Emulating the Tomy Tutor

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Last updated 27 June 2015.

Emulation is a grey legal area and with the RIAA and IDSA and all those other black suits walking around raining on people's parades with lawsuits, I have felt compelled to put up all manner of warning on this page so that if they come after you for being a bad girl or boy, you're on your own. Please read the stuff in bold black, as this is the important legal fine print! From the bottom of the non-existent heart in our convoluted American legal system, screw you very much. You're so welcome.

Emulating the Tutor

The Tomy Tutor is a relatively recent system to the emulator world and for many years one did not exist, mostly due to inadequate documentation of its banking logic and the then-mysterious CLA.

[The Tutti simulator for the Commodore 64.] The Tutti simulator that I devised way back in 1998 was the first cross-computing foray for the Tutor of even a primitive sort. I no longer support it (see the page for why), but I still offer it for download. You will need a Commodore 64 or 100% Commodore 64 emulator to run it, which means it is quite portable and will run on a great many computers as long as a suitable C64 emulator exists for them. It supports enough of the OS to give you a feel for the system, but not much more; however, it has full sound emulation, and mostly complete graphics emulation. The Tutti page also has a more indepth history on the evolution of Tomy Tutor emulation, which I think you might find worth reading.

Please note that because Tutti requires no dumps of the firmware to run, it is the only emulator or simulator at present that can be legally operated by someone who does not already own a Tomy Tutor.

See the Tutti simulator page for downloading instructions and additional screenshots.

[TutorEm 1.0a for Windows.] The first true emulator came in May 2003 with Ian Gledhill's TutorEm (14K). It is dreadfully slow, and has some serious bugs, but does work. It seems to run fine on Windows 98SE under Virtual PC 6, and I imagine it will still run under Windows 2000 or XP. You must put SDL.DLL from the SDL Windows distribution into the same directory, and you will also need to download the firmware dumps below. Unzip the firmware file and rename the files Tutor1.bin and Tutor2.bin, and put them in the obvious place.

The interface is quite spartan, but novel because Ian does include a debugger to understand the Tutor's inner workings. For that reason, despite its bugs and limitations, I have included it here as an educational tool. However, you had best read his brief documentation first.

TutorEm does not support sound, tape or cartridges, and is no longer developed.

Both Tutti and TutorEm have a successor, however: Tutti II.
Tutti II doesn't play cartridges, but it does read tape files, and allows you to write programs and draw graphics on your desktop computer that you can export to your real Tomy Tutor.
It has a dedicated instruction page.

[MESS main screen (on Mac OS X).] Nowadays, however, the emulator most people will want to use for the Tomy Tutor is MESS, the Multiple Emulator Super System. Raphael Nabet first wrote support for the Tomy Tutor into MESS starting with version 0.70 (which I was honoured to be the beta tester for), and it is now a mature driver within the MESS distribution. MESS supports multiple computers and while primarily a jack of all trades but master of none, it is still the most painless way of emulating many obscure systems that do not have a standalone emulator of their own. (The Tutor, of course, being the prototype of such a system from our point of view.)

Since MESS is the emulator most of you will be using, we will spend some time talking about how to operate it.

Using MESS to emulate the Tutor

This documentation is current as of MESS 0.100 (9/2005). I will try to help out Windows and Linux users as well, but as I am a Mac OS X user, this will have specific instructions for Macintosh since that's the platform I can most easily test on.

Because I'm on a Power Mac, these instructions may be out of date for current builds of MESS, or on other systems. You can always read the MESS User's Manual first, then come back here for issues specific to the Tomy Tutor driver.

Download the binary applicable for your system from the MESS home page, and unpack and install it as directed.

First off, here is what is not known to be supported in MESS, or does not seem to work properly:

On the other hand, MESS supports all known modes of the 9918A, all Tutor modes, sound and cartridges. It is also the only Tomy Tutor emulator to emulate the parallel port interface (heck, most of us don't even have the actual interface in the first place), and it really works.

