Orphaned Computers & Game Systems

Vol. I, Issue 3    December 1994

Essential Atari 8-Bit Programs

by Adam Trionfo

This column covers Atari Public Domain and Shareware, which is free or low-priced software for your Atari 8-Bit computer that's available almost anywhere. "Atari 8-bit" includes all the following computers: Atari 400, 800, 1200XL, 600XL, 800XL, 65XE, 130XE and XEGS. If you have one of these computers and enough memory, there are a few programs that you should have in your software library that make tasks with these computers easier.

The following programs are all Shareware, which means that they can be downloaded from GEnie, CompuServe or any BBS that still supports the Atari 8-bits. If you decide after you use any program that it will work well for you, then the author of each program (in this case, Robert Puff) requests a donation, to help defray the cost of making the program. I know that not everyone has access to online services. In fact, there are people with modems who don't use them, because of the lack of software or knowledge. For these people, following the article, I will include the addresses of some PD software services that support the Atari 8-bits.


by Robert Puff

This is the most powerful menu-driven DOS there is for the Atari. Period. It is set up just like Atari DOS 2.0, but has many added features. In fact, this is the only DOS that supports the XF551 disk drives with true double-sided double-density disks, for a massive 3,000 sectors of storage per disk!

This DOS also supports RAM disks. RAM disks are kept in memory only, and are lost when the computer is shut off. The advantage of a RAM disk is that anything that is stored on it is accessible almost instantly! RAM disks are particularly useful when downloading from a BBS.

MYDOS also lets you create subdirectories. This is an essential if you have a hard disk drive! In fact, if you plan on purchasing a hard disk drive, you must use MYDOS or SpartaDOS (which works much like IBM DOS, as there is no menu and it is command-driven).

If you only play games on your Atari, this DOS may not be needed. If you use your 8-bit for anything else, and I mean anything, MYDOS will make your Atari a more pleasant machine.

Super ARC and UNARC

by Robert Puff

Sometimes, you may come across a program that is called something like this: NAME.ARC. You will not be able to use this program unless you UNARC it. ARC stands for "archive." When you need to save disk space, you ARC a file. This process is often called "compressing a file." An ARCed file usually consists of a few files, including documentation and all the separate files that make the main program run. When you download a file, it is almost always ARCed, or compressed in some fashion. This is done because it makes downloading software much faster.

Robert's utility can be used to UNARC almost any ARCed program, even ARCed files created by a different archive program. If you plan to send public-domain programs to anyone, use this utility to fit more programs onto a disk. One interesting note is that a program ARCed on the Atari is able to be UNARCed on almost any other computer.

Disk Communicator 3.2 (a.k.a. DiskCom 3.2)

by Robert Puff

DiskCom is similar to ARC in that they are both used to shrink files. ARC should be used primarily to make just a few files smaller, while DiskCom is for compressing a complete disk, keeping everything in the same sector so that DOS can read the disk correctly. It may seem redundant to have two different programs that apparently do the same thing, but each has a separate function. DiskCom should be used whenever a program to copy is self-booting, or looks for data in specific sectors. To make the file really small, you may ARC a DiskCom file!

These are the utilities that I primarily use. They make my computing tasks easier, and take away much of the drudgery. I recommend these programs very highly! Go ahead and order from one of the following companies -- you won't regret it!

L.A.P.D. carries great programs, including many that were once commercial. They have a wonderful disk-based catalogue, which costs $1.00. The prices are $2.00 per side of disk with no minimum purchase.

Lake Almanor Public Domain (L.A.P.D.) C/O Stefanee Hoffee
333 Peninsula Drive
Lake Almanor, CA 96137
GEnie: S.Hoffee2

      M.W.P.D.S. also carries many programs. The catalogue is not disk-based, though. The neat idea behind this library is that they fill up all available space on both disk-sides. They have a minimum order of five disks, and each costs $2.50.