Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 3, NO. 11 / MARCH 1985


(and Atari printers, too!)

An authoritative compendium of never-documented techniques for using AtariWriter word processing software, written by a former Atari insider.  Plus little-known methods for getting more out of Atari-made printers.

A LOT Of the early software for Atari Computers contained hidden messages, secret rooms and other surprises that Atari personnel called Easter eggs.  These surprises managed to creep into "finished and tested" software although they were never officially approved by Atari management.
  The main reason for these little surprises was Atari's reluctance to include programmers' names on the software package.  For many programmers, the temptation to identify their work was too great, and they inserted their own secret markings in many different ways.
  AtariWriter is especially notorious for including features that were never documented in the manual or made public.  The secrets in this article may be only the beginning.  Perhaps there are other "Easter eggs" I have missed.  Please write Antic and let everybody know if you have discovered any other Secrets of AtariWriter.
AtariWriter secrets


There are actually two different ways to create form letters with AtariWriter. The worse method found its way onto page 39 of the manual, under the heading FORM PRINTING.
  With this technique you insert a special code in the document that stops printing.  When the printer halts, you keyboard in the new information and it's printed as soon as [RETURN] is pressed.
  The problem is that you have to sit and wait for the page to stop printing before inserting the information for the next letter.  Here's the undocumented better way:

We will start by creating the shell document file.  Type the letter below.  The [OPTION] [INSERT] key combination marks the location for text to be automatically inserted later.



Thank you for visiting our store during the holidays.  Included in this letter is a coupon for $25 off any Atari equipment purchased before April 1, 1985.


            Mrs. Store Owner
            11 Main St
            Anytown, City 99999

  The first [OPTION] [INSERT] is the date.  The next three [OPTION][INSERT] lines mark the name and address of the person receiving the letter.  The last [OPTION] [INSERT] puts in the right name after the salutation.  Save this shell document to disk and call it FORM.
  The second file to create is the database.  After selecting CREATE FILE from the main menu, type in data in the exact order you want it to print.
  Type in the date and press [RETURN].  On the second line, type the name Jeff Roberts and again press [RETURN].  Type 101 Main Street on the next line and press [RETURN].  Next type San Francisco, CA 99999 and press [RETURN].  For final line, type in Jeff.  This is the first record in our database.
  To add more records into the database, simply type in another line of information for each [OPTION][INSERT] in the letter.  Don't leave any empty lines between records, the computer will interpret these as blank lines.
  After all the names and addresses on your mailing list are entered into the computer, you can press the [ESC] key and select SAVE FILE from the main menu.  Call this file DATA.
  Once the DATA file is saved to disk, you can select the LOAD FILE option and move your FORM file into memory.  Select PRINT from the main menu and answer the prompts carefully
  As the printer encounters an [OPTION] [INSERT] in the letter it will pause and ask you to MAKE ENTRY, HIT RETURN.  Press the [CONTROL] key and the [V] key at the same time.  Then type in D1:DATA and press [RETURN].  The disk drive should begin whirring and the information from the disk will be included in the letter.

If you have an old Atari 830 modem and TeleLink cartridge you can use AtariWriter to upload and download!  This method may also work with other modems, as is or with modifications, but the only hardware compatibility I can personally vouch for is the 830 with TeleLink.
  In this example, let's say I am going to send you a file and you are going to receive it through your 830.  We will both need to do some preliminary setting up.  First we turn on our 850 interface modules, disk drives and 830 modems.  Set the 830 modem to half duplex.  If you have your original Master Disk with the AUTORUN.SYS file on it, you can insert that into your disk drive.  If you do not have AUTORUN.SYS, see the suggestions in this issue's I/O Board section.
  After you have placed your AtariWriter cartridge in your computer, turn the volume on your monitor up and turn on your . computer.  The drive will begin whirring and you should hear beeps coming out of the monitor.  If the initial title screen is red, it means that DOS is not on the disk that was inserted the drive.  If the title screen is blue; it means that DOS is loading properly.

As soon as we have each other on the telephone, I will load my transmission file into my computer.  I simply select LOAD FILE from the main menu enter a D: FILENAME after the prompt and hit [RETURN].  You will need to select CREATE FILE from your main menu screen.  The CREATE FILE command will take you to the typing area of AtariWriter.  To exit, you must press the [ESCI key.  You will also have to select LOAD FILE from the main menu.
  After the prompt you should type in R1: and then switch your modem to ANSWER mode.  Place your phone in the handset and press [RETURN].
  Next I will select SAVE from the menu, type in R1: and push [RETURN].  If things are working, I will hear a buzzing noise that tells me your modem is placed in the hand set.  Do not worry if you don't hear the sound, sometimes it's hard to hear.
  Now I'll switch my modem to ORIGINATE mode and place my phone in the handset.  When I press [RETURN], I will hear a beeping noise coming out of my monitor, which means data is being transmitted sucessfully.
  When your screen prompts you with SELECT LETTER, type [E] to edit the document.  This will show you the document in the typing area.  If you just want to save it to disk, press the [ESC] key and select SAVE from the main menu.  Type in D1: FILENAME at the prompt.
  That's all there is to it.  If you find that it doesn't work the first time, try again and go through the steps a little more slowly.

Some commands can be used to do more than they were intended for.  The superscript command causes the printer to back up half a line and print.  If two of these commands are used together, the printer backs up one whole line-the same line it just finished printing.  So if you type in the same words before and after the two superscript commands, you can get the letters printed over twice.  Instant boldface on your Atari 825 printer!

To print elongated characters with the 1025 printer you need to set [CONTROL][G] to [3].  To turn off the elongated characters type in [CONTROL][G] followed by a [1] for 10 characters per inch (cpi), or a [2] for 16.7 cpi.  The usual [SELECT] [E] command will not create elongated printing on the 1025.

TIPS FOR THE 1025 AND 1027
To print with single sheets of letter paper on your Atari 1025 or 1027, insert the [CONTROL][W] page wait command at the beginning of the document under the print formatting line.  The printer will pause at the end of each page, and you can insert a new sheet of paper.  Press [RETURN] when you're ready to start the next page.  NOTE: For the 1025, first tape down the Paper Out switch on on top of the printer towards the upper left.
  International characters can be accessed on the 1025 and 1027 by inserting a [CONTROL][O] (capital letter) [27] followed by [CONTROL][O][23].  This activates the international character mode.  As each character is needed, you have to use the [CONTROL] [O] and the decimal code for that letter.  These codes are listed in your printer manual.

The 1027 has an unusual quirk.  It sometimes stops printing for no apparent reason.  Try not to worry when your printer falls asleep on you.  Just leave it alone and it will recover in about 4 1/2 minutes.  When it awakes, it will begin printing right where it left off.
  Also, the 1027 does not underline when inverse video is used.  Select printer number one from the main menu and insert [CONTROL][O] (capital letter) [15] where you want the underline to begin and a [CONTROL] [O][14] where you want the underline to end.
  If your margins have been brought in closer than the default values, the underline starts from the far left of the paper.  The easiest solution is to adjust the margins.  If this is not possible, you can turn off the underlining after the last word on the line, and turn it back on for the first word on the following line.
  Never use labels in your Atari 1027 printer.  They can easily peel off their backing and stick to the delicate inner workings of the printer.  When the 1027 gets repaired, the entire print head mechanism is removed and replaced.  It can be costly.  Instead, you can use your 1027 to make a label template on plain paper, but reproduce the finished labels on a photocopier, using special peel-off sheets that work with most copying machines.

When Atari had its own bulletin board for users groups, Cassie Stahl ran it.  She is now the documentation writer for a major Macintosh software publisher.