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Intro

First up yes, this is some horrible IIe beige background.

pineapple Why Pineapple? Well I wasn't able to get, apple, apple2, and the next thing that came to mind was a pineapple. So... I've owned many Apple II computers, however primarily of 3 different types. The first was an Apple][+ which was being sold off by a primary school at the time. It came with paddles, a numeric keypad, and a single 5.25" floppy, only 48k though. Strange the number of games that wouldn't run saying only 48k available. I eventually cooked this one by pulling a card with the power on.

The second was a Platinum IIe. I managed to trade in the dead ][+ at Apple Australia and got a school discount on a brand spanking new IIe. Although it was much "nicer" than the ][+ in retrospect it wasn't really doing much differently than the ][+ did previously. Otherwise it was really just a prettier box for the most part.

The third beast, an Apple IIgs ROM3. Now this was something new and improved. Mind you for a long time all I had was the GS/OS 3.5" floppies and my existing 5.25" collection. So in essence it was simply a double speed IIe. Eventually it got a SCSI card and a Hard Drive, and then it was revealed inall its glory. Lots of pretty icons, lots of new and different things to hang off it, and this wonderful new high res desktop. High-res? It only just matched EGA or a C64 so I'm not entirely sure what we were thinking in the days of VGA.

In coming days and weeks, I expect to put up a lot more specific and original data. Like a list of Peripheral Cards that were available rather than just the ones I know. And anything else I can find that might be interesting.

The ][+

In many ways this was my favourite machine. It was first, and there is never anything that is first again. I was never clear what the point of paddles was. I never saw any software that used them, although if you were dextrous enough you could finagle them into a joystick. I also managed to collect a series of floppy drives so that I think I had 5 attached in the end. A variety of different hardware, Disk][ units for the most part a drive from a Dick Smith CAT, and a hitachi style unit which looked a lot like a PC compatible drive with no idea of its origin.
Highlights during this era, were writing a DM's familiar in basic. Loaded all the combat and save tables from the Dungeon Masters guide and could throw you a few random rolls or take care of combat for you. Looked good, worked well, but never used it much. Also second hand hacking of games. We never had enough skill to actually do any of the hard work, so with sector editor in hand, we'd bang our names in somewere. We did manage to sort out how Autoduel worked though, and edited a graphics file for it.

The IIe

The IIe was more of an interim machine looking back at things. In real terms it didn't do anything the ][+ didn't. It didn't have a tape port, and it didn't have some of the DIP headers from the old ][+ board, obseleting some of my existing goodies. Which were probably more curiosties than necessities. However it was a good servicable machine which I didn't kill and ultimately traded in on the IIgs. At one point this was the beast that had 6 drives hanging off it, with all of the Ultima V disks in them.
Other interesting things that went in this from time to time were, a saturn 128k card, useless except for locksmith copying. A couple of different MockingBoards. A and B I think. I was always disappointed with the results from the MockingBoards though. And at one point a SAM card.

I also had a few Ex-School Enhanced IIe's there for a while too, I had one of them hung off the other end of my IIgs SCSI chain for a while. Made looking after the A2 disk library that much easier :)

The IIgs

Unfortunately while this is/was a great system, it in many ways spelled the beginning of the end for Apple ]['s in general. Compared to the +,c or e, its far technologically superior, but also the unloved child of Apple looking to make their way with Mac not the ][. Pushed by Apple it could have been many things, a bridge to move existing 2 users to a mac, GS/OS was certainly similar in many respects to MacOS or I guess WorkBench on the Amiga, but I never really saw an Amiga so I don't know for sure.

It ran just a shade over 2.5 times faster than the IIe so anything with timing loops in it, was pretty much screwed unless you turned the speed back down to 1Mhz. Lots of games certainly needed much higher reflex level played at this speed. But the regular GS software would need the extra grunt to drive the graphics and other goodies that were onboard.

My ROM03 had 1Meg on board, and typical of I guess many you'd use 800k as a floppy drive, copy the OS to it, reboot from it, and then use the external drive for programmes. But until you hung a hard drive off it, you didn't really know what it was good for.

Somewhere around this time, acquired my first modem. Netcomm 1234a Automodem. This was a great thing, which I initially used to call what few BBS I new, and then for a long time to play Shattered World MUD at Monash Uni until they cut off dialup access to it. Also big at this time was the sheer number of BBS in Melbourne. I think we were the BBS capital of the world. But rather than fork out my hard earned on another Apple2 I bought a 286 clone and started up a BBS on that, and called it the best peripheral your Apple 2 could have :)

Also around this time MODs were big. MOD music files that seem to have originated on the Amiga scene, and then swept out into PC land. The GS had its own mod players too. Anyway in the manual for one of the PC mod players there was a budget DtoA converter made out of a spiders web of resistors that plugged into the parallel port, and a second with a D to A converter chip.

I looked at the chip version a few times, and thought if they can get this thing to make sounds like that on a PC why don't I make one and bang it into an Apple ][ and see what it can do there. The 2's have an 8bit bus, so it was just a matter of hook the data lines to the inputs on the d2a converter and away it went. Oddly enough it worked well, and then i discovered what my ground breaking constrution was.... The rehash of a SAM card, and in fact the SAM software worked perfectly on it. Although my version had a tendency to keep playing the last recieved data and trail it off.

