2.0 Hardware


Physical Devices that make-up the classic Intellivision platform.


2.1 What is the Master Component?

The Master Component is the name of the original game console that made the original debut. The "Component" designation was carried over into other original system parts.


         ┌─── Power Cable          ┌──── RF Cable
         '                         '
  ┌─────┴─┴───────────────────────┴─┴────┐
  │ ┌──────────────────────────────────┐ │  Channel Selector On bottom.
  │ │                                  │ │
  │ └──────────────────────────────────┘ │
  │ ┌────────┬────────────────┬────────┐ │  '─┐
  │ │┌──┐... │ ┌┬┬┬┬┬┐ ┌┬┬┬┬┐ │ ...┌──┐│ │    │
  │ ││  │... │ ├┼┼┼┼┼┤ ├┼┼┼┼┤ │ ...│  ││ │    ├── Cart Slot
  │ │└──┘... │ └┴┴┴┴┴┘ └┴┴┴┴┘ │ ...└──┘│ │    │
  │ └────────┴────────────────┴────────┘ │  '─┘
  │ ┌──────────────────────────────────┐ │
  │ │ Mattel Electronics Intellivision │ │
  │ └────────────────────────────[] []─┘ │
  └──────────────────────────────────────┘
                                  '  '
                                  │  └─────────  Power Switch
                                  └────────────  Reset Switch
                                  
Item Note
CPU: GI 16 bit microprocessor
Memory: 7K internal ROM, RAM and I/O structures, remaining 64k address space available for external programs.
Controls: 12 button numeric key pad, four action keys, 16 direction disk
Sound: Sound generator capable of 3 part harmony with programmable ASDR envelopes.
Color: 16
Resolution: 192v x 160h pixels

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2.1 What are the Intellivision base tech specifications?

Part Number Description
CP-1610 CPU
RA-3-9600 16-bit System RAM
RO-3-9504 One-half of EXEC ROM (Intellivision 1 only)
AY-3-8900 Standard Television Interface Circuit
RO-3-9503 Graphics ROM
two GTE 3539 Graphics RAM
RO-3-9502 One-half of EXEC ROM (Intellivision 1 only).
GTE-3539 8-bit Scratchpad RAM
AY-3-8915 Color Processor Chip
AY-3-8914 Programmable Sound Generator

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2.1 What is the cartridge port?

The Master Component's cartridge port consists of a single 44-pin 0.1" spacing edge-card connector. This area can become bent after years (years!) of cartridge insertion, but with some precision work and part from DigiKey (EBC22DRAN-ND), it is possible to replace it.

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2.1 What is the Intellivision CPU?

(Author's note: Most of this information was captured off the net two years ago, would the original author please speak up and maybe help me clean up this info?? =) )

GI 1600, running at something like 500KHz. Processor has 16 bit registers, uses 16 bit RAM, and has 10 (yes, 10) bit instructions. Intellivision cartridges contain ROMs that are 10 bits wide. Ten bits are called a decle, and half that is a nickle. There were 160 bytes of RAM, I think (general purpose RAM -- there is also RAM used by the graphics chip for character bitmaps and to tell what is where on the screen).

The CPU was strange. For example, if you did two ROTATE LEFT instructions, followed by a ROTATE RIGHT BY 2 (rotates could be by one or two), you did NOT end up with the original word. The top two bits were swapped!

Ken Kirkby also has this to add:

"The GI CP1600 was developed as a joint venture in the early seventies between GI and Honeywell. One of the first commercial uses of the CP1600 was its incorporation into Honeywell's TDC2000, the first distributed control system, prototypes existed in late '74 I think. Honeywell's then Test Instrument Division also incorporated into a Cardiac Catheterisation system called MEDDARS which was released for sale about 1979. The CP1600 was definitely a 16 bit chip."

John Dullea dug this information up during a stroll at his local library:

In the Penn State Library I found a book called "An Introduction to Microcomputers, Vol. 2: Some Real MicroProcessors", By Adam Osborne, Osborne & Associates, Inc., 1978. ISBN: 0-931998-15-2. Library of Congress catalogue card #: 76-374891. It has lots of info on the CP1600/1610 CPU in the Intellivision in chapter 16 (If you want a photocopy of the chapter, e-mail me). Here are the pinouts of the CPU:

                 +------------------+    ____  
         EBCI ---+ 1             40 +--- PCIT  
        _____    |                  |  
        MSYNC ---+ 2             39 +--- GND  
                 |                  |  
          BC1 ---+ 3             38 +--- (PHI)1  
                 |                  |  
          BC2 ---+ 4             37 +--- (PHI)2  
                 |                  |  
         BDIR ---+ 5             36 +--- VDD  
                 |                  |  
          D15 ---+ 6             35 +--- VBB  
                 |                  |  
          D14 ---+ 7             34 +--- VCC  
                 |                  |  
          D13 ---+ 8             33 +--- BDRDY  
                 |                  |    _____  
          D12 ---+ 9             32 +--- STPST  
                 |                  |    _____  
          D11 ---+ 10            31 +--- BUSRQ  
                 |                  |  
          D10 ---+ 11            30 +--- HALT  
                 |                  |    _____  
           D9 ---+ 12   CP1600   29 +--- BUSAK  
                 |       CPU        |    ____  
           D8 ---+ 13            28 +--- INTR  
                 |                  |    _____  
           D0 ---+ 14            27 +--- INTRM  
                 |                  |  
           D1 ---+ 15            26 +--- TCI  
                 |                  |  
           D7 ---+ 16            25 +--- EBCA0  
                 |                  |  
           D6 ---+ 17            24 +--- EBCA1  
                 |                  |  
           D5 ---+ 18            23 +--- EBCA2  
                 |                  |  
           D4 ---+ 19            22 +--- EBCA3  
                 |                  |  
           D3 ---+ 20            21 +--- D2  
                 +------------------+  
 
D0-D15 ............... Data and address bus ................ Tristate,  
                                                             bidirectional  
BDIR, BC1, BC2 ....... Bus control signals ................. Output  
(PHI)1,(PHI)2 ........ Clock signals ....................... Input  
_____  
MSYNC ................ Master synchronization .............. Input  
EBCA0-EBCA3 .......... External branch condition addr lines  Output  
EBCI ................. External branch condition input ..... Input  
____  
PCIT ................. Program Counter inhibit/software .... Input  
                       interrupt signal  
                       ____  
BDRDY ................ WAIT ................................ Input  
_____  
STPST ................ CPU stop or start on high-to-low .... Input  
                       transition  
HALT ................. Halt state signal ................... Output  
____  _____  
INTR, INTRM .......... Interrupt request lines ............. Input  
TCI .................. Terminate current interrupt ......... Output  
_____  
BUSRQ ................ Bus request ......................... Input  
_____  
BUSAK ................ External bus control acknowledge .... Output  
VBB, VCC, VDD, GND ... Power and ground 
 

Looking at the logic board in the Intellivision unit (original model 2609) reveals a number of (important) chips:

Sound ............. AY-3-8914 ................ 40-pin
ROM ............... RO-3-9503-003 ............ 40-pin
ROM ............... RO-3-9502-011 ............ 40-pin
Color ............. AY-3-8915 ................ 18-pin Cart ROM .......... AY-3-9504-021 ............ 28-pin STIC .............. AY-3-8900-1 .............. 40-pin
RAM ............... RA-3-9600 ................ 40-pin
CPU ............... CP-1610 .................. 40-pin +----- hello!

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2.1 How do Intellivision graphics work?

160x92 pixels, 16 colors, 8 sprites (they are called "moving objects" aka MOBs rather than sprites). MOBs are 8x8 with an option to hardware-double the X or Y value to increase to 16 pixels.

Graphics are character based. The screen is twelve rows of twenty characters. Characters either come from Graphics ROM (GROM), which contains the usual alphanumeric symbols and a bunch of other things meant to be useful in drawing backgrounds (256 characters in all), or Graphics RAM (GRAM), which the program can use to build pictures needed that aren't in GROM (like sprite images). GRAM can hold 64.

Eight of the colors are designated as the primary colors. The other eight are called the pastel colors.

There are two graphics modes: Foreground/Background, and Color Stack.

In F/B mode, specify the colors for both the on and off pixels of each card ("Card" is the term for a character on the screen). The choices are any of the first 8 colors in the pallete.

In CS mode, you can set the foreground as any college in the pallete, and a circular list of four colors. Programmer declares if the list is to advance or not. Thus, and the OFF bits color comes from the next color on the circular list. You can also tell if the list is to advance or not. Thus, in CS mode, you only get four colors for the OFF bits, and they have to be used in a predetermined order, but you get to use the pastels.

A MOB could be designated as either being in front of or behind the background, which determined prority when it overlapped the ON pixels of a background image.

Programmer can declare the graphics chip to black out the top row or the first column (or both) of cards. Programmer can also declare a delay for the display by up to the time of seven scan lines, or to delay the pixels on each scan line by up to seven pixel times. Using these two features together allows for smooth scrolling. There is no need for a bitblt-type operation.

The hardware detects collisions bewteen sprites and other sprites or the background.

GRAM and screen memory could only be manipulated during vertical retrace. At the end of vertical retrace, programmer has to declare to the chip if it should display or not. If not done, could keep manipulating by not telling it to display, but then flicker would result - unacceptable!

