Morse Code Tutor
|Morse Code Tutor
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It’s well known that Atari wasn’t afraid to take risks
when it came to developing new games. Some ideas were just
too far out there to be marketable (such as Mindlink and Mind
Maze), while others were just to niche to sell well enough (such
as Mark of the Mole). Morse Code Tutor falls squarely into
the latter category. Although I’m sure that there were
indeed Morse Code enthusiasts who owned Atari 2600’s, they
probably didn’t make up a large enough group to bother with.
Little is known about the origins of this prototype
or if Morse Code Tutor is even its real name. Found in a
box of miscellaneous items from a former programmer, Morse
Code Tutor is just what it sounds like: a program for helping
the user learn to send and receive messages in Morse
Code. It’s hard to believe that there would have been
any market for something like this, but a similar program was
released for the Videopac (Odyssey^2) system in Europe so
there is some precedence.
From the main screen you can select the Word Speed
(5-72), Character Speed (5-72), and Pitch. Word Speed
affects how fast the words you need to send appear, while
Character Speed affects how fast the individual characters in
the words appear. Pitch allows you to change the tone of
the ‘beep’ that occurs each time you tap out a
character. Pressing the button on the screen will
produce a tone so you can test out your pitch level.
After you’ve selected your options the only way to move on with
the game is to move the left difficulty switch to the B
position. This will produce a screen with some letters on
it for you to try and signal. Moving the switch back to A
will bring you back to the options screen. Pressing the
reset button when on the Letters Screen will produce different
combinations of letters, numbers, and eventually
punctuation. The order is: 5 screens of letters (always in
the same order), the entire alphabet, 3 screens of numbers (1-5,
6-0, then all the numbers), the entire alphabet with all the
numbers, 3 screens of punctuation characters, then a screen with
all the letters, numbers, and punctuation. This final
screen is a bit different as it has a flashing cursor thst you
can move and make letters disappear and reappear by pressing the
button, but the use of this is unknown. After this screen
pressing reset once more will bring up the word SEND, after that
it will repeat back to the screens of letters.
The prototype itself doesn’t seem to be complete, so
there may be more functionality hidden in the code. Due to
the small rom size (only 2K) and bare bones nature of the
program, this would have been a very early release (1980 or
earlier). It’s unknown if Atari was really planning on releasing
Morse Code Tutor or if this was simply a toy created by a
programmer playing around in his spare time.
Either way Morse Code Tutor is one of the more unique programs
in the 2600 library.
to 2600 Software