Monday, September 04, 2006


De Re Atari

People sometimes ask me where I learned programming. I learned long before going to college. Most of my formative years were spent reading books that are now available at

It's a lot of fun looking through those books now. I remember holding the paper versions in my hands, and typing the programs into my Atari 800.

My favorite among the books is De Re Atari: A Guide to Effective Programming by Chris Crawford, Lane Winner, Jim Cox, Amy Chen, Jim Dunion, Kathleen Pitta, Bob Fraser, and Gus Makrea. I spent a lot of time studying this book, learning all the ways to do cool stuff with the Atari 8-bit hardware. It also contains a lot of advice about how to design software, and most of that advice is still applicable today.

Those were the good old days, when developing software for personal computers required knowledge of hardware registers, assembly language, memory layouts, and so on. Today, we hide the details of the hardware as much as possible, but I think having experience with such low-level stuff is beneficial. If you're a young whippersnapper who has only used high-level APIs like DirectX, OpenGL, and Windows GDI to do graphics, I'd recommend paging though some of these old books to see how programmers used to do things.

One last thing: Atari rules, Commodore sucks.

Atari rules, Commodore sucks.

Hey! Them's fighting words! :-)

I'll admit to being a longtime Commodore Fanboy from the Vic20 days right through to the end of the Amiga lineup.

You'll have to admit that AmigaOS was way ahead of it's time.

I'll admit that I was never really into the Atari scene much, beyond the 2600.
The Amiga was nice. I really, really wanted one, but couldn't talk my parents into buying me any more of those "videogames".
I should have stuck with programming. I was making games for friends when I was in elementary school. I ended up elsewhere.
Oh man Atari 800 and Commodore 64. I spent a long time on both computers. I think in the end I would side with Commodore. I found programming much easier on the Commodore than on the Atari.
I had both and the Atari 400 was a beast back in the day.
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