The salesperson's guide to the Atari 400 home computer system

The salesperson's guide to the Atari 400 home computer system, cover

The salesperson's guide to the Atari 400 home computer system, cover

The salesperson's guide to the Atari 400 home computer system, Apple II+ table

The salesperson's guide to the Atari 400 home computer system, Apple II+ table

The salesperson's guide to the Atari 400 home computer system, Apple II+ arguments

The salesperson's guide to the Atari 400 home computer system, Apple II+ arguments

In July 1982, Atari offered its dealers a small booklet entitled "The salesperson's guide to the Atari 400 home computer system". An equivalent brochure, entitled "The Atari 800 Home computer system salesperson's guide", was also distributed for the Atari 800.

The aim of this booklet for the 400 was multiple:

At the time of writing this booklet, Atari identified the following computers as plausible competitors of the Atari 400:

It is strange and almost comical — in retrospect — to realise that Atari seemed genuinely concerned about a gaming console, the Mattel Intellivision, and its upcoming keyboard expansion. The availability of this keyboard became a joke, a running gag in the industry and even within Mattel. According to Wikipedia, the Mattel Intellivision keyboard component debacle was ranked as No. 11 on GameSpy's "25 dumbest moments in gaming".

Note that at this very moment, in July 1982:

Comparison table #1

Standard feature Atari 400 Apple II+ Commodore VIC-20 Tandy TRS-80 color Texas Instruments TI 99/4A
Memory (RAM) 16K 16K 5K 16K 16K
Maximum RAM 16K 48K {1} 32K 32K 52K
Display (text) 40 x 24 40 x 24 22 x 23 32 x 16 32 x 24
Highest resolution 320 x 192 280 x 192 176 x 184 64 x 32 256 x 192
Graphics modes 9 2 1 1 2
Text modes 3 1 1 1 2
Colors 128 {LD#1} 16 16 8 16
Sound registers (voices) 4 1 4 1 3
Keys (keyboard) 61 52 66 53 48
Lower case letters Yes No Yes No Yes
Cartridge slots 1 0 1 1 1
Controller jacks 4 1 1 2 1
Custom chips 3 0 1 0 1

{1} 64K with accessory card

{LD#1} This note is not in the brochure, it is a personal remark: 128 colours with CTIA, 256 colours with GTIA and its 3 additional graphic modes.

Comparison table #2

Standard feature Atari 400 Intellivision without keyboard Intellivision with keyboard
User-Programmable Yes No Yes
Programmable memory 16K None 16K
Maximum programmable memory 16K None {2}
Display (text) 40 x 24 n/a 39 x 24
Highest resolution 320 x 192 160 x 192 160 x 192
Graphics modes 9 1 1
Text modes 3 0 1
Colors 128 {LD#2} 16 16
Sound registers (voices) 4 3 3
Keys (keyboard) 61 0 60
Lower case letters Yes No Yes
Cartridge slots 1 1 1
Controller jacks 4 2 controllers built-in 2 controllers built-in
Custom chips 3 0 0

{2} As of this printing (July 1982), the manufacturer has not specified the method or availability of equipment to expand this unit beyond 16K.

{LD#2} This note is not in the brochure, it is a personal remark: 128 colours with CTIA, 256 colours with GTIA and its 3 additional graphic modes.

Atari 400 vs. Apple II+

ATARI 400 Computer Strong Points:

Apple II Plus Computer Strong Points:

Atari 400 vs. Commodore VIC-20

ATARI 400 Computer Strong Points:

Commodore VIC-20 Computer Strong Points:

Atari 400 vs. Tandy TRS-80 color

ATARI 400 Computer Strong Points:

Tandy TRS-80 color Computer Strong Points:

Atari 400 vs. Texas Instruments TI 99/4A

ATARI 400 Computer Strong Points:

Texas Instruments TI 99/4A Computer Strong Points:

Atari 400 vs. Intellivision without keyboard

ATARI 400 Computer Strong Points:

Mattel Intellivision Strong Points:

Atari 400 vs. Intellivision with keyboard

ATARI 400 Computer Strong Points:

Mattel Intellivision Computer Strong Points:


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