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History

Mattel began manufacturing of the Aquarius in June of 1983, With the expectation that it would compete in the same market as Texas Instruments' TI 99/4A, the ZX-81 and ZX Spectrum, the Oric and the VIC-20.  The system was meant to create a hybrid between a home computer & a game console.

Unfortunately the Aquarius was not successful and as a result the console sold very poorly (less than 20,000 worldwide). Production ended just 4 months later in October 1983.

The system as a computer had little to no built in memory so when using the cartridge "Fileform" (a word processor) the user would have to store their work often on tape or print it out on paper, Eventually releasing several RAM memory expansions, All of which were quite costly. Mattel admitted that they released the Aquarius at a loss with the expectation that they would earn a profit by selling the extension modules and cartridges that were used for each different program.
 
As a console it fared no better. The graphics were comparable to that of the Intellivision, and used the exact same sound card as the Intellivision, which also had a far greater selection of games to choose from.
 
Programmers jokingly used the line "Aquarius - system for the seventies!"
 

Hardware

The Aquarius had several extension modules, Used to make gaming an easier more enjoyable experience, Though they were costly and did little to help create a market for the device. 
 

Mini Expander

 Added an additional cartridge slot, Allowing a game cartridge and memory cartridge to be attached at the same time. Two additional audio channels, And 2 controllers similar in style to the Intellivision, But with less buttons.
 

Data recorder & RAM carts

 The data recorder was a cassette device used for storing information, 
 And the RAM carts were storage devices available in 4k & 16k versions.
  

Printer & Modem

  The printer was a standard 40 column thermal printer, 
  And the modem allowed 300bit/s upload & download.
 

Technical Specifications

  • OS: Microsoft-Aquarius BASIC 1.0
  • CPU: Zilog Z80A @ 3.5 MHz
  • Memory: 4K RAM; 8K ROM
  • Display: 40x24 (text), 80x72 (graphics), 16 colors
  • Storage: cassette recorder

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