4-The Apple II, cont.

CONTENTS
Other Design Features
Product Introduction
Cost
Experiences Of Early Users
Enhancements
Early Hardware Add-Ons
Apple-1 Upgrades
Timeline
Notes

OTHER DESIGN FEATURES

Since Steve Wozniak was the designer of the Apple-1 and II, exactly what contribution did Steve Jobs make to the effort? Unlike some hackers, who would not think much of extra wires hanging out of a computer that worked properly, Jobs had an eye for the appearance of the final product. He wanted the Apple II to be a product that people outside the Homebrew Computer Club would want to own:

Jobs thought the cigar boxes [housing the home-made computers] that sat on the … desktops during Homebrew meetings were as elegant as fly traps. The angular, blue and black sheet-metal case that housed Processor Technology’s Sol struck him as clumsy and industrial … A plastic case was generally considered a needless expense compared to the cheaper and more pliable sheet metal. Hobbyists, so the arguments went, didn’t care as much for appearance as they did for substance. Jobs wanted to model the case for the Apple after those Hewlett-Packard used for its calculators. He admired their sleek, fresh lines, their hardy finish, and the way they looked at home on a table or desk.[1]

Apple II (standard)

Apple II (standard) – Photo credit: Yuki Takahashi’s Apple-II Tree

Jobs asked Ron Wayne to design a case for the Apple II. Wayne, an early partner with Jobs and Wozniak who backed out of the venture after just a few days, came up with an inexpensive sheet-metal case that had a plastic lid and a roll-top cover to go over the keyboard. Jobs rejected this, as he didn’t feel that it would make the Apple II stand out sufficiently amongst its competition. Jobs then turned to Jerry Manock, whom he had met at the Homebrew Computer Club. Manock asked for $1800 to design a case of the Apple II, which Jobs agreed to pay. After a few weeks, Manock brought him a foam-molded plastic case, in just the right shape, size and color (beige, specifically Pantone 453) that he wanted.[2],[3],[4]

The final case design made the Apple II look quite different from most of their competition. The other computers looked like they had been assembled at home (and many of them were.) The Apple had no visible screws or bolts (the ten screws attached at the bottom.) It had the appearance of some variation of a typewriter, but still looked futuristic enough to be a computer. The friendliness of the design even extended to the lid, which popped off easily to allow access to the expansion slots, almost inviting the user to look inside (unlike most electronic devices that held the warning “CAUTION! NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS INSIDE”.)[5]

Other aesthetics to which Jobs paid attention were the color of the keyboard, vents for heat dissipation [6](avoiding the need for a noisy fan), and a shape and color that would blend in with other items in a home or on a desk. He also hired an engineer who was good with analog circuitry (not Wozniak’s area of interest) to design a reliable, lightweight power supply that would stay cool. The engineer, Rod Holt, was working at Atari at the time, but was convinced to help Jobs and Wozniak. He developed a new approach (for microcomputers) by taking household current and switching it on and off rapidly, producing a steady current that was safe for the expensive memory chips. The final design of this switching power supply was smaller than a quart carton of milk and was quite reliable. Holt also helped design the television interface for the Apple II.[7]

Apple II logo

Apple II name plate – Photo credit: J Mayrand’s Computer Museum

The new company was racing to have the Apple II ready for the First West Coast Computer Faire in April of 1977. Some last minute bugs had to be eliminated; because of a static electricity problem affecting a sensitive chip, the keyboards went dead every twenty minutes. Chris Espinosa and Randy Wigginton, two high school students who were early employees of Apple, had written programs to demonstrate the computer’s color and sound. They were hurriedly working to duplicate these programs on cassette. People at Apple were working to fix blemishes in the computer cases that had returned from the plastics molding company. The name for this new computer was also finalized as “Apple II”, following the example of Digital Equipment Corporation, who had given each newer version of its PDP series a higher number (PDP-1, PDP-6, etc.) They stylized the “II” in the product name by using right and left brackets, and displaying it on the case as “][“. The final product bore the mark of each person at Apple:

