Explore Mandelbrot Set Fractals on an Atari 8-Bit Computer (10-15 mins)

Task: Explore Mandelbrot Set Fractals on an Atari 8-Bit Computer

Needed: Web Browser, Emulator

Time: 10-15 mins


I have been a fan of fractals since I discovered them in college. I even wrote some software for exploring the fractal features of DNA sequences when I was in graduate school. I have tried several fractal software packages for the Atari 8-bit computer, but have not really liked any of them. However, I recently played with with a Mandelbrot set explorer coded in 10 lines of BASIC by D. Scott Williamson. This is really easy to use and produces some interesting images. The project and software are described in one of his blog posts.


The ATR file with the BASIC program and code can be downloaded here. I recommend using an emulator such as Altirra given this would run very slowly on real hardware.

Load the ATR file in Altirra with the BASIC cartridge enabled. Load the program from BASIC with LOAD “D:MANDELBR.BAS”.

Press the fire button (CTRL key in Altirra) to start. Use the arrow keys to cycle to a new set of parameters to try. These are pre-specified.

I recommend trying this with the Altirra emulator using the ‘Warp Speed’ option under the System menu. This will speed up the graphics tremendously allowing for the fractals to be visualized more fluidly.

Mandelbrot Image
Mandelbrot Image


Definitely explore Williamson’s blog post. He has some nice pictures and videos as well as a number of details about the software including different parameters to try.