The Atari personal computer is perhaps the most powerful video graphics computer available today for under $2000. Its designers have given it capabilities far beyond those of other personal computers in the same price bracket. It can outperform many computers that are much more expensive.
These graphics capabilities offer the opportunity to use good video displays with your programs. Good graphics can dress up ordinary business programs, make educational programs more enticing, and make or break a game program. A few graphics-display additions will communicate ideas to a program user much more quickly and conveniently than a strictly textual presentation will.
This Handy Guide has been written to teach beginning and intermediate programmers how to use Atari BASIC graphics. You will need to know Atari BASIC, the language most often used on the Atari. It will also be convenient to have the Atari BASIC Reference Manual at hand as a reference, although this is not absolutely necessary. To learn from this Handy Guide effectively, you should have access to an Atari 400 or Atari 800 computer. While it is possible to learn the graphics commands without actually trying them on a computer, entering the sample programs and seeing the results on the TV screen makes it easy to understand just how the commands work.
The material following this introduction is arranged to take you through Atari BASIC graphics programming in a logical and thorough manner. We first discuss basic terms and concepts important to graphics programming. Then we examine each of the Atari BASIC commands used for generating video graphics:
Following this is a section on new graphics capabilities available on Atari computers equipped with a GTIA chip. The final section presents some ways to make graphics programming easier and more effective. In the appendices, there are charts for the display modes and the ATASCII code. Plate 4 on the inside back cover is a color table showing available hues using the Atari SETCOLOR command.