The computer that appeared at the West Coast Computer Faire was not one person’s machine. It was the product of collaboration and blended contributions in digital logic design, analog engineering, and aesthetic appeal. The color, the slots, the way in which the memory could be expanded from 4K to 48K bytes, the control of the keyboard and hookup to the cassette recorder, and the BASIC that was stored in the ROM chip – in effect the motherboard – was Wozniak’s contribution. Holt had contributed the extremely significant power supply, and Jerry Mannock the case. The engineering advances were officially recognized when, some months later, Wozniak was awarded U.S. Patent #4,136,359 for a microcomputer for use with video display, and Holt was given Patent #4,130,862 for a direct current power supply. But behind them all Jobs was poking, prodding, and pushing and it was he, with his seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy, who became the chief arbiter and rejector… [Finally,] the combination of [Mike] Markkula [Apple’s first president], Jobs, and the McKenna Agency turned Apple’s public bow [at the West Coast Computer Faire] into a coup.[8]

PRODUCT INTRODUCTION

As they prepared for the display at the First West Coast Faire, it was decided to create a new corporate logo. The original logo, used in sales of the Apple-1, was a picture of Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree, with a phrase from Wordsworth: “Newton…A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought…Alone.” Jobs had been concerned that the logo had been part of the slow sales of the Apple-1, and the Regis McKenna Agency was hired to help design a new one.

Rob Janoff [9], a young art director, was assigned to the Apple account and set about designing a corporate logo. Armed with the idea that the computers would be sold to consumers and that their machine was one of the few to offer color, Janov set about drawing still lifes from a bowl of apples … He gouged a rounded chunk from one side of the Apple, seeing this as a playful comment on the world of bits and bytes but also as a novel design. To Janoff the missing portion “prevented the apple from looking like a cherry tomato.” He ran six colorful stripes across the Apple, starting with a jaunty sprig of green, and the mixture had a slightly psychedelic tint. The overall result was enticing and warm …

[Steve] Jobs was meticulous about the style and appearance of the logo … When Janov suggested that the six colors be separated by thin strips to make the reproduction easier, Jobs refused.[10]

Apple Computer logo

Apple Computer logo (late 1976 through 1998)

The origin of the multi-colored Apple logo has been controversial to some over the years. One persistent rumor was that it had been designed in honor of Alan Turing, an English mathematician who helped break German war codes during World War II. Because homosexuality was a criminal offense in the 1950s in Britain, he was forcibly treated in 1952 with estrogen as an alternative to imprisonment. In 1954 he committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple. Therefore, since the use of rainbow colors had been appropriated by the gay-rights movement during the 1970s, and because of Turing’s death was associated with the apple as a fruit, it made sense to some to connect Turing with the colored Apple Computer logo. However, not only did Rob Janoff give the true story of the logo origin years later, but Steve Jobs also confirmed that no relation to Turing was originally intended.[11] [12]

For the Faire, Markkula had ordered a smoky, backlit, illuminated Plexiglas sign with the new logo. Although Apple had a smaller booth than other companies displaying their products at the Faire, and some of the other microcomputer makers (Processor Technology, IMSAI, and Cromemco) had been in business longer, Apple’s booth looked far more professional, thanks to Markkula’s sign. Some of the other participants, companies larger than Apple, had done no more than use card tables with signs written in black markers.

Apple Logo sign, Apple Computer Logo 1978, poster – Photo credit: Yuji Takahashi’s Apple-II Tree

Because they had been one of the first to commit to displaying at the Faire, Apple’s booth was near the entrance and was visible to everybody entering the convention center. They demonstrated a kaleidoscopic video graphics program (possibly an early version of “BRIAN’S THEME“) on a huge Advent display monitor, catching everybody’s attention. But, after the Faire its organizer Jim Warren (Homebrew club member and editor of Dr. Dobb’s Journal) didn’t think that Apple was a strong exhibitor. Byte magazine, in their report of the show, failed to even mention Apple. Despite these early opinions by influential people, over the next few months Apple received about three hundred orders for the Apple II, over a hundred more than the total number of Apple-1’s sold.[13]

The first motherboard-only Apple II computers shipped on May 10, 1977, for those who wanted to add their own case, keyboard, and power supply (or wanted to update their Apple-1 “system” with the latest and greatest). A month later, on June 10, 1977, Apple began shipping full Apple II systems.

COST

Due to the high cost of RAM, the Apple II was originally available for $1298 with 4K, or a whopping $2638 for a full 48K of RAM. Compare this with the cost of other prebuilt systems sold by Commodore (the 6502-based PET, for $595), and Radio Shack (the Z80-based TRS-80, for $600.) Apple’s price did not include a cassette recorder or monitor (which both the PET and TRS-80 did include.) However, the hardware limitations and lack of expandability of those machines offset some of the price difference. Of those two computers, neither was designed to make it expandable to allow the addition of memory or more hardware, whereas the Apple II was expansion-ready from the start. Also, one other hardware introduction for the Apple II that happened in mid-1978 set it well ahead of its immediate competitors; this will be discussed in a later chapter.

