1. Not old. Vintage. :)

The Language Programmers Speak...

Discussion in 'SIG: General Chat' started by Timothy Kline, Jul 15, 2020.

  1. by Timothy Kline
    Timothy Kline

    Timothy Kline Administrator Staff Member

    Blog Posts:
    Hey there, everyone,

    Initially, I was going to run this using the polling feature, but I'd likely leave out one that should be on the list— so, I'm opting for open discussion.

    A bit ago, I was gauging interest in a section for programming, whether learning or wanting to learn-- and there was some interest, which I'd expected and counted myself among, too.

    The majority of my education came as hands-on experience through type-ins in Compute!, Antic, and ANALOG magazines, and those were few and far between. I managed to pick up the Revised Mapping the Atari, which was the only Compute! reference I bought new at a local bookstore— and the First and Second Books of Machine Language, which at the time was well over my head.

    I mean, I knew some pitiable crumb of machine language but that was because of the type-ins and my occasional glance at the source code when provided and wishing I could do that and run an application full-tilt on this amazing, multi-processor system. But I was intimidated, and at this point TurboBASIC XL and OSS's BASIC XE handled all my particular programming needs. I dabbled in a platformer that ran similar to Bounty Bob Strikes Back with a few added bells and whistles unique to my clone (never mind the irony of that very statement), but I think I was already falling for the PC, somehow knowing that was where home computers were going. Apple was waaaaaay out of my income level so I didn't follow the 68000 generation of computers which eventually dead-ended when Apple moved to Intel-based mainboards.

    Had I even moved to the 16-bit systems of the time (XT was my post-8-bit home system), I don't imagine I would've continued programming, given that I was still bound to BASIC as a language, and how many people today program the current generation of systems at the machine code level vs C, C++, Javascript, and other abstracted languages that provide a layer of sanity for programmers.

    C, or some version of it, was available for the Atari 8-bits toward the end, but I only knew about them from listings in ads in magazines. I couldn't fork out the price in those days, and the type-in magazines were already dropping the Atari as everyone moved into the ST series (and the Amiga on the Commodore side). Magazines were becoming more review-based, and the type-ins were becoming extinct.

    Action!, too, but that was waaaaaaay out of my affordable zone.

    Nope, for me it was the built-in BASIC of my XL/XE systems, OSS's BASIC XL and XE (which I finally was able to buy and appreciated for the memory banking function. TurboBASIC appeared when I discovered BBSes, that and MyDOS and SpartaDOS... up to that point, all I knew was DOS 2.5 and 3, stock.

    I have a wonderful library now, and there's a pretty complete array of books covering Machine/Assembly Language programming— I've since learned that nearly all of them are archived at Archive.org, but I don't regret the investment because there's something about the reality of a book you can hold in your hand and read, you know?

    Anyhow, what about you, if you program at all, what language do you speak? Or, languages, maybe? Do you miss type-ins? Not the typos, necessarily, that invariably seemed to somehow slip through a magazine's release-- and you'd have to wait a few months for the correction to be published if you hadn't tracked it down yourself by then.

    An Atari owner
    Graham likes this.
  2. by M.D.Baker

    M.D.Baker Deckhand

    Blog Posts:
    The board has been pretty dead lately, with with very few members adding much, including me, so, now that I finally have a couple vehicles repaired and running, I have a bit more time for the hobby. I'm sure the lack of new content around here is because most of us haven't had time for one reason or another. I thought it was time to chime in here, even though you and I have discussed at length languages we want to learn in the past few year @Timothy Kline , maybe it will get the ball rolling here.

    My experience in programming, like you Tim, back in the day, was from typing in programs too. I did dabble with BASIC a bit on the T/S 1000 and Atari, and I took a semester of BASIC (Microsoft) on Apples back in high school. I was all about gaming back then though and lost interest quickly in programming. But these days I am attempting to learn again, though I haven't had much of a chance over the past year since my Atari's have either been down for repairs and upgrades or I was just too busy elsewhere.

    For me, though, I have never been interested in programming on anything BUT Atari 8-bits. And of course I have no interest in doing that on emulators either, just the real thing, because the whole point for me is more ways to use my classic 8-bits, not spending more time on a PC, in any capacity. So I never cared where things were or are headed these days in computer languages. My alpha and omega is with Atari and it's languages.

    That being said, it's BASIC, Action and 6502 assembly that interest me, and no others. And as far as BASIC goes, even though there may be faster BASIC's out now for the A8's, with Turbo and Fast and others, I want to learn the classics only, so that's OSS for me, since OSS made Atari Basic and Atari never seemed interested in really updating Atari Basic, just attempting to fix bugs, which they never did well either, with any version. OSS continued to expand, fix and speed up original Atari Basic with A+/XL/XE so that's the natural choice for me, to stick with the native Basic on Atari's.

    Naturally, since my Atari's are all expanded, that means BASIC XE, since it's the only one that allows easy access to the extra memory. TurboBasic I know is a classic BASIC now, but since it doesn't integrate well with SpartaDOS like the OSS languages do, I avoid it for that reason. If I ever get to the point of needing something faster than BASIC XE, then I'll turn to Action! and MAC/65. As they also integrate well with SpartaDOS, which is the only DOS I ever use anymore since I have expanded memory and virtual HDD's that it takes advantage of that other DOS's do not (except maybe MyDOS, but I prefer the flexibility of command line DOS's instead of a slightly expanded Atari type menu DOS).

