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Entertainment Computer System


The Entertainment Computer System (ECS) add-on module essentially added three features to the Intellivision: an additional 2K of RAM, a second sound chip and the option of plugging in a computer keyboard, a music keyboard or an additional two hand controllers.

A slate of games was started in 1982 and 1983 to take advantage of these features: Mind Strike and Scooby Doo's Maze Chase utilized the extra memory, Melody Blaster showed off the dual sound chips and music keyboard, The Jetsons' Ways With Words educational game used the computer keyboard and two sports games, Doubles Tennis and Super NASL Soccer, were designed so that two teams could compete using four hand controllers.

Still, the ECS could never shake its origin: it was rushed into production to take the place of the more ambitious but non-cost effective Keyboard Component. Neither Marketing nor the Applications Software department were ever enthusiastic about the ECS and struggled for game ideas that would justify its existence.

Just as the ECS and the first games were hitting the market in mid-1983, a new management team took over Mattel Electronics that was even less enthusiastic about the module. The Entertainment Computer System received little advertising or distribution support.

As a result, two of the best Intellivision games - Mind Strike and World Series Major League Baseball - got far less attention and sales than they deserved.

BASIC Programmer


Learn BASIC computer language and write your own programs. On-screen lessons and a simple step-by-step manual take you through the fundamentals of the BASIC language. And also show you how BASIC programs can be used around the house. You'll be writing your own BASIC programs in no time!

This cartridge was scheduled to be done in the Design & Development department, with Mike Winans listed as the programmer.

However, Mike, who started in Applications Software before joining Design & Development, transferred back to Applications Software before work on BASIC Programmer began.

No one else was ever assigned to it. A later memo on why BASIC Programmer was behind schedule explained simply: "Was never a real product."

Doubles Tennis

AKA 4-Player Tennis
Produced at Mattel Electronics France
Initial 4-player programming: Ray Kaestner
Includes code from the previously released Tennis

A four-player version of the original Tennis cartridge.

One of the features of the Entertainment Computer System was the ability to add a second pair of hand controllers. Two games went into development to take advantage of this feature: Doubles Tennis and Super NASL Soccer.

Ray Kaestner did the original programming on Doubles Tennis, but early into the project he was pulled off of it to work on Masters of the Universe II.

The project was sent to Mattel Electronics France to be completed.

A very preliminary prototype of the cartridge was shown at the January 1984 Consumer Electronics Show. As with Super NASL Soccer, when Mattel Electronics closed later that month, Mattel Electronics France, which stayed in business under the name Nice Ideas, was given the rights to complete and market a version of the game without the Mattel name.

Nice Ideas converted the game into the one- or two- player non-ECS Championship Tennis, released in Europe by Dextell Ltd. Terry Valeski's INTV Corp. negotiated the rights to distribute the cartridge in the United States, introducing it in Spring 1986.

Flintstones Keyboard Fun

Characters used under license from Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.
Design/Program: Gary Johnson
Design/Educational content: Mona Theiss, Elaine Xenos-Braswell, Pamela Dong
Graphics: Karen Nugent

It's fun to learn keyboard skills when The Flintstones and their friends are your teachers. Now everyone can enjoy the action of a colorful and exciting video game and develop useful keyboard skills at the same time! An easy way to put the whole family in touch with the computer age. Includes our unique curriculum guide.

This was one of three Entertainment Computer System cartridges developed with the Educational Product Department, consisting of Mona Theiss, Elaine Xenos-Braswell and Pamela Dong. The other two were Jetsons' Ways With Words and Number Jumble.

With this cartridge (as with the Jetsons' Ways With Words cartridge), Mattel Electronics could kill two birds with one stone: show their continuing commitment to educational games, and fulfill their obligation to use characters licensed from Hanna-Barbera in Intellivision games.

Game Factory

Aka: Game Maker
Design/Program: David Stifel
Graphics: Karl Morris

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

Now you can create your own video games without having to do all the work. Because our Game Maker comes with the graphics and game play already designed for you. You choose from a library of characters, backgrounds and gameplay, then create your own custom video game. You can even plug any regular Intellivision game cartridge into the system to borrow your favorite Intellivision characters!

