Programming the Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS)

This tutorial complements the general tutorial series on using WUDSN IDE with the knowledge to the Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS) itself. The purpose of the tutorial is to show interested people the history of the Atari 2600, explain the hardware design decisions and how they impact the way of programming - making programming the Atari 2600 a very unique experience and challenge. And I show and explain examples that illustrate how programmers adopted the limitations and strengths of the machine to create better and better graphics in the course of 30 years. The following picture from The Argyle Sweater nicely brings it to the point. Thanks a lot to Scott Hilburn for the permission to use it.

Atari VCS has no memory

The following material is available for you:

  • English video, recorded at the "plugIn - Geek out" event at SAP in January 2014. Thanks to Julien for making the event possible and the recording.
    This video is 35 minutes long and consists of two parts. The first part gives a short overview of the history and inner workings. In the second part I show how to code for the Atari 2600 using WUDSN IDE.  Changing a single line of code and seeing immediately what happens brings you as close a possible to the machine.

    Programming the Atari 2600 Video Computer System (Live)  
  • German video, recorded during the event night at the Digital Retropark in January 2015. Thanks to Falk Heinzelmann & Stefan Pitsch for the event and Markus Wlochowitz for the photos and the recording.
    This video is 1:15 hours long and entirely focuses on explaining the inner workings and how better code made better graphics possible. This video does not contain any coding parts.

    Programmieren für das Atari 2600 Video Computer System (Live)
  • Recommended further readings such as Racing the Beam at MIT Press and Atari 2600 Programming on AtariAge.

And here some more impressions from event night at the Digital Retropark on 2016-01-29. Click on the images to enlarge.

Visitors getting in touch with the old hardware Visitors from a vocational who where not born when the hardware was released Wizard and me The crowd waiting for the fun to begin
In November 2016 I had the unique opportunity to give the presentation at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk as part of the Silly Talks at Sillyventure 2016
The very unique looking building from the outside The modern beamer was no compatible with my retro Windows XP hardware The building and the hall were awesome. Most people from the party place took the long walk to come and listen.