What’s Where?

Robert Tripp sent me this message (and I’ve seen this mentioned elsewhere), and I thought it should be reproduced here:

What’s Where in the Apple? is in the process of being readied for release as an electronic book. I am the publisher and copyright holder that published this and other microcomputer books back in the late 1970s and early 1980s as part of MICRO — The 6502 Journal.  If you go to our web site http://www.whatswhereintheapple.com (or http://www.ewwa.us) you will find lots of good information.  It also includes Chapter 1 from the Guide, page 2 from the Atlas and page 3 from the Gazetteer as samples of what the totally upgraded book will look like.

The site also contains the Adobe PDF version of the original William F. Luebbert article from the August 1979 issue of MICRO.

The plan is to release the PDF book by Sept 1, 2012 priced at $19.95.  The web site has an offer for people who pre-order now who will be notified when the book is released and then have ten days to purchase through PayPal for $15.00.

What's Where In The Apple II

The New Apple II User’s Guide

I mentioned about this back in April, about a new book about the Apple II that was coming out soon. It is now available, and from the preview info I have seen on the author, David Finnigan’s web page about it, it looks like this could be a very handy reference.

What is so great about a new reference guide on this very old computer? After all, there are many old used books out there (if you can find them) that deal with this computer, right? The problem with any of those old books (if they can be obtained) is that it was not uncommon to write a book of that type just as the new model (Apple IIe, IIc, or IIGS) was being released, which meant it was based on pre-release information. Furthermore, it assumes that you can just walk right down to your computer store and buy one. Those books were written for Apple II owners in the 1970s or 1980s. But that doesn’t necessarily work for the present. You pick up an Apple II at a garage sail, thrift shop, or eBay, and then you have to dig to find out how to use it.

What Finnigan’s Apple II User’s Guide offers is an intro to any model of the Apple II, from the oldest Integer BASIC models up through the Apple IIGS. He has an appendix that deals with the use of ADT to create disks out of downloaded disk images. He talks about enhancements like GNO/ME for the Apple IIGS. He even deals with getting an Apple II onto the Internet, something that I believe no printed book about the Apple II explains.

I find this book to be interesting enough, based on the Table of Contents pages that he has available to peruse that I plan to own a copy myself. I recommend that anyone else out there who wants a modern, up-to-date starting (or re-starting) reference to do the same. Buy this book

Happy Anniversary, Apple II !

Back in April, Harry McCracken of Technologizer and Time.com’s Techland wrote up a nice spread (photos and an article) about the 35th anniversary of the Apple II. He chose April as the month for this, as it was 35 years since the First West Coast Computer Faire, when Apple first introduced Steve Wozniak’s updated computer to the world. I didn’t post about it at the time, because for me it seems more appropriate to use June as the appropriate month to commemorate this event. It was in June 1977 that Apple shipped the first complete Apple II computers (motherboard, case, power supply, and keyboard) to customers (in May they had started selling the motherboard-only versions).

In 1992, the late great Resource Central had made up T-shirts for the 4th A2-Central Summer Conference that remembered the 15th anniversary of the Apple II. With the help of a scanner and a local artist, I can offer an updated version of that picture, again available on a T-shirt through CafePress. Click the link to my Apple II History Store, and find something you like!

35th Anniversary of the Apple II



Apple II Standard

In referring to the first Apple II released, the one before the Apple II Plus, it is common to call it the Apple II standard. The one thing I haves noticed as I’ve looked for pictures of the Apple II on the Internet is that I don’t believe there is a single one that shows what an actual Apple II system would have commonly looked like back in 1977, thirty-five years ago, when it was first released. Every picture I find shows either just the computer, or the computer with a monitor and a Disk II drive. But the Disk II did not appear until July of 1978, a full year later.

The earliest Apple II owners did what most of the microcomputer hobbyists of the day did – they used the lowly cassette to save the programs they wrote, or possibly to load software that was purchased. And even after the Disk II did appear in 1978, it was still $495. Although this was less costly than floppy disk drives for other micros of the the day[1], it was still about one third of the cost of the entry level Apple II ! For many who pioneered the use of the Apple II, it was simply not affordable to get that expensive (though highly desirable) Disk II drive, at least not for a couple of years. From 1977 until around 1982, there were a significant number of software titles that were sold on cassette, because it was the most affordable way to use the computer.

Antoine Vignau of Brutal Deluxe has created a cassette repository on his web site, documenting as many Apple II  (and Apple-1) software products that were released on cassette as he can find.

The point I wish to make is that the most accurate photo of an early Apple II system would be something like this:

Apple II, Panasonic RQ-2102 cassette, and TV
Apple II, Panasonic RQ-2102 cassette, and TV - Photo credit: Carl Knoblock, Phil Pfeiffer

Click on the picture for a larger view. Notice that we don’t have any of that fancy stuff – no disk, no monochrome monitor (certainly no color monitors were affordable in 1977!) We have an Apple II (not Plus), with the Panasonic RQ-2102 cassette tape player/recorder, and a standard television to view it all on. Now this is a proper Apple II system, circa 1977 through the early 1980s for many early owners.

Also notice that Apple apparently thought the Panasonic cassette was the best choice; they actually recommended this specific brand as best suited to use with an Apple II. Mike Willegal’s Apple Cassette Interface Notes page states that the RQ-2102 was the one Apple recommended. I find searching through the Red Book that the Panasonic RQ-309 DS is the one mentioned there. (A video on YouTube shows the 309 DS, and it is very similar in appearance to the 2102.) You can purchase a Panasonic RQ-2102 (as I did) from Amazon here, although I see the price has gone up since I bought mine a few months ago. Here is a closer up view of the player from the photo shoot of Carl Knoblock’s Apple II:

Panasonic RQ-2102
Panasonic RQ-2102 - Photo credit: personal

If you look closely, you’ll see that the tape drive contains a genuine Apple cassette – in this case, it is a tape of Applesoft IIa (not sure what the difference was between Applesoft II and IIa).

And as I’ve mentioned before, Apple still has a couple of pages that are buried deep on its web pages that deal with the obsolete Apple II, and even deal with the even more obsolete cassette tape storage format. You can see them here:

The Apple II Cassette Interface (1 of 2)

The Apple II Cassette Interface (2 of 2)


  1. [1]Competing floppy drives for S100 computers ranged from $599 for North Star’s Micro Disk System to as much as $1500 for the Altair Floppy Disk 88-DCDD with one drive and two cards to plug into one of the slots on an Altair. Hogg, Douglas, “Floppy Disks…What’s the Real Story?”, Kilobaud, March 1977, pp. 70-76, as found on <www.retrotechnology.com/dri/first_floppy.html>

KansasFest Just Around The Corner

I have not brought it up much on this blog before, but there is a great event that comes up every year in July. In sunny and hot Kansas City, Missouri is the quintessential Apple II meeting, KansasFest. I highly recommend it for all who want to experience a group of people who are some of the most knowledgable Apple II folks in the world. The keynote speaker this year is John Romero, noted game designer, who cut his teeth programming on the Apple II way back when.

You can find out more about the event at the link here, and if interested, you can register here.

KFest 2012 logo

Retro Renovation

There are those who are collectors who do a little polishing and the job is done.

And then there are collectors that do it like Rick’s Restorations on the History channel. They tear it down to the basics, clean up every piece, and then reassemble it to functional condition.

Todd Harrison has a nicely detailed blog post on how he does that very thing with an Apple II Plus, plus Monitor III, plus Disk II drives (one of which was not working until he did some service on it).

Shows what kind of fun one can have with a couple hundred dollars spent on eBay! Thanks, Todd.