ATARI 2600

The Atari 2600 is such a cool piece of hardware. It was the first successful home video game system (yes, the Odyssey was technically the first home video game system, but failed). It's built on the Motorola 6502 CPU with an additional custom chip, called the Stella, to handle all the cool graphics stuff. A whopping 128 bytes (yes, bytes) of memory makes this machine a real challenge to code for. All code execution timing is tied to the refresh and scan rate of the television, so program computation is actually done in the portions of the scanning cycle not visible on the screen. It's fun. Really.

Things you need:

  1. A computer
  2. Atari 2600 console (check eBay)
  3. Supercharger (again, look on eBay)

The simple compilation and installation routine:

  1. Download the Linux VCS package below.
  2. Compile source with dasm prog.asm -f3 -oprog.bin where prog is changed to reflect your source code file name.
  3. Run makewav -ts prog.bin to produce the prog.wav sound file.
  4. Hook up the Supercharger cart into the 2600 and to your computer sound card line out.
  5. Play the prog.wav sound file.
Check out my game, Trenchfoot!

2600 101
Stella Programmer's Guide
Nick's 2600 Programming page
How To Draw A Playfield (the "Hello World" of 2600 programming)
Guide to Cycle Counting
Atari Age
The Dig

LinuxVCS package (DASM, MakeWAV, DiStella)