The Atari Book of Books

Compiled by Kevin Fleming

 

Issue 16

Jul/Aug 1985

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It is very easy to criticise the written work of others and I acknowledge that it is much more difficult to originate. I must therefore state that the critiques given here are a personal assessment of my collection and are highly subjective. Other people could easily come to a completely opposite view. I hope that any author reading this review does not take it too much to heart if I have given him/her a bit of 'slagging'. Because I have 'reviewed' 63 books in this article, the comments have, necessarily, been extremely superficial and, at times, cryptic. However, I hope it encourages you to buy some of these excellent books rather than 'fritter' your money away on non-Atari specific periodicals.

EXPENSIVE?

The problem with non-Atari magazines is that they are just non cost-effective. For around 95 pence you usually get 3 to 4 pages of relevant material if you're lucky and only one page if you're not!

At an estimated average of 36 pence per page, this is equivalent to an Atari-specific computing book, normally about 150 pages, being priced at over £50, so don't faint clean away if you find that, thanks to the dollar exchange rate, some of the paperbacks I'm about to recommend, come into your local bookshop at around the 20 pounds sterling mark!

I have purposely left the American books at their dollar prices so that you won't be upset by the final sterling price which tends to be increasing even as you read this... and given the time it takes for your bookseller to order books from the U.S., don't be too surprised if you're being asked to part with 20-25 pounds sterling! Books with a sterling price should be easily available in the U.K.

CLASSIFICATION

I propose to classify the books into the following categories

ESSENTIAL - go into debt for these!
DESIRABLE - good if you can afford them.
ACCEPTABLE - alright if you like the look of them.
DISPENSABLE - hopefully, returnable!
DISPOSABLE - is there a shredder in the house?!

I must emphasise again that the classifications are my own personal opinion.

I also intend to distinguish between books by using combinations of the following codes

A - Atari specific
N - Non-Atari specific
G - For the general Atari user
X - For experienced Atari users

_________________

ESSENTIAL

How to maintain and service your small computer (N/G) by Stephenson & Cahill published by Howard W. Sams & Co., Inc. $17.95. You know you are going to need this and it may be sooner than you think. Get it now, it could save you a fortune in transportation costs, never mind service charges. Very accessible, even to non-electronic types like me.

ABCs of Atari Computers (A/G) by David E. Mentley published by Datamost $14.95. Super snippets. Plenty to dip into. As a bonus, there is a type-in listing for AMODEM Ver. 4.3. By an enthusiast for an enthusiast.

The Creative Atari (A/G) by Small, Small & Blank published by Creative Computing Press $15.95. Yes, it is as good as they claim it is. Marvellous insights.

The Analog Compendium (A/G) by the editors of Analog $14.95. The best of their first ten issues. Some great programs. You won't want to be without Black Rabbit 2.0.

Your Atari Computer (A/G) by Poole, McNiff & Cook published by Osbourne/McGraw - Hill £17.50. As another reviewer once said, "the one they should have boxed with the Atari". That says it all!

The Master Memory Map for the Atari (A/G) by Patchett & Sherer published by Reston $15.95. They go on about 'Mapping the Atari' (see below). Forget it, this is the one you want. Much more user-friendly.

 

DESIRABLE

The Best of Antic - Volume one (A/G) by Capparell & DeWitt published by Antic $12.95. Some very good programs, some of which have filtered through to PAGE 6 library disks.

The Atari User's Encyclopedia (A/G) by Phillips & White published by The Book Company $19.95. Another good selection of snippets.

Mapping the Atari (A/X) by Ian Chadwick published by Compute! Books £10.95. Good stuff but aimed more at the experienced user.

Technical Reference Notes (A/X) published by Atari $27.00. Comprises: Operating System User's Manual - Operating System Source Listing - Hardware Manual. A must for the 'serious' user.

