Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 3, NO. 9 / JANUARY 1985


Roundup of the Latest Releases


   Mastering Your ATARI Through Eight BASIC Projects, edited by Tom Marshall, comes with a disk containing the 13 programs discussed in the book.  These programs range from games and music generators to timers and micro-calculators.  Every chapter uses one or two of these programs to demonstrate important programming concepts.  Unfortunately in many instances, the editor refers to tables and illustrations which do not exist, and asks you to recall facts from chapters appearing much later in the book.
   $19.95. 174 pages.  Prentice-Hall, Inc., 200 Old Tappan, Old Tappan, NJ 07675, (201) 767-5000.

   Basic ATARI BASIC, by James S. Coan and Rishard Kushner, takes you from an introduction to the PRINT statement to an analysis of Player-Missile Graphics.  Beginning programmers should regard this book as a reference tool, rather than a tutorial.  It is not easy reading, but the ideas and concepts presented are excellent.  The "Bugs in Atari BASIC," section outlines many ways to overcome the language's limitations.  Another section examines the special features of the XL Computers, such as enabling fine scrolling through a single POKE statement.
   $15.95. 324 pages.  Hayden Book Company, 50 Essex Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662, (800) 631-0856

Mastering your Atari-Atari Basic

   Carl M. Evans's ATARI BASIC-Faster and Better shows you how to improve your BASIC programs with machine-language subroutines.  The book contains listings and descriptions of more than 80 subroutines, including routines which can make your program unlistable, analyze your program's variables, generate AUTORUN.SYS files and create scrolling screen displays.  You don't need to know any machine language to use this book; Evans has translated each assembly listing into DATA statements to use in your BASIC programs.
   $16.95. 300pages.  IJG, Inc.  From Antic, 524 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107, (415) 957-0886

   Advanced Programming Techniques for your Atari Including Graphics & Voice Programs, by Linda M. Schreiber, will help you master scrolling, page-flipping, and several other important programming techniques.  The book's most helpful chapter, "Working with the Display List," shows you how to create and manipulate customized graphics.  The book is easy to read and contains more than 50 type-in programs, including a character set editor.
   $14.50. 207pages. TAB Books Inc., Monterey Avenue, PO.  Box 40, Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17214, (717) 794-2191.

Getting Started- Basic Atari Basic

   101 Programming Surprises & Tricks for your ATARI Computer, by David L. Heiserman, should provide about 30 minutes of pointless entertainment and frustration for a bored eight-year-old.  The book is a disappointing collection of 101 "mystery" programs.  You type them in and see what they do.  There are calendars, quizzes, mock weather predictions, games.  Only some games are programmed to cheat, and there are other "practical joke" programs scattered throughout the book.
   $11.50. 196 pages.  TAB Books Inc, Monterey Avenue, PO.  Box 40, Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17214, (717) 794-2191.

Advanced Atari Basic-The Atari 600XL

   Robert A. Peck's Advanced Atari BASIC Tutorial, is a solid sequel to the ATARI BASIC Tutorial.  It offers clear and comprehensive descriptions of advanced programming techniques such as string manipulation, disk operations and sorting techniques.  Featured is a screen builder program to help you create and save your own graphics screens.
   $11.95. 174 pages.  Howard W. Sams & Co., Inc, 300 West 62nd Street, P.O. Box 7092, Indianapolis, IN 46206, (317) 298-54oa

   How to Get the Most Out of CompuServe, by Charles Bower and Davia Peyton.  If you got a CompuServe Starter Kit as a present, or you're just thinking about maybe becoming a subscriber to this telecommunications information service, get this book.  It presents a series of "guided tours" through CompuServe's many layers of menus and commands.  The tutorial will save you from wasting considerable time and money as you get familiar with moving around Compuserve.
   $14.95. 275 pages.  Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10103. (212) 765-6500.

   The Coming Computer Industry Shakeout: Winners, Losers & Survivors, by Stephen McClennan.  The author is a leading computer stock analyst whose purpose here was to counsel on which high-tech companies to buy shares in and which to avoid.  But the book also gives a startlingly frank, no-holds-barred critique of the good points and bad points of just about every important computer-related company.  You'll get a kick out of this if you're interested in the computer industry as a whole.
   $19.95. 349 Pages.  Wiley & Sons, 605 Third Avenue , New York, NY 10158. (212) 850-6500.

   BASIC on the Atari Computer for Kids, by Keith and Cherie Wyner, will give you a clear, simple and thorough introduction to BASIC programming.  The text and examples are written at a fifth-grade level, but adults willing to study a "kiddie" textbook can expect to learn a good amount of BASIC in very little time.
   $12.95. 213 pages.  Howard W Sams & Co., Inc., 4300 West 62nd street, P.O. Box 7092, Indianapolis, IN, 46206, (317) 298-5400.