EXPERIENCES OF EARLY USERS

The first Apple II computers sold were literally rough around the edges. The plastic cases were made with a different process from what was used later, and after returning from the company that molded them, they had to be painted the correct beige color, and some areas had to be sanded smooth. They had a toggle switch for power (instead of the rocker switch used later.) These cases also lacked ventilation slots on the sides. For at least for some users this resulted in excessive heat build-up during use, causing the case to soften and sag. Early users who had this problem were given a replacement case with the ventilation slots that remained a fixture through the remainder of the life of the product.

Documentation for the Apple II was initially very limited. Steve Wozniak had some handwritten notes from the summer and fall of 1977 that were assembled into a document that later became known as the “Woz Wonderbook”. It was used internally as a reference by Apple employees. To provide some sort of documentation for customers, Apple’s president, Mike Scott, had gone through desk drawers at night to find anything that looked like technical information about the computer, whether typed or handwritten. These notes, about thirty pages in all (some of which were included in the Woz Wonderbook) were photocopied, three-hole punched, and assembled in clear binders. This mini-manual was dropped in the box with each of the earliest Apple II computers that were sold. The cover was a reproduction of one of Apple’s earliest advertisements for the Apple II. It stated, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication: introducing Apple ][, the personal computer.”

Apple II Red Book

Apple II Red Book

In early 1978 these original photocopied manuals were replaced with the new Apple II Reference Manual (also known as the “Red Book”), and copies were mailed to previous customers. However, the material was essentially the same as the mini-manual, just with a red cover. Steve Jobs realized that people often viewed the quality of a product by the quality of its documentation, and so he wanted Apple to have manuals that were easy to read and had a professional appearance.[14] Employees Jef Raskin and Brian Howard wrote the first Integer BASIC manual, and Raskin agreed that a proper reference manual was needed for the Apple II. He assigned Chris Espinosa the task of converting the material in the Red Book into a full fledged manual. During his fall semester at Berkley in 1978, Espinosa wrote the manual, and then used a typesetting program on the Berkley UNIX system to create that first manual.[15]

Setting up the Apple II was fairly simple. The lid popped off easily, and one of the first things usually added was the RF modulator, to allow the computer to display text and color graphics on a standard television. This was attached to two pins sticking up from the back rear of the motherboard, near the video output jack. Those who bought a proper NTSC computer monitor did not need to bother with the RF modulator.

The earliest game paddles included with the computer had a lever that could be moved back and forth, with a button to press. Later versions of the game paddles were small black boxes, with a knob to turn and and a tiny black button on the side (which would be painful on the finger if being used in a game that required repeated pressing of the button.) These game controllers were attached via a narrow cable to a plug that looked (and was) fragile; this plug went into a small socket in the motherboard.

After turning on the Apple II, the first thing to greet the user was a screen full of random alphabetic characters and symbols, and possibly some colored blocks (lo-res graphics mode might be turned on.) At this point it was necessary to press the RESET key in the upper right hand side of the keyboard, which would cause the speaker to “beep!” and an asterisk to appear in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. (If the lo-res graphics mode had been on, it would now be off.) The asterisk was a prompt to show that you were in the Monitor, and next to it was a flashing box, the cursor. To get into BASIC, you had to press the “Ctrl” key and the “B” key simultaneously, and then press RETURN. Now you would see a different prompt, one that looked like a “>”. Functionally, here was one of the first ways in which the Apple II had the advantage over the Apple-1 — BASIC was resident in ROM, rather than requiring the language to be loaded from cassette.

At this point, the new Apple II owner could either begin entering a BASIC program, or try to load one from cassette. The cassette recorder was attached to the input and output ports on the back of the computer. To load from cassette was not always easy; it took time to get the right volume and tone settings on the tape player in order to avoid getting the “ERR” or “*** SYNTAX ERR” message. (And if the Apple II didn’t have much memory, the “*** MEM FULL ERR” message would appear.) When the program loaded properly, it was usually necessary to type “RUN” to get it started.[16]

In the first few years that the Apple II was sold, there were three primary sources of software available to the new user: The user could write his own programs (BASIC or assembly language); he could enter programs from listings found in magazines or books; or he could purchase software. The purchased software came on cassette tapes, usually with sparse documentation, and packaged in zip-lock bags. Some of these were programs that had simply been saved to tape, either with the SAVE command in Integer BASIC, or with the command to write bytes to tape from the Monitor.

