jerrold was aware that Joe and Dennis had approached Mattel, and seems to have been supportive of their entrepreneurial streak, as they both continued in their day jobs.
The reasons for Jerrold's lack of concern over their game-writing endeavours are unclear, although Joe explains it like this, "We did not work on BNJ during our work hours at Jerrold for obvious reasons. Jerrold was aware of the situation and left us to it. At the time, we were pretty valuable employees... Besides, there was absolutely no negative karma, letting us do our own thing at the time. A benefit of working for a smaller company". Regardless, like Clone-Man before, the Bump 'N' Jump project was to be an extra-curricular activity for Joe and Dennis that occupied their evenings and weekends. What would have happened if a deal had not been struck? According to Joe and Dennis, they would have continued working for Jerrold at their regular day-jobs, and would have explored the Intellivision on their own time just for fun.
Having landed the contract to write Bump 'N' Jump, and with the dust settling, Technology Associates purchased two new PDP-11 systems from Sigma Information Systems, complete with 8" floppy disks and enormous 20MB hard drives. These machines would be used to do the bulk of the subsequent Bump 'N' Jump development. Up to this point, Joe and Dennis only had a single PlayCable development system to test Clone-Man. Joe took the opportunity to rectify this by building a second test harness to use while creating Bump 'N' Jump, and the pair set to it.
In all, development of Bump 'N' Jump took around six months of intensive work in the evenings and weekends. Joe suggests that "Dennis was, no question, the brains behind the code. While he worked on game play such as object generation, object interaction, scoring, etc. I was responsible for the entire background". Dennis agrees, explaining that "Joe did the background and track work", effectively being responsible for the accurate reproduction of the levels.
To help with development, Mattel shipped an arcade version of Burnin' Rubber (the international variant of Bump 'N' Jump) to Dennis' house. Once installed in the basement, Dennis' girlfriend's son played the game for hours and became an expert at it. Joe used his camcorder to record the teenager's games for use in development. By watching the recordings back, over and over, ad nauseum, Joe was able to transcribe the levels of the arcade game using a level designer written by Dennis. Joe says, "The background of Bump 'N' Jump is basically a gigantic table of 'cards', with the presentation of those cards handled by Dennis' level designer code". As a consequence, the Intellivision port has a faithful reproduction of the playfield of the arcade version, including the track layout, bridges and other obstacles. Meanwhile, in addition to the core game mechanic, Dennis wrote more tools, including a music generator and an animation designer to support development.
As Bump 'N' Jump took shape it became clear that the 8K of RAM within their PlayCables was not going to be enough to hold the full game. Sadly, the limits of their homebrew development kit had been exceeded. So, Joe "contacted Mattel to ask what was available to get past the 8K limit, and their answer was a board called the 16K Megas board". Mattel sent a couple of Megas (aka MAGUS) test harnesses for end-to-end play testing and Joe sorted out the hardware necessary to interface them to their PDP-11s.
This he did by customising a Heathkit parallel interface board. Joe explains that during use "you had to tell the Megas board to 'freeze' the CPU from accessing the Megas ram, load the RAM, un-freeze the CPU and then tell the CPU where to start executing. Basically, it was a RAM-based burn and crash idea, but instead of burning an eprom or rom, you 'burned' the Megas RAM and it was pretty quick. A lot quicker than burning chips. The Megas wasn't really for troubleshooting/debugging but more an end-to-end play/test of the game you were working on".
As was mentioned by Keith Robinson at Classic Game Fest in 2016, David Warhol acted as the liaison between Mattel and Technology Associates. Unfortunately, the relationship between the two organisations was not easy, as Joe observed, "I think the Mattel developers were definitely leery of us and certainly didn't voluntarily share anything on their own. If we had a particular question [that] needed answering they did answer but only the exact answer, nothing more, nothing less. We were still 'outsiders'". Mattel's attempts to limit the flow of information to Technology Associates can be seen as part of their ongoing attempts to hold their cards close and prevent third parties developing games for the Intellivision.
Joe and Dennis finished the core game of Bump 'N' Jump at the end of May 1983 and shipped the source code containing two levels to Mattel HQ in Hawthorne. Once there, it entered the Intellivision QA process. A BSR review meeting in the first week of June highlighted that game play tuning was required. The most significant points raised were that the game required a greater sense of speed, with the enemy cars needing to be easier to bump and kill, but also requiring more personality and aggression to increase the intensity of the game.
