YELLOW BRICK ROAD
by Peter Ellison
This column having appeared in issues one through five, but not in the last two, will once again become a regular feature in "ROM". "The Yellow Brick Road" is a column written to give the Atari User different tables or memory locations in such a manner as to make it easy to find them all in one readily understood section. I will try to make each table simple enough for the beginner, but also useful for the advanced programmer.
In the next few issues this section will be devoted to the "Atari Glossary". The Glossary will be of words compiled from a number of sources that have something relating to the Atari Computer. Since the list will be quite long, it will be spread over a number of issues. I won't include program names since they are too numerous. There will be only those common terms having to do with the Atari, not Basic terms. If I forget some words that you feel should be part of the list, let me know, and I'll be hap py to insert them. Also, if you have any suggestions as to what you would like to see in this section in the future, I'd be happy to consider them.
ROM's GLOSSARY FOR THE ATARI
Accumulator: This is a register in which the results of arithmetic instructions can be stored.
ACE: Atari Computer Enthusiasts. This name is one that many User Groups have taken for their own name. One of the largest and first user groups in the U.S. is ACE, 3662 Vine Maple Drive, Eugene, OR, 97405.
ACTION!: This is a relatively new structured language used for software development. The thing that makes this language so excellent is its speed and ease of use. It comes in an orange 16K bank select cartridge from OSS. (See issue 6 of ROM for review).
AD ASTRA: A newsletter published by the Atari Microcomputer Net Amateur Radio Operators' Group. This Newsletter contains much information for those Atari Users wanting to do hardware work. Hams like the Atari because of its shielding against radio interference.
Add-Ons: These are things that can be joined onto your computer, such as certain circuitry to expand memory or performance. Expansion cartridges like, "The Monkey Wrench II" from Eastern House Software is a good example. Or things that attach to game ports, serial I/O ports, or the 850 interface.
Address: The identification code that distinguishes one memory location or input/output port from another and that can be used to select a specific one.
Addressing Modes: The methods for specifying the addresses to be used in executing an instruction. Common addressing modes are direct, immediate, indexed, indirect, and relative.
Adventure Games: These are games that can be either all text, graphics, or some of both. Some include solving puzzles, killing monsters, and saving beautiful princesses.
ANTIC: This is a seperate microprocessor which is contained within the Atari 400/800 and XL series. It is dedicated to the television display in that it is user programmable with an instruction set like "display list" (a program) or the "display memory" (data).
Antic: A magazine for Atari users. Good reviews, new products, and Basic program listings help make this one of the top Atari only magazines. Antic, 60018th st., San Francisco, CA, 94107.
ANALOG Computing: A magazine dedicated to Atari computer users. Originally called Atari Newsletter and having Lots of Games, this magazine has released a lot of very interesting machine language and Basic games, tutorials, and reviews. ANALOG, P.O.BOX 23, Worchester, MA, 01653.
Argument: Variables usually placed in parentheses or brackets and found in examples of a function or command.
Array: A collection of related data items, usually stored in consecutive memory addresses.
ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange. A 7-bit character code widely used in computers and communications. Although the Atari doesn't use ASCII it uses a thing similar called ATASCII.
Assembler: A computer program that converts assembly language programs into a form (machine language) that the computer can execute directly. The assembler translates mnemonic operation codes, labels, and names into their numerical equivalents and assigns locations in memory to data and instructions.
Assembly Language: A computer language in which a programmer can use mnemonic operation codes, labels, and names to refer to their numerical equivalents.
ATASCII: Atari Standard Code for Information Exchange. Similar to ASCII except the first 32 characters are different (control characters) and characters 123 through 127.
Attract Mode: The operating system inside the Atari has the feature that if no key is pressed within nine minutes of running the program, the colors will begin to cycle through random hues at lower luminances. This is to prevent any damage that can be done by the burning of a static image onto the television screen.
ATR8000: This peripheral box contains a Z-80 processor and connects directly to the computer. A 64K printer buffer is available with it. It is possible to add an 8088 processor and run the 16-bit CP/M-86 or MSDOS and upgrade to 256K of RAM. This makes the Atari a computer capable of running IBM PC software.
Auto-Answer: A modem which is able to answer a telephone connection between a computer and a remote device automatically.
Autodialing: The ability to dial the telephone through software control or keyboard input. This type of procedure is offered on a number of phone modems.
Autorun.sys: This makes it possible to have your program run direct by just booting up the system. Just a short binary load file is needed to call up your program.
Background: The area of the television screen where player/missile graphic objects or playfield objects and/or text is displayed. The background has its own user-definable color in that by using BASIC Setcolor or POKE commands you can change it.
Backup Copy: A duplicate copy of a disk or cassette in case of loss or damage to the original copy.
Bad Sector: A sector on a disk that cannot read/ write data correctly.
Baud: The measure of the rate in bits per second at which serial data is transmitted. This includes both data bits and bits used for synchronization, error checking, and other purposes.
Bank Select: A way to extend a computer's RAM memory by having each bank respond to the same address but only have one active at a time. Used in ACTION! from OSS.
BASIC: Beginner's All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. A popular computer language invented at Dartmouth for educational purposes. One of the best Basics for the Atari is BASIC XL from OSS.
Benchmark Program: This is a program that tests the speed of a computer in certain types of situations.
Binary File: Another name for a Machine Language object code file or program.
Bit: A contraction of Binary digiT. A bit is either turned on or off, in other words, at 1 or 0. Bits are used in computers to code information, instructions, data, etc.
Border: This is the television screen area of display in BASIC Graphic mode 0 which is formed by the four sides of the screen. The border takes on the background color.
Byte Count: This is the file pointer's position within a sector on a disk.
Cassette Boot File: A file which boots from the cassette at power-up or SYSTEM RESET.
Character Graphics: A way of redefining the individual characters of a character set to make graphics in the images the programmer can use.
Character Image: This is an 8X8 pixel grid which defines a particular character shape.
Character Mode: The ANTIC display mode which displays screen display memory data bytes as characters. There are six ANTIC character modes, three of which are accessible from BASIC.
Character Set: This is the set of characters that a programmer can work with or redefine.
Coarse Scrolling: By altering the display list LMS one byte at a time it is possible to vertically or horizontally scroll the screen image. This is done by adding or subtracting 1 from the LMS address bytes.
Collision: This is what happens when a player or missile collides with another image in Player/missile graphics. There are 60 possible collisions that can be assigned and checked.
Color: This is one of the 128 that is obtained from a hue-luminance combination on the Atari.
Color Register: A hardware register used to define the color for various portions of the screen display. There are nine color registers within the Atari's operating system.
Command: A statement which causes the computer to carry out a specific action. In BASIC, this is the first executable token of a BASIC statement that tells BASIC to interpret the tokens that follow in a certain way.
Compiler: This is a translation program which converts high-level instructions into a binary file for the computer to run directly.
CPU: Central Processing Unit.
Cyclic Animation: This is a way of flipping through colors to create the effect of animation. Done through colors, graphic images, or character graphics this can be quite effective.