Programmer's Reference Guide for the Atari 400/800 Computers (A/X) by David Heiserman published by Howard W. Sams & Co., Inc. $21.95. A wealth of tabulated information. Some annoying errata e.g. Appendix D - Atari Keyboard Codes (in no way do these codes correspond to my 800 which is in complete accord with page 53 of the above Technical Reference Notes).

Atari Roots (A/X) by Mark Andrews published by Datamost $14.95. The best guide available on Atari assembly language.

Compute's Third Boot of Atari (A/G) published by Compute! Publications Inc. £10.95. In my view, the best of the series so far. A word of warning, before you dive in and spend three hours typing the now famous 'Wedge' by Charles Brannon, be advised that an updated version by Michael Hepner was published in the May 1983 issue of Compute! It includes a SPRINT command that sends an entire screen to the printer.

Easy Programming for the Atari Micros (A/G) by Eric Deeson published by Shiva Publishing Ltd. £6.95. At last, a British book and the most cost-effective of the lot! Very friendly and supported by Jon Dean of Atari, need I say more!

 

ACCEPTABLE

De Re Atari (A/X) by the Software Development Support Group of Atari published by A.P.X $19.95. What do I mean acceptable? Don't I realise that Chris Crawford, Jim Dunion and similar luminaries of the Atari firmament were members of that Group? Yes, and I refuse to be over-awed! This book may be very highly thought of by Lone Raiders and Mutant Camels, but, in my opinion, it is a book which in no way lives up to its advance publicity! It meanders all over the place, very rarely getting to the point! For the orthodox amongst you, I would direct your attention to Appendix B - Human Engineering and rest my case!

Atari Games & Recreations (A/G) by Kohl, Kahn, Lindsay & Cleland published by Reston $14.95. An often under-valued book with some excellent appendices, in particular Appendix I - Errors and Error Messages.

Programming the 6502 (N/X) by Rodnay Zaks published by Sybex $(?). A very clear exposition of a fairly dry topic.

Machine Code for Beginners (NIG) by Watts & Wharton published by Usbome 2.25. Forget the fact that it's in children's format, it gets the point across, and at this price!

Mastering the Atari (A/G) by Darryl Severn published by C Interface Publications 5.95. More of an intermediate level book. Some good explanations of the Input/Output procedures.

Best of PCW Software for the Atari XL (A/G) edited by Jane Bird published by Century Communications Ltd 5.95. Some delightful programs e.g. Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba I and also some snappy tips & tricks.

I Speak Basic to my Atari (A/G) by Aubrey Jones Jr. published by Hayden Book Company Inc. $(?). If you're just starting out and you haven't a clue about Basic, this is the one for you!

Some Common Basic Programs - Atari Edition (A/G) by Poole, Borchers & Cook published by Osborne/McGraw-Hill $14.99. Various business, mathematical & statistical program listings. Get it if you need them.

Compute!'s Second Book of Atari (A/G) by the editors of Compute! magazine published by Compute! Books 10.95. A good compilation of some of the better articles in Compute! magazine.

Microsoft Basic - Second Edition (N/X) by Ken Knecht published by Dilithium Press $15.95. This is the definitive third party version for those of you with Microsoft Basic.

Atari Player-Missile Graphics in Basic (A/G) by Philip C. Seyer published by Reston $14.95. Slightly over-priced, but if you're into P/M graphics you'll pay anything, won't you?

Talking to the World (N/G) by John Newgas published by Century Communications Ltd. 5.95. A very succinct introduction to the world of the MODEM. Although aimed at all micro owners, it does not ignore the existence of the Atari and even includes a type-in listing of that well-known terminal program JTERM (Ver.3.5). Worth buying for this program alone!

The On-Line Handbook (N/G) by Ray Hammond published by Fontana 4.95. Once that MODEM revolution starts, you're going to need this book. Poor quality paper, but what do you expect for this price?!

The Visicalc Book - Atari Edition (A/X) by Donald H. Beil published by Reston $14.95. If you managed to fork out for Visicalc, you won't wince at this price! A good, clear explanation of how to handle this deservedly famous program, which somehow loses some of its speed on the Atari (even with FASTCHIP:).

