Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 50 / JULY 1984 / PAGE 6

Atari 400 RAM And Tape

  1. Where do you find the RAM that's required to run most programs?
  2. Is there a program that will convert Commodore programs to run on the Atari 400?
  3. What kind of tapes should I use for the Atari 410 cassette recorder? Every one I try gives me an ERROR-143 when I try to CLOAD from them.

Mike Meyer

  1. RAM is user memory, built into your machine. Your computer is equipped with a certain amount, which can usually be expanded (the Atari 400 comes with 16K). Software packages designate the amount of RAM they require for the program and storage, with a notice such as "48K required." Match this with the amount of RAM you have in your machine to see if you have enough. Most large arcade games require the maximum memory your machine can support, such as 48K or 64K. Most cassette-based programs require only a minimum configuration, such as 16K. Don't buy a program that requires more memory than you have—it probably won't work.
  2. No conversion programs exist—and there will probably never be any. The Commodore and Atari computers have some things in common: the same type microprocessor (6502 or 6510), a similar BASIC, and similar graphics capabilities. But the differences are over-whelmingly different. Since many programs are inextricably bound to the hardware, no program can be written to reconcile all the differences. An emulator in hardware, essentially a computer on a cartridge, is the only avenue worth pursuing. We know of no Commodore emulators for the Atari computers. As you gain experience, you may want to try converting individual BASIC programs yourself.
  3. First, use short tapes. Long, 60-minute tapes are thinner, and are more prone to flaking, binding, and stretching. Although you may not notice these problems with audio tapes, computers can be much more exacting. For the Atari, use a good-quality audio tape. Computer digital tapes are recommended for machines like the Commodore 64 or TI-99/4A, but you should use only audio tape on the Atari, due to the storage technique. Still, if you are using your recorder properly (CSAVE-ing and CLOADing past the blank leader), you will still be able to get some tapes to work. We've seen tape of marginal quality used with success. Try cleaning and demagnetizing your tape heads. If that doesn't work, you will need to get your recorder replaced or adjusted (this can sometimes be done in audio stores).