Zooming Through The Mandelbrot Set On An Atari

The Mandelbrot set, according to Wikipedia, is “the set of complex numbers c for which the function f_{c}(z)=z^{2}+c does not diverge.” Even if you don’t understand the mathematics behind it, you’ve likely seen the complicated fractal images generated by zooming in on the border of the Mandelbrot set. [Scott Williamson] not only got this set rendering on an Atari, but managed to create animated videos of the results. 

Emulators were key to the project’s success.

Doing the work was no mean feat. While it takes just 10 lines of Atari BASIC to render the set on an Atari 800, getting the animations made and into a modern video format took much effort. [Scott] used the Atari800Win-PLus emulator to zoom in on a variety of locations on the fractal curve and recorded the results over a weekend.

However, compositing the various frames into smooth-scrolling videos took more effort, with a Python script and ffmpeg required to stitch everything together into the results you see on YouTube. The final videos were combined with Atari chiptune music from [Adam Sporka] to help round out the presentation.

The result is reminiscent of an old-school demo, even if everything here was assembled slowly on modern computers from the raw Atari output. We’ve seen other great Mandelbrot feats before, too, like this real-time explorer built on an FPGA. Video after the break.

4 thoughts on “Zooming Through The Mandelbrot Set On An Atari

  1. I never had an atari but I remember fractint and zooming in till the numerical resolution didn’t allow anymore.
    Didn’t expect an atari capable of doing this from a math point of view.
    Liked the retro music (yes I am old).

  2. I did this back in the 80’s on an Atari 800XL. Took forever. I got the program from a magazine. Was so happy it worked the first time. No need to wait for later magazines for a correction!

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