The dedicated graphics processing unit is called the STIC: Standard Television Interface Chip. If the CP-1600 is the brain of the Intellivision, then the STIC chip (AY-3-8900) is heart. The STIC chip provide all the display functions of the Intellivision, as well as the sole timebase in the machine

�scar Toledo G. developed a STIC tester ROM (see media links) for checking with an LTO Flash or similar ROM cart or emulator.

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2.1 Is it possible to display more than 16 colors?

Daniel Bass of the Blue Sky Rangers invented the "bi-color technique" for multiplexing colors in the same card, chaning them to a completely different hue that even fit the Pantone range of shades. This technique was used in Tower of Doom (different colors look great on CRT screen but RGB emulations tend to actually show the flicker due to higher refresh rates and differences between NTSC phosphors and LCD/LED).

decle reviewed the document and created an approximation of the technique in IntyBASIC!

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2.1 Is there a difference between NTSC and PAL display?

Colors are different for multiple reasons between 50Hz PAL and 60Hz NTSC. The refresh time for the screen is also 25fps for PAL and 29.97fps for NTSC.

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2.1 Why do Intellivision games play at a different speed in US vs Europe?

Since the STIC (video chip) used in the Intellivision needs to periodically and very regularly read graphics data in order to maintain a stable signal to the television, this makes it ideal as a timing governor for games. Therefore, games are coded in a way that leverage the regular STIC clock signal to time events, such as regular enemy AI logic or player movements--and it is especially convenient to control the interval of music notes and sound effects timing. This is a standard technique used in many old game consoles, including early PC games.

As you may know, the TV signals in the USA and Europe are different. The NTSC video standard used in television sets in America runs at 60 frames per second, while the PAL standard used in Europe, runs at 50 frames per second. The impact of this difference on Intellivision games is that timers will run slower in PAL consoles, since the "heartbeat" of the game is running at a slower speed.

Moreover, there is an even bigger, but more subtle, impact: for technical reasons a clock circuit of the PSG sound chip in the Intellivision is also synchronized with the STIC clock in a special way. In order to lower the frequency of the clock in the STIC to support the PAL 50 fps timing, the internal clock of the PSG needs to be lowered too. This causes the PSG to generate tones at slightly lower frequencies on PAL machines. This shouldn't be a problem, after all you just need to tell the PSG which frequencies to use to generate tones and they will be at the same pitch in any case.

However, the games were traditionally developed primarily for the US market, by US-centric programmers. So, look up tables that specify which PSG codes translate into which actual musical tones, were designed from an NTSC perspective. The result is that the wrong codes are used on PAL machines causing the PSG to play slightly different tones than intended.

These differences were caused not only by oversight at first, but also by technical and business reasons. Supporting exactly equal NTSC and PAL game versions requires the maintenance of two separate codes, separate testing of the two, and separate production of cartridges. It would also necessarily result in different cartridges that would only play well on their specific target market, and inventory overhead to keep track of them individually.

When confronted with these additional efforts and costs, and balanced against the actual practical downside of not applying them, the decision becomes clearer: so the games in Europe play a bit slower and sound a bit off-key; they still play fine and are enjoyable. It's not optimal, but it doesn't critically impact the game.

Thunder Castle is governed by "STIC ticks", check out the video https://youtu.be/J0JUHsQx0ng at 15:49 to see this in action.

The CPU clock is definitely faster on PAL systems (4MHz for PAL vs. 3.579545 on NTSC), and the PSG clock is tied to the CPU clock. But, the refresh interrupt comes less often (50Hz vs. 60Hz), which is why you end up with these weird differences. Retrace-timed events go slower, CPU-timed events go faster. And, the pitch on the PSG goes up since it's tied to CPU clock.

Arnauld Chevalier runs the timer-tick based tasks an extra time every 5th frame (to get 6 frames for every 5) on PAL machines. That works really well if your game speed is locked to vertical retrace. There's enough extra cycles on a PAL machine that it can absorb it, it appears. At least, in my few experiments, that seems to be the case. There are some things that won't work quite right if you do that, such as STIC based collision handling, since you'll end up skipping every 6th frame. But, if you do all your collision detection in software, you can still compute collisions for that 6th frame even if it isn't displayed. (Space Patrol is hybrid; most collision detection is in software, but a handful of collisions are detected by hardware). As for pitch, the easiest thing to do is to just keep two pitch tables around and pick one based on detecting PAL/NTSC.

Playing an extra frame after every 5th frame actually shouldn't cause much issue at all. Consider a moderately high tempo song at 100bpm. 100 beats per minute. 1 minute has 3600 ticks at 60Hz. That means each beat (a quarter note) is 36 ticks long. So, by slicing out every 6th frame, it loses 6 ticks, evenly distributed throughout the beat.

It won't cause any rhythms to stutter noticeably at 100bpm, and it's doubtful that the human ear could pick it out. An eight note loses 3 ticks (again, evenly distributed), shortening from 18 to 15 ticks. The first note that gets a little wobbly at that bpm is the 16th note, with half of them shortening to 7 ticks (losing 2) and half shortening to 8 (losing 1). But, even then it's evenly distributed, so the overall beat remains stable. (I don't think the tracker goes below 16th notes.)

There's no dropped sound, per se. Rather, the total duration of the tones, in terms of ticks, gets shortened. The wall clock time stays the same (or in the case of the 16th note, it's on average the same).

Mostly, music consists of "tone start, wait a few tics, tone stop", with some volume shaping and maybe some frequency modulation to give a tremolo effect. The main impact is to the volume shaping and tremolo, not to the rhythm of the song. And because it's evenly spread out, it should be fairly minor.

Star Wars TESB doesn't play the music in the beginning because of the PAL/NTSC. It doesn't play it because it's not on the cartridge! I tested US and International cartridges in NTSC Intellivisions and it is just that the International carts just don't play the music. Maybe the music was just not licensed for the international market. On the other hand there is no music when you play an international cart on a NTSC machine.

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2.1 How to connect a USA Intellivision to HDMI?

Various analog RF to HDMI converters have come and gone in the marketplace. Some work well with certain non-Intellivision consoles, some do not work at all. Usually hunting in eBay will show a result that works, only to be bought-up. Point-in-time links are included, if a new source is known it will be added here. Internal RGB modifications exist (source links included here where possible) but they tend to be harder to produce than PAL counterparts.

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2.1 How to modify a PAL Intellivision to use RGB video?

PAL consoles appear to be easier to modify than NTSC because the NTSC version doesn�t use the LM1886 IC. Multiple efforts exist.

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2.1 What work does the OS and I/O subsystem perform?

The operating system did several things:


           jsr          foo
bar:
          ...
          ...
foo:     ;do some setup or whatever
          jsr          GetNumberFromKeypad
spam:     ...
          ... 

GetNumberFromKeypad returns to bar immediately. When the number od rea, spam willbe called from an interrupt handler. If you didn't know that a routine did this, reading code could get rather confusing!

The operating system is known as "The Exec", and contained official cartridge checking routines, pause (1+9 or 3+7), standard sound control, common graphics routines.

Basically, whereas earlier, if one wanted to change something in a game, one would have to go into the hardware and physically mess around with the wiring, now one could just change the assembly software code for the game, which looked something like:

BNZ STPGUY ; STOP MOTION IF WHEEL NOT PUSHED XOR #$03F0,R3 ; MOVING, SO HE SEQUENCES AT MAX RATE MOV R3,MAN+.OBJSEQ ; .. MOV #12,R0 ; SPEED AT WHICH HE RUNS CALL GETVEL ; FIGURE VELOCITY (A Trivial Intellivision Game 2). According to Robinson, both the Atari and Odyssey consoles were hard-wired and didn�t use software. By using the Exec, cartridge space essentially doubled, and "you could get the program running much faster . . . allowed us to make games much faster" (Robinson pers. int. 2002-03-12. The Exec made it very easy for programmers to write code using common library paradigms that today's developers take for granted.

The Exec also gave the Intellivision the erroneous criticism that the console was "slow" because the Exec consumed precious cycles/interrupts.

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2.1 How much RAM is in the Intellivision?

1k

The System RAM resides in a single GI RA-3-9600 (Intellivision I) or RA-3-9600A (Intellivision II onwards). The System RAM unit is the only 16-bit RAM available in the Intellivision.

Memory is mapped to ROM in several locations for peripheral support like the PlayCable, computer add-on, etc.

Memory Range Accessibility Device
$0000-$003F RW, VBlank Period 1 STIC Registers
$0100-$01EF RW Scratchpad RAM
$01F0-$01FF RW PSG Registers
$0200-$035F RW System RAM
$1000-$1FFF R Executive ROM
$3000-$37FF R, VBlank Period 2 Graphics ROM
$3800-$39FF RW, VBlank Period 2 Graphics RAM

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2.1 How is Intellivision memory structured?

The Intellivision leaves many addresses available to cartridges. However, several address ranges come with caveats, such as interactions with other devices in the system, or incompatibilities with various peripherals.

