Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 67 / DECEMBER 1985 / PAGE 10

Arabian Atari?

I own an Atari 800 and have been trying to change the movement of the cursor so that I can type from right to left instead of left to right. I have looked at a large number of books without finding any answer. Is this possible in Atari BASIC?

Nour Abdullah Al-Rasheed
P.O. Box 2532
Hofuf, Al-Hassa 31982
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Every microcomputer that we've seen expects characters to be arranged in the left-to-right order common to Western languages. However, the arrangement of text is simply a convention, and some languages use different conventions. Arabic, Hebrew, and Japanese are read from right to left, Chinese is read from top to bottom, and so on.

A true solution to your problem in Atari BASIC is next to impossible. To really make it work, you'd have to rewrite (in machine language) every part of BASIC and the operating system (OS) that manipulates text. Since BASIC and the OS are large, complex machine language programs, this project could take an expert programmer weeks or months. Then, to make the change permanent, you'd need to burn the modified BASIC and OS—as well as a new character set—onto PROM (Programmable Read Only Memory) or EPROM (Erasable PROM) chips and replace the machine's original chips. It's not impossible, but it involves far more labor than most people would be willing to expend. Also, there would probably be compatibility problems with commercial software.

If you don't mind a little inconvenience, there is a crude solution. Move your monitor to one side and turn it sideways, then mount a large mirror at an angle where the monitor used to be. Watch the mirror instead of the monitor, and each line appears to be typed from right to left. Once that's done, you need to design a set of backward characters that will appear correct when viewed in the mirror. We have reprinted your address in case any of our foreign readers have a better solution.