Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum

Atari Basic

Atari Basic
Atari Basic

SystemAtari 8-bit


Atari 8-bit

Release Date: 1/1/1979
Manufacturer: Atari
What really needs to be said here? This is the cartridge that was shipped by Atari with it's first home computer systems (the 400 and the 800). It gave the computer "BASIC" functionality - without the cartridge, the computer would boot into a basic word processor called "Memo Pad." Atari's decision to release basic on a cartridge caused problems with later revisions of the 8-bit line. Later models had a version of BASIC built in which did not allow certain earlier-written machine language programs to function properly as they needed to store information in the area that was now taken up by BASIC. For the record, booting the computer holding down the "option" key would allow later-model 8-bit computers to boot up with BASIC disabled.

The complete commented source code and design specifications of Atari BASIC were published as a book in 1983. This marked the first time source code was made available for a commercial language.

Atari Basic Cartridge
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