Well thats it for now. I'll be back with more later. I'll also add what photos I can find to.

Look there she is... Not long before its demise :/ Note the Hard Drive on top of the monitor in the instrument box, and another full height HD on the left. I had a crack at rewriting the DM's familar in pascal on the GS, never did get it finished though. And ahh yes, the bicycle used to get a regular run back then too, hence the helmets.


Hardware

I've managed to get my hands on quite an assortment of A2 hardware at differing times. Some cheap and obsolete, some not. Some more disappointing than others.
  • Corvus Hard Drive + DigiCard
  • Mockingboard A
  • RF Modulator
  • Apple High Speed SCSI card
  • Apple 1Meg RamCard
  • Apple Rev B SCSI Card
  • Ramworks III
  • SAM Card/Echo
  • Zip GS Accelerator
  • Passport Systems MIDI card
Corvus Hard Drive
This thing was a pretty hefty external hard drive. The one I had was 10Mb but 5's existed as well. It was formatted to look like DOS3.3 floppies. Thats a lot of floppies! It had its own interface card to slot into your IIe, I don't think I ever tried this in the GS. You could also use it as a primitive network. I didn't hang onto it that long.. Its not like I was into Visicalc and didn't have that much use for DOS3.3 floppies at this stage. Most of my floppies were either copy protected or not standard DOS.
Mockingboard A
The Mockingboard was a complete disappointment for me. Having heard of these things for years one came past so I snarfed it up, and thought lets see what these things do, got out Zaxxon and..... nothing nada... it just sounded like it always did :/ The card worked ok, it made pretty sounds with the bundled software. But nothing I had seemed to make use of its capabilities.
RF Modulator
Hmm I tried to use this in a IIe and apparently they will only work in a ][+ needless to say it didn't work very well. After playing with a few differing models, I think I had one that gave me a picture. But alas in glorious black and white, no colour on the colour TV there.
Apple High Speed SCSI card
This was one of my better investments. It went straight to the poolroom, sorry this isn't The Castle, it went into the IIgs. It was like a completely different beast. Hang all your software out there, no swapping floppies. It was a game changing moment where you wondered why you kept swapping floppies all this time, and you'd never go back.
Apple 1Mb Memory Card
This also belonged to the IIgs. Probably the second best thing I bought. Although certainly not mission critical, I had the ROM03 GS with 1Meg on board, so 2Meg gave you plenty of headspace to load all sorts of NDA's and extensions to finder. Convert some to a RAM drive if you still felt the need, sometimes to copying floppies en mass for other people. Get the image onto the RAM drive and continuously copy it back to blank floppies... no swapping required.
Apple Rev B SCSI card
This was procured to go into the GS until I discovered that Rev B wouldn't work with GS/OS, if you only wanted proDOS8 it was fine. I eventually had this in a IIe for some time at the opposite end of my SCSI chain to the GS. Despite attempts to copy a Rev C ROM, we never got that bit happening.
AE Ramworks III
This was another IIe card. No point trying to put it into the GS it went in the AUX slot.. or Extended 80 Column card slot if you prefer. Mine had again 1Mb on it, but unless you either wanted a Prodos RAMdrive or used inordinately large AppleWorks files, it was kind of pointless. A ramfactor would've been a better choice for me, but i never saw one of those.
Zip GS Accelerator
This was your spiffy little doodah. I think from memory it went into slot 1, and had a fly lead that went to the processor socket on the Motherboard. This one was an 8Mhz version, and with a little bit of sucking the Crystals off defunct PC motherboard, I had it running at 12 Mhz without any other modifications. I don't recall what the difference was now, but it wouldn't do over 12Mhz without having to replace other parts to cope with the speed increase.
Passport Systems MIDI card
Well its like this, I had one of these, I bought it at a PC computer swapmeet nominally all about PC clones, for $5 way back when. I'm no muso so I never had anything remotely resembling a MIDI anything, so I just onsold it for $15 to someone in Australia. For the life of me I don't recall who now.
SAM/Echo Card
I'm not 100% sure which one of these I had now. I thought it was a SAM, but that might be because I used the SAM software, and it was actually an ECHO card. It had a speaker hanging off the card, that much I recall, and it wasn't terribly complicated circuits that drove it. Anyway this was another kind of disappointment for me. I spent time playing with the talking stuff that came with it. Hello my name is SAMmmm. But I couldn't find anything useful to do with it.

Solid State Hard Drive

After looking at how useful a ramdrive was on the PC for running the bulleting board, both as temporary storage and its sheer speed. I had the though of trying to build a Solid State Hard Drive. We're talking about a time when HD's were in the order of $1.00 per Meg -- yes per Megabyte. All of a sudden people were selling 1 Megabyte 30 pin sims for next to nothing. Virtually giving away anything smaller just to get rid of them. So I went in with the plan to use a truckload of this memory, pop a SCSI interface on it, with Battery Backup and presto... It never really got out of the design phase. But in later times pondered how much power it might have consumed and how much heat it might have been able to generate. With all that DRAM in there.


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This content © Daryl Knight 2018, Created Sept 2018, Last modified 11-May-2020