Classic Computer Magazine Archive BEST OF ANTIC VOLUME 1

What's In A Name


Many new readers are curious about our name, ANTIC. They wonder what it has to do with computing, and especially with the ATARI. ANTIC is the name of one of the LSI chips designed by ATARI exclusively for its computers. ANTIC is an acronym formed from the words "Alpha-Numeric Television Interface Circuit." This chip controls the video display you see on your TV screen or monitor. ANTIC is a true microprocessor and has its own instruction set. By handling the screen display it relieves the Central Processing Unit--the 6502 chip--of about one-third of the load it would otherwise carry.

There are three other chips in the ATARI you often hear about. The GTIA (CTIA in machines manufactured before January, 1981) is the General Television Interface Adaptor; it enables Player/Missile graphics and Graphics Modes 0 through 11. The POKEY chip means "pots and keys." It monitors input from the keyboard and controls audio functions. The PIA chip is the controller for joystick ports and peripherals.


Atari, the name of the company that makes our favorite computer, was chosen by the founder of that company, Nolan Bushnell. It is now the second best-recognized product name in the world (next to "Coke"). Atari is a Japanese word, taken from the ancient game of GO. "Atari" has the approximate meaning of "check " in chess--the player who declares "atari" is reminding the opponent that territorial loss is imminent if an effective countermove is not made immediately.

Another Japanese word is sometimes heard in Atari circles. The three-legged Atari logo (Fuji) is called the "fuji," and the key on the keyboard that bears the symbol is called the "fuji key. " This is because the symbol looks like Mount Fuji, but the design is not a letter in the Japanese alphabet, nor is there a letter or ideogram called fuji. On the ATARI 400 and 800 computers, the fuji key switches the video display from regular to inverse.