Were you on Team Atari or Team Intellivision in the 80s? There were other home gaming consoles on the market at this time, but it seems these two companies were the main contenders battling it out in ads and commercials.
Like so many other kids, I had an Atari 2600. My best friend from the time had Intellivision. I only remember playing it a couple of times at her house and to be honest, I recall not being terribly impressed. Sure, it had the "better" graphics compared to Atari (which sounds hilarious now considering how far gaming technology has come) but the selection of available games fell short compared to the list Atari eventually accumulated and licensed. The flat controller with its keypad was cumbersome for someone used to Atari's joystick.
The Atari 2600 was released in 1977, and quickly became a popular gaming system. Intellivision was developed by Mattel in 1979 and was marketed as "intelligent television." They got writer George Plimpton--an odd choice for a spokesman, since most kids didn't know who he was--to star in a series of snooty ads and TV commercials explaining why Intellivision trumped the Atari 2600.
Atari tried to say that the Intellivision console didn't have any space games, then Intellivision counteracted with this spot that featured a kid dressed like George Plimpton:
This one starring Henry Thomas from E.T. is weird--Henry is starstruck by "Mr. Intellivision" and it is ironic considering the E.T. video game was developed for Atari.
Mattel got into hot water when they started to build up hype by hinting at a new accessory for Intellivision which it called a "Keyboard Component." This was a piece of technology with extra RAM that your Intellivision would be inserted into, turning the whole system into a personal home computer. The Keyboard Component became a marketing disaster, getting delayed several times so that engineers could resolve its reliability problems and make it cheaper to produce. When Jay Leno performed at Mattel's Christmas party in 1981, one of his jokes was, "You know what the three big lies are, don't you? 'The check is in the mail,' 'I'll respect you in the morning,' and 'The Keyboard will be out in spring.'" Things got so bad that the FTC accused Mattel of fraud and false advertising, and ordered the company to pay a fine of $10,000 daily until the system upgrade was widely available in retail stores. By the fall of 1982, Intellivision officially canceled the Keyboard Component.
Meanwhile, Atari was racking up the accessories and games:
Intellivision would release new versions and variations of its system but in my opinion, it never cemented itself into pop culture notoriety like the Atari 2600 did. Which one did you own--or like the best?
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