A number of developers requested the inclusion of an engine sound, to provide auditory feedback of the player's speed. It was at this point that Mattel decided a change to the title screen was also required. The original received mixed reviews, with some confusion about whether it depicted a road or a mountain. Regardless, it was felt to be too similar to the introduction of Buzz Bombers and needed an update. The final animated titles were developed by Daisy Nguyen and seem to have been added sometime in early July.
As always, there were also some bugs found that were subsequently fixed. Although Joe and Dennis don't recall Mattel requesting much work after the code was shipped, a message from David Warhol suggests that the updates were split between Mattel and Technology Associates, with Mattel looking after graphical tweaks and Daisy's title screen, while Joe and Dennis focused on game play tuning. It's clear that not all Mattel's suggestions were included, for example, music wasn't added to Daisy's title screen, and the requested engine sound isn't present in the released version. The final game with its full set of levels was accepted for production by Dale Lynn and Traci Glauser on August 1st 1983 as can be seen in this QA report.
At around this time it normally took Mattel about three months to get from acceptance of the final code to a game hitting the stores. Roughly two months of this time was ROM production, with the last month typically being consumed with finalising printed materials, packaging the game and distribution. This advert for Bump 'N' Jump was run in the October and November issues of games magazines across the US, and according to The Video Game Update, the title was one of the last games Mattel released when it hit store shelves in November 1983.
Joe and Dennis are rightly proud of Bump 'N' Jump and they feel that the title really pushed the capabilities of the hardware. The game play is very similar to the arcade, with the original levels and background music both faithfully reproduced. Unfortunately, interest in the Intellivision dwindled rapidly with the closure of Mattel Electronics at the start of 1984, and there seems to be very little about Bump 'N' Jump in the press after its release. The Video Game Update did review Bump 'N' Jump in their January 1984 issue, giving the title two and a half out of four stars for both graphics and gameplay, rating it as fair to good, but questioning the game's depth, and therefore not recommending it.
However, history has been rather kinder to Bump 'N' Jump, the title is now consistently rated amongst the Intellivision's best games. This includes the current generation of Intellivision gamers placing it in the top 10 Intellivision titles in 2014, and the top 15 games in 2019. Reviewers such as The Intellivision Library, Intv Funhouse and Video Game Critic all rate the game highly, noting the quality of both graphics and sound, and the accuracy of the conversion. Overwhelmingly, the prevailing wisdom is that Bump 'N' Jump deserves a place in your Intellivision collection.
In late June 1983 Mattel Electronics announced the first round of redundancies that would mark the start of a death spiral for the division. Unsurprisingly given the timing of the completion of Bump 'N' Jump development, Joe and Dennis didn't receive offers of additional Intellivision work. With hindsight, the decision to continue to work for Jerrold whilst developing Bump 'N' Jump on their own-time can be seen as an excellent one!
Later, at the end of September David Warhol wrote to Joe and Dennis explaining the situation, and expressing the hope that more projects might be on the horizon with Mattel's new focus on software; unfortunately, this future never materialised. Although they were initially unaware of the turmoil at Mattel, it was clear to both Joe and Dennis that they would always be considered outsiders at Hawthorne.
In addition, Dennis explained that he enjoyed his work at Jerrold, and whilst writing Bump 'N' Jump was profitable as a side-line, the money they made writing it wasn't good enough to tempt the pair into giving up their day jobs. They also decided against pursuing opportunities with other games companies. Instead, they continued working for Jerrold and went back to just hacking for fun. Having grown tired of his lengthy commute to Hatboro, Joe left Jerrold in 1984 for a new role working for Omnidata (later Singer-Link Simulation) on power plant simulators, used to train control room engineers. However, Dennis continued with Jerrold, rising through the ranks to become Director of Project Management before retiring in the mid 2000s.
So there we go, the story of the development of Bump 'N' Jump and the mythical PlayCable development system from the perspective of Joe and Dennis. Incredibly, their whole Intellivision adventure lasted less than 30 months. It would be great to get the recollections of Mattel people like Don Daglow and David Warhol, and the management at Jerrold to complete the picture. Hopefully one day.
One last thing before I go… A little birdy tells me that there is an Easter egg buried in Bump 'N' Jump that has gone undiscovered since the game's release. Can the players and developers of the Intellivision Brotherhood find it? The challenge has been issued, just for kicks.
Once again, thanks to Joe and Dennis for giving their permission to share their story and for their help in putting it together.