Aeons ago, well, in the mid 90s, I programmed the then latest version of a swearing accessory for the Atari ST(E)/TT/Falcon called “The Automated Final Grandson of Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged”.
Wowbagger: A fictitious character from Douglas Adams’ “Life, the Universe and Everything” who, after an incident with a liquid lunch and a piece of elastic band became immortal. Having quickly discovered immortality also has its downside, he decided to insult every being in the universe, in alphabetical order.
Accessory: A program on an Atari computer, that loads upon booting and then remains in memory. In the case of my particular accessory, it remains invisible until a user-configurable number of minutes have passed, after which it will pop up and insult the user (in English or Dutch, depending on the language setting).
Atari: In the context of this article, one of a range of computers popular in the late 80s and early 90s. They were 16-bit computers running an operating system called TOS (The Operating System), not 8-bit (like the Atari XL), nor the old classic Atari VCS game consoles.
In the throes of nostalgia, I fired up an Atari ST emulator, configured it, and decided to upgrade that swearing accessory with the current building blocks used on wowbagger.com. It was practice I needed for when I’d get around to doing the 42nd Anniversary Edition of ST NEWS,
There were a bunch of things I needed to do:
- The RSC file needed to be updated;
- So I needed to re-learn how to work with an Atari RSC editor;
- I wanted to replace the original building blocks with the vastly extended building blocks straight from wowbagger.com;
- So I needed to write VBA code in MS Access to create GfA code with the building blocks in it;
- So I also needed to re-learn how to work with the GfA Basic editor and compiler;
- I wanted to fix the bug that caused a bomb crash when the .CNF file wasn’t in C:\;
- I wanted to prevent the entire system from freezing each time Wowbagger was actually putting together the building blocks into insult phrases (this was a minor problem before, but with there being MANY more building blocks now, it would now freeze the system for up to half a minute);
- The older version of Wowbagger had 3 ratings (U = friendly; PGA = raunchy; XXX = terrible), but the main wowbagger.com database only had 2 (U = friendly to raunchy; XXX = raunchy to terrible). To prevent me from having to go through the thousands of words one by one, I changed the 3 old ratings into U = friendly, XXX = terrible, and PGA = a mix of both.
This ‘Zombie’ version has one major improvement: it can make a lot more insults. There’s also a disadvantage, however: It grew in size by about 180 Kb, so it’s probably of limited use on original hardware with only 1 Mb of RAM. But it is like it is. If you happen to have original Atari hardware, or an emulator, you can download it here!