Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Spectravideo CompuMate

The CompuMate by Spectravideo was a rather unique add-on for the Atari 2600 console, that almost turned Atari's all conquering games machine into a home micro. It added a keyboard that attached itself to the 2600, some extra RAM, a version of BASIC, a simple music synthesizer program, a rudimentary drawing utility and even provided with the option to connect to a tape recorder.

As the accessory didn't fare all that well it is quite rare, but you can easily grab one for a reasonable price. This boxed CompuMate Spectravision on eBay seems like a pretty decent offer. It does after all come in its shiny original box. Seller ships only within the US.


  1. Nice. I had seen pics of that thing before but didn't realize that the keyboard actually fit snugly (apparently) on top of the 2600 itself - pretty cool. Closest I ever got was the BASIC Programming cartridge and its little alphanumeric keypads.

  2. Truth be said I'm not so sure the idea of having something fit on the console is the best way to do things, but, yes, it does look pretty cool indeed. And did you actually use BASIC on your 2600? Must have been most interesting...

  3. I did use it - still have it and the keypads in fact. I guess it must have been my first programming experience, if you can call it that. Extremely limited as you might imagine and of course no way to save your work, but taught me some of the basic (heh) commands. Programming on the VIC-20 a year or so later really seemed impressive by comparison!

    1. As I recall, I was able to save some things via it's cassette tape interface. I can't remember what the limitations were but I think you could save the basic type-ins to tape and that's about it.

  4. Oh and that shiny package is a thing of beauty, for sure! All the design sensibility and color choices that make my archival heart go pitter pat.

  5. @ MadPlanet: A pun, a pun! Mind you, that VCS programming experience could do for a most interesting post...

    @ Charlie: Indeed. A box of pure retro beauty!

  6. I had this toy! :D
    It was my first computer. Not very powerful, but an amazing machine if you had nothing better. :)