Atari Results Program

1984 Archer Maclean

Platform: Atari 400/800

As our preservation work continues with the late Archer Maclean’s disks, we take a look at something a little different and unexpected that was found within his Atari 8-bit formatted disks.

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Archer’s program in action, and overlaid over the TV coverage – courtesy of Atari User magazine.

After developing his Defender and Stargate proof of concepts to get the attention of Atari UK, Archer had then done some freelance programming during 1983 to produce an Oil demonstration program, which was then repackaged up in 1984 for Atari to showcase how demonstrations could be produced with the hardware.

During the Spring of 1984, Archer revealed in his CV that he was tasked under contract to produce a new utility called the “Atari Results Program”. Described as a sophisticated sports event data processing and scoring program for use at televised sports venues.

Archer would have discussions with both Atari and London Weekend Television to develop specifications for the program, where he would then go on to write a working version within just 4 weeks – so that it could be used for the 1984 Lowenbrau Rapid Racing Canoeing Championship in Wales.

Afterwards, Archer would improve upon the code and add many new features, creating a final product with a 25 page operators manual that detailed all aspects of using the utility. Everything was written entirely in machine code (apart from some early tests) and was approximately 17K in length.

Within Archer’s disks, we found some source code and a build of his program – with data from one of the Rapid Racing events. Whilst also going through, we found an article that Archer had written about the program. It’s uncertain at this stage if the full article was ever printed anywhere (please let us know if you find it!), but we did find that Atari User magazine printed an article about the program in July 1985 – which may well have been based off of Archer’s words. We have included Archer’s original article within this page under Downloads.

Through Archer’s article and the Atari User article, we learn that Atari Results was used by ITV’s World Of Sport back in the April of both 1984 and 1985 during coverage of the Rapid Racing event in Bala, Wales. All the results were put into Archer’s program and the score displays were overlaid onto TV screens. Everything was ran using Archer’s very own Atari 800 and equipment.

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A screenshot from the actual program itself, with the very same results as is in the article.

We tried to find some video footage of the episodes when Archer’s program was used, but failed. Warren Pilkington however was much more on it, and found this clip from the 1985 event on YouTube, where you can see the scores overlaid:

It isn’t clear if the program was used much more beyond those two events, and Archer does not mention any other instances. It is assumed that it was – and so there could be numerous ITV related shows from that time which had sports results displayed. The look is very distinctive, so keep an eye out!

We have compiled together what we can in terms of the final build, and also an earlier BASIC concept demo – and it comes with the result data which was obtained during the 1985 Wales event. There is also the manual in full that we have extracted out in text format, but also in its raw Atari format too. To run the program, binary load in “results” and then run at $4000. A very interesting early piece of Archer Maclean history preserved.

With huge thanks to Chris Wilkins (Fusion Retro Books) for the loan of Archer’s disks to preserve and permission to add executables to the site, Alan Hammerton for hardware help, Mat Allen for the flippy PC drive loan and Bertrand / Atari Frog for guidance and help with tools and formats.

In memory of Archer Maclean – 28 January 1962 – 17 December 2022.



2 Responses to Atari Results Program

  1. Managed to find a Youtube clip of the 1985 Rapid Racing event from World of Sports with the scores overlaid at 0:17 and 4:11.

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