MESS requires the Tutor's firmware images to be installed. You can get them from the bottom of this page, but we'll continue with the discussion under the assumption you have already (legally!) installed them in the proper location in the MESS tree. Current Mac versions store all MESS-related files in your Documents folder, under MacMESS User Data.

[MESS main interface (Mac OS X).]
If installed correctly, you should be able to choose Tomy Tutor from the list of systems (systems without a master interface may need to specify this on the command line). Select it and start the emulator up according to your port's documentation. For the Macintosh, just click Play.

[MESS Tutor startup.]
When starting the Tutor up for the first time, you may be asked to confirm that you are legally authorized to use the Tomy Tutor emulator and firmware. Signal that you are (you are, aren't you?) by typing OK; you will then see this title screen. Press any key to display the currently mounted cartridge (if any), tape image (if any) and output file for the parallel port, and then press any key to start the emulator.

[MESS Tutor main menu.]
Various settings can be changed in MESS from its built-in menu (note: this is not the same as the pull-down menus in MESS, and in fact you can't even access the pull-down menus until you pause the emulator [on the Macintosh, press Command-period]). For example, if you find that the menu is ignoring the "down" key (which happens with the default keyboard mapping), or that you can't move the rocket cursor in GRAPHIC mode (same problem), you will need to change the key settings.

To get to this menu, press Command-Return (on the Mac), or TAB on the PC. The emulator will automatically pause and this simple cursor driven menu will appear. Use the cursor keys to select Input (this System).

[MESS Tutor key settings.]
Using the cursor keys, scroll down to P1 Down. This is where we will redefine the joystick to map to the numeric keypad. Press ENTER/RETURN on P1 Down and hold down the desired key for a few seconds until MESS acknowledges it (we selected KP 5). Do the same for Left, Right and Up.

When done, press ESCape twice to resume the emulator. The cursor keys should now start working.

[MESS playing Deep Six.]
Now that we've fixed the cursor keys and installed a couple games, go shoot those pirahna before they eat you. The SL and SR buttons are shown as P1 Button 1 and P1 Button 2 in the interface. On the Mac, they are Control and Option, respectively.

Have fun. When you're done, you can pick a new system (Command-O), or quit (Command-Q).

Oh, wait, did you say you needed the ...

Firmware dumps

Obligatory copyright notice: these dumps are copyrighted (to be sure, by a company that seems to have no corporate memory of its old computer line, but that doesn't mean the copyright doesn't apply). They are offered to you on the assumption that you are a current user of an actual Tomy Tutor computer and applicable peripherals, and as such have a legal right to these files. If you do not, do not download them; you can still use the Tutti simulator legally as it does not require them. Thanks for your cooperation.

[Where to put the dumps in MESS.] For everyone else, there are firmware dumps of the Tomy OS for download suitable for use with MESS. This should work with any version of MESS past 0.70, and is a single .zip file containing both Tutor-1 and Tutor-2. Drop it into the obvious folder in your MESS directory structure; don't change the filename. You can unzip it if you like, but you don't have to (if you do, call the resulting directory "tutor" so that MESS can find it).

These dumps will also work for TutorEm, but must be renamed (see the instructions above).

Some of the games have also been extracted from the cartridges, although someone went to a lot of trouble to doctor these dumps to show an irritating "T.M. 1991" when run. I don't know from where these originate, but they are otherwise operational and because I'm unwilling to crack my own cartridges to regenerate them, I'll just offer them here as is. The cartridges included are Car-Azy Racer, Traffic Jam, Deep Six, Torpedo Terror, Cave Crawlers, Loco-Motion, Jungler, Pooyan and Scramble; you can see screenshots of all of them on the Incomplete Catalogue, taken from the original unaltered versions. To make the lawyers happy, please delete the games you do not own and/or are not legally entitled to play.

To use the cartridges in MESS, unzip them somewhere and then select the desired cartridge within the interface (on the Mac, for example, click the Cart button). Start the emulator, and choose the cartridge from the Tutor's menu.

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