Dr Boo's Woodgrain Wizadry

This tiki/wiki contains technical information about the Atari 2600 game system. The purpose is to provide a central repository of technical data, tips and tricks that will make it easier to find out how things work on the machine. This is a bit of curated collection and central repository for all the technical stuff that's previously been spread all over the web, and occasionally lost to history.


If you can contribute to pages, please feel free to do so.

This site is free to use, and draws on contributions from lots of people.


We are real programmers here, and 1K is 1024 bytes. None of this quiche-eating SI-unit rubbish for us!


Programming for NewbiesA complete beginner's guide to programming the '2600 in assembly language.

Hardware Registers

TIADetails of the Television Interface Adaptor registers
PIAPeripheral Interface Adaptor (RIOT)

Techincal Stuff

Playfield TimingAn in-depth study of timing writes to playfield registers
Clock SpeedsClock speeds for NTSC, PAL, PAL-M and SECAM systems
Memory MapWhere everything lives in the 6507's address space
Colour DefinitionExplanation about colours and differences on systems
Collision MatrixEasy-to-use collision register details
SoundExplanation of how sound works
Sound Frequency
and Waveform Guide
Details on sound registers
Bank SwitchingComplete list of bankswitching schemes and how they work
48 Pixel Routine A walkthrough of the famous 48 pixel routine
Introduction to Processor HardwareA look at the access to the address and data bus
TIA Hardware Notes
by Andrew Towers
Analysis of how the machine works from a study of the schematics


Stella Programmer's GuideThe original!
TIA Technical ManualA bit more hardware-centric

External Resources

The {stella} mailing listan amazing historical archive of homebrew programming in the late '90s and early 2000's. Full of tips and tricks.
Atari VCS/2600 TIA ChipsA comprehensive list of TIA variants
Atari 2600 TIA Schematics
and backup
at AtariAge
playerpal 2600 online tool lets you edit player graphics and animations