Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Retrotechtacular: How I wrote Pitfall for the Atari 2600

I adored writing assembly language for the Apple back in, err, 1984?  Somehow it felt very "clean", things would be completely inscrutable until you tweaked just the right bit and then everything would pop in to place.  Then the program was rock-solid, doing exactly what you told it incredibly efficiently and quickly.  Of course it never did exactly what you wanted, but that was the fun of it.

The "C" language had some of the clarity of assembly, and the advantage it would crash hard if you asked it to do something silly.  Writing a device driver in C++ (what luxury!) was fun because it would do different things depending on if I was writing debug statements or not.  The console was 9600 baud, and the code was timing-dependent, so writing code so you could see what you were doing... changed what you were doing!   As a perk, if you did something unexpected the machine would hard-lock, requiring a long and luxurious 40-second reboot.  What fun!

More common languages are too "fluffy", they always do things; there's no time consequence for writing loose code.  Ah well.  I adore Python and even though working with it for many years I still really enjoy it and learn new things.

I imagine this guy knows *exactly* what I'm talking about:
Retrotechtacular: How I wrote Pitfall for the Atari 2600

No comments:

Post a Comment