Atari Programming with 55 Programs (A/G) by Linda M. Schreiber published by TAB Books Inc. $13.95. A very earnest straightforward account. All right, but not very exciting!

Fun Mathematics on your Microcomputer (N/G) by Czes Kosniowski published by Cambridge University Press 5.95. For those of you who find maths enjoyable! Yes, we even find ourselves amongst Atari owners!

Programming your Atari Computer (A/G) by Mark Thompson published by TAB Books Inc. $11.50. Some good fundamental stuff here, it even gets down to Boolean algebra, Venn and Veitch diagrams, something you don't often find in the other books!

Compute!'s First Book of Atari Graphics {A/G) by the Editors of Compute! Magazine published by Compute! Books 10.95. Some very useful programs such as -Textplot and Superfont are included.

Compute!'s Second Book of Atari Graphics (A/G) by the Editors of Compute! Magazine published by Compute! Books 10.95. More graphic utilities like Fontbyter and Screenbyter make this a reasonable buy.

Making the most of your Atari (A/G) by Paul Bunn published by Interface Publications 8.95. What lets this book down is that it's really a 100 pager masquerading as a 178 one! Blank spaces proliferate! A pity because Paul has included some little gems of programming here.

Learning to use the Atari 400/800 Computer (A/G) by Susan Fry published by Gower Publishing Co. Ltd. 4.95. A good elementary introduction to the mysteries of the Atari.

Basic Exercises for the Atari (A/G) by J. P. Lamoitier published by Sybex $12.95. A series of programs for a number of financial and statistical applications. Clear but uninspired!

Maths + Computers = Fun (N/G) by G. T. Childs published by Sigma Technical Press 6.25. Although in Sharp and Apple Basic, the programs are easily transferable into our version. The level of maths range from primary to sixth form. A very enthusiastic approach has been adopted which works well.

Atari Adventures (A/G) by Tony Bridge published by Sunshine Books 5.95. A good introduction to adventuring, particularly of the D&D genre. A full length graphic/text adventure game 'The Eye of the Star Warrior' may be typed in. I must get around to it!

Hackerbook for your Atari Computer (A/X) by H. C. Wagner published by Hofacker GmbH $9.95. Strictly for the 'dyed in the wool' machine language programmer.

How to program your Atari in 6502 machine language (A/X) by Sam D. Roberts published by Hofacker GmbH $9.95. An expensive but reasonably clear explanation of this difficult topic.

 

DISPENSABLE

Atari Basic - Learning by Using (A/G) by Thomas E. Rowley published by Hofacker GmbH $9.95. Another book with a surfeit of blank spaces! Very bitty!

Games for the Atari (A/G) by Sam D. Roberts published by Hofacker GmbH $7.95. Some of this book isn't all that bad. Despite the title, there are a few sections concerned with game programming theory which are quite useful.

Compute!'s First Book of Atari (A/G) by the editors of Compute! Magazine published by Compute! Books 10.95. Compute!'s first attempt at anthologising articles from the magazine which wasn't completely successful. The inclusion of the then Marketing V. P.'s views are a yawn, and the comparison between Atari Basic and PET Microsoft Basic seems pointless, to say the least. Such articles may be justifiable in the monthly magazine, but in an anthology?!

Machine Language for Beginners (N/G) by Richard Mansfield published by Compute! Books 11.95. Here Atari has to share the book with Vic, C64, Apple & PET. So it is not too surprising that there are better books of this kind available in the U.S.

The Atari Basic Source Book (A/X) by Bill Wilkinson et at published by Compute! Books 10.95. Definitely for the masochists amongst us. This one gets a lot of rave reviews elsewhere, so be warned!

Inside Atari DOS (A/X) by Bill Wilkinson published by Compute! Books 14.95. You may blench at this price for 108 pages. However, 10% of Atari users will find it essential.

Advanced ATARI BASIC Tutorial (A/G) by Robert A. Peck published by Howard W. Sams & Co., Inc. $11.95. Tends to labour some of its points too much with consequent loss of impact.

