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W > WORLD BOOK > Tutor Vision

Tutor Vision

Untitled Document

In 1989, INTV Corp. signed a joint business deal with World Book Encyclopedia to manufacture the Tutorvision. The Tutorvision was basically just a modified version of the original Intellivision Master Console except it's exterior was gold coloured, the buttons on the keypad are bubble-style and not flat like the INTV III version, it featured a power-on LED, the original two circuit boards were now merged into one with the chips all dated 1988-90, and the logos were changed to the Tutorvision logo on the top portion of the console and the World Book emblem on the bottom. The plan for this new system was to release two sets of eight educational game cartridges for children; one set for the very young and the other for older kids. These cartridges would only work on the TutorVision model and not on a regular Intellivision unit, although the TutorVision would also be able to play regular Intellivision cartridges also. The World Book direct sales staff would market Tutorvision as they did encyclopedias; i.e.: get the console and one set of the cartridges for a set of monthly payments.

Like in the original Intellivision II, the ROM programming had been rewritten for the TutorVision. Dave Warhol, a member of the Blue Sky Ranger team of the original Intellivision era and now leader of Realtime Associates designed the new operating system for the Tutorvision called "REX" (for "Revised EXEC"). This new Operating System gave programmers more direct control over the system graphics, RAM, and controller inputs, to mention only three. But for the educational games, it included a writing routine using a half-size proportional font, allowing more text to appear on the screen.

The cartridge games were also designed by Dave Warhol, who in turn hired fellow long-time-ago Intellivision programmers: Steve Ettinger, John Sohl, John Tomlinson, David Stifel and Doug Williamson (a newbe graduate from Dave's alma mater Pemona College). The added features of the background classical music was done by Warhol himself, and the graphics, including the animated Tutor Tiger for the younger kids' games, was completed by Connie Goldman. As for the game concepts: these were jointly produced by World Book in Chicago, and J. Hakansson Associates, an educational consulting firm in Berkeley, California. Working with the "RealTime" programmers were designers Joyce Hakansson, Caroline Earhart, and storyboarder Mitchell Rose.

The whole dream of TutorVision and it's working teams was alive and well and ready to go to market until 1990 when for some unrecorded reason law suits and accusations began to fly between World Book and INTV Corp. with each filing legal claims against the other. The final nail in the coffin to the project, and that of INTV itself, was when later that same year INTV filed for "U.S. Chapter 11" (corporate bankruptcy). TutorVision was never released and was soon after forgotten.

In the years that have passed since, parts of the project have been seen, making it a rare and valuable collector's item. For example in 1997 a gold coloured TutorVision was found by a collector in a Chicago Thrift store, while in El Centro, California bins of empty gray plastic cartridges stamped "TutorVision" were found at a factory that was once used to assemble Intellivision cartridges for INTV. But the biggest find so far has been a working prototype TutorVision still badged as “INTV System III” that was found when RealTime Associates moved from its offices in El Segundo, California to Los Angeles somewhere around 2002-2003. The box also apparently contained 5 5.25" floppy disks containing archives of 14 TutorVision games, games that were last seen some 10 years earlier.

Most of the TutorVision games are slowly becoming available again for the PC and retro game systems as the legalities of them are being sorted out by Intellivision Productions, the new owners of the Intellivision name, but two remain in question, one in particular is the Canadian Version of the “Time Trip” game whereby a child has to link the historical events to the time they occurred. The unique thing about this game was that it features the exact same events as the American version with questions about the U.S. Presidents and the Declaration of Independence for example, items studied in Canadian schools but of no significance to that country’s own history. It was a game generated for World Book when they asked for a unique version of the game to sell in Canada, but the amusement of this missing game is that the joke goes further by simply adding “eh?” to the end of each question in a rather stereo-typical fashion of use of the word by Canadian people. Example: “When did George Washington become president, eh?'” Needless to say it would not have done well in Canada if it had actually been ready for release.

The list of games produced for TutorVision:

For younger children:
• Nounsense (parts of speech)
• Busy Bodies (jobs & workplaces)
• Map Mazes (reading maps)
• Tale Teller (building paragraphs)
• Zoo Review (capitalization and punctuation)
• Jungle Math (basic math)
• Shapes in Space (fractions)

For older children:
• Tops in Terms (word definitions)
• Write it Right (spelling)
• Wordsmith (constructing sentences)
• Story Stopper (advanced punctuation)
• Wordcalc (math word problems)
• Time Trip (history)
• Geo Graphics (geography)


Authors: "Skel" (Derek McDonald)

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