Matt Chat 157: Dave Warhol Talks Intellivision

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Matt Barton's picture

I'm back this week with the first part of my interview series with Dave Warhol. Although Dave is perhaps best known for his extensive audio work, he's also one of the original designers for the Mattel Intellivision. In this segment, he talks all about the system (including a question from our very own Mr. Bill Loguidice), and the ill-fated keyboard component.

Download the video here. If you enjoy the show, please donate and/or tell someone else about the show. Views and donations are currently at a very low level, and it's getting discouraging. I need things to pick back up to maintain my positive energy! Thanks for your continued support and help.

Comments

Anonymous (not verified)
Nice interview, Matt!! I

Nice interview, Matt!!

I think alot of your viewers are prob like me, the show is good but money is tight. If I have extra money I would rather buy something I cant get for free. Thats not a remark about you, just saying. I would help by telling other peple but I don't know nobody else interested!! Sad I know.

I wondering how expensive is one of those keyboard components now? I bet there real collecters items.

Bill Loguidice
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KC
Anonymous wrote:

I wondering how expensive is one of those keyboard components now? I bet there real collecters items.

The few that are left and in various states of function easily sell for greater than $3,000.

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Anonymous (not verified)
Thanks for the video. Mr.

Thanks for the video. Mr. Warhol seems like a guy who got the short end of the stick. Imagine having to limit your game just because the company wants to sell a boondoggle like a keyboard for a game machine.

I actually prefer the Intellivision to the other systems of the day. Atari never made a good machine, ever. The only thing that could do was PONG and COMBAT. All the rest was just hacks from the cartridge makers. The Intellivision had a BIOS and 10 bits! That was when the competition had only 6. Twice the memory, a keyboard conponent, how could you go wrong. It was a computer! Coleco was a good system but to focused on arcade conversions with no originals. No, defiantly the Intellivision was the best system to own.

As far as donations, dude just be glad you got views. Alot of shows are just like yours you know, and they dont beg. Quit being a bum and just be glad you got people watching. That should be reward.

Greetings from Poland!

Bill Loguidice
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Intellivision had TWO computer add-ons

Keep in mind guys that the Keyboard Component add-on is completely different from the later Enhanced Computer System (ECS) add-on. The Keyboard Component was very fancy ("overengineered," perhaps is a more appropriate term) and only about 4,000 were produced before being recalled. The ECS was much simpler and readily available everywhere. That's the one with the piano keyboard and the styling like the Intellivision II. I wrote a definitive Intellivision article with Matt back in 2008 that goes into all the details: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3653/a_history_of_gaming_platforms... . Among the ECS's interesting features was doubling the Intellivision's sound channel from 3 to an impressive 6, and doubling the number of available controller ports to four...

The Keyboard Component is the one that easily sells for $3,000 or more. An ECS without the piano sometimes struggles to sell at close to $100. With the piano, it can sometimes get past the $100 mark...

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Matt Barton
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Thanks for the reminder,

Thanks for the reminder, Bill! Even though I co-wrote that article, I had *completely* forgotten about it. Geez.

The system obviously has a rich history, and the company was good enough to experiment. Have there been modern remakes of the components in question?

Regarding the donations nonsense, if you don't can't afford it, fine. But otherwise please donate if you watch the show regularly. A buck per episode ($5 a month rounding up) is all I ask from loyal viewers.

It's not "free." The fact that I'm still making it just means that other people have covered for your miserly butt with very generous donations. I'm like a street performer; you can stand there, listen to several songs, and just walk away without putting anything in the hat. There's a word for people like that, and it ain't nice.

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Bill Loguidice
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No modern remakes or recreation
Matt Barton wrote:

The system obviously has a rich history, and the company was good enough to experiment. Have there been modern remakes of the components in question?

Unfortunately, there have not been modern remakes of either the Keyboard Component or the ECS. I'm not sure of the emulation state of Keyboard Component stuff - I don't think it's there yet - but ECS support is solid. In fact, among the rash of USB adapters of late that allow you to use original Atari 2600, ColecoVision and Bally Astrocade controllers with their respective emulators on your computer, there's been one for the Intellivision that support Intellivision II controllers. What's particularly exciting is that there's a pending one that will allow use of the ECS keyboard AND piano with an emulator. I can't wait for that one to hit!

If you think about it, the only major barrier to emulation being an ideal way of experiencing old games is you don't get the authenticate controls. With something like an Atari 2600 it's not a big deal in most cases since most of the software used standard one button digital joysticks, but something like the Intellivision with its unique controller, the ONLY way to properly experience the games is by using an original controller, warts and all. The fact that a USB solution is going to allow you to use the ECS keyboard and piano, all the better.

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Matt Barton
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I actually had an

I actually had an Intellivision system I bought from a garage sale when I was a teenager. Man, I wonder what the heck happened to it? I'm angry with myself for letting stuff like that just go. It probably got thrown in a dumpster at some point. Argh!

That reminds me; I have a nice USB midi keyboard that works well with Garageband. I love playing around with that. I don't know why anyone couldn't get some enjoyment out of a nice musical keyboard, even if they have no clue about music. It's just fun to play with.

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Bill Loguidice
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It's all good stuff
Matt Barton wrote:

That reminds me; I have a nice USB midi keyboard that works well with Garageband. I love playing around with that. I don't know why anyone couldn't get some enjoyment out of a nice musical keyboard, even if they have no clue about music. It's just fun to play with.

I've been trying to get more into the USB instruments and related teaching devices, both for myself and my daughters. I have two electric guitars now, one from the PlayStation 3 Rocksmith bundle, and another for the PC from Ion Audio, though that's obviously very slow going. I also have the Piano Apprentice for the iPad, which is a mini-piano that works in conjunction with the iPad. This, combined with all the other classic stuff I have, I should be a virtuoso, but it's more for just learning the basics for the forseeable future. Regardless, it's a good time to learn an instrument inexpensively as long as you have the platforms already there...

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Matt Barton
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If I could go back in time, I

If I could go back in time, I wouldn't even bother learning guitars and just go straight to keyboard. helluva lot more versatile and so much more you can do when you interface it with a computer. Plus, ten times easier to learn! I don't know why you always hear kids complain about "piano lessons," since that's really the most versatile instrument you could ever learn.

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Bill Loguidice
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Instruments
Matt Barton wrote:

If I could go back in time, I wouldn't even bother learning guitars and just go straight to keyboard. helluva lot more versatile and so much more you can do when you interface it with a computer. Plus, ten times easier to learn! I don't know why you always hear kids complain about "piano lessons," since that's really the most versatile instrument you could ever learn.

Yeah, I definitely agree with that. My fingers are part of the problem with my learning guitar. Even the Ukulele is giving me some problems. Naturally, the longer fingers you have the better piano player you can be potentially, but it doesn't take nearly as much finger dexterity, nor coordination, as most of the other instruments out there; it's also far more forgiving with its sound output when not played optimally. As you also say, a digital piano can be programmed to sound like anything as well, so there's that too.

Still, it's hard to beat the cool of a guitar. It's good that you know that...

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