Released by Mattel Electronics in 1980, the Intellivision was a cartridge-based home videogame system with superior graphics compared to those of its main competitor, the Atari Video Computer System (later renamed the Atari 2600). The Intellivision was the first platform to feature a 16-bit microprocessor, and Mattel's marketing strategy sought to capitalize on the system's technical superiority and higher-resolution graphics. But according to Steven Johnson, author of Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate, "the problem that Mattel faced was that the very idea of competing technical specs wasn't yet a part of the popular vernacular." Intellivision was "the closest thing to the real thing," claimed television and print ads, which promoted the system by juxtaposing screenshots from the Atari 2600 and their product.
Without a doubt, Intellivision had an advantage over Atari, and millions of American children responded by putting Mattel's new system on the very top of their holiday wish lists. Parents answered the call and by 1982 Mattel had sold more than two million units. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Major League Baseball, and the Star Wars inspired title Star Strike were popular releases, but the system never had a "signature game" on the order of Atari's Space Invaders. Numerous third-party developers began releasing games for the system, including rivals Atari and Coleco. Mattel heavily promoted the release of a keyboard component add-on that would essentially convert the system into a home computer, but the release was delayed numerous times and ultimately limited to less than five thousand problematic units. In late 1982 the market was flooded with new home video game consoles--Atari's next generation console (5200), the ColecoVision with its popular home version of the arcade hit Donkey Kong, and the hybrid Vectrex system, to name a few. By late 1983 the robust video game market began to fold under its own weight and Mattel decided to abandon the home gaming industry.