Dump Your Atari Computer Screen to Printer or Disk (10-15 mins)

Task: Dump Your Atari Computer Screen to Printer or Disk

Needed: Screen dump utility like Magic Dump II

Time: 10-15 mins


I loved computer graphics back in the day. I used to write BASIC programs to draw interesting graphics on the screen. I also had the Atari Artist cartridge and Touch Tablet that was loads of fun. I still have my original tablet and picked up a boxed one in a local lot recently. As much fun as this was, I recall being frustrated at the time getting my images onto a printer. There weren’t easy ways to save or print images from the screen in the early days of Atari computers. It wasn’t long before screen dump utilities came out. I recently got the Magic Dump II cartridge by Sar-An Computer Products that was released in 1983. This is a rare right cartridge that allows you to pause whatever program you are running to dump the image on the screen to a printer or to a file on disk or cassette. I gave this a try recently on my Atari 800 and it works like a charm. Here is what I did if you are lucky enough to land one of these cartridges. I scanned the manual and uploaded it to the Internet Archive for reference.

Magic Dump II Screen Shot
Magic Dump II Screen Shot


Step 1

Insert the Magic Dump II cartridge into the right cartridge slot on an Atari 800.

Magic Dump II Cartridge
Magic Dump II Cartridge in Atari 800

Step 2

Boot the Atari and run the software with the screen you wish to get the dump from.

Step 3

Hold down the CTRL key and press ESC. Then press any other key. This will pause your software and load the Magic Dump II menu screen (see above).

Step 4

Select the Save Screen option by pressing the P key. This will toggle saving the dump to disk.

Step 5

Press the Start button to begin the dump to disk. Magic Dump automatically gives the file a name. The manual says that is saves the file as screen.md2 but mine was saved as E.C. Go figure!

Step 6

To view the saved file simply do a binary load (L) from DOS and bingo! 

Magic Dump II Cartridge Case
Magic Dump II Cartridge Case


I only did the save screen to disk option since I don’t have an Epson or other compatible printer. For grins I tried it with my 820 printer but that of course did not work and printed out garbled characters. The instruction manual notes that after the dump you may not be able to pick up where you left off. This makes sense depending on the complexity of the software you are using. Also, I I tried this with a game cartridge in the left slot (Qix) and it didn’t seem to work very well. It didn’t know my disk drive was there and defaulted to trying to save it to cassette. Similar experience with commercial disk-based games. I will play with it some more but it is very cool. Here is a list of other screen dump utilities on Atari Mania.

Magic Dump II Cartridge
Magic Dump II Cartridge