First Steps

Mike Reynolds-Jones


Issue 1

Dec 82/Jan 83

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First steps will be a column of hints and tips to help you get started with your Atari. It will not teach you how to write programs but will try and give answers to the many little problems you face when first beginning. Write in with the Problems you experienced when you first had your Atari and tell us how you solved them.

Mike Reynolds-Jones writes

One of the first things to do, and a good way to learn is to type in program listings from the magazines. Computer and Video Games, Personal Computing Today and Micro Computer Printout (as well as Page 6! -Ed) are English Magazines that carry Atari listings whilst Compute!, Antic and Analog are the best American Magazines. (Drop Page 6 a line if you can't find these in your local shop). This is how I started but I soon found that the information available was not very clear in certain areas, for example, lines too long to fit memory, clearing the screen, printing of graphics symbols, finding errors, all presented problems.

Firstly, when typing listings try POKE 82, 0 without entering a line number. This will set the left margin from its normal position of 2 to zero which will give you six extra spaces in each logical line. Most listings are printed this way so you will be able to see if your typing is correct as the screen display will line up exactly with the listing. If you press SYSTEM RESET at any tine you will have to re-POKE.

Printers cannot print graphic or control characters so check the write up accompanying the listing very carefully. In many listings you will see a bracket in inverted commas, "}" which represents the CLEAR SCREEN Command "" obtained by pressing the ESC Key, then CTRL, and CLEAR together. The "bent arrow" should then appear. Check your Basic Reference Manual - Preface vii and Appendix Fl for further information.

It is well worth buying additional books to go with your manual. Several good publications are available but by far the best is 'Your Atari Computer - a guide to ATARI 400/800 personal computers' by Lon Poole, Martin McNiff and Steven Cook. Published by Osborne McGraw - Hill at around 10.00, this is the Atari 'Bible' and contains everything you may need at every level of experience. There are 11 chapters and 453 pages covering Basic, Advanced Basic, Disk Drives, Printers, Tape Recorder, Graphics, Sound etc., with a large Appendix covering PEEK and POKE, ERROR Messages, Codes, Characters and Key strokes. This book is invaluable - it will remain your constant reference guide.