In some situations, the tapes were made such that the process of loading started at memory address $0200, which was the keyboard input buffer. The bytes loaded there were actually a command that worked as if it had been typed there – but was invisible to the user. This command usually included the address of the program being loaded, and since it did not appear on the screen it made it somewhat obscure as to what location in memory was being used for the program. This provided somewhat of a copy protection for the cassette, as it was more difficult for the casual user to just load a program and then save it to a new tape to give away. (Simply copying the tape between two tape recorders would not necessarily work, since a copy introduced hiss and signal degradation.)

The cassette era for the Apple II lasted from 1977 through 1982. By that year, the number of Apple II owners who could afford to purchase the Disk II drive had increased to such a significant level that sales of commercial software on cassettes dropped to the point where it was no longer a viable medium.[17] [18]

ENHANCEMENTS

Wozniak implemented several minor modifications that were made after these first Apple II computers were released. The original motherboard was identified as “Revision 0″. Some of these minor enhancements could be user-modified to older motherboards. As they were incorporated into the manufacturing process, the result was called the “Revision 1″ motherboard. A few of the differences offered by the Revision 1 boards included:

  • A color-killer circuit to get rid of color fringes on text when graphics were not being displayed. In issue #6 of Apple’s Contact newsletter from June 1979, they distributed information about how users could add this hardware fix to earlier models.[19]
  • Power-on RESET. With the Revision 0 Apple II, it was necessary to manually press the RESET key after turning on the power. Furthermore, on these oldest boards the keyboard would often send a random character to the screen after pressing RESET, making it necessary to press Ctrl-X (to clear the line) before starting to enter text. The automatic RESET circuit eliminated the need to press the RESET key, and the keyboard no longer sent a character to the screen.
  • Additional hi-res colors. The Revision 0 boards could only generate four colors in hi-res mode: Black, white, violet, and green. Wozniak later discovered that a small change in the color circuit would allow the 8th bit of a hi-res byte to phase shift violet and green, allowing the addition of red and blue hi-res colors.[20]
  • Jumpers to allow the video out circuit to work on non-U.S. PAL and SECAM television standards, plus an additional single pin video connector on the motherboard.
  • Cassette output correction. Sounds sent to the speaker in Revision 0 boards also would go to the cassette output, which would interfere with data saved to the tape.
  • Cassette input improvement. Revision 1 boards would work better with a weak cassette input signal.[21]
  • In the Revision 0 motherboards, there was an area in the lower right of the motherboard, underneath the keyboard, that was completely empty of chips. This was intended for hobbyists to add their own circuits. The Revision 1 boards used this area for the chips needed to add the additional hi-res colors and the power-on RESET circuit.[22]

EARLY HARDWARE ADD-ONS

Most new Apple II owners simply purchased the M&R Sup’R’Mod to display video on their color TV. However, some other enterprising hackers designed their own versions of modulators. One used by an early member of an Apple user group in Washington State (Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange, or A.P.P.L.E.) was somewhat better shielded than the Sup’R’Mod. It had its own power supply and plugged into the video output jack on the back of the Apple. However, the Sup’R’Mod was by far the biggest seller.[23]

At first, there were no interface cards for any of Woz’s eight slots. With the limited funds that computer purchasers had then (and now) there was not much they could afford after shelling out anywhere from $1200 to $1800 just to get their own Apple II. But they were innovative, and like many other hardware hackers of the day managed to make do with old or surplus parts. Some people, for instance, had gotten their hands on used teletype printers, such as the ASR-33 (called “battleships” because they were so rugged and heavy.) Since there weren’t any printer interface cards to plug into the slots to allow the computer to communicate with the teletype, they used a trick they learned from Woz himself. The Apple II had four single-bit output pins on the game controller socket that could be used for various purposes. A schematic floated through the various user groups that showed how to connect the teletype to an annunciator pin; along with it was a machine language program that re-directed output from the screen to that one-bit port, and on to the printer.[24]

