Retroist Mattel Aquarius Podcast

Retroist Mattel Aquarius Podcast

On this episode of the Retroist Podcast, I dive into an often overlooked computer from the eighties, The Mattel Aquarius. It is amazing how few of these machines were sold initially, but also how long the Aquarius computer line managed to hold on. While it is easy to poke fun at this computer, it is good to remember that this was someone’s first computer.

After discussing how I interacted with the Aquarius at an early age, I move onto the machine itself. I discuss the companies behind it and how they built it, Mattel and Radofin. Then I talk about the tech, the sales strategy, peripherals, games and much more.

I have wanted to talk about the Aquarius for a long time. I can still remember sitting in my friend’s family room, watching him playing Treasure of Tarmin for hours while drinking Shasta soda. It was a great couple of months and I owe it all this nearly forgotten bit of technology.

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Listen and download the Retroist Mattel Aquarius Podcast

Production Notes

  • What a fascinating system. So much speculation online on games and peripherals. Oh, what this could have been.
  • I cut out a bunch of me talking about games, especially Dungeons & Dragons. Fun for me, but not so much for you.
  • I was only able to find one commercial about the Aquarius. That made me sad.
  • I did find a lot of media coverage around the Aquarius. The tone went from neutral to negative very quickly. I decided to cut out most of it.
  • I recorded some of myself trying to emulate Treasure of Tarmin. It didn’t sound like much.
  • I tried to get a top 5 list going for this one, but was not able to get it recorded with metagirl in time for the show.

Thanks for listening to the show and I hope you have a great week.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. vinvectrex

    Very excited about this. I came close to buying an Aquarius system from our local Lionel Toy World. I liked the look of the machine and, since I was a kid, it was something I could afford. In the end, I decided to save some more money and set my sights on the Commodore 64, which I never bough either. Unbeknownst to me due to information limitations at the time, the Aquarius had already been discontinued and the store had old stock.

    1. Retroist

      You maybe have dodged a big bullet.

  2. Gerald Lange

    Fun review of what could have been. Im hoping TI 4a is next. Similar situation but sold pretty well and i love mine to this day.

  3. Luis de León

    When I was in middle school my father wanted to buy me a computer, the spec he had in mind was a “COMPUTER that works with BASIC”, so he bought me an Aquarius with expansion module and some cartridges.

    I went to public school in Mexico and we had a “bring your own computer club”, a computer club for kids who had computers and could bring them to school, at the end of the school year there was a demonstration. A couple of friends had Commodore 64s and one had a COCO and there were some others, all far superior to mine. I was in a corner with a Biorhythms cartridge and it was the most popular computer in the club!

    Biorhythms are as valuable as an horoscope, but well, people buy magazines and listened to horoscopes everyday so my humble Aquarius was the star for one day.

    1. Retroist

      Thanks for sharing that Luis. Its a great memory.

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