Addresses Notes


$0400 - $04FF RAM/ROM ok on all but Intellivision 2.
$0500 - $06FF RAM/ROM ok.
$0700 - $0CFF RAM/ROM ok if no Intellivoice.
$0D00 - $0FFF RAM/ROM ok.
$2000 - $2FFF RAM/ROM ok if no ECS.
$4000 - $47FF RAM/ROM ok if no ECS.
$4800 ROM ok. RAM ok only if boot ROM at $7000.
$4801 - $4FFF RAM/ROM ok.
$5000 - $5014 ROM ok. RAM ok only if boot ROM at $7000 or $4800.
$5015 - $6FFF RAM/ROM ok.
$7000 ROM ok if no ECS. RAM at $7000 confuses EXEC boot sequence.
$7001 - $77FF RAM/ROM ok if no ECS.
$7800 - $7FFF ROM ok if no ECS. Do not map RAM here due to GRAM alias.
$8000 - $8FFF RAM/ROM ok. Avoid STIC alias at $8000 - $803F.
$9000 - $B7FF RAM/ROM ok.
$B800 - $BFFF ROM ok. Do not map RAM here due to GRAM alias.
$C000 - $CFFF RAM/ROM ok. Avoid STIC alias at $C000 - $C03F.
$D000 - $DFFF RAM/ROM ok.
$E000 - $EFFF RAM/ROM ok if no ECS.
$F000 - $F7FF RAM/ROM ok.
$F800 - $FFFF ROM ok. Do not map RAM here due to GRAM alias.

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2.1 How does the Intellivision make sound?

The Programmable Sound Generator (PSG) is responsible for most of the Intellivision's sound generating capability. It also provides an interface to hand controllers and the ECS's keyboard and piano. Various PSGs were used in the Intellivision from the AY-3-891x family, including the AY-3-8914, AY-3-8916 and AY-3-8917.

The PSG provides 3 independent analog output channels. The PSG provides a dedicated square wave tone generator and D/A converter for each of the three output channels. It also provides a single noise generator and single volume envelope generator, both can be mixed with any combination of the three channels. The Intellivision mixes the output of the three analog channels directly to produce the final audio output.

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2.1 Can an Intellivision play waveform audio samples?

The AY-3-8910 PSG is capable of playing audio without an Intellivoice, as it can on other platforms like the MSX and Spectrum. It's not high quality, and an Intellivision ROM cartridge cannot hold more than a few seconds of audio, but it does work! :)

Intv Prime has produced a tool call "Sonum Vox" that will convert audio to an IntyBASIC program, using knowledge from Arturo Ragozini.

�scar Toledo G. has published code to play waveform without Intellivoice in his book "Advanced Game Programming for Intellivision".

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2.1 How can I service/repair an Intellivision?

The system is comprised of four major components.

Okay, so with Phillips screwdriver in hand, you're ready to rip apart your Intellivision. First off, as with any electronic repair work, be sure that your work area is free of static electricity. I personally use a wrist grounding strap clipped to some metal portion of your work area.

Unplug the unit from the wall and from the television. Remove any cartridge from the machine. Turn the power switch to the ON position to drain any stored up voltage. Place a soft cloth on your work area. Turn the console upside down and place it on the cloth. Using a Phillips screwdriver (some units may require a nut driver), remove the six cover retaining screws.

Turn the unit back over and gently lift off the top cover. The small brown cover for the ON/OFF switch will come off at this point. Weave the hand controllers through the holes in the top cover.

The insides of the Intellivision are now exposed. You should be able to identify he four major component groups. There is a brown plastic plate covering and securing the logic board, transformer and power supply board. Remove the six screws holding down the plate, and place them aside.

Be CERTAIN to see how the controllers are placed in this plastic plate, as they must be replaced in the exact same fashion in order for the top cover to fit securely.

There are several videos available on the topic, please watch several before proceeding, official Mattel Electronics service days are long past over!

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2.1 What can I look for when my Intellivision stops working?

The chipset which provided the guts of the Intellivision, manufactured by General Instruments, was extremely failure-prone. During the initial production runs, there were sometimes failure rates as high as 50%!!

Some of the procedures listed here will require the use of a volt-ohm meter (VOM). All of this material has been taken from the aforementioned reference.

Problem: When you turn the game on the screen clears, title comes on, but game will not play when hand controllers are pushed.

Repair: This normally indicates that on or both of the MPCBs must be cleaned or replaced. Sometime you can open up the hand controller, clean it off, put it back together and it will work. (see 7.1 for info.) If you have cleaned or replaced both MPCBs and the problem still exists, then you may need a couple of new hand controller cables or a new logic board.

Problem: When you turn the game on, the screen clears (turns dark), but game title does not appear on the screen.

Repair: With the power switch in the OFF position, take the cover off the unit. Unplug the transformer assembly from the power supply board. Place the power switch in the ON position. Using your VOM, test the following voltages:

                                   ________  
                        Yellow Lead --+   ------| |     |  
                          Blue Lead --+   ------| |     |  
                  Green/Yellow Lead --+   ------| |     |  
                         Green Lead --+   ------| |     |  
                         Green Lead --+   ------|_|_____|  
                        Yellow Lead to Blue Lead - 18 VAC  
                Green/Yellow lead to any Green - 9.25 VAC  
                      Green Lead to Green Lead - 18.5 VAC  
                                        _______  
                        +  5 VDC --+    | |_| |  
                        + 12 VDC --+    | |_| |  
                        + 16 VDC --+    | |_| |  
                        +  0 VDC --+    | |_| |  
                        -  2 VDC --+    |_|_|_|  
 
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2.1 What can I look for when my Intellivision stops working?

The pinouts and information listed below are courtesy of Steve Roode, who in a fit of boredom decided to find out what happened when he pushed the 5 key on his Intellivision keypad...

In trying to build the ultimate Intellivision Controller, I thought that the hard part would be trying to figure out all of the pin assignment combinations for all of the buttons on the controller. It turns out I was wrong! That was the easy part... The hard part is finding components to make the controller with! I went to a couple of stores to look for a rugged, phone style type keypad, nice metal stick, and a couple of rugged arcade style fire buttons. Couldn't find any of them!

Oh well.... Maybe you can! The following will describe all of the pinouts combinations for all of the buttons on an Intellivision Controller (NOTE: I only spent time to figure 8 directions out on the disc. I figured it would be almost impossible to find a 16 direction joystick, and most games don't require that many directions anyway).

DISCLAIMER!

Hey, I'm just an average guy... I'm only doing this to help people on their way to building an Intellivision Controller that won't drive you nuts. I WILL NOT accept any responsibility for what these instructions will do to your Intellivision. I've tried it on mine, and it works fine. But please don't blame me for ANY problems these plans may cause. Experiment at your own risk!

OK, now that that's out of the way... Down to business!

I used a Sears Intellivision Controller since I had an extra one and it was removable from the system. Remove the screws on the back of the controller and open it up. Next, remove the disc, the side buttons and keypad. What you should see in the controller is a terminal where the cable comes into the unit. It should look something like this (The numbers aren't really there; they are my own numbering system):

                           ---------------  
                         1 | -----       |  
                           |       ----- | 6  
                         2 | -----       |  
                           |       ----- | 7  
                         3 | -----       |  
                           |       ----- | 8  
                         4 | -----       |  
                           |       ----- | 9  
                         5 | -----       |  
                           ---------------  
 

Each pin on the terminal connects to a wire which connects into the Intellivision. The numbers DO NOT correspond to the connector pin numbers; They are my own numbering scheme. However, with a little effort, the interested experimenter can map them if desired.

OK, using the numbering scheme above I was able to figure out the pin combinations for each button on the controller. This took a lot of time tracing out the circuit on the plastic keypad, and verifying it with a Baseball cartridge plugged in! The following pins must be connected for each of the corresponding controller operations:

Connecting Pins            Makes the Controller Perform  
===============            =============================  
1 and 4                    Up Disc  
1 and 2                    Down Disc  
1 and 5                    Left Disc  
1 and 3                    Right Disc  
1, 3, and 4                Diagonal Up/Right Disc  
1, 2, 3 and 9              Diagonal Down/Right Disc  
1, 2, and 5                Diagonal Down/Left Disc  
1, 4, 5 and 9              Diagonal Up/Left Disc  
1, 6, and 8                Upper Left and Upper Right Side Button  
(SAME!)  
1, 7, and 8                Lower Left Side Button  
1, 6, and 7                Lower Right Side Button  
1, 2, and 6                Keypad 1  
1, 2, and 7                Keypad 2  
1, 2, and 8                Keypad 3  
1, 3, and 6                Keypad 4  
1, 3, and 7                Keypad 5  
1, 3, and 8                Keypad 6  
1, 4, and 6                Keypad 7  
1, 4, and 7                Keypad 8  
1, 4, and 8                Keypad 9  
1, 5, and 6                Keypad CLEAR  
1, 5, and 7                Keypad 0  
1, 5, and 8                Keypad ENTER  

Whew! As you can see, pin 1 connects to every combination, so in building your controller it may be easier to connect this pin to a common strip and connect all controls to this strip.

In examining this circuit, you can see why pressing 1 and 9 at the same time is just as effective as pushing 3 and 7 if you want to pause a game. It connects the same pins either way (Pins 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8); You could even build a separate PAUSE button on your controller if you desire!

Many interesting features could be built into this controller. For example, if you are familiar with a 555 Timer IC, you could build an adjustable auto-fire button! But the most important thing in building it is FINDING the components. My initial idea was to use a push-button phone keypad. Although it would take a little getting used to (and you really couldn't use overlays), it would last a LONG time. Anyways, who actually USES the overlays?! If a game requires them, just put one by the side of the controller.

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2.1 How can Intv II Controllers be repaired?

This little bit of hackery was provided courtesy of William Moeller.

