Play Gold Rush! from Compute! Magazine on an Atari 8-Bit Computer (10-15 mins)

Task: Play Gold Rush from Compute! Magazine on an Atari 8-Bit Computer

Needed: Web Browser, Emulator, and/or Floppy Disk

Time: 10-15 mins


It was common in the early 1980s to get software by typing in program listings from magazines like Antic or Compute!. This was partly because new Atari home computers didn’t come with software. A new Atari 400 or 800 in 1979 or 1980 only shipped with memo pad. All you had to do was buy a BASIC cartridge and a magazine and you were in business. One of the first BASIC games I recall typing in was Gold Rush! from a 1982 issue of Compute!. We had an Atari 400 and 410 that year hooked up to the color TV in the family room. It was tedious to type in these programs and they never worked the first time. The first order of business was to correct the numerous typos, and there were many when using the membrane keyboard of the 400. Gold Rush! was extra frustrating because it still didn’t work once we were sure we had fixed all the typos and the code matched exactly what was in the magazine. Of course, we had to wait two months until the September issue (see page 196) came out to discover that there was a correction to the program listing. There were two RESTORE commands which were wrong. Once we made that fix the game worked! I recall this being a fun little game. I also recall changing the code to up the number of lives. As a side note, the game name conflicted with an already published game so they had to later change the name to Gold Miner.

The gameplay is pretty simple. The goal is to bring as much gold as you to the surface (to the $ at the top) as you can before you lose all five lives. The fire button sets off one of 10 dynamite sticks you have for each of the five lives thus freeing up the gold.


You can download the BASIC code (GOLDRUSH.BAS file) from Atarimania. I have created an ATR file with the BASIC program included. You can boot this in Altirra or burn a floppy using SIO2PC and Atarimax ProSystem and play on original hardware. From BASIC, you can run this game using LOAD “D:GOLDRUSH.BAS” followed by RUN.

Gold Rush
Gold Rush


It wouldn’t be too hard to update this game with player-missile graphics for more fluid player movement. Could be a fun coding project.

Note that the screenshot on Atarimania is not accurate. Not sure where that came from. See the one I took above.

I did a post on using checksum programs to check typed-in programs like this.