Atari & humour - an impossible combination? Computers normally have no sense of humour and all attempts to teach computers dirty jokes using artificial intelligence failed - a ZX81 is as funny as a mainframe. Some people might say that Windows 95 is the quantum leap in humouristic software because of obscure crashes and the slogan "Plug & Play" which is probably meant ironically because Win95 will recognize every card except the ones you have installed in your computer.
Now, PC users have Windows but what about the Atari users? Many programmers have written programs with absolutely no use but some humouristic elements, and don't be scared - they won't waste 80 MB of your hard disk!
I won't give a rating for these programs because humour is sujective.
Ease, Thing, Neodesk, jinnee - these are the ones you have heard of, but have you ever heard of "System"? It's an old program which attempts to be a desktop replacement. Upon starting you will see the ST's standard desktop with one window open. If you try to close the window an alert box will appear: "Do not close the window! That smell is unbearable!". Even a crash is simulated: Four bombs apear and one moves across the screen faster and faster until it moves back to the three others and they all appear. The only way to quit is by pressing the reset key.
System was programmed in 1986/87 and some allusions like the ongoing dispute between Amiga and Atari users are typical for that time. If you double click on the trash icon two alert boxes will appear: 1) "Don't throw away your computer just because you don't like the operating system" 2) "Be happy that you don't have an Amiga!".
Unfortunately, the program is entirely in German.
Tu nix (do nothing) is a strange program which claims to do absolutely nothing for ten seconds. It is only 75 Bytes long and must therefore be one of the smallest programs on the ST.
Author: Reiner Rosin
The unofficial successor of Tu nix is doing something during the ten seconds - only the programmer knows what but it is "a real difficult task which could only be done in ten seconds because Tu was is programmed in machine language". The manual of Tu was is the funniest part because it is a parody of manuals for serious application. Unfortunately there is no chance to contact the programmer because he fled to Peru to breed lamas after he did the upload of his program...
The manual is another candidate for German to English translation program because it is written in German language. By the way, these word-to-word translation program are funny too - for a German who reads a translation of one of these programs :-).
Author: Mathias Maul
This program has a good reason for the missing English translation: It is an emulation of the German chancellor Helmut Kohl and, as some of you might know, he never learned English in his 15 years as chancellor of Germany... This program builds random sentences which sound exactly like Mr. Kohl's sentences that are used e.g. in his yearly speech for the new year. You can see not great sense in the sentences even if you are perfect at German - the reason is that he actually speaks like this! One year the TV confused the copy of Mr. Kohl's speech with the one he held one year ago - nobody recognized the difference.
Kanzler is the newest program in this article and is a portation of a Windows program. It supports BubbleGEM to display the text.
Author: Matthias Jaap
The Enhanced Character Interpreter (or shorter: ECI) is a portation of a very old MS-DOS Basic program (1989). Its main task is too translate abbreviations like VGA, ATARI or PAL to understandable text. After you have typed in the word the program prints out the translation for every single character of your word. There is not a real database for it - every translation is different and sometimes very strange ("VGA" - Virus Gate Array).
ECI is available in German and English language. There are versions for Atari ST, Dragon 32/64, ABC80 and Portfolio.
Author: Matthias Jaap
This programs looks like it formats a disk - but it does nothing except harmless disk access. The format dialog which is displayed looks like the original. "Format" is a good program to drive other persons mad - start it and then look at the face of the person who does not know what the program is doing but knows the format dialog!
In the April issue of the TOS magazine, the Greyscaler was introduced as the "ultimate program to bring greyscale colours to your SM124 monitor". There was a short article about it and it doesn't look like an April joke at first. After the start you have to made severall settings but after a short delay the program displays "April, April!".
Many programmers are addicted to coffee. One of them had the idea for an electronic coffee machine - and released a program which simulates the coffee machine. Your ST will turn into the most powerful coffee machine ever built: a GEM dialog with lots of options. After you have clicked on OK the ST prepares the coffee and displays its efforts. Unfortunately you won't get any coffee after starting the program but it is well worth to take a look at it.
Coffee is Coffeeware; the program is registered by sending one pound of coffee.
Author: Frank Storm
Flies invade your desktop! After starting this programm, a fly will move over the screen and tries to prevent you from using serious applications. The fly takes breaks to eat and rest. It reacts on the movement of the mouse arrow like a real fly. However, you are not helpless! If you hold the right mouse button the arrow will turn into a fly clap. The main difficulty is to catch the fly because if you move the mouse too fast the fly will fly away!
The author also programmed some other gag programs which are not widely available anymore.
Author: Meinolf Schneider
This program shows you the lyrical side of your Atari: it creates poems! The poems are mixed together but they are grammatically correct. Here is one example poem:
A woman that's mad about spoons is said to be fighting from your house.
The best way to enjoy this program is to dim the light, relax and read the computer poems.
Author: Carl Lofgren
This program is a classic one: The well-known computer psychologist! In the late seventies American students believed that they were talking to a real human being and made a serious conversation with a simple program. All Eliza versions have something in common: They look for keywords to react in a more or less intelligent way. Derivations of this program exists for nearly every computer including ZX81, C64, Java and the Atari. I know at least two Eliza versions (excluding the ZX81 one which you can use with an emulator): An early TOS based and second GEM based version by me. They do not use the same source code although some sentences are identical.
Keep in mind that all Eliza versions are not designed to react on senseless inputs but if you try to seriously answer to all her questions you can have a lot of fun with Eliza! By the way, try to start the GEM version of Eliza after 9 p.m. ...
Your Atari seems to life after starting this program! From time to time, the computer speaks - with real speech because there are about 20 sentences which were sampled. The computer sighs or is happy and all samples are of good quality. You should have at least 1 MByte because this accessory is 250 KByte big! The program is entirely in German so some translations might help you a bit: "Does nobody hear me?/Hört mich denn niemand?", "Please buy me a laser printer/Bitte kauf mir einen Laserdrucker", "Please stroke me/Bitte streichle mich". The other sentences are very easy and you should work it out for yourself.
Author: Wolfgang Ante
Easter eggs are hidden in some serious applications and they are more or less hard to find. Two applications that have easter eggs are the GFA-Shell and HomePage Penguin. I know of course all the easter eggs of the latter program but it is probably more exciting for you to find them for yourself.
You can find the following programs at www.jaapan.de/:
ECI, Kanzler, Eliza (GEM) and a translated version of Coffee. You can find the latter program in the "Other progs" section of my homepage.