Wreck Of The Apple ][

© 1994 Steven Weyhrich
(with significant help from Doug Cuff)

(Sung to the tune of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot)

The legend lives on from the management on down
In the big town they call Cupertino[1]
At Apple, it’s said, they will shoot products dead
When the stocks and the market turn gloomy

With a load of RAM chips, forty-eight thousand bytes[2] fit
That the Apple ][ main board weighed loaded
That good CPU was a bone to be chewed
When reality distortion[3] came early

The ][ was the pride of Wozniak’s side
Of the Homebrew Computer Club meeting
As the new units went it was better than most
With a ROM and dot graphics well reasoned

Concluding some terms with that Microsoft firm
It shipped fully loaded with firmware
But within a few years we confirmed our worst fears
It would be the Mac wind we’d be feeling

The blurbs out in print made it seem we were safe
When they said the Mac‘s RAM was too tiny
But the Mac team knew, as their Captain[4] did, too
That the Apple ][‘s cash they’d be stealing

The IIe came late[5], sixteen bits[6] had to wait
While the Mac and its sales they were flailing[7]
When ’86 came the GS[8] staked its claim
In the face of a hurricane Mac blitz

When ’91 dawned, the ROM 04[9] was spawned
And on satellite link[10] they would show ya
But with a last minute cut, the ][‘s shut down began
We thought, GS, it’s been good to know ya

MacWeek[11] wrote again, the old ][ would just end
It's publicity still was an outrage
By late '93, when more Macs came in sight
Came the end of the Apple ][ voyage

Does anyone know where the brains of men go
When cash for promotion’s allotted?
The reviewers all say she’d be here today
If they’d put some more ad space behind her

It might have VGA, a big hard drive inside
Perhaps thirty-two bits[12] with SIMMs[13] in ‘er
But all the remains are the faces and the names
Of the millions who’ve known and have loved her

Microsoft rolls, Intel sings
In the 95 Windows[14] promotion
Ol’ IBM steams with its OS/2[15] dreams
The Mac clones all try for their portion

And farther below, the World Wide Web goes
Taking in what the modems can send her
But the Apple folk go (at least we hope so)
With mistakes of the A2[16] remembered

In a virtual space there on GEnie they met
In the A2 Roundtable’s[17] big chat room
The ]['s speaker chimed, and it rang 64 times
For each page of the old ][ Plus memory.

The legend lives on from the management on down
In the big town they call [18]
At Apple, it’s said, they will shoot products dead
When the stocks and the market turn gloomy

NOTES

  1. [1] Cupertino, California, the home city of Apple Computer, Inc. (they left their original Palo Alto location soon after their beginnings).
  2. [2] Refers to the 48K maximum in the original Apple II. To be precise, this would actually be 49,152 bytes (48 x 1,024 bytes per “K” of memory).
  3. [3] Refers to the 48K maximum in the original Apple II. To be precise, this would actually be 49,152 bytes (48 x 1,024 bytes per “K” of memory).
  4. [4] The captain of the Macintosh team was, of course, Steve Jobs.
  5. [5] Apple didn’t do any real work on an advanced Apple II (what eventually became the Apple IIe) until the Apple III failed.
  6. [6] “Sixteen bits” refers to use of a microprocessor more advanced than the 8 bit 6502 that was the heart of the original Apple II. The sixteen bit processor eventually used was the 65816 eventually used in the Apple IIGS.
  7. [7] The sales of the original 128K Macintosh fell far below the sales projections that Apple had anticipated.
  8. [8] Refers of course to the Apple IIGS.
  9. [9] The stillborn ROM 04 revision of the Apple IIGS.
  10. [10] When Apple had its first Apple User Group satellite linkup and show, one of the presentations was to have been this new Apple IIGS; however, it was pulled off the show at the last minute due to a management decision to not continue to advance the Apple IIGS line of computers.
  11. [11] MacWeek magazine’s “Mack The Knife” rumor column repeatedly predicted the imminent demise of the Apple II line of computers over the years. Of course they finally got it right, but after how many false tries?
  12. [12] The company that had made the 16-bit 65816 was at one time willing to make a more advanced 32-bit processor, the 65832. However, Apple’s unwillingness to commit to creating a computer that would use that processor doomed any potential for this company to design that processor.
  13. [13] “SIMM” refers to “Single Inline Memory Module”, a modern standardized RAM card that was more interchangeable between different computers. These are still in wide use today, but are being supplanted by other faster, more capable RAM modules. Like other first and second generation personal computers, the Apple II and IIGS required memory cards that were unique to that particular computer.
  14. [14] Windows 95, the almost-a-Macintosh operating system.
  15. [15] OS/2 was the result of one of IBM’s early agreements with Microsoft to create a graphic-based operating system. Eventually Microsoft branched off to focus on Windows 3.0 and 3.1, and IBM was left behind to finish OS/2, which was available for several years as an alternative to Windows. By 1998 it was slowly dying.
  16. [16] A2 = shorthand for Apple II.
  17. [17] The A2 Roundtable was one of the popular online “hangouts” for Apple II enthusiasts.
  18. [18] Cupertino, California, the home city of Apple Computer, Inc. (they left their original Palo Alto location soon after their beginnings).
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