Second reading tip on Wired today! An interesting about the Atari2600 hardware and hacking techniques, that the programmers used back in the days. Basically they had to use to the freely designed techniques, because the hardware had no frame-buffer. The programmers became “real-time riders of the videobeam”.

“The Atari VCS had a miniscule 128 bytes (that’s bytes) of RAM, not nearly enough for a frame buffer. So programmers had to generate graphics literally in real time, drawing on the screen as the television screen’s electron gun was passing over the tube.”


The article is wrapped around a new book from the MIT Media Lab, called “Racing the beam“, completely dedicated to the Atari 2600 hardware, written by media studies professors Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost.

More about this interesting technique and the book at Wired.

Blog - Date published: March 14, 2009 | 1 Comment

A reader has left 1 comment, join him/her.

  1. jonathan said:

    Thanks for the link.

    I ran across the following from an ACM 97 talk ( –

    Nathan’s 4th Law of Software : Software is only limited by human ambition & expectation.

    I think what was achieved with the Atari VCS supports this “law” nicely.