Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 4, NO. 1 / MAY 1985

Beer Party Atari


This useful applications program will keep track of the best brew in a beer tasting party. The programming makes good use of custom display lists and character sets. So non beer-drinkers might wish to type it in and change the name to Rootbeer Party Atari. It is written in BASIC and will run on all Atari computers with 16K. A disk drive is recommended, but the article explains how to run the program without one.

"The Atari is just a game machine." Do those words set your blood aboil? Well, the staff at Antic is tired of them too, and spends a good portion of its time diligently combing the incoming submissions for practical applications programs. We receive a lot of disk directory programs, recipe file storers, mini word-processors, and other rehashed versions of old ideas. But now we'd like to award Dr. John C. Ferguson the Honorary Antic Unprecedented Application Program of the Year Award for his fine Beer Party Atari. A program whose time has come. -ANTIC ED

My wife and I decided to have a party one evening for a fairly large number of workplace acquaintances. The trouble with such social gatherings is that "shop talk" tends to predominate and guests don't really get to relax and have fun. Our answer to this concern was to organize the party around the distraction of a "beer sampling" - to determine which brand of beer is best. The Atari provided an ideal tool to focus the group's attention towards finding an unbiased corporate answer to this important question.
   We set up a table with five pitchers containing different beers. These were kept filled, out of sight, from cans of popular brands kept on ice. While the guests knew which brands of beer were involved, the pitchers were only labeled as "A", 'B", "C", "D", or "E". The guests thus had to taste from each pitcher and give the mystery beer a rating. They could jot notes on a piece of paper to help themselves remember.
   After sampling and rating each of the five beers, they then typed their evaluations into the Atari. The program I developed for this purpose made it easy for even the most computer-phobic in the crowd.

The program provided a prompt for entering the rating of each beer, and then a chance to verify that all five were keyed in correctly. It then calculated the average accumulated score for each beer, saved the data to disk, and quickly showed a graphic display of how the different beer brands stacked up in the opinion of the judges.
   A lot of guests were very surprised to see how swiftly the scores changed as more and more people entered their choices. It became almost like a horse race! If things got close, the numerical values of the average scores could be displayed by pressing [5] while the graph was onscreen.

Saving the data to disk after each set of entries was a feature added to the program to make sure that an accident didn't happen to spoil the accumulated results. It was fortunate that this precaution was included, because a power glitch did occur in the middle of my party and wipe out the program. However, I was able to quickly reload it, recall the accumulated data, and continue on as if nothing had happened.
   All in all, my beer party was a tremendous success. Everybody had a good time, and work worries were kept well out of mind.

Type in the program, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy Much of the program is internally documented with REM statements. When you RUN it, the computer will first ask you if you want to add to a previous file- that is, do you want to start with data saved from a previous run of the program. The first time your answer should be [N]. Note that if this choice is taken, any previous file of BEER-DATA will be deleted and replaced with a brand new one. If you answer [Y] you are given a chance to insert the particular BEERDATA file disk you want to add onto before the program continues.

If you do not have a disk drive, you can still use the program without this feature. You should type REM after line numbers 110-160 and 1450. This will update your scores in memory without SAVEing them. It also preserves the code for possible future use when you do have access to a drive.

Several programing "tricks" were used to produce the varied and interesting screen displays. First, some characters of the normal Atari font were modified to produce graphic representations of a beer stein and pilsner glasses. (See lines 10000- 10200.)
   Next, a customized Graphics 0 screen was produced by modifying the display list to show several lines of Graphics 1 and Graphics 2 (program lines 1030-1055). Now, when the altered characters, the normal text, and the special Atari control characters are all put together, in any of the the three sizes provided by the modified screen, the result is a really sophisticated display This was produced with remarkably little code- Ah, the beauty of Atari!

When you use the program, you will want to select your own five brands of beer to compare. These should be reprogramed into lines 1550-1630. Note which beer corresponds to each code letter-you don't want to have these mismatched. For my first party I invested in a case of pilsner glasses and a sufficient quantity of five middle-line popular beers. Next year I think I will do it again with an international flavor-rating beers from five different countries.

Dr John C. Ferguson is a Professor of Biology in the Department of Natural Sciences at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg Florida. Dr. Ferguson has taught at Eckerd since 1963 and specializes in Marine Biology and Oceanographic Sciences.

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