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Screenshot taken of editing "Lorem Ipsum" in AtariWriter
Original author(s) William Robinson[1]
Developer(s) Atari Corp.
Initial release 1982; 35 years ago (1982)
Last release
Version C / 1983; 34 years ago (1983)
Platform Atari 400/800/XL/XE
Size 16KB
Type Application/Word processor
License Copyright © 1982, 1983 Atari Proprietary software

AtariWriter is a word processing application for the Atari 8-bit computers. It is a 16KB ROM cartridge that works with either a cassette or disk drive for document storage.


Atari's first word processor was Atari Word Processor. This was disk based, required 48KB, was incompatible with the XL computers, and was copy protected but widely copied. A newer product was needed that could run on any of the 8-bit machines, which meant using a cartridge instead of a disk and thereby help solve the piracy issues. Cartridges on the Atari normally held 8KB or less of ROM, requiring a smaller program.

To fill this need, Atari licensed Text Wizard from William Robinson. Robinson originally distributed Text Wizard through Datasoft, but was able to license it to Atari after his deal with that company expired. Gary Furr was the designer and manager of developing the AtariWriter cartridge. Ironically, he wrote the original specifications documents using the original Atari Word Processor on an Atari 800.[2]

AtariWriter was released in 1982 and was a big hit. Furr estimates that 800,000 cartridges were sold over the product's lifetime. It included modern features like automatic word wrap, full-screen editing, dual-column printing, search and replace, undo, block editing and even a print preview feature that allowed users to view a printable page by scrolling across the screen. Printing attributes were set directly into the document using control characters. This allowed direct changes to formatting such as margins, spacing, justification, etc. AtariWriter has only one menu, the main menu, which featured creating and editing documents, file directory, file management and printing.

The cartridge only had built-in printer drivers for Atari printers. Printer drivers for other printers were not available from Atari. However, third-party sources and driver kits were made available.[3] Furr estimates that he sold 10,000 disk-based driver kits through the Atari Program Exchange.


  • AtariWriter Plus - disk only. Contained enhancements and a spell checker.[4]
  • AtariWriter 80 - disk only. Supported the XEP-80 80-column device.[5]
  • ST Writer - Atari ST computers. Provided free by Atari Corp, source was given to a programmer, Dr. Bruce Noonan. Dr. Noonan provided updates and enhancements at no cost.[6]
  • MultiWriter - An ST Writer rewrite by Noonan which used 68000 assembler in the most time consuming functions (such as searching for text).


The Addison-Wesley Book of Atari Software 1984 gave the software an overall A rating. The book stated that it "heralds a new era in word processing" for Atari 8-bit owners, and "a good reason in itself to purchase an Atari". It praised AtariWriter's ease of use and print preview, and concluded that the software was "a must for every serious writer and Atari owner".[7]


  1. ^ S2E01 Atari AtariWriter, by Ripdubski, 2015.09.24, Inverse ATASCII, This episode features AtariWriter, originally released in 1982 by Atari. It was developed by Atari. Later versions were developed by Micro Fantasy. The primary programmer for all versions was William V. Robinson. This word processor brought word processing to the consumer in an easy to use package.
  2. ^ AtariWriter Designer Sells All Archived April 2, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., by Gary W. Fu » Sat, 18 Jan 1997 04:00:00, I sat down at my Atari 800 using the original Atari Word Processor to design the specifications for the AtariWriter cartridge word processor.
  3. ^ Antic Vol.5 No.2 I/O Board - Printer Drivers - June 1986
  4. ^ - AtariWriter Plus - Carolyn's Corner - November 1991
  5. ^ AtariWriter 80, Review by Matthew Ratcliff, December 1989, Antic Vol.8 No.7
  6. ^ START Vol.1 No.3 ST Writer Secrets - Article, by Bruce D. Noonan, M.D., Winter 1986
  7. ^ Stanton, Jeffrey; Wells, Robert P.; Rochowansky, Sandra; Mellid, Michael, eds. (1984). The Addison-Wesley Book of Atari Software. Addison-Wesley. pp. 233–234. ISBN 0-201-16454-X. 

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