"Why just play video games?" was Spectravision's motto when they
bodly announced the CompuMate, a keyboard add-on for the 2600 that
retailed for just under $100. The CompuMate offered 16K of built-in
ROM, 2K built-in RAM, built-in Microsoft BASIC and a 42-key sensor
touch keyboard. All programs were to be stored by attaching the
CompuMate to any cassette recorder via the cables that were packaged
with the keyboard.
The CompuMate also had music making abilities, featuring two octaves
and 2-channel capability. A Music Composer program was built-in
which allowed users to compose and play their own songs. A built-in
Easel program permitted one to draw pictures in up to 10 colors. The
command allowed you to store your programs on data cassette.
Although Spectravision boasted that the CompuMate was the perfect,
inexpensive way to upgrade to a simple yet powerful computer system,
it was released at a time when inexpensive computers with full stroke
typewriter keyboards were entering the market (Commodore 64 and Atari
800XL). Consequently, most consumers wisely decided to pass over
keyboard add-ons when they could purchase full-fledged computer
systems in the first place.
Let's give them credit, though: Among the plethora of companies that
announced a keyboard attachment for the 2600 (including Atari itself),
only Spectravision followed through by bringing their computer to