[Coco] Dorsett Educational Tapes

Arthur Flexser flexser at fiu.edu
Sat Jul 16 02:25:49 EDT 2016

Learn the Fundamentals With
Introductory Spanish Courses

For years I have been reading about quick and easy ways
to learn a foreign language, usually using a set of tapes. If
those ads were really true, it would put me out of my job
as a high school Spanish teacher. But there is nothing quick,
and certainly nothing easy about learning a foreign
language. Analogies to learning a computer language are
only partially valid; computer languages seldom have
exceptions, 50,000 word vocabularies, emotional content,
or listening and speaking aspects. In light of the difficulty
of learning a foreign language by yourself, how well does
a new set of programs from Dorsett Educational Systems
called Introductory Spanish Courses do?

These programs come as eight cassette tapes, recorded on
both sides, in a 5-by-7 inch plastic package. It is available
only as a cassette program and will not work with anything
plugged into the expansion port.

A machine language "monitor" program must be loaded
from either Tape 1 or Tape 9 before any program can be
used. Once it is loaded, typing EXEC begins the program.
All characters and illustrations are done on the graphics

If you know anything about "programmed instruction"
(no reference to computer programming here), then you
understand the method in these tapes. After loading and
executing the program, you leave the cassette player on
"play." Real voice narration is supplied by the tape, playing
through the television.

Text and illustrations are also fed throughout the
program by the cassette tape. The documentation suggests
setting the monitor at a volume level of 7, which is high.
This is good advice. Turn it high and leave it high. If, at
any time, you can hear the machine coding through the
speaker, it is not being loaded properly. When it happened
to me, it was solved by turning the volume up on the cassette

The above is from a review in the 4/87 Rainbow.  It appears that in the
CoCo version, at least, no special hardware is needed, just the execution
of a cassette-based ML program prior to the reading of the remainder of the
tapes.  I'd infer that data alternates with narration on the cassette
tapes, and that the equivalent of an AUDIO OFF command is used to turn off
the speaker when data is being read.  I assume also that the equivalent of
MOTOR OFF is used to stop the tape when the narration pauses and the
program awaits input from the user.  I doubt whether the program would be
capable of making the content of the narration depend on what the user
entered.  Probably all feedback was just delivered on screen.

The recommended cassette recorders for the CoCo were capable of mono only,
so the speculation that voice was on the other stereo channel from the data
cannot be correct.


On Sat, Jul 16, 2016 at 12:05 AM, Zippster <zippster278 at gmail.com> wrote:

> I didn’t  hear the podcasts, but did read a little from searches on
> Dorsett and the
> Atari version educational tapes.  There was mention of a special cartridge
> needed to make use of the tapes in some of what I read, so it would make
> sense that something similar would be needed with the CoCo version
> as you suspect.
> Without knowing what that hardware was, what can be done?
> - Ed
> > On Jul 15, 2016, at 9:55 PM, Melanie and John Mark Mobley <
> johnmarkmelanie at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Kevin Savetz is a podcaster.  He is on ANTIC The Atari 8-bit Podcast.  He
> > has interviewed about 200 people.  Kevin is trying to preserve some
> audio &
> > data tapes, and needs help from the CoCo community to test his digitized
> > files.
> >
> > The file format may be unique.  I think the right and left audio track is
> > set up to play audio voice instructions on one track, and the other
> track is
> > data.  The data will draw a picture using ASCII Art.  A question will be
> > asked and the user will see the picture and respond to the question using
> > the computer keyboard.  I think special hardware was required to decode
> the
> > tapes on a Tandy Color Computer.  Kevin has recorded some episoides on
> the
> > podcast where he describes the system.
> >
> > You can reach him at antic at ataripodcast.com if you want to help.
> >
> > -John Mark Mobley
> >
> > From: Keven Savetz
> >
> > I have digitized several rare cassette tapes for the CoCo from Dorsett
> > Educational Systems. Need help from the CoCo community to test them/get
> them
> > working. Atari folks have gotten the Atari version of these working.
> >
> > https://archive.org/details/TRS-80ColorComputerDorsettEducational
> >
> > Maybe you can put the word out in your newsletter/social media.
> >
> > Kevin Savetz
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
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> > Coco at maltedmedia.com
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