Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 2, NO. 1 / APRIL 1983

Inside Atari

Game Machine Grows Up

Keyboard converts VCS to Computer



My First Computer, an easily-installed plug-in keyboard converts the Atari 2600 video game player into a programmable 8K computer. Lower photo shows unit installed on VCS. A standard cassette tape player can be used for external memory.

The turbulent whirl of electronic development has offered up a new and welcome addition to the Atari product line-a low-cost, plug-in keyboard that converts the popular Atari VCS 2600 game machine into a programmable computer. A similar adapter for the 5200 game machine will be announced later this year.

Called My First Computer, the keyboard will have 8K RAM (expandable to 32K), built-in BASIC, raised "button" keys, and an expansion port for peripherals such as printers and disk drives. It will display on color TV sets just as the VCS did. It snaps onto the VCS in minutes, and requires no prior knowledge of programming or computers by its user.

Once connected to the VCS, the unit will accept standard VCS game cartridges as well as a new library of software titles with emphasis on home management, education and personal development. Mass storage for My First Computer is immediately available using a standard portable cassette tape recorder, according to company sources. The system is also designed to work with a modem for telecommunication.

There are ten million VCS units already sold, and many of their owners are expected to buy a computer in the next few years. My First Computer, retailing at less than $90, will allow them to do this inexpensively and still retain the values of their game libraries. New games for this system- with enhanced graphics made possible by the additional memory-are in preparation.

The first production models are expected to be available by late 1983, by which time much of the new software will have been developed. Standard game controllers will continue to be used.

ANTIC plans to cover this new hybrid, as well as its sibling, the 5200 Advanced Game System, announced last month. One way or another, they are all ATARI computers, and ANTIC is the ATARI Resource.

--Robert DeWitt