Atari Basic and Bill Wilkinson
Hello there Bill. I was wondering whether you are the Bill Wilkinson who created the first Atari Basic - or whether it's somebody else called the same. I was just installing an ATARI 800XL emulator on my PC to see how much Basic I remembered, when I couldn't work out how to save to the emulator's disk drive. CSAVE and CLOAD were fine, but I wanted to use the normal SAVE and LOAD commands to store files on the disk drive.<BR><BR>Well, I was just wondering, if you are indeed that Bill Wilkinson who worked on the first Atari Basic, then maybe you have somewhere lying around a list of commands and how to use them somewhere. I searched and searched Google but couldn't find a reference of all commands. The tutorials I found don't seem to to work on the emulator, so maybe that's what's wrong.<BR><BR>Anyway, just thought I'd ask.<BR><BR>Oliver.
He is a FBI Agent...<BR><BR>http://www.cpa.org.au/garchve1/962fas.htm
That is, <BR> SAVE "D1:filename.ext"<BR><BR>Remember, only 8 characters in a file name.<BR><BR>This isn't really a BASIC question so much as it is an OS/DOS question. The Atari OS was maybe the first one that practiced true device independence. The OS understood the basic devices (e.g., "K:" or "K1:" was the keyboard, "P:" or "P1:" was the printer). You loaded a device driver into memory and told the OS what letter it was using (D for the disk drive) and then you had available "D1:" through "D9:" for individual devices (drives). Everything after the colon was the responsibility of the driver. So even though Atari DOS only supported a flat file system (no subdirectories) and only 8 character names, there were later third party DOS'es that had full hierarchical directories and arbitrary names. Towards the very end of the 8-bit machines' life, I wrote a new DOS for Atari ("DOS XE") that *did* have hierachical directories. So if you had the emulator for that DOS you could use<BR> SAVE "D3:docs/Oliver/working/toBill.txt"<BR>But good luck finding a copy of DOS XE. I think they never peddled it in the US; mostly only in South America.<BR><BR>That brings me to another point: If you don't have a DOS emulator loaded, along with the BASIC emulator, then you won't be able to use pseudo-disk files, of course.<BR><BR>I googled and came up with some interesting links:<BR>http://www3.sympatico.ca/maury/other_stuff/atari_basic.html<BR>-- good evaluation, but he leaves out one important part: Atari BASIC used *decimal* arithmetic. How many posts have you seen in these forums about unexpected results because VBScript uses binary arithmetic?<BR><BR>I found your missing quick reference card:<BR>http://www.atari-portal.net/modules.php?name=Encyclopedia&op=content&tid=54<BR >-- How'd you miss this one? Googled for "atari basic commands" and this one was #10 on the list<BR><BR>Hmmm...amazing how many things about the old beast are still online! My name is taken in vain in lots of places. Makes me feel weird, like the archaeologists are already digging up my bones.
One of the weird things...
...about the Atari was that it didn't really check whether a given device was capable of accepting the output you handed it (it did check for read-only and write-only devices, though).<BR><BR>So you *could* do<BR> SAVE "P:"<BR>and get the tokenized BASIC program sent to the printer. It might make the printer do funny things, but...<BR><BR>It's one reason Atari never bothered with "LISTP" (LIST to Printer) and the like: You just did <BR> LIST "P:"<BR>and presto. But by the same token, you could do<BR> LIST "M:"<BR>to send a listing to the modem or<BR> LIST "S:"<BR>to send it to the screen and, of course,<BR> LIST "D2:MyProg.txt"<BR>to send it to a disk file.<BR><BR>
Thank you for your reply and...
...sorry I didn't answer any earlier. I've been on holiday, then work was busy, so I only posted in the other forums, and then I forgot about my post. The link to the commands is invaluable - don't know how I missed that. I think I need some training on how to use a search engine properly.<BR><BR>I'll play around with the emulator a bit more later. It's such a fun program and I might dig out some of the listing magazines from yonks ago and see whether I can spend another long night inputting line after line of code to get a half-decent game running - just like in the old days. :-)<BR><BR>Thank you again for your help, Bill,<BR>Oliver.
Here goes my question. I have analyzed the DOS XE file system, and found out many things about it, but there are some remaining questions, e.g. the method of mapping files longer than 360k etc. Also some values in the bootsector and directory remain unclear. Finally, I am not sure, if all my guesses are correct. So I thought you perhaps might help.
Originally Posted by Bill Wilkinson
Also I would like to know, if DOS XE is capable of building its file system on a disk with 512-byte sectors, and if it is possible somehow to force DOS XE to write correct file system to a, say, 16 MB hard disk partition (which is perfectly possible in SpartaDOS, for example, and I see that the DOS XE filesystem should be capable of mapping at least 16 MB correctly).
Thanks in advance.
Atari 800XL was my first computer - the one I learned programming on. I still have a few 5-inch diskettes somewere with the games I wrote for it using Basic... I wish there was a way to read those disks and make that stuff run in an emulator. But even if there is, I doubt a diskette can survive 22 years. Well, too bad, what's gone is gone
Sad to say, I do not have a copy of DOS XE myself and do not have the source code for it. Part of the agreement with Atari when I wrote it was that they owned it, lock, stock, and barrel.
*AS I RECALL*, I wrote it so that it was table-based. You could add a disk-drive by adding an entry in the table that would describe it. Sector size, number of sectors, etc.
But please don't hold me to that! I had the best of intentions when I created DOS XE, but Atari was killing off the 8-bit machines at the time (no longer actively marketing them in the USA...primarily selling them in South America I was given to understand) and I can't be sure that all of the stuff I gave Atari ever made it into the released product. Understand, I *NEVER* received a copy of the final released product!
Wish I could tell you more, but I just don't have any of the code to remind me. And that was now over 20 years ago. It's terrible when you get old and senile. *SIGH*
p.s.: I still have one or two Atari 8-bit computers in the garage, but none of them have been turned on since we moved to this house in October 1993.
Thank you for the reply. Well, I was afraid about something like that, after all 20 years have passed and there's probably nobody whose memory could hold such details for that long. But still there was a slight chance that you had the source code or some notes about it.
DOS XE can be downloaded (for example) here:
This is a zipped disk image, bootable under an emulator. The DOS was sold together with the Atari XF551 disk drive, not only in South America, but also in Europe.
An emulator can be found here:
It looks a bit odd on my laptop under Windows, but in FreeBSD it is okay.
I don't want to be annoying, I understand that you're probably busy and not even slightly interested in that stuff anymore, but the point is, that there is completely no information on the DOS XE internals and its filesystem anywhere. So I thought that, perhaps, if I post my notes about the findings and guesses on the DOS XE file system, you could recall some details or give some clues (or correct errors).
If you could take a look at this, I will post it tomorrow or so. It won't be any problem, if you don't have time for that.