Designed for the Entertainment Computer System, this was the last game finished at Mattel Electronics - David Stifel completed it on the day before the final layoff.

Although it was never released, David was sure the game had potential. At his next job, designing computer software, he was constantly called on to put together demos of the software he was working on. He realized the principles he used in Game Factory could be applied to a software prototyping tool. He proposed this to his new company, but they didn't see the potential in it. Later, he saw that another company was releasing such a tool. "There, that's exactly what I had in mind," he told his boss. But his company still wasn't interested in pursuing it.

The rival program he saw was Director, which went on to become the main authoring tool of multimedia projects.

The Jetsons' Ways With Words

The Jetsons used under license from Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.
Design/Program/Sound/Music: Joshua Jeffe
Graphics: Donna Fisher
Educational content: Pamela Dong

Experience the world of words with the Jetsons in a colorful and action-packed video game. It's easy to improve your spelling, reading and word recognition skills when you're having fun doing it. Especially when your instructors are the Jetsons. The programs progress through grade levels, from preschool on up.

With the introduction of the Entertainment Computer System, a new department was added to Applications Software - Educational Product - to develop educational games for the system. Of the three games they helped design - Jetsons, Number Jumble and Flintstones Keyboard Fun - this is the only one that was released.

FUN FACT: Parents may have been wary of selecting this game to teach their children. In promising that the game develops vocabulary skills, "develops" is spelled incorrectly on the box as "developes."

Melody Blaster

Aka: Astromusic
Design/Program: Rick Sinatra
Music: Hal Cannon

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

The musical version of the popular video game, Astrosmash. And a fun, new way to learn musical notation. As musical notes fall from the sky in the pattern of a popular song, you must play the right keys to shoot them down. The faster you shoot down the notes, the faster you're learning to play your favorite songs!

The VP of Design & Development, Richard Chang, loved music-based games and toys; the ECS had a music synthesizer due to his pushing. This cartridge for the music sythesizer was based on his idea.

FUN FACT: This was the only cartridge released for the ECS Music Sythesizer.

FUN FACT: Marketing kept pushing this as a musical version of Astrosmash, and in early catalogs even called it by the name Astromusic.

Melody Maker


Compose your own melodies, right before your eyes. Play on the Synthesizer and watch the notes appear on your TV screen. You can compose all kinds of music, from Bach to rock. And your favorite compositions can be stored on cassette (both the sound and notation) for future playback or editing.

This cartridge was to have been programmed in Design & Development, but the department was closed August 4, 1983, before any substantial work could be done.

Mind Strike

AKA Mindstrike
Design/Program/Music/Sound: David Warhol
Gameboard designs: David Warhol and Mark Buchignani
Graphics: Connie Goldman, Peggi [Decarli] Fiebig, Joe [Ferreira] King

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

A futuristic, 3-dimensional space version of a chessboard game. Pit your skill against a computer, or another player. Alternate turns with your opponent or move simultaneously for a fast-action game. You can even sit back and watch the computer play itself. Use the keyboard to program the computer opponent to match your skill as you master the game. Select from over 50 challenging game boards.

Mind Strike
was an original game that David Warhol had created before coming to Mattel Electronics.

He started work on it as an Intellivision cartridge. Since the Master Component didn't have enough memory for a computer player, he designed it as a two-player game.

When the Entertainment Computer System was introduced with its extra RAM, Dave was asked to change Mind Strike to a one- or two-player ECS cartridge. He proposed making it two-player for Intellivision, one-player for ECS, but Marketing insisted on it being unplayable without the ECS module in order to boost ECS sales.

FUN FACT: David Warhol called the game Mindstrike; he wasn't happy when Marketing changed it to two words.

FUN FACT: All the game boards are symmetrical; they look the same when viewed upside-down. So Dave had the name Mind Strike on the title screen designed so that it, too, reads the same upside-down.

