Atari BASIC is an interpreter for the BASIC programming language that shipped with the Atari 8-bit family of 6502-based home computers. Unlike most American BASICs of the home computer era, Atari BASIC is not a derivative of Microsoft BASIC and differs in significant ways. It includes keywords for Atari-specific features and lacks support for string arrays, for example.
The language was distributed as an 8 KB ROM cartridge for use with the 1979 Atari 400 and 800 computers. Starting with the 600XL and 800XL in 1983, BASIC is built into the system.
Despite the Atari 8-bit computers running at a higher speed than most of its contemporaries, several technical decisions placed Atari BASIC near the bottom in performance benchmarks. The original authors addressed most of these issues in a series of improved versions: BASIC A+ (1981), BASIC XL (1983), and BASIC XE (1985). A host of third-party interpreters and compilers like Turbo-Basic XL also appeared.
The complete, annotated source