I just finished refurbishing an Intellivision II unit so I would have a matching Master Component to go with my ECS. I have found quite a few units, and they all have the same problems. They are missing the power supply, and the hand controllers are inoperative. On the original unit, the mylar keypad is held onto the controller wires by pressure from two screws. When a hand controller on the original Master component stops working correctly, usually taking them apart, cleaning and putting them back together, making sure the screws are tight does the trick. On the Intellivision II controllers, there are no screws! I ended up breaking one apart to see how they worked (it was trashed already of course). The knowledge I gained allowed me to carefully take apart a few controllers to cobble two together to go with my II Master Component.

The first thing that needs to be done is the top piece has to be taken off. This is the piece that the disc is flush with. It is held on by little plastic hooks. A crude drawing is shown.

                       I I   
                       I I   
                       I I  /   
                       I__/   
  

These hooks are located in five spots. The first is in the centre at the bottom of the disc. The next two are located on both sides, right where the top of the disk ends, and the keypad begins. The other two are right at the top, where the overlay slides in. They are marked with an X on the diagram below.

             __________________________   
             ==========================   
             I    Intellivision II    I   
             I     Hand Controller    I   
             ==========================   
           X I                        I X   
             I   1        2       3   I   
             I                        I   
             I                        I   
             I   4        5       6   I   
             I                        I   
             I                        I   
             I   7        8       9   I   
             I                        I   
             I  Clear     0     Enter I   
          X  I========================I X   
             I          ___           I   
             I        /     \         I   
             I      /         \       I   
             I     (           )      I   
             I      \         /       I   
             I        \ ___ /         I   
             I                        I   
             I========================I   
                         X    

Use a small screw driver to press the plastic at the correct location, and pry each of the hooks out in an upward motion, being sure not to break them. This part is very important and cannot be broken. Be sure to look for the four teeth that slide into the hand controller and rest behind the four buttons. These cannot be broken. Their purpose is to press the mylar when the buttons are pressed against them. The buttons push on these plastic teeth, which in turn puts pressure on the mylar. Take the disc, disc spring, and plastic cover and put aside.

Now comes the tricky part. Getting the cover off of the base is difficult. Examine your controller and see if the bottom of the controller has a crack in it, or if the buttons are broken. If it is obvious the buttons are broken, try and save the cover.....if the bottom and buttons are good, CAREFULLY press the bottom part of the controller at the four H locations in the diagram below.

  
                              Intellivision II   
                         Hand Controller Bottom Piece   
                 =====================      ========   
                 I                    I     I      I   
                 I H                  Iwire I    H I   
                 I H                  I     I    H I   
                  \                   I_____I      I   
                 _ I                              /_   
                I  I                             I  I   
                I  I                             I  I   
                B  I                             I  B   
                   I                             I   
                   I                             I   
                B  I                             I  B   
                I  I                             I  I   
                I  I                             I  I   
                 --I                             I--   
                  /                              \   
                 I                                I   
                 I H                           H  I   
                 I H                           H  I   
                 I                                I   
                 I================================I   
  

Usually, I start on the right hand bottom side, and end up breaking the hooks there. Then getting the other hooks to let go is a little easier. Breaking one set of hooks is not that serious, because one can glue the controller closed on re-assembly. Make sure that the buttons do not get broken off when sliding the top cover off! Once this step is done, replace the wires/mylar pad/keypad numbers as required.

It is then time to reassemble. Make sure that you do not forget the circular plastic piece between the mylar. That is it! Put together the controller the exact opposite order. Happy repairs!

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2.1 How can Intv II Controllers be repaired?

(This information was provided by our friend Keith Robinson from the Blue Sky Rangers, inclusion of this info does not serve as an endorsement... Well, heck, unless someone else knows someone who officially repair Intellivision equipment, this HAS to be an endorsement =) )

One of the most asked questions we get at the Blue Sky Rangers is "Where can I get my Intellivision repaired?" Well, the official Intellivision repair service (i.e. the one Mattel still refers people to when they call) is:

J.H.C. Electronics Service 901 South Fremont Avenue #108 Alhambra, California 91803 phone: 818-308-1685 fax: 818-308-1548

J.H.C. is owned by James Hann, the guy who ran the repair service for INTV Corporation. While their primary business is special controllers for newer video game systems, they still have the equipment to test and repair Intellivisions and are (amazingly) still willing to do it.

They advertise: "J.H.C. Electronics will repair any Intellivision video game system, no matter where or when purchased, for one low price! Complete overhaul, thorough testing, no-charge return shipping to you -- only $49.95."

[Yes, we know used, working units sell for half that in the newsgroup, but that wasn't the question, was it?]

J.H.C. can also repair IntelliVoice and computer modules. Call for prices.

Note: They do NOT have Intellivision II power supplies. They get asked that all the time, and they looked into having some made, but the minimum order is 500. J.H.C. has 100 people on a list now, and if they get 400 more commitments they'll have a batch made up. We wouldn't hold our breath, unless someone wants to pay $3,000 for the first one to get the ball rolling. Still, if you want to be added to the list, e-mail us at makingit@netcom.com; we'll pass them along to James if a significant number of people write.

Finally, if you've visited the Blue Sky Rangers web site lately, you'll have noticed we posted the instructions on how to modify your Intellivision or INTV Master Component to work with the System Changer (only the Intellivision II works with the System Changer as is). For those of you who don't want to mess with doing this yourself, J.H.C. says they'll do the modification for $20. Cheap insurance not to destroy your Intellivision, your house, or yourself.

If you do contact J.H.C., please let them know the Blue Sky Rangers sent you!

Excellent instructions exist for opening the Intellivision on the Intv Funhouse site.

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2.1 How can I repair hand controllers?

You're stuck with them if you own an INTV I or III, as they are hard-wired into the unit. There will come a time when they will fail. Fortunately, there are some simple steps short of totally disassembling the main console you can take to fix controllers.

"Inside the controller is a plastic sheet with a circuit painted (or silk- screened) on it. This is call the Membrane Printed Circuit Board, or MPCB for short. Often, pieces of the circuit chip off and cause the controller to short out. This can be repaired by opening the controller and cleaning out the MPCB with a soft cloth"

"To gain access to the MPCB, loosen and remove the four small screws on the back of the controller. With the controller facing up, lift off the top cover. Remove the round control button and the spring beneath it. There should also be a white plastic spacer, sandwiched between two sections of the MPCB directly beneath the spring (Note its position. It must be placed back between these two sections when you put the controller back together)."

"Slide out the black side buttons (When reassembling the controller, these are useful in holding down the MPCB, which tends to pop out). Remove the gold numeric pad and the clear sheet (static shield) beneath it."

"Remove the MPCB. Visually inspect it to see if it's still in good condition. Hold it up to the light; if you see any holes or breaks in it, it should be replaced."

To reassemble the hand controller, follow the above instructions in reverse order. "Note that the MPCB, static shield, and numeric pad have two small holes in each of them. These holes interlock with the two pins protruding from the bottom cover of the hand controller, making it easier to align and adjust the MPCB into its proper position."

If your MPCBs require replacement, a great source of spare parts are those totally trashed, $2 INTV consoles you pass up at the flea market. Not only are the hand controllers usually in working order, but you get a whole slew of other spare parts, such as logic boards, transformer assemblies, power supplies and switches.

(If anyone knows of a source for new spare parts, please let me know so I can include the information in the FAQ.)

The official Mattel Electronics controller service document is included for reference.

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2.2 What is the 2609 model console?

The 2609 is the gold-and-woodgrain model that is most iconic and familiar to the public. Regional/localized consoles in other countries seem to be all based on this model (not the lower-cost, integrated internals Intelivision II).

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2.2 What is the Intellivision GTE Sylvania console?

Still another clone, this console is identical to the original Intellivision except for the brand name. The box has a very detailed description of the Computer Adapter that was never released. Mattel Electronics originally interviewed GTE to manufacture the consoles, which is a strong reason why Sylvania had advanced console knowledge that others did not. Rumor has it that these were given away for free with the purchase of a Sylvania television.

From a collecting standpoint the Sylvania CIB remains one of the hardest to find boxed. Consoles are all model number MC100.

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2.2 What is the Tandyvision by Radio Shack?

Yet another clone, this console has faux wood-grain (what was it with video games and wood-grain in the early eighties??) paneling in the place of the INTV I's gold panels. Otherwise, this unit is totally identical to the original 2609. Consoles are all model number 58-100.

The Radio Shack corporation was a retail electronics powerhouse during the Intellivision heyday, and as late as 1990 items could be ordered through their catalog, so people that were part of the RS "world" bought their Intellivision/Tandyvision just as they bought Tandy-branded computers from other producers. From a collector's standpoint, a nicely boxed Tandyvision is very hard to find.

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2.2 What is the Sears Super Video Arcade?

Up until recently, if you wanted to market your product through Sears, it had to have their name on it. Much like Atari with the Tele-Games Video Arcade, Mattel created a clone that was similar yet different to the INTV I. Consoles are model number 49-75011, 49-75022.

Functionally identical, this unit has a cream-colored case with a wood-grain front, and removable controllers that rest in the center of the console. The power and reset switches are circular in shape and about an inch in diameter:

                                (Top View)  
                           _||_             _|_  
             Power Cable --+||               |+-- RF Cable  
                            ||               |  
                     =================================  
                     |                              ||  
                     | ---------------------------- ||  
                     |          |... |... |         ||  
                     |          |... |... |         ||  
                     |__________| /\ | /\ |_/-\_/-\_||  
                     |          | \/ | \/ | \-/ \-/ ||  
                     =================================  
                                             ^  ^--- Power Switch  
                                             |--- Reset Switch  
                                              
                                              

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2.2 Does a Japan market Intellivision exist?

