batari Basic


batari Basic started as a vision to create a simplified programming platform so that one could learn the intricacies of Atari 2600 programming and one day move on to programming in assembly language. Although that vision is still valid, batari Basic's goals have expanded.

One goal is to attract more developers to the Atari 2600 homebrew scene. The relative ease of programming with batari Basic should have this effect. Before batari Basic, the only way to program the Atari 2600 was via assembly language. Also, the Atari 2600 has such minimal graphics hardware that a software "display kernel" had to be written before anything worthwhile could display on the screen. This made Atari 2600 programming arguably more difficult than any other classic console. With batari Basic, the hard stuff is done for you, and so programming should be more palatable to newcomers. Even those with limited programming experience can write games that will run on an Atari 2600 emulator or a real Atari 2600.

batari Basic is nostalgic. It provides the feel of BASIC programming on a classic computer system while allowing one to write games for the admired console of one's youth. Many of us dreamed of writing Atari 2600 games for Atari, Activision, or Imagic. Although that time has passed, one can still rekindle some of that old spirit and write a game in a relatively short amount of time. Also, one can even get their game made into a cartridge that will play on a real console.

Why BASIC? Why the Atari 2600?

Some may wonder why BASIC was chosen and not some modern language. This was mainly due to the limitations of the Atari 2600. It can only address 4k of ROM and only has 128 bytes of RAM. That's 128 bytes, not megabytes, or even kilobytes! Highly structured languages simply cannot deal with the lack of RAM and the lack of space like Basic can.

Some may wonder why we like the Atari 2600 so much and why we didn't choose to channel our resources to modern gaming or to a console that wasn't so terribly limited. Maybe we're just masochistic. But we do love the Atari 2600 despite its limitations and find joy in making it do things that the original designers never dreamed possible. Why do people climb mountains? Why do people drive old cars? Why do people collect antiques? I don't know, but if you're reading this, you probably understand.

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