Fitness expert Jack LaLanne died yesterday at age 96. He’s most notable for starting the first health clubs, but anyone who lived with television in the late twentieth century couldn’t have missed LaLanne’s many programs and endorsements. Despite his fame, and despite the recent popularity of home fitness videogames like Wii Fit and EA Sports Active, few know that LaLanne leant his name to one of the earliest attempts at a commercial health videogame.
I wrote about the specimen above from my collection on Kotaku back in 2007. It’s Jack LaLanne’s Physical Conditioning for Intellivision. But to note LaLanne’s passing, I thought I’d reprise the information here.
As part of their image of “intelligence” (remember the George Plimpton commercials?), Intellivision promised a Keyboard Component for the console, 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 Intellivision catalog comes this description:
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.
Jack LaLanne’s Physical Conditioning was published in 1979, when Jack was a mere 65 years old. That same year, he towed 65 boats filled with 6,500 pounds of wood pulp across Lake Ashinoko while handcuffed and shackled. What have you done today?