BASIC Programming

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This article is about the Atari 2600 cartridge. For programming in other BASICs, see BASIC. For other meanings, see Basic programming (disambiguation).
Basic Programming (Book)
Basicprogramming.png
Developer(s) Warren Robinett[1]
Publisher(s) Atari
Designer(s) Warren Robinett
Platform(s) Atari 2600
Release date(s) 1979; 36 years ago (1979)

BASIC Programming attempted to teach simple computer programming on the Atari 2600. It was released for the Atari 2600 console in 1979 and it was one of only a few non-gaming cartridges released by the company. This program allowed consumers to create some simple programs using its own unique programming language, which was superficially similar to dialects of BASIC, but differed in many important aspects. The extremely small RAM size of the Atari 2600, 128 bytes, severely restricted the possibilities of this cartridge for writing any programs.

The BASIC Programming display was divided into six regions:

  • Program where instructions are written (maximum of nine (or eleven) lines of code).
  • Stack shows temporary results of what your program does.
  • Variables displays the values of any variables your program is using.
  • Output displays any output values your program is creating.
  • Status displays the amount of available memory remaining
  • Graphics contains two colored squares that can be manipulated by your program.

Input was given through two Atari keypad controllers, which came with special overlays to show how to type the different commands and letters.[2] Programs were restricted only up to 64 characters in size and 9 lines of code and thereby severely limiting anything other than programs such as printing names or moving a block across the screen. The cartridge intended to teach programming using its keypad controllers, which was not really a suitable medium of input for programming. Users could disable all windows except Program and keep selecting "New Line" until over nine empty lines had been entered and thus their program could use 11 lines of code using this trick. Given these limitations, Basic Programming cartridge never took off and is considered to be a novel but a failed product.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Interview:Warren Robinett, By James Hague, Halcyon Days, How long did it take to write?...I had "Adventure" sort of done in the fall of 1978, but I wasn't satisfied. I sort of put it on the shelf for the next six months while I did the "BASIC Programming" cartridge, and finished them both simultaneously, in June 1979.
  2. ^ Controllers - Atari Keypad, Atari KeypadSystem: Atari 2600, Model Number: CX50, Sold in pairs, functionally identical to the Kid's Controller and the Video Touch Pad. Included overlays with commands, meant to be used with Basic Programming.

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