EASTER EGG: Dave's favorite number is 47 (it's a thing amongst Pomona College alumni), so board 47 reads "DAVE."

Mr. BASIC Meets Bits 'N Bytes

Design: Design & Development Department

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

An introduction to computers and BASIC programming through the fun of a video game. Control "Mr. BASIC" and capture the "Bits" and "Bytes" in one of three exciting games. Learn to write simple programs on the Computer Keyboard. Or, use the hand controllers just for fun. These programs use our unique color-coded graphics system to make learning programming as easy as a game.

The Entertainment Computer System hardware and internal software was designed and programmed in the Design & Development department headed by Richard Chang. This game was intended to teach users the simplified BASIC language built into the ECS.

FUN FACT: This game has the longest instructions of any Intellivision game, consisting of a 72-page spiral bound instruction book

Music Conductor


Now you have a private music teacher, right in your own living room. Play along with selected songs by following the written music on your TV screen. An arrow guides you on your way, pointing to the notes you should be playing. Or practice drills like pitch guess, interval recognition, phrase recall and fingering exercises. Makes music lessons fun!

This cartridge was to have been programmed in Design & Development, but the department was closed August 4, 1983, before any substantial work could be done.

Number Jumble

AKA Adder Attack, Math Machine
Design/Program: Tom Priestley
Design/Educational content: Mona Theiss, Elaine Xenos-Braswell, Pamela Dong
Graphics: Joe [Ferreira] King
Music/Sound Effects: Joshua Jeffe
Play this game on Intellivision Lives! for Windows & Mac!

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

Cut across fire in a Time Sailer, cruise under water in a Submarine, fly through thin air in a Zeppelin, or roll across the Earth in a Tank -- but never stop firing at the dreadful creatures that beset you! Shoot them down with the fireballs you control and they'll turn into black numbers. When you shoot enough creatures, you get a chance to solve exciting mathematical equations...and score big points! Hurry, for every second counts! Have fun!

  • 1 or 2 players. 1 little man under your control when the game starts, 4 more in reserve. 4 different environments to choose from!
  • Simple to more complex equations. Both "scratch pad" and "solution" areas to work on. Choose from 48 skill levels.
  • Transport Houses found in every environment to give you bonus multipliers. Progressive scoring setup, according to your skill level and speed in solving equations.
  • Automatic transfer to a higher level once you've mastered the one you're on!

Early in 1983, Mattel Electronics created an Educational Products department to develop educational game ideas, primarily for the Entertainment Computer System.

Number Jumble was one of the ideas that came out of that department. Others that went into production were Jetsons' Ways With Words and Flintstones Keyboard Fun.

The game was completed late in 1983. Packaging reached the black & white mockup stage, but Mattel Electronics was closed before the game could be released.

Although designed for the Entertainment Computer System, the game was played with the hand controllers. The ECS keyboard was only used if the player needed to do scratchpad calculations before entering answers.

Scooby Doo's Maze Chase

AKA Three Blond Mice, Three Blind Mice
Scooby Doo used under license from Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.
Design/Program: Mark Kennedy
Graphics: Monique Lujan-Bakerink, Connie Goldman, Mark Buczek

You're Scooby-Doo chasing ghosts through a baffling maze. When suddenly you discover you're the one being chased -- by the evil skull and crossbones. Drop magic obstacles to slow the Jolly Roger's pursuit. Choose from 10 preprogrammed mazes. Or, use the computer keyboard to create your own.

This was an original game called Three Blind Mice designed by Mark Kennedy (actually Mark named it Three Blond Mice, but it wound up on Marketing schedules as Blind). But Marketing was looking for games to drop the expensive cartoon licenses they had obtained into. Thus, Three Blind Mice became Scooby Doo's Maze Chase.

Super NFL Football

Trademark used under license from NFL Properties
Design/Program: Mark Buchignani

So realistic you'll be checking for grass stains. This fast-paced game has penalties called and game stats displayed. Includes extra burst of speed for offensive players.

Super NASL Soccer

AKA Soccer II, Super NASL Soccer
Produced at Mattel Electronics France
Includes code from the previously released NASL Soccer
Play this game on Intellivision Lives! for Windows & Mac!