Bandai contracted with Mattel Electronics in 1982 to brand and distribute the Intellivision in Japan. Consoles are all model number 16287.

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2.2 Does a Brazil Intellivision exist?

The Brazil national government required foreign companies to manufacture within Brazil and set up relationships for importing. This is the base of Digiplay (aka Digimed, later renamed Epcom) as a company selling branded consoles and games with only labels, software title screens, and manuals changed. Things were likely imported semi-finished components and "Produzido" assembled in the industrial free trade zone of Manaus. Consoles are all model number 5368.

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2.2 Does an Egyptian market console exist?

The console is a 220 volt 50 Hz PAL system. The three that have been identified/shared across the Intellivision community appear to be NTSC systems made in Hong Kong converted to work as PAL by the "Asico Company" or "Ecico Company", which existed between 1985 and 1993.

The system is best pronounced in Arabic as %u0625%u0650%u0646%u0652%u062A%u065A%u0644%u0651%u0650%u064A%u06CB%u0650%u064A%u0698%u065B%u0640%u0646

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2.2 Does a France market Intellivision exist?

By law, video systems sold in France must had either RGB or SECAM outputs (at the time; the requirement was probably dropped in the late 80's with things like Laserdiscs being too costly to adapt to SECAM, to be replaced by either PAL, RGB or SECAM RF) so if INTV wanted to keep selling consoles in France after running out of the stock left by Mattel (if Mattel left any SECAM Intellivision stock) they would have do either make them RGB or SECAM RF. Which was probably estimated being too much of a hassle for such a small market.

Units from France that have made it to the USA have verying levels of success with video sync, it is television-dependent and converter-dependent, but the picture is ultra clear and sharp!

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2.2 What is the Intellivision II?

There were three reasons for replacing the original Intellivision Master Component with the Intellivision II, developed under the code name Big Mac:

The plug-in controllers also provided an opportunity to propose alternate types of controllers such as track balls and light guns. While most of these never got beyond the brainstorming stage, a trigger-joystick controller - code named Dandelion - was shown at the January 1984 Consumer Electronics Show for a "proposed 1984 introduction."

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2.2 Do different versions of the Intellivision II exist?

Galen Komatsu wondered this, and here are his thoughts on the matter:

Just noticed differences between the two Intellivision II units I have. We'll call one Ernie and the other Bert.

On the front nameplate, Ernie has a more bolder looking black surface, Bert is a bit dulled looking, also Bert has the (R) symbol after 'Intellivision' and 'Mattel Electronics'.

Ernie has a red stripe around the perimeter of the unit, Bert, none.

Ernie's casing has square corners, Bert's corners are more rounded.

The button squares on Ernie have a matte finish while Bert's squares have a more "glossy" finish though the areas surrounding the buttons are matte.

Looking at the underside labels, the bright orange "IMPORTANT!" has "2609-0090-G1" in the upper corner, Bert has "2609-0090" ...both labels mention eligibility for FREE CARTRIDGE if the unit requires servicing. =^)

On the second label, Ernie's looks like:

+-----------------------------------------------+  
| MATTEL ELECTRONICS (R)    Hobby Equipment     |  
| INTELLIVISION (R) II           [UL LOGO]      |  
| Model No. 5872                    104Z        |  
| FCC ID: BSU9RD5872                            |  
| _______________________________               |  
||CAUTION: This is not a toy and | Input Power: |  
||is intended for use by or under| 16.2VAC      |  
||the supervision of adults.     | 60HZ         |  
||_______________________________| 12.8WATTS    |  
|                                               |  
| Serial No. P3732189                           |  
| MANUFACTURED IN HONG KONG                     |  
+-----------------------------------------------+  

whereas Bert's is just:

+---------------------------+  
| MATTEL ELECTRONICS (R)    |  
| INTELLIVISION (R) II      |  
|                           |  
| Model No. 5872            |  
| FCC ID: BSU 9RD5872       |  
| MANUFACTURED IN HONG KONG |  
|                           |  
| Serial No. P20176594      |  
+---------------------------+  

I haven't cracked Bert open yet so I don't know if there's any internal differences but both refuse to run early Coleco games.

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2.2 Is the Intellivision II compatible with all games?

For game design, Intellivision II was supposed to be identical to the original - the main chips and their functions are the same as described for the Intellivision Technical Overview. But there turned out to be a major difference - when Intellivision II was released, it was discovered that 3 of Coleco's Intellivision games on the market, Donkey Kong, Mouse Trap and Carnival, would not work on it. Why not? At first, Mattel said it wasn't sure - maybe software changes needed for the System Changer to work were causing the problems. But as more and more games in development at Mattel were found not to work with the Intellivision II, programmers were filled in on the truth - but only on a one-to-one, need-to-know basis. The reason the Intellivision II doesn't work with the Coleco games is because it was designed not to. The EXEC contains a subroutine to display the Mattel copyright notice, but since a competitor's game would not use this routine, that location could have anything in it. So when the Intellivision II EXEC checks on a particular bit in that location and finds it isn't "properly" set, the EXEC doesn't allow the game to play. With a valid date in that location, the bit will be set; anything else and there is only a 50-50 chance the bit will be set. This was a deliberate attempt to render competitors' cartridges useless, and therefore it may very well have been illegal. But as game size went from 4K to 8K and larger, more Mattel programmers started using special title screens that bypassed the EXEC copyright routine. These programmers had to be told to make sure the bit was set. Of course, once the Intellivision II was on the market, competitors were able to figure out how to make their new cartridges work on it. The programmer of the original EXEC, David Rolfe, is reasonably sure the EXEC II changes weren�t done by him, as he knew better than anyone that any substantial changes to the EXEC would very likely "break" a number of games already released.

In addition, the different timing affected mainstream popular Intellivison games

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2.2 How can I replace my Intellivision II power supply?

If one needs a replacement power supply for their Mattel Intellivision II videogame system, then the best 100% compatible power supply to get is the TRIAD WAU160-750 that was engineered in the USA and made in China using high quality materials.

So the only real negatives regarding this TRIAD power supply when compared to the original Mattel power supply is that the cord on the TRIAD according to the spec sheet is listed as 6 feet (but I actually mine ended up being around 6 feet 7 inches). Where as the Mattel 5872-9629 power cord length was 9 feet 8 inches. The other negative is currently all level VI AC to AC power supplies on the market only have 2.1mm size plugs. So a adapter plug is needed to interface the TRIAD WAU160-750 to the Intellivision II style of plug which is 2.5mm. Now one can order a custom 2.5mm x 5.5mm x 11mm plug for the TRIAD WAU160-750, but the catch is the factory in China requires a minimum order of 500 power supplies.

The Intellivision model 2 is the only version of the console that uses this unique AC - DC conversion within it. All the other models feature internal PSUs and just have 2 prong AC lamp cords essentially hanging out of them with transformers inside them to handle the power conversion. Not sure if the later Super Pro and INTV III are the exact same as the model 1s, but they still just have a standard cord on them with internal PSUs. Can't speak on the Spectravideo, but the TI-99/4a you only have to worry about plugging in a Colecovision power supply into them since they share the same plug but are otherwise very different. Point being, this thread you started is about the Intellivision 2 power supply. And I'm specifically stating that an Atari 5200 or similar DC power supply will work provided you have the right barrel plug size to fit.

Cost wise, the Triad adapter and plug adapter is a MUCH more affordable cost given what 5200 PSUs might be fetching these days.

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2.2 How to fix Intellivision II video?

There are two 2114 SRAMs that form the GRAM. Sometimes, they use 9114s, such as the photo below. There's a pair of them, and each provides 4 bits of the graphics output.

It looks like from your photo that the left four pixels of each tile is garbaged up. If the ordinary built-in text font looks OK (e.g. the title screen to Auto Racing looks OK), then it's probably the GRAM chip that provides the "upper half" of the graphics data.

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2.2 What is the INTV Super Pro System?

In 1984, the vice president of marketing for Mattel Electronics bought the rights to the Intellivision and formed a company called INTV Corp. The result of this venture was the release of the INTV III, or Super Pro System. This redesigned unit is physically identical to the original INTV I, except that it has a black plastic case with silver plates, and also has a Power LED indicator between the Power and Reset switches. The controllers are black with silver discs, and the keypads were either silver with black lettering or black with silver lettering. Consoles are all model number 3504.

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2.2 Is there a database of Intellivision serial numbers?

Intellivision Revolution has maintained a site since 2012 containing voluntarily-submitted serial numbers for all Master Component owners.

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2.3 What is the ECS?

In 1981 Mattel management had started to become concerned that the Keyboard Component would never get up and running so had a secret team working on a much cheaper option, the ECS. The team was kept secret purely so it wouldn't cheese off the Keyboard Component development team.
Consoles are model numbers 4182,4184,4187,4629,4631,4690.

When the FTC hit Mattel with the daily fine it was the ECS's time to shine as it barely scraped through the check list to turn the Intellivision into a home computer. Offering only a 2K memory upgrade and limited storage and output capabilities it saved Mattel's collective arses.

The ECS came with an very basic BASIC loaded on ROM. Users could write programs, save/load them and print. So now the Intellivision was a computer. The keyboard was HORRIBLE to use and prone to stuck keys.

The only really redeeming feature was that the ECS came with a decent sound chip which allowed you to plug a dedicated, forty nine key piano keyboard into it turning it in to a horrible looking, multi-voice synthesizer; admittedly the first of its kind for a game console.

