Sound Effects in BASIC (30-60 mins)

Task: Program Sound Effects in BASIC

Needed: BASIC

Time: 30-60 minutes


The Atari 8-bit computers had a pretty decent sound chip called the POKEY. POKEY is an acronym for Pot Keyboard Integrated Circuit. The POKEY generated four-voice sound and had some other functions such as monitoring the paddle controllers. Here is the Wikipedia page for the POKEY.

I recall having great fun playing with sound in BASIC on my Atari 400 and 800. It is really easy to set up some simple loops to generate really cool sound effects. With a bit more work you can also play music. The goal of this exercise is to try out some simple sound effects in BASIC. I took these from a book by Hal Glicksman of DataMost called “The Musical Atari” (1984) about making music with the Atari. Here is an interview with Glicksman from the Antic podcast.


Here are a few of the sound effects from Glicksman’s book. I made a few minor changes and have tested them all myself on my Atari 800. Here is the text file: Sound Effects

Sound Effects


If you want to explore more with sound I highly recommend the book mentioned here. You can even turn your Atari into an organ!