A four-player version of the original NASL Soccer cartridge.

One of the features of the Entertainment Computer System was the ability to add a second pair of hand controllers. Two games went into development to take advantage of this feature: Super NASL Soccer and Doubles Tennis.

The popularity of Soccer in Europe made it a natural to be programmed at Mattel Electronics France.

The nearly-complete cartridge -- without the four-player feature yet -- was shown at the January 1984 Consumer Electronics Show as Super NASL Soccer, but Mattel Electronics closed two weeks later. An agreement with the French office, which stayed together under the name Nice Ideas, gave them the right to complete and sell a version of the game without the Mattel Electronics name.

Nice Ideas turned the game into World Cup Soccer, a one- or two-player, non-ECS cartridge, which was released in Europe by Dextell Ltd. Terry Valeski's INTV Corp. negotiated the rights to distribute the cartridge in the United States, introducing it in Spring 1986.

FUN FACT: Mattel Electronics Marketing tried to interest several companies into advertising in the cartridge. A version was produced with brand names, such as Coca-Cola, appearing on banners around the stadium. No deals were made before Mattel Electronics closed, but a photo of Super NASL Soccer showing the advertising banners was inadvertently used in one of the INTV Corp. catalogs selling World Cup Soccer.

World Series Major League Baseball

Design/Program: Eddie Dombrower
Voice Implementation: Steve Ettinger
Voice Processing: Mattel Speech Lab
Music/Sound Effects: David Warhol

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

It's just like playing baseball in front of national TV! The TV cameras catch different angles of the game. Pan across the playing field. Even pick up the baserunners on a split screen. Be the manager by programming in batting and pitching statistics for your team. Program Hall of Famers to play against each other. Imagine Fernando Valenzuela pitching against Babe Ruth! Truly the next generation of video games.

Major League Baseball
launched the Intellivision; Marketing hoped a super-Baseball cartridge would do the same for the Entertainment Computer System. This was to be the most complex Intellivision game yet, using both the ECS and Intellivoice.

Programming started as a team effort of Ken Elinger and Eddie Dombrower, but it quickly became a solo effort of Eddie's.

The results were spectacular. Eddie designed the screen views as if the game were being covered by multiple television cameras there were even insert shots appearing in the corners.

And the gameplay, based on real ball player statistics, was beyond any other video game sports cartridge.

Unfortunately, by the time the game was released, Mattel Electronics management had changed and the ECS had dropped to a low marketing priority. The system - and the game - received little support. Few people ever saw the game.

Ten years later, a new generation of "virtual reality" baseball games hit the computer market. Reviewers raved about their multiple-TV-camera viewpoints and statistics-based game play, features World Series Major League Baseball pioneered in 1983.

FUN FACT: Eddie Dombrower used historic and current ballplayers' names and stats to create the players in his game. The original marketing even advertised this, as in the catalog description above. But at the last minute, the legal department told him he couldn't use the real names. So Eddie changed their last names to those of the Mattel Electronics programmers. The first names - nicknames - are inside jokes about the programmers. (He slipped in a few personal references, too, including Paul Jule, his brother's first and middle names, and Joe "Pug" Menosky, his best friend from college.) The stats, though, are still those of the real players. Any true baseball fan can look at the stats and tell who the players are.

FUN FACT: Steve Ettinger continually annoyed Lynn [Lilliedahl] Fordham by calling her "Babe." Finally, one day she turned on him and said, "That's MS. Babe to you." So for the game a player was named Babe Lilliedahl. The legal department, though, made Eddie take it out - they wouldn't allow any of the NICKNAMES to be those of real ballplayers.

NOT-SO-FUN FACT: This may have been the first integrated video game - Eddie had designed the animated players to be black or white depending on the real players they were based on. When the names were changed to those of the programmers, he left the skin colors as they were. At least one programmer, though, came to Eddie and asked for "his" skin color to be changed, not wanting to be black in the game.

©Intellivision Productions, Inc.

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