|Altirra||The best, most polished and complete emulator for Atari 8-bit systems|
|Atari800Win Plus||Excellent emulator for 8-bit Ataris|
|Atari800||An Atari 800, 800XL, 130XE and 5200 emulator for Unix, Amiga, MS-DOS, Atari TT/Falcon, SDL and WinCE. A freely distributable portable emulator!|
|Atari++||The Atari++ Emulator is a Unix and Win32 based emulator of the Atari eight bit computers, namely the Atari 400 and 800, the Atari 400XL, 800XL and 130XE, and the Atari 5200 game console. The emulator is auto-configurable and will compile on a variety of systems (Win32, Linux, Solaris, Irix).|
|Xformer 2000||Another good emulator|
|Atari800MacX||Macintosh OS X Port of David Firth's Fantastic Atari 800 Emulator|
|A8E||A8E is a freeware Atari 800 XL emulator. It uses the SDL library for the user interface and the audio and graphics (via OpenGL) output.|
Atari800Win Plus for beginners
This emulator is widely used by PC based users on Windows platform. It is easy to use, you have many options which can be set to your own taste. For example machine type, RAM on-board, artifacting, disk speed-up, you can even speed up native programs by 3x to 7x or more, depending on the speed of your computer.
Here is quick and brief explanation of some important aspect of this great Atari 8-bit emulator. I used two ways of screen capturing. The first is directly from program, by pressing F10 key, which enable you to capture anything on emulator screen without program menus. The second way is freeware screen capture program for capturing anything on the PC screen. Back to the topic...
Running the program
Depending on how emulator is set, it runs in three different ways. Run the program and we will go through all three ways.
- friendly blue screen with cursor on it:
- short information on first line of the screen:
- green screen with four options to select from:
Setting the program to emulate Atari 8-bit
Let's say we see the last screen in emulator. What's this? A self-test program integrated in Atari ROM. I will not go through details how to use it or what it does, you can experiment by yourself and you will figure out very quickly. Now, what to do next? How to play games? Well, first of all, to run program properly, you have to set Atari Operating System and Atari BASIC. These files can be found here. Unzip the file and go to emulator menu Atari and select menu item ROM images. Set everything as it is shown on this screen.
Switching Atari BASIC ON or OFF
That's it, you can forget these settings now, your emulator is set for running your Atari 8-bit programs and games. First you have to decide, what do you want to do. For example, to play machine language game or program in Atari BASIC. Go to menu Atari and click Settings. There is an option Disable BASIC when booting Atari.
If you mark it, your Atari BASIC (or whatever BASIC you use) will not be active no more. It is like pressing Option function key when booting real Atari. The opposite is possible when you unmark this option.
To set emulator for Atari 400/800 or, let's say, Atari 800XL, you have to check menu Atari by clicking Machine Type menu item:
Play a game
Now it's time for a game. This emulator can simulate drives by default, more specifically eight of them. These can be chosen by selecting File menu and Attach disk item. You select first drive as primary drive and select Atari file to run. Here you can download a very nice game called Keystone Kapers to try it in the emulator. You are a policeman who must capture arrestant who escaped. Before you start playing the game, here is a list of keys you will use most often. These correspond to keys on real Atari: F2 - Start, F3 - Select, F4 - Option and F5 - Reset.
Funny and challenging game, isn't it? To start the game, press F2 (Start), F4 (Start) in old version of emulator.
To reset game or come back to DOS just press F5, which simulates cold start on real hardware, Reset key, more specifically. For warm start, press Shift and F5 together. It is like turning off real Atari and turn it on.
Using Atari BASIC
Do you want to program in Atari BASIC? No problem, just umark option Disable BASIC when booting Atari and you are ready. If you booted up with Atari BASIC correctly, something similar to this is shown on your screen:
Now type-in program below and type RUN and press RETURN to run your masterpiece.
Hej, your Atari is happy and greets everybody outhere, especially you :)
That's it. READY message appears and your trusty Atari awaits for further commands. Note that Atari BASIC files can be called in two ways: tokenized and raw (with no tokenz) form. What does that mean? When you CSAVE or SAVE file to cassette or disk, you save also all variables with the program. When you CLOAD or LOAD such a program, all variables are loaded too. To save the program without variables you have to LIST it (LIST "C:" or LIST "D:") to selected media and read it with ENTER command: ENTER "C:" or ENTER "D:", depending on media you use.
Extra features of emulator
You can use some function keys in the emulator for special purposes like speeding up your programs and games by pressing F7 key, F10 for screen capture like I did for this short manual. You can also speed up disk IO operations, resulting in faster disk access. You do that by selecting menu Atari and choosing item Settings. There is Enable SIO patch for fast disk access, so you mark it to enable faster disk access. Real speed performer, try it.
There are many more options and features you can use in this emulator. Try it, don't be afraid, experimenting is best teacher. In time you will become an expert in using it and especially in using Atari and its best features and deepest misteries ;)