SIG *ATARI 'S GREATEST HITS!
Best public domain software online!by JERRY WHITE
The CompuServe SIG * Atari Data Libraries contain over 1,000 public domain programs. There is no cost for downloading these programs beyond the normal CompuServe access time charges. To help you choose which programs you want from this treasure trove, I asked SIG members for recommendations. Special thanks to sysop Richard Brudaynski and the many other SIG members who gave time and suggestions.
Downloading can be confusing at first, but you'll find fast help by leaving your questions for SIG members in a message. The Antic Arcade Catalog public domain telecommunications disks provide the most inexpensive software you'll need. Be sure to read your on-disk documentation files carefully. Another outstanding value is the modem program on HomePak ($49.95, Batteries Included).
To enter the Data Library (DL) section of SIG * Atari, type DL# at a FUNCTION prompt (# is the desired section number from 0 to 6). Before downloading any file, check the filename extension. If it is .XMO, you must use a terminal program that supports XMODEM protocol such as AMODEM. To download a file with a BIN extension you need a program that supports A-protocol such as TSCOPE. Both of these programs are found on Antic Catalog disk PD024. (If you have an Atari 1030 or 835 modem you need disk PD025.)
Other extenders you'll run into here, such as ATR or CRE, are usually text files with LISTed BASIC programs that you can get with your capture buffer. Also, as you look around in the libraries, you'll find that many of the programs recommended below have associated files with a .DOC extender. These .DOC files typically contain the instruction documentation for the programs.
Another pattern you'll find in the libraries is that some of the larger programs are divided into multiple files, with numbers 1, 2, 3, etc. added to the central filename.
Now here is a representative sampling of some of the best SIG * Atari programs waiting for you to download. I only wish there was additional room in the magazine for me to list dozens more of the outstanding public domain programs that are yours on CompuServe. Also, I and Antic regret that space limitations forced the leaving out of authors' names in order to include the greatest possible number of programs.
DATA LIBRARY I
This is the games library. And as you'll see, there's a real abundance of riches.
TRICKYBIN: Good graphics and music combined with a novel game concept. You can play it as a strategy game and-if you're really quick-as an arcade game.
CASTLE.BIN: A great test of your mental prowess as you struggle through one of the most complex places on earth-Castle Hexagon.
CHICK.ATR: This screwball game never fails to reduce players and onlookers to rolling on the floor in laughter.
COUCH.ATB: Nothing like a session with the SIG's shrink. Read the ink-blots, answer the probing questions and prepare yourself for the diagnosis.
BLKJCK.BIN: The premier blackjack game.
BEAMAT.BIN: Superb two-player duel of lasers, mirrors and wits. Written in compiled ACTION!
FIRWKS.CRE: Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks," complete with the fireworks display.
D0S4.BIN: The greatest Public Domain DOS. It won't format a disk or load a file, but its unique features have kept many a SIG * Atari member rolling on the floor.
FLIP.BIN: One of the best adaptations of the game of REVERSI. Many interesting variations. Play against the computer or a friend.
DEDSTK.BIN: Fly SIG *Atari's space shuttle simulator on a dead stick landing.
NORAD.BIN: Terrify your friends with this simulated computer-tracked attack on the North American Air Defense Command. Only seconds separate you from doomsday!
IONPWR.BIN: Super sub-atomic pinball game.
POWER.ATR: Rule the World! Who could ask for anything more?
TREK.BIN (or .XMO): Deluxe version of the ever-popular game of STAR TREK-sound and color with its own on-board documentation.
LAUNCH.ATR: Skeet-shooting on Mars.
DATA LIBRARY 0
Here is the home of the SIG odds-n-ends-miscellaneous, unclassifiable, and sometimes totally weird.
DSKED.CRE: One of the neatest little sector editors around. Learn how information is stored on a disk and salvage the occasional ERROR 144 that crops up.
DATA LIBRARY 2
If SIG * Atari members have ONE thing in common, it's that they are all telecommunicators. And what ONE thing do all Telecommunicators need? Terminal programs, of course!
It only follows that the nation's largest group of Atari telecommunications activists would have the nation's largest supply of terminal programs! Here's a few that should turn on Antic readers.
TSCOPE.XMO: The program that started a revolution, still our number one reliable downloader. Prior to TSCOPE, our members who had machine language programs or pro-grams using inverse video and control characters had to resort to heroic measures to upload their works.
