Atari's Graduate, also known as "My First Computer", was
designed as an entry level computer system slated for
release in September of 1983. This snap-on module keyboard
with supporting electronics was to convert the venerable
game console into a powerful, small computer. The unit
consisted of a keyboard with a built-in microprocessor. For
less than $100, the Graduate enabled the 2600 to become an
8K computer with 8K of built-in Microsoft BASIC. It was
promised by Atari to be an incredible graphics machine, with
a pallete of 128 colors. There were 16 basic colors, each of
which can be displayed in eight different shades. The 8K RAM
memory that comes with the machine was expandable to 32K as
Atari planned to support the Graduate with a full line of
peripheral products including data storage devices, additional
memory, a modem and a printer.
- I/O MODULE + 8K RAM
The I/O Module plugs into the Graduate expansion port and was
to offer 8K additional RAM (doubling the Graduate's memory),
access to specifically designed peripherals for the Graduate
and featured a compact design that delivers power to peripherals
and eliminated the need for extra cords. The modem and 16K
memory expander were but two of the add-on cartridges that
could be plugged into the I/O Module.
This letter-quality, 40-column printer was to be functionally
equivalent to the 1027 printer that had been around for the
Atari 8-bit computers for years.
This specially designed modem was able to accept the cord
from a telephone -- eliminating the need for a bulky acoustic
coupler. It transfered data at 300 bits per second.
- 16K RAM MEMORY EXPANDER
Plugged into the I/O Module to bring the Graduate up to a full
32K of RAM, for more complex programming capability.
- DATA CASSETTE DRIVE
The low-cost tape drive was to be the primary means of data storage
and was to be packaged with the necessary interface cables.
- WAFER DRIVE
This full-funcional data storage/retrieval device was claimed
to perform at a fraction of the cost of standard floppy disk
drives. Data was to be stored on conventional business card
wafers, and featured up to 128K of information, complete file
directories and random or sequential files.
As for software, nine products was to accompany the introduction
of the low-cost computer system. Initial programs for the Graduate
were to include introductions to programming using Microsoft BASIC
(which is built into the Graduate), educational programs, home management
aids and a selection of games which benefit from the enhanced graphics
capability of the computer module.
The initial software lineup was to consist of:
* An Introduction to Programming
* Children's Introduction to Programming
* The Home Filing Manager
- (the Graduate Wafer Drive was required to support this program.)
* Family Finances
* Typo Attack
* Monkey Up A Tree (Educational)
* Donkey Kong
* Robotron: 2084
* Caverns of Mars
Unfortunately for 2600 owners who eagerly anticipated the highly touted
computer add-on, the subsequent collapse of the videogame market and the
financial health (or lack thereof) of Atari prompted the company to can the
Graduate just months prior to its official release.