APPLE-1 UPGRADES

Nearly any product needs customer support. The more complex the product, the greater the need for that support. The Apple-1 was a marvel of compact design compared to other first generation microcomputers, but it still needed a fair amount of hand-holding for those who owned it when something didn’t seem to be working. This created somewhat of a problem for Apple in managing technical support for the Apple-1. Although only 200 to 250 were sold, most questions about it had to be handled directly by Steve Wozniak. When the Apple II was released, tech support calls for that computer were handled by everyone in engineering (and sometimes by the production line technicians as well.) But an Apple-1 call still had to be handed over to Wozniak. It was decided at Apple that the most effective way to handle long-term tech support was to convert Apple-1 owners into Apple II owners. This was further enforced by the forward-thinking attitude of Steve Jobs, who now considered the Apple-1 to be yesterday’s news, and insisted that any intelligent person would obviously want to upgrade to an Apple II.

Because of Apple’s push to get Apple-1 owners to upgrade, they began to offer attractive deals to them. Initially they were offered a discount on an Apple II, then a straight trade-in to get an Apple II in exchange for the old Apple-1. This escalated to offer an Apple II with a full 48K of memory, then a 48K Apple II with a disk drive, and in one case they even threw in several peripheral cards and a monitor. It is this aggressive drive by Apple that has contributed to the dearth of Apple-1 computers that survive to this day.[25] [26]

TIMELINE

The start and end dates for the Apple-1 & Apple II:

  • Apple-1 – April 1976 – Mar 1977
  • Apple II – April 1977 – May 1979

(Many thanks to Peltier Technical Services, Inc. for assistance in creation of this chart.)

NOTES

  1. [1] Moritz, Michael. The Little Kingdom. New York, William Morrow and Company, Inc, 1984: 186.
  2. [2] French, Gordon. Email 2002.
  3. [3] Isaacson, Walter, Steve Jobs, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2011, pp. 73-74.
  4. [4] Routly, Paula, “iWitness”, Seven Days: Vermont’s Independent Voice, 2012/01/12.
  5. [5] Levy, Steven. Hackers: Heroes Of The Computer Revolution. New York, Dell Publishing Co., Inc, 1984: 263-264.
  6. [6] However, vents for heat dissipation were apparently not used in at least the first few Apple II computers that were came off the assembly line. Bob Bishop bought an Apple II with serial number #0013, and his computer did not have the ventilation slots in the case. This resulted in a heat build-up that actually caused the case to sag. Apple did replace his case with one that had the ventilation slots.
  7. [7] Moritz: 189.
  8. [8] Moritz: 190-191.
  9. [9] The correct spelling of the name is “Rob Janoff”, not “Janov” as it was misspelled in Moritz’ book, The Little Kingdom book. According to the web site for Kelly Advertising & Marketing, Bill Kelly states that it was he who offered to take on the account for Apple Computer on behalf of his employer, Regis McKenna Advertising. On his web site, Kelly states that Janoff designed the logo “with a bite taken out of it, indicating the acquisition of knowledge.” The correct spelling was also confirmed for me by Tony Pizza, whose Ventura Mac/Appleholics Anonymous User Group once had Will Janoff, the father of Rob Janoff, as one of its officers.
  10. [10] Moritz: 188.
  11. [11] “Alan Turing.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Web. 27 December 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing>
  12. [12] Isaacson, Walter, “Introduction”. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011, xviii
  13. [13] Moritz: 192-193.
  14. [14] Chien, Philip. “The First Ten Years: A Look Back”, The Apple II Review, Fall/Winter 1986: 12.
  15. [15] Pang, Alex Soojung-Kim. “Chris Espinosa on Rewriting the Apple II Manual”, Making The Macintosh: Technology And Culture In Silicon Valley. 13 June 2000. Retrieved 27 December 2011. <http://www-sul.stanford.edu/mac/primary/interviews/espinosa/apple2.html>
  16. [16] —–. Apple II BASIC Programming Manual Cupertino, CA, Apple Computer, Inc., 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981: 1-19.
  17. [17] Vignau, Antoine, “Apple Cassette Tapes”, Brutal Deluxe web site, 28 December 2011. <http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/projects/cassettes/>
  18. [18] McFadden, Andy, “Early Copy Protection”, <http://fadden.com/techmisc/cassette-protect.htm>
  19. [19] Willegal, Mike. Scanned image of Contact #6, page 6 <http://www.willegal.net/appleii/images/contact-newsletter005.jpg>
  20. [20] Watson, Allen. “More Colors For Your Apple”, BYTE, June 1979, pp. 60-68
  21. [21] ____, Apple II Reference Manual, 1981, Chapter 1, “Revision 0 / Revision 1 Board”, p. 26
  22. [22] Willegal, Mike. Apple II Rev 0 Motherboard Project. <http://www.willegal.net/appleii/appleii-first_page.htm>
  23. [23] —–. “A.P.P.L.E. Co-op Celebrates A Decade of Service”. Call-A.P.P.L.E., Feb 1988: 12-27.
  24. [24] Golding, Val J. “Applesoft From Bottom To Top”, Call-A.P.P.L.E. In Depth #1, 1981: 8.
  25. [25] Huston, Cliff & Dick. Notes on web site setup up to sell early Apple memorabilia
  26. [26] Huston, Cliff & Dick. Interview, RetroMacCast, “Episode #153, The Huston Brothers”, March 24, 2010.
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7 Responses

