Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 4, NO. 7 / NOVEMBER 1985

assembly language


Speedy cursor and keyboard repeats


Learn how to change the keyboard repeat rate on your Atari XE or XL. Or speed up the cursor on any Atari 8-bit model. Disk drives required. The BASIC program creates an AUTORUN.SYS autoloading file. Source code is included for your instruction, but you don't have to be an assembly language programmer to use Fast Moves.

The Atari operating system lets you repeat every key automatically by holding it down. There are two important elements in key repeats. First is how long you must hold the key down before it begins to repeat, which is also called "debounce." Second is how quickly the key repeats after it gets started, which is the "repeat rate."


Atari owners with XL or XE computers can change either or both of these variables. Location 729 (decimal) holds the debounce value. Dividing that number by 60 tells you how many seconds the debounce value is. You can POKE any number here to change the debounce.

The rate at which the key repeats is held in location 730 (decimal). You can also change this rate any number you want.


If you don't own an XE/XL series Atari computer--or you'd like to change only the cursor rate--try Fast Moves. Unlike the XE/XL PEEKs and POKEs, this program lets you speed up the repeat rate for cursor movement only. After all, how often do you type a long string of any single character?

Fast Move's debounce is just long enough to allow the average typist time to comfortably move the cursor one space. However, continue holding the key and the cursor will really take off! And, yes--it works on XE/XL models as well as 800/400 Ataris.


Type in Listing 1, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy. (Antic disk subscribers will find this program under the filename FASTMOVE.BAS.) Place a formatted disk with DOS 2 or DOS 2.5 into Drive 1.

Now RUN Fast Moves. It will create an AUTORUN.SYS file on your disk. If there already is such a file, Fast Moves will let you know. If you decide you don't want to replace your existing file with the Fast Move auto-loader, just put in another disk with DOS 2 or DOS 2.5. Or, you could press [BREAK] and go to DOS to create the needed disk.

A few moments after you have RUN Fast Moves, your computer will reboot itself. This loads the AUTORUN.SYS you've created. Now Fast Moves is in control of your cursor movement!

Fast Moves is "persistent," which means that pressing [RESET] doesn't harm it in any way. You'll still have the quickest cursor in town! Whenever you want to use the fast cursor movement, just boot the disk with the Fast Moves AUTORUN.SYS on it. Listing 2 is a highly commented MAC/65 assembly language source code. It is presented here for your information and does not need be typed in. Antic disk subscribers will find it in LISTed form under the filename FASTMOVE.M65.

Patrick Dell'Era is the machine language whiz who wrote Antic's PictureShow (April, 1985) and Fader II (May, 1985). Coming soon from Patrick, the DOS 2.5 adaptation of Dr. Bernard Oppenheim's popular DISKIO (January, 1985).

Listing 1:FASTMOVE.EXE Download

Listing 2:FASTMOVE.M65 Download / View