Programmieren für das Atari 2600 Video Computer System

On the 2015-29-01 I've given a presentation during the event night at the Digital Retropark in Offenbach/Germany. The event was recorded and is now available a video with German audio. I've created this tutorial page for the Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS) to host the related information. 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 material is available for you:

  • English video, recorded at the "plugIn - Geek out" event at SAP in January 2014. 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. 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)

Atari ROM Maker released

The purpose of the "Atari ROM Maker" is to convert plain ROM files (".bin", ".rom") into cartridge files (".car") within command line scripts. The resulting files will have the correct header and check sum. As a result they will be recognized correctly by emulators and you will not be prompted to choose the cartridge type every time. As opposed to the interactive conversion options offered in most emulators, the command line tool can be incorporated into your build process. This allows for a single build process that creates multiple target formats. For example you can create ".car" files for Atarimax Maxflash, SIC!, MegaCart, etc. with the same script. It is open source, written in pure Java and runs fine on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The download is available here. The sources are available here

Atari ROM Maker

Silly Venture 2k14

Silly Venture 2k14 - the biggest international Atari party in history - is over and it's been a blast. Here are some of my impressions. You can click on the images to enlarge them. My personal travel featured a slightly delayed flight from Frankfurt to Gdansk... that actually ended unplanned in Posznan due the bad weather conditions on Gdansk. And after "only" 5 hours of bus ride we arrived at Gdansk airport at 1:00 am.


From there I went by taxi to Hostel Bursztynek where I had planned to share a room with Slator, who unfortunately could not attend the party in the end.

The party place was the elementary school close by and the banners outside clearly indicated that this is where the fun is.

Inside you could find what we all are dealing with since 1986: Pretty girls on disks.

Again I intentionally did not bring any computer. Instead I used the available time to talk to friends and get to know new people, like Till Harbaum, the creator of the Atari MIST.

Every visitor also received a "Have you played Atari today - we have" car plate holder, which meanwhile is mounted properly on my car of course.

You can find tons of additional pictures on After the party was over, we tried hard collecting 250 reasons for Silly Venture 2k15. And it actually looked for a while that there even would be a summer edition of the party.

Summer editon would have been great...

Yet, ultimately Grey decided that he'll not organize another edition in the future.

The sad news in Atari ST Demo scene

I am truly thankful for all he did and for the damn best demo parties I've ever been to. The days I spent in Gdansk in 2013 and 2014 are some of the most memorable moments in my life. He deserves our greatest respect for all the work and passion he put into making Silly Venture the greatest Atari party in history. He received the life time Atari award at Silly Venture 2k14 for a very good reason: He fucking deserves it! And to make sure all the Atari 8-bit people properly celebrate the party at home, a Silly Pack 2k14 will be released by me. But this again will take some time, due to the number and nature of the releases that will require heavy patching. Stay tuned, stay Atari!

Site Update

FAQ Updates:

  • New question "Why are the errors and warnings from an include file assigned to the main source file in the problems view?" added.
  • Question "How do I compile into disk images?" extended with description and binaries for MacOS X users. The binaries have been provided by Fredrick Holst (freetz) and you can find the latest versions on his web site.
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