Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 8, NO. 3 / JULY 1989


Light show with a hidden message.

By Ernie Negus

Give yourself a subliminal boost-or test the power of subliminal messages on your family and friends with Flash! This BASIC program creates a machine language program that works on 8-bit Atari computers with at least 48K memory.

Many people who use computers are highly analytical thinkers. There is nothing wrong with that, but new ideas that are difficult to prove seem a little off-the-wall to them. I myself was very skeptical about subliminal perception. I simply did not believe the claims that some people made about it. After reading a book on the subject, I decided to try out my own experiment with subliminal messages.

Flash! is one of my experiments, a short machine-language program that lets you enter a message, which is then flashed on the screen in a series of dots.


Type in Listing 1, FLASH.BAS, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy before you RUN it. When RUN, FLASH.BAS creates a machine language program called FLASH.EXE. Antic Disk owners will find FLASH.EXE on the monthly disk.

Don't try to run Flash! from the Antic Monthly Disk. Copy FLASH.EXE to another disk that has the DOS.SYS file on it. Then rename FLASH.EXE to AUTORUN.SYS.

Turn your Atari off and place your Flash! disk in drive 1. Now, turn on your Atari and Flash! will automatically load and start.


My first experiment with subliminal perception convinced me that it worked. At the time, about two years ago, I upgraded my 130XE to 1Mb of memory. I was also running a 24-hour bulletin board.

To show off the power of a 130XE with one megabyte, I wrote a "Spinning World" demo program. Using a map-generating program, I created 120 maps of the globe, incrementing the longitude three degrees for each.

I then loaded these maps into the one megabyte of memory and wrote a program to switch the banks during vertical blank time. In this way, I could show the 120 different maps in rapid succession, and the effect was quite impressive. I even had paddles to control the speed, and if the trigger was pressed I could use the paddle values to determine the frame displayed. Rotating the paddle control yielded a very weird effect, as the globe would eerily rotate along with it.

I was working at a computer store, demonstrating my program at various trade shows. It was quite a popular display. As an experiment, I added another frame that would flash for a few milliseconds just before the first frame when the globe was spinning at full speed.

At the time, my BBS was very inactive. I was lucky to get three or four calls a day. So naturally my subliminal suggestion was, "Call BEE-CATS BBS!" written in huge letters on the extra frame.

The effect was a slight flickering of the screen when the demo was running. The flicker was barely perceptible and far too fast to read no matter how hard you looked.

The demo with its subliminal message ran at a trade show for three days. The night of the first day I had fifty calls on my BBS. The next day, I had over 200!

Talking with some of the callers (most were already logged in, but hadn't called for a long time) I found they all had been to the trade show. Not only that, most did not even know that I had written the spinning world demo! It was this experience that caused me to believe wholeheartedly in subliminal perception.


Flash! is another experiment in subliminal suggestion. Based on a concept by artist and engineer Bill Bell, it works on the phenomenon of the eye's perception of light and the way the subliminal mind can interpret the patterns from the eye.

After you run the program you will be prompted for a phrase. Enter a single word or a short phrase. For the best results, keep the phrase as short as possible, with not more than four words. After that, the screen clears and a column of eight boxes will begin to flash rapidly on the screen.

Most people who see this will just think it's a pretty display. If they try to concentrate on the flickering boxes to get any meaning they will probably think even less of it. But when they look away and start thinking about something else, the words you typed may suddenly appear in their imagination.

To understand how the program works, visualize one of those electric news signs, like the one in New York's Times Square, where words travel across a panel. The sign contains several columns of bulbs that turn on and off in a special sequence to produce the moving message effect.

Now visualize just looking at one of the columns of lights. After a certain amount of time, the whole message gets scrolled through that one column. But it looks like just a bunch of flickering lights.

Your subliminal mind is able to perceive the message being scrolled through that single column of lights, but your conscious mind cannot comprehend it as a message. It is only when you look away, when you may finally get the message coming through.

This makes Flash! a great program for developing your subconscious mind. For example, if you want to lose weight, use the phrase, "I will be thin" on Flash!. If you are trying to develop a more positive attitude try "I am happy." Try to avoid negative words such as "not" or "no" or "won't" -these words tend to confuse the subconscious mind and will often produce the opposite of the desired effect.

To exit Flash! while it is displaying your phrase, just press any key. To slow down the message, press the [SELECT] key and release it several times. To speed it up, press the [OPTION] key several times. The audible click that occurs happens at the end of the phrase, just before the message is recycled through.

Ernie Negus is a longtime contributor to Antic. Currently he lives in Bothell, Washington, working as a technician on state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment.

Listing !: FLASH.BAS (not needed)
On Disk: FLASH.EXE Download