Very shortly after it was released software development halted for the ECS and Mattel moved away from add-on hardware.

The unit requires an additional power supply. Here again, Mattel used something completely different from the rest of the industry:

The ECS came packaged with a 49-key chiclet-style keyboard, power supply, and a well-written manual describing INTV BASIC. Upon returning your registration card, you would receive "The Step-By-Step Guide To Home Computing", which included a very detailed BASIC Tutorial, and some more in-depth study of the ECS's abilities. For the techies, the unit sported an additional voice chip (bringing the grand total to 6), 10K of ROM and 2K of RAM for programming purposes.

This unit comes in two flavors, the grey mentioned above, and also a dark brown color keyed to the original Intellivision. Functionally, the units are identical. The dark brown variety is extremely difficult to find.

Expansions announced for this unit include a 16K RAM, 8K ROM expansion, a 32K RAM, 12K ROM expansion, data recorder, and a 40 column thermal printer. None of these peripherals ever made it to market.

Original Titles that are ECS-Required:

Independent and Homebrew Releases that are ECS-Enhanced:

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2.3 How can I replace the ECS power supply?

The best 100% compatible power supply to get is the TRIAD WAU090-1200 that was engineered in the USA and made in China.

As of February 10th 2016, all external power supplies manufactured for use in the United States and imported into the United States is required to have the energy efficiency level VI rating per the Department of Energy law. Dealers in the United State that have old stock of power supplies, are allowed under the law to sell their old stock of power supplies as long as those power supplies were manufactured and imported into the United States before Feb 10th 2016.

In 2020 many AC to DC power supplies one purchases online are level VI complaint. However AC to AC power supplies are not in demand, since most modern consumer products in the 21st Century use AC to DC power supplies, therefore there are some USA dealers that still have old stock of AC to AC power supplies that they imported into the United States before February 10th 2016, that they are trying to get rid off at clearance prices. However, there are also many third-party companies producing both AC to AC and AC to DC external power supplies that are made in China, and violating the Department of Energy level VI compliant rules put in place back in February 10th 2016.

As far as is known, the TRIAD Magnetics company is the only company that makes AC to AC external power supplies that have the required energy efficiency level VI defined by the DOE Docket Number EERE-2008-BT-STD-0005-0219.

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2.3 What is the European ECS?

When the ECS was released worldwide, the first market was the USA, where the white motif Intellivision II was in production, and the original 2609 console was not distibuted. Because non-USA Intellivisions still resembled the original unit, an ECS with the brown+gold color scheme was produced. The differences between the brown and white ECS hardware are cosmetic color change, the regional power brick, and aux/tape IO which uses sync based on 50Hz or 60Hz. Internally, the ECS obtains timing/STIC Information from the main console, so the PSG remains uniform with the main console PSG. This also means that data saved to the cassette on a PAL-connected ECS will not read on an NTSC-connected system due to the Hz speed coming from the STIC.

A brown ECS will work with a USA ECS power brick.

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2.3 What are the ECS Technical Specifications?

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2.3 Can an ECS print?

User rietveld from Atari Age has managed to connect the Mattel Aquarius printer to the ECS out-port.

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2.3 What was the Keyboard Component?

When Intellivision was released, a great selling point on the box was that they were developing a keyboard computer addition to the system. The Intellivision was designed as a modular home computer. The Master Component could be purchased as a stand-alone video game system and the Keyboard Component could be added, providing the computer keyboard and tape drive. There was also built in ports for a microphone and a thermal printer.

The Keyboard was very ambitious for 1979 and anyone buying an Intellivision had high hopes for the product. Mattel Electronics entered talks with Citi Bank to do online banking with "Project Pronto" using 6502-based computing and IO with Master Component via the Intellivoice; it would be a digitally connected experience like PlayCable for games. The problem is that it was 1979 and the product was unreliable in testing. By 1981, the product still was not out. The problem was so bad that it became a joke.

In mid-1982, the FTC ordered Mattel to pay a monthly fine (said to be $10,000) until the Keyboard was in wide distribution.

(Keith Robinson)

Just over 4,000 Keyboard Components were manufactured, but no one knows how many actually wound up in the hands of consumers, or stayed there. Mattel tried to buy back all the outstanding units to avoid lawsuits when it was discontinued. If you had your receipt, you got a full refund on your purchase price (reports on how much the price was vary from $600 to $800). If you didn't have a receipt, you were given $550 for the unit, $60 for the BASIC cartridge and $30 for each game cassette.
Some consumers insisted on keeping their Keyboard Component. They were allowed to, plus they were given $1000 worth of other Mattel Electronics products.

Either way, they had to sign a statement that read: "By accepting this offer, I recognize that I am releasing Mattel Electronics from all liability due to its decision to discontinue the keyboard component and related products."

Some of the unsold and returned units were converted into Intellivision development stations at Mattel Electronics in California and in France. The rest were apparently dismantled and the processors and memory chips recycled.

A lot of vision was had for the KC, Mattel marketing director Gary Moskovitz has said in 1983 "Downlading information will be of vital importance in coming years. I believe that the sale of different software in stores will quickly be overcome by the almost infinite choice of software from information networks by phone or cable. We need to provide Intellivision users with a cheap way to acess and store data for later use." This statement was made to aim a launch of a mode, wireless keyboard, and external HD.

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2.3 Can a Keyboard Component print to paper??

The rebranded Alphacom Sprinter-40 printer was destined for use with the console. A few branded for Mattel Electronics are in the posession of the heirs to the Papa Intellivision estate.

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2.3 Did the original Intellivision Keyboard Component use normal audio casettes, or something special to the Intellivision?

(Keith Robinson)

With the Microsoft BASIC cartridge, users could write their own programs and save them to tape on the built-in tape drive. Mattel sold special Data Storage Cassettes, which were similar to normal audio cassettes except they had no leader (same as some answering machines use).

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2.4 What is the Intellivision III?

The Intellivision III is not the same as the "INTV Super Pro System III", which is a console line comprised of surplus hardware from Mattel re-sold by Intv Corp.

Atari wasn't the only company with plans to introduce a "next generation" video game system; Mattel spoke of its soon-to-be released Intellivision III for well over a year before the idea was dumped. Unit specifications:

Note that most of these features existed in other hardware projects at the time (ECS, updated STIC, Intellivoice) , the Intellivision III would have been a great evolutionary step. Mattel Electronics Marketing apparently decided that the "next generation" would have only kept them on-par with the Coleco and Atari consoles, and not a large enough leapfrog, which they would save for the Intellivision IV project.

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2.4 What was the Intellivision IV?

Mattel Electronics created a working specification for the "MAGIC" platform in 1982 with a 240x192 screen resolution with hardware scrolling and 4-color sprites, a 68000 CPU, advanced IO (including built in modem) and DSP. This would have been a radically new machine (unlike the planned Intellivision III which would have been an ultimate combination of hardware that existed at the time). Dave Chandler's team communicated with Phillips at the time regarding manufacture, and dedicated engineers were added to work on the "machine for the next decade". The planned release was 1985. No known hardware mockups exist, and prototype graphic screens or audio artifacts are not known to exist today.

If the system was released when planned, it would have clearly been more sophisticated than everything else on the market, as the NES was barely in North America at the time, and equivalent games would have been only available on something like the Amiga.

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2.4 What is the Tutorvision?

In 1989, INTV Corp. made a deal with World Book Encyclopedia to manufacture an educational video game system called Tutorvision. The Tutorvision console would be a modified Intellivision, molded in gold plastic. Two sets of eight cartridges, one for younger children, one for older, would be produced. The World Book direct sales staff would market Tutorvision as they did encyclopedias - get the console and one set of the cartridges for a low monthly payment. Part of the sales pitch would be that the family was also getting a game machine; while the Tutorvision cartridges would only work in a Tutorvision console, the Tutorvision console could play the entire library of Intellivision cartridges.

Everyone seemed happy with the completed games, so why it all fell apart is unclear. In 1990, World Book and INTV Corp. filed lawsuits against each other. The same year, INTV filed for bankruptcy. Tutorvision was never released and was mostly forgotten.

Several units have surfaced across North America over the last 20 years, they are very much sought-after as collector items because they are essentially upgrades/expanded Intellivision consoles, tech capability is between the 2609 Master Component and an Intellivision III.

NAME Tutor Vision
MANUFACTURER World Book
ORIGIN U.S.A.
YEAR 1989
END OF PRODUCTION 1990
BUILT IN SOFTWARE / GAMES None
CONTROLLER Twelve-button numeric keypad (0�9, Clear, and Enter) + 4 side-located action buttons (two of which are electronicaly the same) + 16-directions controller disk
CPU General Instrument CP1610
SPEED 895 KHz
RAM 1352 bytes
ROM 7168 bytes
GRAPHIC MODES 160 x 196
COLOR 16 color palette
SOUND General Instrument AY-3-8914 (3 channels sound + 1 noise generator)
I/O PORTS Cartridge slot, video ouput (RF or RGB depending versions), power in
MEDIA Cartridge
NUMBER OF GAMES 16 dedicated cartridges were to be released for the Tutor Vision The Tutor Vision is also compatible with all Intellivision cartridges
POWER SUPPLY Power supply built-in
PRICE Unknown

Intellivision Productions and Realtime Associates have 14 of the games, found on floppy disks many years ago. Most read that as 16 games were programmed, and if the Canadian version of Time Trip is counted seperately that could make it 17. Two titles remain unknown.

