Intellivision IV



After the Intellivision Keyboard Component was canceled, Dave Chandler and his design group were able to devote full time to their biggest project: Intellivision IVIntellivision III had been rushed into development simply as a stopgap product to compete short-term with Colecovision. Intellivision IV, on the other hand, was to introduce the next generation of video game systems.

Code named Decade, since it was to be the cornerstone product of Mattel Electronics for the rest of the eighties, Intellivision IV was developed from mid-1982 to mid-1983 secretly in an unmarked building a mile away from Mattel headquarters. Being away from the daily whims and pressures of marketing and administration, Chandler's group was able to create freely.

The system they created was based on the MC68000 processor, the CPU later used in the first Macintoshes and the Amiga. Video was handled by a custom chip named Magic. Screen resolution was 240 by 192 pixels (40 by 24 4-color 6x8 cards) with a programmable 16-color palette, 16x16 4-color sprites and hardware scrolling. Onboard software supported 3-D graphics along with music and speech synthesis. The Combo chip coordinated peripheral devices, including a built-in modem: a point-of-view two-person tank battle played over phone lines was talked about as a typical Intellivision IV application.

Unlike the other hardware in development in 1983, the Intellivision IV had the potential of being a significant step forward; after Intellivision III was canceled, many people saw Intellivision IV as the last hope for the company. The hope didn't last long. Losses kept mounting and on July 12, 1983 the president of Mattel Electronics, Josh Denham, was replaced with Mack Morris. Morris set about shifting the company from hardware to software; on August 4 most of the hardware people were laid off, including those working on Intellivision IV. The shift didn't help; January 20, 1984, Mattel Electronics was shut down.

Would Chandler's group have succeeded in creating a super game machine at an affordable price, or would it have been another Keyboard Component? With all the secrecy surrounding the project, it's not known how far along the system really was. We do know it never reached the stage of actual game development; about the only involvement the Blue Sky Rangers had with Intellivision IV was when Dave Chandler borrowed a couple of graphic artists to create some demo screens. The actual screen shot on this page of Castle Grayskull from Masters of the Universe, rendered by Joe Ferreira, is about all that remains of the game machine that was going to save Mattel Electronics.