Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 2, NO. 11 / FEBRUARY 1984



The lowdown on Atari Logo


When Atari decided to implement Logo, it chose to make its version compatible with Apple Logo, which is produced by LCSI and sold by Apple. In fact, LCSI also wrote Atari's Logo. Although this means that we're forced to live with a few Apple-like quirks in our version of Logo, it also means that virtually all of Apple's Logo programs run under Atari Logo. In addition, most of the LCSI-oriented Logo books also fit our needs. Just as Atari intended, this element of compatibility between the two languages provides Atari users with access to a wealth of classroom-support materials, books, and other sources of valuable information.


This month, I'll delve into a stack of Logo books and highlight the ones you may want to consider for your classroom or family. But first, a warning. Although all Logos are related, some relatives are closer than others.

Atari Logo's closest relative is Apple Logo. Books based on this language often referred to as "LCSI-Logo") are 99% "upward compatible." In effect, this means that Atari Logo can do everything that Apple Logo can do. But Atari Logo also offers extra features that Apple Logo doesn't -- including animated turtles, multiple turtles, and more.

The Logo books produced by Krell/Terrapin are Atari Logo's next closest relatian. TI's Logo requires even more translation. And the TRS Color Computer's Logo isn't even a full Logo; it's just a turtle-graphics package. My judgment is that the average Atari user will find that the LCSI/Apple Logo books are completely satisfactory, while the Krell/Terrapin books are acceptable. Personally, I'd leave the rest of the books alone, except those that have sections which explain how to translate material into either Apple or Atari Logo.


One of the best support sources for Atari Logo users is the Young People's Logo Association (1208 Hillsdale Dr., Richardson, Texas 75081). A membership ($9/year for students 18 or younger, $25/year for adults) provides you with a hefty monthly newsleter, software exchange privileges and access to a bulletin board.

All of these materials are dedicated exclusively to Logo/PILOT. Although it supports several machines, each issue of the newsletter is loaded with Atari Logo programs and information, and the software exchange includes 30 disks of Atari Logo programs. A member can purchase a disk (or tape) for $10, or, even better, can send in a personal program on disk/tape (along with return postage) and receive a disk/tape of his or her choice with 12 to 15 programs on it. And anyone can log onto the bulletin board by calling. (214) 783-7548 after 7:00 pm (CST). There's no cost for use of the board (but you pay your own phone bills, of course). It lists a number of special interest groups for Atari Logo and Atari PILOT. The board is currently set up to accept messages and handle electronic mail, but it will soon allow members to upload and download Atari programs.


Jim Muller, the founder of the Young People's Logo Association (YPLA), is also coauthor, with Bearden and Martin, of The Turtle Source Book (200 pages, Reston Books, $21.95). This excellent workbook-style manual is designed for the elementary classroom but can probably be used by most families, if an interested adult is present. The books does a good job of covering turtle graphics, and is one of the few books on the subject whose language level is appropriate for youngsters.


Apple Logo by Harold Abelson (217 pages, Byte/Neforan Hill, $15.95) is one of the few books on Logo that covers list processing as well as turtle graphics. Although Atari users will have to convert the sections on I/O and paddle use to Atari Iogo, Abelson provides us with a rich vein of new words (commands) for Logo, and a lucid explanation of advanced list handling. He also covers numerical calculations and program-logic controls by means of examples that I found helpful.

All in all, this is a well-rounded, solid book; the language level is high school or above, and the pages are dense with text. I'm hoping to see an Atari version soon. (By the way, watch out for Logo for the Apple II by the same author. It's based on MIT's Logo and is not quite as useful as Apple Logo, although it does supply a conversion table).


Learning with (Atari) Apple Logo by Daniel Watt (358 pages, McCraw Hill, $19.95) is an excellent text for teaching Logo to a class or a parent, child, spouse or friend. Watt combines cartoons with numerous "Helper's Hints" that teach the "helper" to help the learner. The result is that both will learn. The book's language level -- simple in the cartoon sections and adult in the Helper's Hint sections - is appropriate. Like Apple Logo, it helps you to build an excellent repertoire of words (commands), and it includes one of the best explanations I've seen of the names, objects and values used in Logo.

Watt also provides a simple game, SHOOT, which should be of interest and value to the budding Logo programmer.

This book is well illustrated and contains many interesting projects and pieces of good advice for teachers. I wasn't able to find the Atari version on the book shelves, but I was impressed with the Apple text. Watt's Learning with Logo is based on Krell's Logo and, therefore, isn't as helpful, but it's still useful if it's all you can find.

The Source Book also includes off- computer exercises that help to introduce the concepts of turtle graphics. In addition, a number of stickers are included with the workbook; for example, it includes numerals that can be attached to the CRT screen to make a clock/time- reading program come alive. Finally, where appropriate, the book's activity pages are reproducible, so that a full classroom can use a single source book.

Although I haven't seen a copy yet, Reston Books should have a second YPLA book out by the time this column reaches you. 123 My Computer and Me (Reston Books, $10.95), by Donna Bearden, is a "fun" companion to the Source Book. It's designed for the individual Logo explorer in the eight-to-twelve age group. Like the Source Book, it stresses turtle graphics.


Discovering Apple (Atari) Logo by David D. Thornburg (173 pages, Addison- Wesley, $14.95) is probably the most complete, and the most beautiful, treatment of turtle graphics you can find. An Atari version of the book should be available by the time you read this, but it wasn't in yet at any of the book stores visited.

Thornburg explores the Logo user's world of shapes and planes with an eye that is always sensitive to the "larger meaning of things." Although some passages may be difficult for youngsters, all will benefit from the author's insights and will enjoy the beautiful patterns that his always-simple programs create. Thronburg covers many advanced topics, including "tiles," tessellations, "squrals:' fractals, trees, arcs, cricles, and spirals, and he makes them both understandable and inspiring. He's also the only person I know of who's come up with a convincing explanation of why you need to know about prime numbers: you can use them to draw stars! Twelve color photos enhance an already enjoyablebook.


Apple Logo Primer by Gary Bitter and Nancy Watson (206 pages, Reston Books, $14.95) offers a unique approach; It includes a section for the complete novice, one for people who are generally familiar with Logo, and a third section on the history of the language. Graphic outputs are illustrated by screen photos (most books use printed graphics) that are realistic but often muddy. The section on list processing is short but helpful.

One of the book's nice touches is that the authors assign memorable words, such as "Open a blank" for Control O, to help users learn Logo's "weird" control commands. The practice activities made me feel like I was back in school. The language is occasionally tough for kids - "alternative" is used instead of "choice", and "identical results" is used in place of "the same thing" - but advanced sixth graders should be able to handle it. The primer's strongest feature, in my opinion, is an excellent index/glossary that often tells you what you need to know without forcing you to turn to the referenced pages. Its excellent cover-reference cards round out a thoughtful approach.


Introductory Logo by Peter Ross (241 pages, Addison-Wesley, $12.95) looked interesting at first sight. Unfortunately, that's as far as I got. Its dot-matrix printing looked so ugly that I didn't read the text.


Several excellent Logo texts are currently available, and more are on the way. In particular, you should watch for Atari-specific editions of existing Apple books. I'll continue to review materials as they become available. In the meantime, the books I've mentioned this month should provide a good foundation for your Atari Logo library.

Ken Harms, our Contributing Editor for the Logo/PILOT department, is Vice President of Adminastration for the California Division of the American Cancer Society.