Saturday, April 30, 2016

Discover What You And Atari Can Do

Creative Arts Ad
Antic Magazine
September 1984
Back Cover

This Creative Arts ad appeared on the back cover of the September 1984 issue of Antic (Volume 3, Number 5) magazine.  The ad featured well known television and screen actor Alan Alda, probably best known for his acting work on the long running hit television series M*A*S*H.  He is pictured drawing on the Atari Touch Tablet with the AtariArtist software inserted in his Atari XL computer, along with an Atari 1027 Letter Quality Printer and an ATARI 1050 Disk Drive.


Atari Paint allows you to draw on the screen using a joystick. Atari Paint is reviewed on page 106 of issue 16 of ANALOG Computing magazine.  The more advanced AtariArtist software, which shipped in cartridge format with the Atari Touch Tablet, allowed you to draw or trace on a kind of electronic slate. The Atari Touch Tablet made drawing and tracing fun and easy.  The Atari CX75 Light Pen, styled in the Atari XL series color scheme, let you draw directly on the screen when used in conjunction with the AtariGraphics software package.

The Atari CX75 Light Pen was not Atari's first light pen peripheral.  The ill-fated Atari CX70 Light Pen was a thicker, bulkier pen styled in the Atari 400/800 beige color scheme.  At some point before becoming available in any quantity, a decision was made to remove the Atari CX70 Light Pen from the market. The reasons for this remain somewhat unclear to this day. Some have indicated that the light pen didn't work correctly on the Atari 400.  Others have suggested that the Atari CX70 Light Pen parts were inferior and that the pressure switch built into the pen tip was unreliable.  Still another reported explanation was that the Atari legal department was concerned about the idea of a small kid poking around a television screen with a "big pointy stick". Whatever the ultimate reason, the Atari CX70 Light Pen was short-lived in the market and very few of them actually made it out of the assembly line and shipped to customers.   It is now considered a rare collector's item.  

Atari CX70 Light Pen

If you are a Maker and are technically inclined, try building your own light pen for your Atari home computer.  See Chapter Six of Electronic Computer Projects For ... Atari Computers or Chapter Nine of Your Atari 8-Bit Comes Alive for detail descriptions of constructing a light pen and wiring it to your computer. Make sure you have an older TV or compatible monitor to test it on thought as it is not likely to work on modern LCD or Plasma TV screens.


Wade Ripkowski over at the Inverse ATASCII Podcast does a great job breaking down the AtariMusic I and AtariMusic II software packages in Season 2 Episode 15 of his podcast.  These two educational titles teach you about music.  To actually create original music, you could use the Atari Music Composer cartridge, which was a very early release by Atari, shipping in 1979.  Jerry White reviewed ATARI Music Composer in the February 1981 issue of Compute! magazine on page 80.

Atari Music Composer Cartridge
Left: Editing Music
Right: Listening To Music

Now you know.  Go create something and discover what you and your Atari home computer can do together.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Win $25,000 In Cash

Atari Star Ad
Compute! Magazine
January 1982
Pages 6, 7

The Atari Star ad is from pages 6 and 7 of the January 1982 issue of Compute! magazine. The Atari Star award was given to the top software entries submitted to the Atari Program Exchange (APX). The same ad appeared on page 143 of the April 1982 issue of Byte magazine.

Fernando Herrera was the winner of the first $25,000 Atari Star Award for his educational software title My First Alphabet. With his winnings, he went on to form the First Star Software company.  Antic, The Atari 8-Bit Podcast, did an interview with Mr. Herrera in Episode 13.   

My First Alphabet

APX, which was a division of Atari, was like an early mail-order based App Store for the Atari 8-bit family of home computers. APX was started by Dale Yocum in early 1981. Sadly, it was later closed down in 1984. During its run, anyone, professionals or hobbyist, could submit user-written programs to APX for evaluation. If accepted, the software would appear in future quarterly catalogs. APX products included computer games, programming languages, educational packages, music programs, productivity applications, books and even some hardware. Software authors would receive royalties, Atari products and possibly other cash and prize awards.

Caverns Of Mars

Some best selling APX titles such as Atari software professional Chris Crawford's seminal wargame, Eastern Front (1941) and teen-aged hobbyist Greg Christensen's Caverns of Mars later went on to be manufactured as cartridges and included in the main Atari catalog. Other popular titles from APX included the game Dandy by John Palevich which inspired the classic ATARI arcade hit Gauntlet and cops and robbers game GETAWAY! by Mark Reid. A new map was developed in 2016 for GETAWAY!.  ANTIC, The Atari 8-Bit Podcast interviewed John Palevich in the Interview 164 Episode.

The April 1983 issue of Antic magazine has a one page article on page 30 covering the 1982 Atari Star Winner, Typo Attack by David Buehler.  It also covers the Atari Star Award and other winners from 1982.  Typo Attack is another one of those APX titles that was later licensed by Atari and included in the main Atari catalog.

Most, if not all of APX's information, catalogs, software and manuals are available online.

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