   Getting Started with Your 600XL and The Atari 600XL Program Book, by Peter Goode, will help you get the most out of your XL.  The Program Book is filled with well-documented type-in games, music programs, and Biorhythm graphings.  Just remember that these books were originally published in Great Britain, so the listings substitute the "Pound" sign for our number sign (#).
   12.95 each. 150 pages.  David & Charles, Inc, Box 57, North Pomfret, VT 05053. (802) 457-1911

   Kids And The Atari by Edward Carlson is an excellent choice for adult beginners too, despite its title.  Chock-full of brief BASIC samples and clever illustrations, the book is spiral bound for easier program typing.  The writing is clear and conversational as it covers the fundamentals of BASIC.
   $19.95. 219 pages.  Datamost. From Antic, 524 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 957-0886.

   The Musical Atari by Hal Glicksman simultaneously teaches you music and BASIC programming for the Atari's four voices.  The book features 29 songs arranged for piano and Atari duets, plus a line-up of sound effects routines.  Includes programs for turning the Atari keyboard into a piano or chord organ.
   $14.95. 167 pages.  Datamost. From Antic, 524 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 957-0886.

The Musical Atari-Kids and the Atari

The best way for most people to learn BASIC is by typing in short programs and experimenting with them.  If the programs are accompanied by text that explains them and gives suggestions for alterations, so much the better.
   Enter Creative Pastimes, a new series of $6.95 spiral-bound books for beginners from Reston Publishing.
   Homework Helper, at 149 pages the largest of the series, presents programs for memory skills, spelling and word problems, and history.  The "Computer As A Tool" section gives you programs for using your Atari as a calculator, to paint, plot bar graphs, sort lists, and to learn number systems.
   The programs are presented in fully-explained modules, with instructions on how to combine modules for a larger, more powerful program.  The book appears to be a translation for the Atari from a version written for some other computer.  So it includes a few commands which simply don't work.
   The Code Breakers (subtitled An Atari Adventure) contains a book-length narrative.  Nikki and Adam are a teenage brother-and-sister detective team on the trail of a mystery.  Using their computer, they decode clues with your help.
   There are only seven short programs in the 75-page book, and none is well explained.  However, as an interactive story-program for youngsters, "The Code Breakers" appears to have good entertainment value.
   Once the first thrill of novelty has worn off, 41 1/2 Fun Projects For Your Atari promises to get you interested in playing with your computer again.  There's a wide range of programs here, with a solid emphasis on puzzles.  In addition, there are plenty of suggestions for modifying the programs to suit your requirements.
   The first section, "Word Play," presents the familiar word-search puzzle, word and sentence-scrambling programs.  "IQ Building" consists primarily of memory exercises, including a concentration-type game.  "Strategy Puzzles" contains the star program of the book, an ancient Japanese game called Dozo with a skillful computer opponent.  This game alone is probably worth the price.
   The "Music and Noise" section takes advantage of Atari's flexible music-generation capabilities, including a program for tuning guitars and one for tutoring guitar.  Finally, "Computer Utilities" provides programs such as "A Calculator Utility," "Decimal/Hex/Binary Conversion," and believe it or not, "A Computer Dating Service"!  An appendix accounts for the title's "1/2," and gives 12 suggestions for modifying the book's programs or creating your own.
   Atari Puzzlements is an interesting experiment.  It seems to be intended more for the confirmed debugger than for those who are just learning about BASIC.  The book is packed full with very short routines, each of which contains an error of some sort.  A line may be scrambled or missing, or program lines may be in the wrong order, or there just might be a tiny mistake in one of the lines.  The book's idea is to make you aware of the types of mistakes you make as a beginner, so you'll become more adept at tracking down and solving them.  The quality is slightly marred by misleading instructions.
   Creative Pastimes has a subcategory of books entitled "Itty Bitty Bytes".  Intended for children from ages 6-9, the series attempts to capture children's interest with graphics and sound while teaching them about programming.
   All books use the simple, straight-forward approach of presenting a short program on one page, with a line-by-line explanation of the program (take-apart) on the facing page.  In most cases, it will be necessary for parents to help their children type in and use the programs.
   Itty Bitty Bytes of Space programs include "Gravity," "Music from Mother Earth," and "Meteors," a simple game.  Some School Days programs include "Spelling Counts!," "State the States," and the intriguing "Gag Me With a Spoon," which lets you vent your frustration with the school cafeteria.  Matilda, the Computer Cat contains "Fleas!," "Nine Lives," and "In the Kitty."
   As inexpensive introductions to BASIC programming, the Creative Pastimes series succeeds.  Most of the books provide good value and should keep young computerists occupied for hours with a minimum of frustration.
   $6.95 each.  Reston Publishing, 11480 Sunset Hills Road, Reston, VA 22090. (800) 336-0338