Deep Blue C

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Deep Blue C is a compiler for a subset of the C programming language for the Atari 8-bit family distributed by the Atari Program Exchange. The compiler is a version of Ron Cain's public domain Small-C[1] modified by John Howard Palevich to run on the Atari computer hardware. Palevich also wrote the Atari 8-bit game Dandy.[2] The syntax supported by Deep Blue C is close to that of ANSI C with significant limitations.

The source code to the compiler was sold as Deep Blue Secrets, also from APX.[1]


The following language constructs are not supported:[3]

Other non-standard properties of Deep Blue C:

  • The last part of switch clause must be ended with: break, continue, or return.
  • The maximum length of source code line has to be less than 80 characters.
  • The number of arguments for functions cannot exceed 126.
  • $( and $) are used instead of { and }.

Sample program[edit]

The exemplary program writes the "Hello World!" message on the user screen.[4]

   printf("Hello World!");


The Deep Blue C compiler does not create the native executable for 6502 processor but intermediate code called C-code. The C-code is then executed by C-code interpreter.[3] According to Atari 8-bit FAQ the compiler creates binary code for Intel 8080 processor and then executed by 8080 virtual machine.[5] This is the main cause of low performance of generated code.


  1. ^ a b Palevich, John Howard. Deep Blue Secrets Manual. Atari Program Exchange. 
  2. ^ "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers". 
  3. ^ a b Deep Blue C documentation at Atari Archives
  4. ^ W. Zientara, "Jezyki programowania Atari cz.2", SOETO, Warsaw, 1989
  5. ^ Atari 8-bit FAQ