    With all the great Atari programming books you gave me, Tim, I am able to teach myself (though I do need a good book to help me learn Action! yet, so I have chosen to first learn BASIC and Assembler since I do have books to help me with them.

    Those three languages are my first and last choices in learning languages on the Atari, and since it's the first and last choice for my programming efforts. Hopefully I'll get my 800's keyboard repaired soon, so I can then get the hardware side of my hobby caught up and my Atari's all working again, then I can finally settle in and use my Atari's for programming and the other projects on my bucket list.
    Graham and Timothy Kline like this.
  3. by Paul "Mclaneinc" Irvine
    Paul "Mclaneinc" Irvine

    Paul "Mclaneinc" Irvine Chief Officer

    Blog Posts:
    I have to say that I loath BASIC, not just Atari BASIC but any BASIC, I tried to get on with it but I just gave in and tried my best to learn assembly language. The hamper to that was my maths ability but I struggled through and was happy with the rubbish I produced, it was MY rubbish. I started to train games (galore) and wrote a two drive copier and had my hand in a menu system like Multi Boot with a mate. Started learning how to dump stuff and simple protection techniques and even hacked a game called Sidewinder with a whole set of new screens, released as Raid over Libya.

    Never did get into MAC/65, any coding was done via omnimon which created its own problems, it only had a basic assembler built in, no fancy data statements etc. Did try Synassembler, liked the green screen but I'd become used to the instant machine access that Omnimon allowed.

    Also played with 65C816 on the Snes, did try 68000 but the maths and technique was too complex for me..

    I have tried to return to assembler but my attention span is so low I just lose interest, the nearest I get back to it is cheating on various systems..

    As you can tell I'm more the tinkerer than a player as I can pick it up and put it down as needed, if I don't my spine soon tells me, hence I enjoy stage based shooters or first person regular save games.

    My programming attempts are done now, the arthritis in the fingers annoys, the neck really hurts and the spine just takes all the enjoyment out..

    For those that can still do it I say DO, its great for the mind, keeps you ticking over and the joy of overcoming a serious bug is just such a buzz.
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  4. Graham

    Graham Deckhand

    Blog Posts:
    Well I guess I should add my comments..

    I've always had a love of computers and electronics since very young, First Computer Sinclair Spectrum 16K. :(Saved up and got my Dad to drive to Thetford Norfolk UK to purchase a bespoke replacement keyboard (real keys), housing the interface 1 with the computer, and a 64K upgrade giving I think 80K with bank switching. Hated Sinclair basic, learnt Z80 assembler turned out very useful when working on the very first Motorola Mobile exchanges EMX500’s it used them all over the place.. :)

    At this point building Amateur Radio fast scan TV transmitters and needed to program the micro controllers of the day 80c31/ 80c51 and family.. Yes assembler.. to set the frequency.:rolleyes:

    Seems I had an A1200 but only used it with a program to add my call sign to TV picture, wish I still had that..:mad::mad::mad:

    Had moved on to the Atari line of 8 bits :D:D:D before this for home computing and where I got caught up with Computer House UK based in Chelsea London , I followed this by self constructed PC a 386sx ( been using XT /AT’s at work.

    Also a change at work as used SUN SPARC workstation alongside 486/ Pentium based (Compaqs I think) AT’s

    I programmed on the PC under DOS & Win 3.11 in ‘CASL’a scripting language built into XTALK4 a communication program.
    The programs I wrote manipulated the transcoder data across about 28 exchanges, the whole of the UK at the time.
    I ended up using this scripting language for all sorts of things and just found a load of old programs I wrote along with the full boxed set of XTALK4 and all the manuals. (yep and I have an old DOS/WIN 3.11 PC):oops:

    I’ve moved on to AVR microchip’s writing in both assembler and C, and Adriano’s IDE so kind of ‘C’and a bit of Python as well on PC and Rasberry Pi's

    I have written a few short routines in assembler on Atari’s from within basic, but not done a great deal more than that. Although I do have a number of original books for the Atari on assembler, including Mapping the Atari,, and resources such as De Re Atari, Atari’ books on 800, O.S & Basic reference manuals etc.

    So I was aiming to learn assembler on Atari's 6502’s and never really got around to it properly, I guess work, marriage and childred got in the way of my hobbies for a bit.

    So that would be my goal now.

    Maybe only needed the last two or three lines from above :D

    Taking stock of Matt's thoughts on Spartados ..and assemblers that play nicely so I guess OSS carts. MAC/65

    Although I still like the idea of BASIC to do screen text etc. And inline assembler for operating hardware mod’s, not being into writing games as such. oh BASIC XL/XE then
    M.D.Baker likes this.
  5. by Paul "Mclaneinc" Irvine
    Paul "Mclaneinc" Irvine

    Paul "Mclaneinc" Irvine Chief Officer

    Blog Posts:
    Variety, the good old spice of life....Try everything, see what is comfortable..
    M.D.Baker likes this.

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