  1. 1
    Stacie Roebuck May 26th, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Great history report!

  2. 2
    Ed Isenberg January 14th, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I remember buying an Apple ][ in March 1979 that had a sticker on the keyboard: “I’m Proud – 48K !” or something similar.

  3. 3
    Steven January 14th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    That’s great! I wish you had a photo of that sticker.

  4. 4
    Marcelo September 18th, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    I do not understand how you can generate six colors. Reserving 1, 2, 3, 4… bit in video memory you have 2, 4, 8, 16… colors. But you say that SW added two colors to the original four. Does this mean that one bit was wasted?
    In addition, 280 x 192 pixels require 6.5 KB to 2 colors. I wonder how many colors and offered resolution version of 4 KB.

  5. 5
    Steven September 19th, 2012 at 11:04 am

    The reason this doesn’t make sense is because the Apple II generates color based on a trick involving the NTSC video signal, rather than doing it as full RGB the way modern computers do. Per this article, the Apple II utilizes omission of the interlacing signal, enhancing the difference between the monochrome and color signals that are output. It results in hi-res dots that are close together being displayed as a color, instead of two separate dots. It’s a complex connection between color and video frequency, but it was an inexpensive hack back in the day when Woz designed the Apple II. The result is the odd combination of just a few colors in hi-res mode, and the anomaly of some colors that don’t display well next to each other.

  6. 6
    Marcelo September 19th, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks Steven for your answer!
    I understand that you explain about the trick in the video chip of computer but my question is about video memory and the alleged resolution of 280 x 192 pixels.
    I suspect that this resolution required a 8 / 16 KB RAM and that model with 4 KB can not have hi-res because to represent a graph of 280 x 192 with 2 colors (1 bit) requires 6,5 KB and 4 colors (2 bit), leaving aside the trick, will need 13 KB.
    Then, my curiosity is about:
    1. six colors mean 4 simultaneous colors drawn from a palette of 6?
    2. basic model with 4 KB of RAM have minor resolution or Apple implemented an Atari 2660 style approach?
    If the latter is correct then with 4 KB you get the alleged resolution, but to program such computer will be a trip to hell and I never heard that of Apple II.

  7. 7
    Steven September 20th, 2012 at 8:57 am

    All I can tell you is that the hi-res graphics uses 8K of RAM from $2000-$3FFF for page 1, and another 8K from $4000-$5FFF for page two, it does work, and it is very simple to use. The number of colors desired does not have an impact on how much memory you use. The placement of the bits in each byte determine how the colors appear, and although the colors do work, they are flakey (some colors don’t display well next to each other). We never used terms like “palette” when doing hi-res (or lo-res, for that matter) on the Apple II.

    As for memory: A 4K Apple II would be unable to do hi-res graphics, since its RAM only goes up to $1000. It would take a minimum of 12K to have at least hi-res page 1 usable, and 16K for both hi-res pages, but you’d have a very small footprint for your program (only from $800 to $2000, only about 6K).

    By the time the Atari and Commodore 64 (and VIC-20) came out, I am sure they had conceived better methods of color display, and had an arrangement that made more sense. Woz designed things the way he did to save on chips, and the trick that he came up with allowed the Apple II to be the first homem computer with color graphics.

    And then Apple let the Apple II design sit and stagnate for the next 16 years, making only small incremental improvements (like double hi-res in the 128K Apple IIe and IIc). It was the IIGS that really brought color graphics forward into the next decade, and even that was hobbled by the need for backward compatibility with older software.

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