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2.4 What is the Super Pro Tutorvision?

In the late 1980's, INTV Corp apparently re-used any hardware to get consoles released to the public. This included taking working hardware that was destined for Tutorvision consoles, disabling Tutorvision features, and releasing them as disguised, conventional Intv System III consoles. They all have a motherboard called "INTV88".

There are four knon "Super Pro TutorVision" versions of consoles. These have the INTV88 motherboard but a GROM, STIC 1A, video RAM, and EXEC (OS ROM) that might or might not be stock. For example, one could have the Tutorvision/INTV88 motherboard, INTV GROM, Mattel STIC, Tutorvision RAM, Tutorvision WBEXEC, and it would act like an Intellivision Master Component but with different text for words/scores/etc. A Tutorvision board with a Mattel EXEC can have the WBEXEC "overwrite" the conventional ROM via the cartridge port. It may be that the Tutorvision STIC is the same as the conventional STIC, but with aditional address lines to access the full 2k RAM that the STIC can handle, which would be 256 8x8 tiles total; more Super Pro Tutorvisions would have to be found to correlate this.

The quickest way to know if an Intv System III possibly has Tutorvision components is to look at the underside of the unit, all Super Pro Tutorvisions have the mainboard visible through heat vents on the bottom of the unit; non-SPTs have a black painted metal shield obscuring the mainboard when looking through the vent holes.

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2.5 How many positions can the hand controller detect?

It is 16 positions! This control disc was "revolutionary" for it's time, allowing for greater control with sports titles, but is also one of the reasons Intellivision never did catch up to the Atari 2600 in popularity.


2.5 What are overlays?

Overlays are a unique way to personalize the experience for each player using a hand controller. They are implemented as plastic inserts that slide into the top of the controller, and convert the keypad to specific functions.

Mattel Electronics Marketing originally required keypad and overlay function for all games, even where it was not "needed", in order to differentiate from the Atari 2600.

The Colecovision keypad is very similar to the Intellivision, but does not support overlays.

Most experienced players do not need to use the overlays, because they generaly know which positions on the keypad execute given functions. The overlays are simply plastic.

Overlays make a game fun and do attract attention!

They can be purchased, as of 2021, at the Blue Sky Rangers store within eBay.

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2.5 Does anyone make or sell extra overlays?

Roger Matthews, who uses the handle "Psycho Stormtrooper" on Atari Age forums, reverse-engineered the secret of making overlays in the high-quality original style of Mattel Electronics. The overlays are known as The Orphan Overlays, and can sometimes be found on online auctions. Approximately 100 sets were made, so they are rare.

Keith Robinson was so impressed by Matthews' work that he recruited him to make overlays for the Flashback and can be found on the BSR retail site as "Replacement Overlays".

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2.5 Can overlays be made at home?

Valter Prette and Dave Jong, under the Elektronite moniker, created a self HOWTO document for creating overlays at home with readily availble materials.

Intellivision Revolution (see 6.1) makes them available in small batches from time to time.

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2.5 Can an Intellivision use paddle controllers?

Charles D loves Kaboom-style games, and was motiviated to create the Intellipaddle. It works! The controller maps graduated input from turning the paddle to the absolute digital signals expected by the console. Wow.

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2.5 Can the hand controller disc be changed to a stick?

The popularity of the Atari VCS/2600 joystick cannot be understated for consumer hands in the 1980s: it seemed natural to for the human hand to grip the tall stick, and the single button was easy to figure out (one choice). It's easy to now see the form factor an evolutionary dead-end (button placement works for right-handed people only, precision is impossible), the Intellivision disc and thumb control has been in every game system that followed as a "d-pad". However, in the 1980s, several companies attempted different schemes to add a stick control to the disc to make it more VCS-like, with varying degrees of success.

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2.5 Can an Intellivision controller be modified for USB to work on current systems?

Raphael Assenat has developed a solution for taking a removed 2609 controller and using it in a system like a modern desktop PC/Mac.

The key features of the result are:

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2.5 Can I replace an Intellivision controller with a Flashback controller?

Nurmix of the Intellivisionaries produces special cables that convert the pinout from the Flashback to the standard Mattel Electronics design. Because Flashback controllers are excellent replicas of the original units, the converter cable is a great way to get perfect classic control on the original hardware.

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2.5 Can an Atari Jaguar controller be used on an Intellivision?

With the number pad and directional pad, the Jaguar controller seems like it could mimic an Intellivision controller well. Jsoper was successful with this in 2015, although none of these mods appear to be available as of 2021.

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2.5 Can a Neo Geo controller be used on an Intellivision?

The Intv2 Arcade Controller is a custom-rebuilt Neo Geo AES controller modified to work the Intellivision. Custom PCB, special microswitches, and other components are sold as a PCB kit. Complete controllers are sometimes available.

Some games work better than others with the customization:

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2.5 Can I replace an Intellivision controller with a joystick?

The Wico Command Stick is a full replacement for the Intellivision controller that strongly resembles a Colecovision controller with a stick like the Atari 5200.

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2.6 What is the Intellivoice?

This module attaches to the cartridge port of your Intellivision, and through the use of special voice-enhanced games, the Intellivision could emit intelligible speech. This was groundbreaking for 1982! The module has a dial on the front to control the voices' volume. Voice audio was included in the TV output (unlike voice add-ons for other systems like the Odyssey 2 Speech Synth). There were 5 games released to take advantage of the unit's capabilities:

Original Titles:

Planned or Undeveloped:

Homebrew and Independent (21st Century):

The original games were complex to produce by 1980 standards, taking two+ months with multiple professional contributors.

Voice games will work without the adapter, but since the voice was made to be an integral portion of the game, the original titles are extremely difficult to play.

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2.6 What are the Intellivoice technical specifications?

The speech synthesizer is the General Instruments SP-0256 Orator. The SP0256 incorporates four basic functions

The SP-0256 can also accept serial speech data from an external source.

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2.6 What kind of speech samples are heard in the Intellivoice?

Samples are English phonemes in the standard Intellivoice, audio quality is approximately 8KHz. An international Intellivision was planned to support phonemes in other European languages, but was not released.

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2.6 What kind of speech samples are heard in the Intellivoice?

Samples are English phonemes in the standard Intellivoice, audio quality is approximately 8KHz. An international Intellivision was planned to support phonemes in other European languages, but was not released.

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2.6 What is the Music Synthesizer?

This was an add-on for the ECS, a full 49 key piano style keyboard. It has 6 note polyphony (for you non-musicians, can play 6 notes at once), and plugs into the controller ports on the ECS via a dual 9 pin connector. Melody Blaster was the only program released by Mattel to specifically take advantage of this component. This unit also came molded either in light gray or dark brown plastic. Although they are both pretty tough to find, the brown variety is extremely rare.

Over time, the keyboard PCB has been found to warp (these things are 35+ years old, after all). They were manufactured by the reputable Pratt-Read company, which was hurt by the videogame slump beacuse Mattel Electronics suddenly did not need the supply they had built-up.

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2.6 What was PlayCable?

The idea of beaming Junior video games through Cable TV is not new; a company called PlayCable in 1981 created an adapter for the Intellivision that plugged into the cartridge port, and the service would have had a selection of 20 of the most popular games available every month. Steven Roode and his brother were fortunate enough to have this service, and what follows is his description of the hardware and the service provided:

When you signed up for PlayCable, you were given a box which would plug into the Intellivision cartridge port. The box had the same color scheme as an Intellivision I, and the dimensions were the same height and depth of the Intellivision I, with the length of an Intellivision II. It had a power cord coming out of it. Additionally, you were given a RF box which had a coaxial in, a coaxial out, and two RCA outs. One RCA out was connected to the Intellivision, and one was connected to the PlayCable unit. The setup looked roughly like this:

                                                Cable In   
                                                   | |   
                                               -----------   
                                               |  ----+  |  +--- RF Box   
                                               -----------   
                                                |_||_||_|   
                                   ______________|  T  |   
                                   |                V  |   
                                   |                   |   
        =================================================   
        |                              ||               |   
        | ---------------------------- || ------------- |   
        |  /\ .... |        | .... /\  ||               |   
        |  \/ .... |        | .... \/  ||               |   
        | ---------------------------- || ------------- |   
        |                       [ ][|] ||               |   
        =================================================   
                 Intellivision            PlayCable Box   

From Larry Anderson:

For about $4.95 a month, the cable company would transmit 20 games (Although for the first few months, there were only 15 games). When you turned on the Intellivision, a sort of 'boot screen' would come up and you would hear a sound that sort of sounded like a clock ticking. After a couple of seconds, you would hear 4 long beeps and the PlayCable title screen would pop up. There would be one of four different songs in the background (I know that one was the victory song in checkers, one was The Entertainer, one was Music Box Dancer, and I forget the other one). Each screen listed 5 games (I think, it may have been 4), and you could cycle through the games lists by pressing the disc. When you found the game that you wanted, you would press the number next to it, and press enter. A title screen of the game would pop up, and again you would hear ticking. After a couple of seconds, you would hear the same 4 long beeps and the game would be ready to play.

The following are excerpts from a PlayCable-specific game manual describing the game loading process:

HOW TO SELECT YOUR FAVORITE GAME FROM PLAYCABLE:

We had PlayCable for about two years (I think 81-82), and our cable company was big into promoting it. They had Intellivision play-a-thons at some of the local malls, giving away free consoles to high scorers in certain games. During one promotional weekend, the cable company showed nothing but people playing Intellivision and the announcers commenting on how realistic the gameplay was. I think we even have one PlayCable T-shirt laying around somewhere!

