Atari 7800 goes open source

In a somewhat belated move calculated to “give potential developers insight into the Atari’s gaming platform so they may possibly build upon the 7800 series,” Atari has released the source code to several awesome but rarely-played Atari 7800 games, including Dig Dug, Centipede, Joust, and Pac-Man. I’m not sure the 7800 is really competing these days, Atari, but we appreciate your contribution nonetheless.

I would have guessed that the widely available complete ROM dumps of these games would have made a release like this unnecessary, but that’s apparently not true. Clearly there’s more to these old games than their assets and final code. There are also some internal utilities released, dev systems and such. Be sure to check the notice at the bottom of the Atari Museum page, by the way. Very funny.

They’re really getting into over at Reddit, where I found this, and one of the commenters (jeffbell) is actually a former Atari coder whose work is in this release! How cool is that? He says:

Hey! That’s my code!

I worked on Robotron in the Summer of ’83. I was going into my Junior year at MIT, and I was working at General Computer Corporation in Cambridge. The next summer I worked on Rescue on Fractalus. Then Jack Trameil bought Atari and it all ground to a halt.

It was 6502 assembly. There was 4k RAM, and carts could be 16K or 32K. I’m not sure how you would run it without a Maria chip emulator.

Very nice. Thanks, dude, Robotron is great (played it last week at Wiimbledon) and Rescue on Fractalus was awesome (and scary when you’re a kid).

[image and via: ProgrammerFish]