When the Keyboard Component project was canceled, Mattel searched in a hurry to produce a small and cheap computer. They contacted Radofin Electronics Far East, based in Hong-Kong, who was manufacturing most of the Intellivision products. Radofin had just developped a line of three Z80 based computers. Mattel decided to sell the two first under their brand. The Aquarius 1 and 2 were born.
The Mattel Aquarius used a special version of the Microsoft Basic. When used with Basic, only 1.7 KB remained available.
There were no redefinable characters, but 256 predefined chars were available: 128 ASCII (numerals, upper and lower case alphabet, punctuation, symbols) and 128 graphic patterns. That was the only "graphical" features of the Aquarius !
Unfortunately the specifications were so poor for a 1983 computer, that the Aquarius 1 litteraly bombed. Three months after its release, Mattel decided to cancel the project and to sell back the rights and stocks to Radofin.
Radofin continued to sell Aquarius 1 & 2 under its own name, but without success...
Cool addons were developped for the Aquarius, but never made it to the shelves (apparently). There were a Master Expansion Module equipped with disk-drives and expansion slots for future add-ons. It even offered the CP/M compatibility!
Another sympathetic extension was the Home Computer System Command Console which allowed the Aquarius to directly control up to 255 electric devices. But when the computer was connected to this extension, it couldn't be used for anything else!
There were also a Modem planned and Mattel even announced network services for games and programs downloads...
I got a boxed Aquarius Snafu game for .99c at a thrift store. It wasn''t sealed but it is CIB and the contents are brand new with a little wear on the box itself. I cant find anything for the price of this game in particular so if anyone knows I would appreciate it.
It''s awesome. Turn on the power...*beep*. "BASIC" "Press Return Key To Start". It''s all there, the sounds and everything.
If you are playing AD$D, don''t forget to "jump back"! or simply run past the monsters if you don''t want to engage them.
I used to play so much that the goal no longer was to kill the Dragon King, but to see how many times you can loop through all 99 levels...avoiding the Dragon King! After a while you were so powerful that a single shot from any weapon would kill him, but it was never quite enough power was it? Inventories like arrow count weren''t displayed but counted out on the speaker for you. A low rapid tapping sound was played after hitting the e.g. "arrow count" key. After a few loops through the entire maze it could last for minutes because you picked up so many arrows, you know because you need thousands of arrows to kill the Dragon King! (rolls eyes)
Eventually the Dragon King would randomly be at the bottom of the ladder so you had to fight him. You never knew which level. $sad$
I never had the expansion pack so you could never save the game. I had to leave the power on...I made sure I did not bump the computer power switch or days of running through the mazes would be gone. (the same thing if you were programming, heaven forbid, tens-hundreds of lines of code...gone!)
After killing the Dragon King the TV speaker would scream simple sounds at you... Woooooooooo! Woo Woo Woo Woo..! then repeat, displaying a message "You are the new Dragon King!" (if I remember correctly)
The other games were great too. They even "Biorhythms" for the adults to see when they were most compatible or most connected. Bow chicka wow wow!
Wednesday 24th October 2012
Guess what ? My AQUARIUS still works ha ha. It rarely comes out of the attic but when it does, I am happy to revisit my early teen fun of BURGER TIME, ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS and TRON DEADLY DISCS. All the cartridges work.. I also keyed in the running man programme in BASIC all those years ago. The AQUARIUS was simple, cheap and fun. And I do have some cassette games such as N-VADERS too, although I have not even attempted a cassette as I recall they took ages top load all those years ago. All my mates in the 80''s took the micky, they had SPECTRUM and COMMODORE 64''s. A vast array of software for those, but I have fond feellings for my AQUARIUS cartridges and love that they still work. I feel a RETRO night coming soon, ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS I can spend hours on. Wayne
Saturday 7th July 2012
Wayne Styles (UK)
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
Specific Microsoft Basic interpreter
Rubber type. 49 keys
4 KB (up to 32 KB), 1,7 KB free for user
40 chars x 25 lines
80 x 72 / 320 x 192 dots
1 voice (3 voices with the Mini-Expander)
SIZE / WEIGHT
34,5 (W) x 15 (D) x 5,5 (H) cm.
Tape, Printer, Bus
External power supply (12v)
Thermic printer and plotter (1200 bauds), Tape-recorder (600 bauds), Mini-expander addon, RAM expansions (4 KB, 16 KB and 32 KB), Master expansion module & disk-drives (vaporware), Home Computer System