Then TSCOPE implemented CompuServe's A-Protocol, providing error-free uploading and downloadmg from CIS. Our machine language programmers were free! But TSCOPE went even farther-it supported the 835 and 1030 modems as well! It even supported on-line VidTex cursor positioning and color graphics!
No MPP user on SIG *Atari can be without TOPV35.CRE. Unfortunately, the software that comes with the MPP does not permit file transfers to or from CompuServe with either XMODEM or 'A" protocol. TOPV35 .CRE cleverly solves that problem.
You want AMODEM? SIG * Atari has more versions of this popular terminal program than anybody-twenty-nine at last count!
Thinking about starting a BBS? The SIG also has plenty of public domain AMIS board programs available in DL 2.
DATA LIBRARY 3
This is where serious programmers love to hang out! In DL3 we have a complete tool box of utilities. Want 80 columns on your screen? No problem! Check out XDSPLY.BIN. Nicely designed to fit right into your BASIC or machine language program You just deleted the wrong file? No problem again! Pick up DOSWIZ.BIN and recover that file immediately.
I put MACH.DOS on all my disks! It will run in double or single density, reconfigure your drives, keep all your DOS utilities handy, and cause fewer memory conflicts than any other DOS available. EXTBAS.CRE adds over 20 useful commands to Atari BASIC including RENUMBER, DELETE, and your most popular DOS utilities. This one even cross-references your variables!
My absolute favorite debugging utility is without question LINE25.BIN. This life-saver features a non-destructive trace that will find offending lines and data statements fast.
DATA LIBRARY 4
About six months ago DL 4 was opened up, a new Data Library dedicated to 'Atari Arts-Sound and Graphics." The library's growth has exceeded the wildest expectations! Atari Arts is already the biggest library on the SIG!
To enjoy the online music, you'll need an Atari Music System file player and SIG*Atari has the best! In DL 4 enter the command BRO AMSXL.BIN to retrieve a file player that is compatible with all Atari computers.
Now you've got over a hundred tunes to play, whatever your taste-jazz, classical, pop, country; Motown, Rhythm and Blues, Rock. Try your Atari's rendition of the Van Halen hit JUMP.BIN.
BACH.BIN is the entire Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.
Want Meredith Wilson? Try TR0M76.BIN.
And here's a sample of other famous musical names you can download:
Michael Jackson - THRILR.BIN
Glenn Miller - INMOOD.BIN
Gershwin - RAPBLU.BIN
Scott Joplin - ENTAIN.XMO
The Doors - LITFIR.BIN
Ray Parker; Jr. - BUSTER.BIN
Beethoven - MOONLT.BIN
Painting with Light-the concept is mind-blowing in itself, but that's precisely what the Atari does better than any other computer! SIG * Atari members enjoy sharing their light-paintings in DL 4.
MAGICL.BIN is an outstanding graphics display program that will give you access to most of the online picture files, whether or not you have a touch tablet.
Supposedly you can't have more than four colors in ANTIC Mode E, but count the colors in ODIE.BIN-you'll see six!
Portraits-very difficult to do on a touch tablet. But look at INDY1.BIN for a sample of what can be created on the Atari.
And be sure to look at MARS.BIN for a fantastic other-world vista.
Don't miss BUTTER.ACT for some of the lushest colors you've ever seen. And OCT.ATR was beautiful enough to be on exhibit at Ohio State university.
There's also a fine selection of animated graphics demos that combine movement with color and form, to produce works of exquisite beauty.
DATA LIBRARY 5
The key to survival in this fast-changing environment is learning, and SIG * Atari has a whole section devoted to educational software in DL 5.
Want to learn assembly language? There's an entire on-line course devoted to Atari assembly programming. The file series starts with AAC1.DOC.
DL 5 is also where you find pro-grams in Logo and ACTION! Just look around and you'll find lots to choose from.
There are also plenty of traditional educational programs in DL 5 that will be of great interest to parents, students and teachers.
Algebra students will want to try GRAPHS.BIN. It draws a high resolution graph of any two-variable equation expressible in BASIC. It can even solve simultaneous equations.
CATS.BIN allows teachers to compose, edit, administer, and score multiple choice and true-false tests right on their machines!
Of course there's much more, but this partial list gives you an idea of some of the best programs available for downloading from the CompuServe SIG * Atari. With this guide, you should be able to find your way around the SIG Data Libraries and find lots of other exciting and useful programs.
Antic Contributing Editor Jerry White is a familiar PPN on SIG *Atari.