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The mattel Childrens discovery system 

about the mattel cds

In 1981 Mattel Electronics launched The Children's Discovery System and entered the electronic educational toy product market. The Children's Discovery System was targeted toward children ranging from ages 6 to 11 and was designed to look like a contemporary consumer-grade computer system. In 1981 the video game market was still somewhat in it's infancy, launching against an already crowded market with very popular consoles such as Atari 2600, Mattel Intellivision, and the Colecovision, and many others which already were popular among families and children. Perhaps the kid-aged system was doomed before it ever started?

Mattel CDS History

The Mattel CDS system was developed by Mattel Electronics with the help of UCLA professor Dr. Gordon L. Berry, who at the time was chief educational consultant on the project.

It was revealed to the public at the American International Toy Fair in February 1981 launched to retail in October of the same year for the MSRP of $125.

One of the reviews noted at how small the screen resolution was, which limited it severely, and how slow the system was to start up. There was also critisism on the included game modes for the console: the type mode did not provide feedback on its word games, music mode was described as "pointless" due to its simplicity and that the music is represented by letter graphics instead of notes. The art mode was praised for being a good introduction to computer graphics, although the process of drawing pixel-by-pixel was described as tedious.

A nationwide marketing campaign was initiated with celebrity endorsement from the Smothers Brothers in September 1982, claiming that the system could make parents "Get a smarter kid in 60 days. Or your money back", with purchase of the system and two modules made from September 1 to December 31, 1982. 

In May 1984, Jell-O had 1000 units as part of a prize pool for a sweepstake until June 30. In the Fall of 1984, Mattel Electronics liquidated the remaining 8000 units and learning modules to DAK Industries, where they sold through mail order a bundle that included the console with 14 learning modules for $79, nearly the entire library of games. It later appeared in a Lionel Kiddie City sale in December 1985 for $29.


In depth review of the 1981 Mattel catalog

The Mattel CDS made its debut at the Toy fair in 1981, and has a 2 page spread in this Mattel Toy catalog from 1981, alongside numerous other Mattel products. 


Additionally, a virtual Toy Fair catalog can be viewed at See link Below.