Finally though, our cable company stopped carrying PlayCable, and unfortunately, we had to surrender the box. I would liked to have kept it to see how it worked. All in all, our family has a lot of fond memories of PlayCable. I think it helped to enhance the uniqueness and mystery of the Intellivision.

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2.6 How can the PlayCable be seen today?

The PlayCable service and runtime environment has been emulated, so anyone with jzIntv can see it run in 1983 era glory.

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2.6 What is the System Changer?

The Atari VCS/2600 had the biggest library of games at the time, and Mattel added the capability of playing 2600 carts to the INTV II with this module. This unit also interfaces with the INTV II via the cartridge port. It has a cartridge port on the top of the module, Game Select and Reset keys flanking the two difficulty and color/BW switch:

                                (Top View)  
                        ________________________  
                        |     _____________     |       Legend:  
                        |    | _         _ |    |  
                  ______|    |_____________|    |    1 - Game Select  
                  |                             |    2 - Left Difficulty  
                  | +--- To INTV                |    3 - Color / BW Switch  
                  |_______ ___________________  |    4 - Right Difficulty  
                        |  |  1  |2|3|4|  5  |  |    5 - Game Reset  
                        |  |_____|_|_|_|_____|  |  
                        |_______________________|  

The controller ports are located on the front of the module, and any of your favorite 2600 compatible controllers work just fine. If you don't happen to have Atari controllers lying around, you can use the disc controller attached to the INTV II in lieu of them.

If you happened to own an original Intellivision, sending in your Master Component and $19.95 would get you a ROM upgrade that was required for this unit to work with the older equipment.


2.6 what would happen if you plugged your 2600 System Changer into an un-modified Intellivision I?

An unmodified Master Component (unmodified meaning sans ROM upgrade), when turned on with this unit plugged in, reads "M-Network" on the title screen. You can hear all the sounds from the 2600 game you have inserted, but no video is displayed, other than this title screen. Ever try playing Blind Combat?


2.6 What was TV POWWW?

On October 1st, 1978, KABC-TV Los Angeles, hosted by Regis Philbin, took TV POWWW! on the air for the first time. This is the first known live video game competition ever broadcast on television in North America. It used a Mattels Intellivision instead of the Fairchild Channel F in earlier European iterations. On various children shows, time was given for a specially-modified version of Space Battle / Sharp Shot with enemy space ships flying around and across a target zone, and a random dial-in caller would be selected to yell "POW" to initiate a shot at the target. If a score was reached for blasting ships, the caller would be awarded a prize.

Mostly kids just yelled "POW" as much as possible in the hopes of getting a score without strategy, but it was a huge hit and very popular. It was a great showcase of telephone control with a voice trigger circuit, and Intellivision graphics and sound prowess.

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2.6 Does TV-POWWW Exist today?

A wizard of modern Intellivision development that goes by the moniker "decle" developed an emulation ROM that simulates the popular "Space Target" game as well as the unreleased games "KSlots" and "KSoccer"

Dr. Decle also replicated TV POWWW hardware for anyone that wants to create a 21st century version of the game!

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2.6 What is the Videoplexer?

Tired of switching between your 8 favorite games?? Get a Videoplexer! Similar to the RomScanner for the Atari 2600, this unit would store 8 Intellivision games and allow you to switch them on the fly via a touch panel on the front of the unit.

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2.7 What is the Ultimate Flashback?

Todd Holcomb developed a solution to the limited games on the Flashback by replacing the internals with a Raspberry Pi and accessible SDRAM slot. This change allowed the install of Emulation Station plus the jzIntv emulator to run any Intellivision game in the catalog, using the excellent Flashback controllers. Mr. Holcomb's kit is the most faithful way to play Intellivision games on a television without resorting to original (aging) hardware.

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2.7 What is the Intellivision Flashback?

First available in Fall 2014 via Atgames, the Flashback is an all-in-one "plug and play" unit that resembles a minified version of the gold+woodgrain 2609 console. Unlike the previous handheld units, these are not ports but instead the actual Intellivision code running within a hardware emulator. Most of the games are very functional and playable, with a lot of care taken by Intellivision Productions CEO Keith Robinson to make sure the same level of play and fun are included.

A major standout for the system are the controllers, which very faithfully reproduce the look/feel/control of the original items. It does not have a cartridge slot, and does not carry 3rd party licensed games like Bump-n-Jump (Data East), but it does deliver the classic Intellivision IP in a fast-to-play format. Many people currently buy Flashbacks just for the controllers, which can have the end-cable pinouts modified to work on original hardware.

Atgames relationship with Intellivision Productions was not a good one, and a follow-on Flashback was not meant to be.

SKU 721737B2, UPC/EAN/ISBN 857847003271

Games list:

Game Game Game
01 Astrosmash 11 Body Slam: Super Pro Wrestling 21 Spiker: Super Pro Volleyball
02 Space Armada 12 Bowling 22 Stadium Mud Buggies
03 Space Battle 13 Boxing 23 Super Pro Decathlon (Decathlon)
04 Space Cadet 14 Deep Pockets: Super Pro Pool & Billiards 24 Tennis
05 Space Hawk 15 Football, Super Pro 25 Backgammon
06 Space Spartans 16 Chip Shot: Super Pro Golf 26 Bomb Squad
07 Star Strike 17 Golf 27 Checkers
08 Auto Racing 18 Slap Shot: Super Pro Hockey 28 Chess
09 World Ch Bsbal 19 Motocross 29 Horse Racing
10 Slam Dunk 20 Soccer 30 Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack
31 Las Vegas Roulette 42 Brickout 52 Snafu
32 Royal Dealer 43 Blowout 53 Thin Ice
34 Armor Battle 44 Buzz Bombers 54 Thunder Castle
35 B-17 Bomber 45 Frog Bog 55 Triple Action
36 Crown of Kings 46 Hard Hat 56 Vectron
37 Minotaur 47 Hover Force 57 Learning Fun
38 Sea Battle 48 Night Stalker 58 Learning Fun II
39 Sub Hunt 49 Pinball 59 Math Fun
40 Tower of Doom 50 Shark! Shark! 60 Word Fun
41 Takeover 51 Sharp Shot

Overlays included in all editions:

Overlays included if item was purchased from Sam's Club:

A supplemental 60-overlay pack was sold by the Blue Sky Rangers company.

A special edition was made for the Dollar General retail stores, which included the original 2-player-only Major League Baseball game.

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2.7 What is the Intellicart?

The Intellicart is a RAM-based cartridge for the Intellivision, designed and originally sold by Chad Schell (http://www.schells.com/intellicart.shtml). It provides 64Kx16-bit of memory for games. Through a clever bankswitching scheme, modern software can use all 64K words. It is also capable of playing nearly all existing games. The few it cannot play without modification require 8-bit RAM or ECS-style bank switching.

Notes from the now-defunct Giga INtellivision Site:

[mapping] $0000 - $1FFF = $5000

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2.7 Can an Intellicart be loaded from another retro machine?

User "16kRAM" created this unique loader bridge as part of a Retro Challenge in 2016.

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2.7 What is the LTO Flash! cartridge?

LTO Flash is an awesome ultra-modern flash cart. It contains enough capacity to hold the entire Intellivision game catalog several times over. It uses a conventional USB connection to a Windows/Mac/Linux computer and a management application to ingest/export ROMs.

It supports all known ROM configurations (4k/6k/8k/etc) as well as JLP-enhanced games. Save state is also included. 100% ECS compatibility. Buy two, while you can!

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2.8 Was the Intellivision installed in a real car?

The 1982 Ford Continental Concept 100 was a prototype car with next-generation features like a touchscreen to control basic car functions, satellite navigation (Transit system, pre-GPS), and an Intellivision built into the rear-seat center armrest. Complete with storage slots for controllers and headphone jacks, anyone riding in the back set could play Burgertime any time on the CRT embedded in the seats. The car was to be a luxury coupe of the future!

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2.8 Can the ECS serial I/O interface with a GPS?

Mattel Electronics developers added bi-directional I/O with the RS-232 serial port, but never envisioned that Lathe26 of Atari Age Forums would use it for a GPS!

The UART present in the ECS is half duplex. Ingredients for the solution:

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2.8 Can the Intellivison and ECS work with MIDI?

IMDI (Intellivision Music Digital Interface) is a prototype of a combined MIDI interface and Intellivision cartridge. It turns the Master Component / ECS combo into a MIDI instrument. It came about as a result of a converstion with Paul Nurminen of the Intellivisionaries.

Currently IMDI runs a modified version JoeZ's Simple Synthesizer for the ECS. This version can take input from either the ECS synthesizer keyboard or a MIDI source and use it to drive the six voices of the ECS.

When using a MIDI source, the note velocity is used to set the output volume, making the ECS touch sensitive for the first time. The sound of the Simple Synthesizer has also been sexed up a bit with the addition of a little vibrato and decay.

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2.9 What is the Dick Smith Wizzard?

It is easier to say what the game/computer console is not, it is not an Intellivision. The Dick Smith Electronics stores in Australia in the early 1980s wanted to profit on the innovations of the Intellivision, without actually being an Intellivision. They iterated on the controllers with keypads, game-to-computer expansion, and several games that had replayability from complexity. Ultimately the system did not last.

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