Hacker “cprossu,” along with another member of the HeatSync Labs hackerspace in Mesa, Arizona decided that “it would be cool to have the ability to code and run Atari 2600 games.” While this seems like a fun pursuit, the question then becomes how to get these games from a computer to the Atari itself. Instead of flashing a ROM chip, their answer was to use a device called the StarPath Supercharger, which loads games onto this special cartridge using audio cassettes.
It’s a rather interesting device for the time, and makes for an easy way to transfer new games — or “Hello World” examples — to actual Atari hardware. The development toolchain is kept very retro, with a DOS utility used to take the Atari ROM and convert it into a .WAV file that can then be loaded (played into) the Supercharger cartridge.
The process is shown in the video below, and is quite the tour de force of retro hardware, including a USB floppy disk to transfer files, a CRT display for the Atari, and cassette tape emulation via a Sound Blaster 16 sound card running on a 386 computer. The process is documented in three-ring binders, so if you’re in the area, you can try this feat of retro-programming yourself!