The Atari Video Computer System (VCS)
Processor: 6507 (I slightly stripped down version of the 6502)
RAM: 128 bytes
ROM: 4K Cartridge ROM space without bankswitching
Sound: TIA custom Atari graphics/sound chip.Graphics: TIA custom Atari graphics/sound chip
Graphics RAM: None
Sprites: 2, 8 bit wide; 2, 3, 1 bit wide; All sprites full screen height
Background Graphics: 40 pixels wide by 192 lines high.
I/O: Joystick and console switch IO handled byte 6532 RIOT and TIA
Ports: 2 Joystick ports, 1 Cartridge port, Power in, RF output
This is my favorite site or Atari console news, and information. It covers the 2600, 5200, 7800, Lynx and Jaguar. Also check out the excellent message board, you may see a post from me on there.
Kevin is a classic video game tech guru, especially for the 2600. His page is going to have a lot of tech info on the 2600 as well as other systems. Check it out!
This site has a small collection of useful 2600 related documents.
This is an archive of all the messages from the Stella Programming Mailing List. This is currently one of the best places to discuss 2600 programming and the archive contains a lot a good information and source code.
This is a nice orginized archive or 2600 source code that has been posted to the Stella mailling list.
Stella Programming Guide (PDF): The official Atari 2600 (Stella) programming manual from Atari.
Changing Atari VCS Graphics - The Easy Way by Adam Trionfo
This tutorial explains two easy methods that may be used to change the graphics in an Atari 2600 / VS game. A step-by-step example is provided that gives the details on how to change the graphics in "Space Invaders." No programming experience is required to follow these instructions.
2600gfx.zip: These programs allow you to extract graphics from Atari 2600 binary files into a text file, then turn the text file back into a binary. You can use these programs to put your own graphics into 2600 games.
distella.zip: This is an excellent
Atari 2600 cartridge disassembler. I creates re-assembleable code,
puts in register labels, and automatically separates data from code.
One of the easiest ways of doing 2600 development is to simply run you code on an emulator. There are a number of emulators currently available for MSDOS, Windows, and other platforms. For development work I recommend PC Atari by John Dullea.
Here are some links to good 2600 emulators:
- This is a very good emulator that runs on Linux, Unix, MSDOS, Power Mac, and Windows. The page has full source code and binaries.
- Virtual 2600
- A 2600 emulator for Unix. This is the emulator that my Virtual VCS is based on.
- Z26 Home Page :
- Another good 2600 emulator with source code available.
Virtual VCS V0.60:
Virtual VCS is an MSDOS port of the x2600 VCS emulator (later now known as Virtual 2600) which was written by Alex Hornby. This was the first emulation project I worked on and I was quite proud of the results. I have stopped further development on it since it has been superceeded by other much better 2600 emulators, and because I have moved onto other projects. I am leaving the source and binary here for educational purposes.
Virtual VCS and x2600 are distributed under the terms of the GNU Public Licence.
Due to the flood of good Atari 2600 emulators in the past few months I will not be doing any future development on VVCS. I am very glad to have provided the first non-commercial Atari 2600 emulator for MSDOS and to have given a boost to some of the later 2600 authors, who's emulators are now superior to mine.
The following are schematics that I have traced out by hand. I cannot guarantee that these schematics are accurate, or that they are the same for all versions of a piece of equipment. These where all draw with Orcad, exported to a DXF file, imported into Corel Photopaint, then exported as a GIF.