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Does anybody remember this discrete little number, the ‘Mattel Aquarius’? This was one of those computers that never really made any waves in the computer market. However, it still needs some recognition in the world of retro-gaming history as it was released within that era when early computers and games started to get interesting and some of the great retro games machines started to emerge like to Commodore VIC 20 and the Texas Instruments ti-99 4a. But like everything in life being finely balanced, Ying and Yang, good & bad etc, the Mattel Aquarius unfortunately falls within the latter region.
Internally two systems were manufactured. These were known as ‘Checkers‘ and ‘Chess‘; Chess being the more sophisticated machine. Mattel contracted for these to become the Aquarius and Aquarius II, respectively.
In 1982 Mattel Electronics first announced the Aquarius and Mattel returned to their roots calling upon the the Hong Kong based company Radofin to manufacture the system. Surprisingly, this was the same company who had previously manufactured their Intellivision consoles back in 1979.
In 1979 Mattel Electronics released its first video gaming console, the Intellivision. Mattel Electronics was a subsidiary of Mattel and was formed expressly for the development of electronic games. In its first year Mattel sold 175,000 Intellivision consoles and the library grew from a mere 4 game cartridges which the console was initially released with and to 35 cartridges. Throughout its lifespan however over 3 million Intellivision units were sold and a approximatly 125 games cartridges were released for the console.
One little fact is that the word ‘Intellivision’ is a portmanteau of ‘Intelligent Television‘.
Like Atari, Mattel marketed their console to a number of retailers as a re-badged unit. These models include Radio Shack TandyVision, the GTE-Sylvania Intellivision, and the Sears Super Video Arcade. The Sears model was a specific coup for Mattel, as Sears was already selling a re-badged Atari 2600 unit, and in doing so made a big contribution to Atari’s success.