I find collecting to be a very weird activity. Why amass expensive, arcane objects that just get stored away? So my own videogame collecting has been motivated mostly by my research and design interests. One of the things I thought I would do this week is share a few weird items from my personal videogame collection. Here's the first: Jack LaLanne's Physical Conditioning for the Intellivision.Jack LaLanne is a fitness and nutrition expert. He was born in 1914, and at 93 years old he's still going strong. His accomplishments are many. He started one of the first health club chains, which he later licensed to Bally (they became Bally Total Fitness). He hosted "The Jack LaLanne Show," the first television exercise show. He set a number of world records, mostly by swimming irrational distances with large weights shackled to his body.
As part of their image of "intelligence" (remember the George Plimpton commercials?), Intellivision promised a Keyboard Component for the device, to be released soon after the console's 1979 launch. It was a disaster. The device was delayed again and again, and disgruntled consumers who had bought the Intellivision "Master Component" specifically in anticipation of the promised Keyboard filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC launched a fraud investigation. After finding the complaints valid, the FTC began fining Mattel $10,000 per day for the violation. Mattel finally canceled the Keyboard Component and introduced the Entertainment Computer System add-on instead.
The Keyboard Component was to have a cassette drive for loading and saving data, and a number of games were advertised in the 1980 catalog on cassette. Most were educational titles, including Conversational Spanish, Stock Analysis, BASIC Computer Language, and this one, Jack LaLanne's Physical Conditioning. From the catalog:
Now that you've stimulated your mind, let the Jack LaLanne Physical Conditioning program help shape your body. With an exercise program custom-tailored to fit your needs. And your goals. It even gives you progress reports. In a few short months, you'll be ready for any beach, including St. Tropez.
Copyright date on the cassette I have is 1979, making this the first health game, by my best estimation.