Company: Atari
Model #:
Paul Laughton, Kathleen O'Brien, Bill Wilkinson, Paul Krasno, Fred Ruckdeschel, Bob Shepardson, and Mike Peters
Year: 1979
Three revisions exist


BASIC stands for Beginners All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code, and although it was one of the first Atari 8-bit cartridges developed the language actually dates back to the 1960's.  BASIC was originally developed by John Kemeney and Thomas Kurtz at Dartmouth College, and was one of the first High-Level programming languages (incorporating bits of ALGOL and FORTRAN).  Although it was also available seperately (and in a Programmer Kit), BASIC was originally packed in with the Atari 800.


Since Atari was trying to convince customers that its new lline of computers were the most advanced on the market, they needed a powerful programming language to let users tap that power.  Although Atari could have used any number of programming languages on the market at the time (FORTRAN, COBOL, ALGOL, Assembly, etc.), they chose BASIC due to its ease of use and power.  Even beginners could sit down at an Atari and create powerful programs with only some guidance from the manual.  Once users were comfortable with BASIC they could move on to Assembler Editor, a powerful Assembly language with more power and usefulness.


Three Revisions of Atari BASIC exist: A, B, and C.  A is the most common revision, and was the version on the BASIC cartridge from 1979 until around 1983.  Revision B was never offically offered on a cartridge, and was only built into the Atari 600XL and 800XL computers (although it may have been available directly from Atari).  Revision B was a bug fix version of Revision A, but due to programming error actually introduced a new bug all of its own.  Revision C was the last revision of Atari Basic and was built into late model Atari 800XL's, 65XE, 130XE, and 800XE's.  Revision C was also offered on a cart, but its distribution was limited.  All versions of Atari BASIC look identical from the outside, so the only way to know what revision you actually have to enter the command '?PEEK(43234).'  If this returns 162 you have A, 96 is Revision B, and 234 is Revision C.


Atari BASIC was a wonderful choice for a pack-in programming language.  BASIC is easy to learn, fairly powerful, and very useful.  Many budding programmer created their first applications and games using Atari BASIC, before graduating to more advanced languages like Assembly (BASIC was generally considered too slow for most commercial applications).   With a language like Atari BASIC at its side, Atari proved to the world that its new line of computers were a force to be recoked with.


Version Cart Text Description
Revision 5

BASIC (C) 1983 Atari Inc. Rev 5, Serial 11

Revision C


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