Getting started on your Atari (A/G) by Hartnell & Bunn published by Futura Publications 2.95. This approach has been done so much better elsewhere. It has all the signs of a 'rush' job!

The Atari Assembler (A/X) by Inman & Inman published by Reston $12.95. A straightforward account and don't forget you'll need that Atari Assembler cartridge.

Home Applications and Games for the ATARI Home Computers (A/G) by Timothy P. Banse published by Little, Brown& Co. $14.50. A large format book, presumably to justify the price! Some useful but not exceptional games and applications programs.

Basic Computer Simulation (A/G) by Lawrence L. McNitt published by TAB Books Inc. $15.50. Over 300 pages of simulation programs in TR5-80 Basic which are easily convertible to Atari Basic. This could have been a much more interesting book considering the simulations selected.

Writing Strategy Games on your Atari computer (A/G) by John White published by Sunshine Books 5.95. If you're into strategy gaming, then this one is for you. I must type in Warp Trog sometime!

Games for your Atari (A/G) by Paul Bunn published by Virgin Books 2.95. A reasonable set of games listings at a most competitive price.

The Atari Book of Games (A/G) by James, Gee & Ewbank published by Granada Publishing 5.95. 21 unsensational games despite what it says on the back cover!

Get More From The Atari (A/G) by Ian Sinclair published by Granada Publishing 5.95. Done so much better elsewhere.

 

DISPOSABLE

Computer Tutor: Atari (A/G) by Orwig & Hodges published by Little, Brown & Co. $15.95. Another 300 page large format book. Programs in both Basic and Microsoft, but boring listings!

Awesome Games for your Atari Computer (A/G) by Renko & Edwards published by Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. 3.95. 'Awful Games...'. Need I go on?!

Sixty Programs for the Atari 400/600XL/800 (A/G) by Erskine et al. published by Pan Books 5.95. Only one program interested me enough to type it in. It wouldn't run, hence no support from me!

32 Basic Programs for the Atari computer (A/G) by Rugg et al. published by Dilithium Press $19.95. At first sight a very good book, then you type one in and the illusion is soon shattered!

Astrology - A look into the future (A/G) by Sam D. Roberts published by Hofacker GmbH $9.95. I typed it in, it wouldn't run and so I complained to the publishers who sent me a cassette which did. I had to polish it up in order to get rid of the American and Teutonic bias, but it works ok now. Having said that, the natal chart is screened in blue and white with graphics 8. To deny the Atari the chance of outputting this chart in 'glorious technicolor' seems very myopic... disappointing!

Stimulating Simulations (Atari version) 2nd Edition (A/G) by C. W. Engel published by Hayden Book Company Inc. $5.95. Bull! Another title that should be brought to the attention of the Advertising Standards Authority! 12 undistinguished listings.

Atari Sound and Graphics (A/G) by Albrechtet al. published by John Wiley & Sons $9.95. Avoid this one, you won't regret it. Very mediocre.

101 ATARI Computer Programming Tips & Tricks (A/G) by Alan North published by ARCsoft Publishers $8.95. The average length of these 'programs' is about 10 lines. Imagine how interesting they can get...ZZZZZZ..... Sorry!

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. ATARI Books Reviewed
by Cris Popenoe & Lee Pappas
ANALOG computing - No.12 JULY/AUGUST 1983
pp76 - 79

2. ATARI Book Reviews
by Lee Pappas
ANALOG computing - No.18 APRIL 1984
pp12 - 13

3. ANTIC Bookshelf (New Books for ATARI)
by the ANTIC staff
ANTIC (the ATARI resource) - Vol 3 No 9
JANUARY 1985 pp65 - 67

4. Ample ATARI Literature
Personal Computer News - PCN Micropaedia
Vol 17 Part 2 pp412 - 413

5. Book Reviews
by Jack Schofield
Practical Computing - OCTOBER 1984 pp179 - 180

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