ROM Computer Magazine Archive ROM MAGAZINE ISSUE 3 — DECEMBER 1983/JANUARY 1984 / PAGE 22

Books on the Shelf
by Peter Ellison

    In this issue I will review two books that teach 'a language' and a 'QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE' for ATARI Basic from John Wiley and Sons, Inc. The name of the two books are "the ATARI Assembler" from Reward books and "Starting FORTH" from FORTH,Inc. Each book teaches the fundamentals of the language and have a few short programs for examples.


    When I first saw this book in the computer store I thought that I was dreaming. Who would make a book exclusively for learning assembly language on the ATARI. Every book that I had read before on the subject was either for the APPLE or just on 6502 machine language. This book starts out very well because it assumes you have no assembly language background and only some Basic language background. It uses the little Basic background that you have to make its starting point.
    The book written by Don and Kurt Inman has a very excellent layout as it has a little self-test at the end of each chapter making you apply what you have just learned. The questions aren't easy as are ones that are found in many Basic language books. These self-tests, which are called exercises, are each two or three pages long with the answers coming a page after the test so one doesn't have to shuffle through the back pages looking for an answer. Another thing that makes this book a little better then other books on assembly language is the nice clear diagrams that paint a clear image in one's mind. These illustrations range from what a stack is to a cute picture of a bug getting sprayed by a debugger.
    With just this book and a few hours on the computer one could become proficient at programming assembly language on the ATARI computer. Everything is right there needed to learn assembly language. All that is needed is the assembler and many hours of practice. The book does have a few errors but I'm not going to pick the whole book apart. One last thing I'm going to say is that it has six excellent appendixes at the end of the book ranging from 6502 Instructions-Flags Affected to the ATASCII Character Set. For $12.95 this book is worth it and more,

Reston Publishing
11480 Sunset Hills Rd.
Reston,VA 22090

Starting FORTH

    This book isn't written specifically for any one computer, but for any computer that has a FORTH compiler, The ATARI has many such compilers from many different companies. This book, I've found to be the best on the subject of learning FORTH. It is humorous with its cartoons, illustrations, and excellent with its way of explaining the different vocabulary. It too has a self-test(problems) after each chapter but you have to hunt around at the back if you wish to find the answer.
    Every three or four pages there is an illustration or cartoon which makes the book quite amusing just to look through and read the pictures, For the term EXECUTE the author(Leo Brodie) has a picture of a hooded man holding an axe. Each picture is used in an good way as to use picture association with terms. The book starts out very well by first having a look at other high-level languages to lead up to a definition of FORTH. Another good thing that is included at the end of each chapter is a list of the FORTH words that have been covered in the previous chapter. This makes it able to go back if there are any words you are still not sure of.
    When first going through the book with my ATARI and my FORTH I found it a little difficult because the book isn't written right for the ATARI, but with a little experimentation I was able to make the book work for me. In the last chapter of the book it gives three examples helping to put into practice what you were suppose to have learn by reading the book. All the examples run fine and help you to understand what is happening. This book with over 348 pages is well worth the money to anyone interested in learning FORTH on any computer.

Englewood Cliffs
New Jersey 07632


    This isn't a book, but can be more useful than many books that you buy, This reference guide contains almost all of the reference sheets needed for BASIC programming. From a picture of the Joystick's eight positions to a full piano keyboard containing all of the values for each key. The sound register parameters are there and all of the graphics screen formats are presented. One thing that dissapointed me was the sheets never said anything about Player/Missile graphics but for $2.95 how can I complain.

John Wiley & Sons