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The Apple II Turns 35 Today 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-a-reminder-that-you're-getting-old dept.
harrymcc writes "35 years ago this week, at San Francisco's first West Coast Computer Faire, a tiny startup named Apple demonstrated its new personal computer, the Apple II. It was the company's first blockbuster product — the most important PC of its time, and, just maybe, the most important PC ever released, period."
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The Apple II Turns 35 Today

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  • The parents bought it for their business and for us kids.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jhoegl (638955)
      PPPFFFTTTT, IBM PS/2 was way better with its sixteen colors display matrix, its 1 minute per page dot matrix printer, and its clickity clackity keyboard of oversized proportions.
      Begone ye hippie!
      • by psergiu (67614) on Monday April 16, 2012 @04:47PM (#39704615)

        Apple II was released in 1977.
        Macintosh in 1984.
        IBM PS/2 in 1987.

        Remove you presence from our lawn, n00b.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday April 16, 2012 @04:54PM (#39704675)

        >>>sixteen colors

        You poor souls. My PC had 4096 colors, near-CD-quality sound, and true multitasking (preemptive). In 1985. My PC was a Commodore. ;-)

        • by mc6809e (214243) on Monday April 16, 2012 @05:09PM (#39704883)

          You poor souls. My PC had 4096 colors, near-CD-quality sound, and true multitasking (preemptive). In 1985. My PC was a Commodore. ;-)

          And don't forget the GPU. In 1987, Gerald Hull even used it to perform simple additions for an Amiga version of Conway's Life, making it an early example of more general purpose programming with a GPU!

          Unfortunately the Amiga wasn't that important, though it should have been.

          • by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday April 16, 2012 @06:28PM (#39705657) Journal
            Coincidently Conway's game of life is why I forked out $80 on a secondhand Apple][ in the early eighties. I had read about the game of life in an old SciAM magazine and was obsesed with drawing pages and pages of little squares with pencil and paper, I had no idea how to program the apple, but if you have ever spent all night playing Conway's game using graph paper, you may appeciate why I forked out $80 and took the time to learn. A few years later I dumped my factory job and signed up for a CS degree (graduated in 1990, a couple of years before the commercial boom started in earnest), Even though I didn't know it at the time, that $80 'toy' changed my working life like nothing else since. And I think that last point explains a lot of the nostalgia surround Apple]['s, C64's, XT's Amiga's, etc, because I'm sure I'm not the only slashdotter who (for nerdy reasons) was fiddling with a home computer in the 80's and shitting gold bricks in the 90's.

            OTOH, I had little to no interest whatsoever in the internet at first, I couldn't see what was so fasinating about 'diplaying a formatted document on a remote computer'.
          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>Unfortunately the Amiga wasn't that important, though it should have been.

            I don't know about that. When PC gamers saw the graphics & sound on Amiga, it created a demand for better video and sound card to satisfy them. Also you can still see Amiga graphics if you watch old episodes of Babylon 5, seaQuest, Hypernauts, or Star Trek Voyager (3rd and 4th season). They were using Amiga 2000s and 3000s with early versions of Photoshop/animation software.

            • It's a bit dishonest to say that 'you can still see Amiga graphics' when they were using Video Toasters for those special effects.

              Video Toasters came with the still poplar and still supported LightWave 3D, not early versions of Photoshop.

              • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday April 16, 2012 @08:56PM (#39706761)

                >>>they were using Video Toasters for those special effects

                False. I've used the Video Toaster in a television studio. It creates the various sweeps between scenes, but the actual graphics are generated by the Amiga's GPU. When you look at ships in B5 or Voyager, or subs in seaQuest, or CGI-generated people in Hypernauts, you're looking at actual polygon graphics produced by the Commodore Amiga at 704x480 resolution. It took the computer days-and-days of rendering to produce just a few minutes of CGI. (If you still have doubt, just watch the Star Wars Walker demo... all of which was produced without the video toaster.)

                BTW thanks for fixing the name of the software (Lightwave). Over 20 years one forgets names. Even now I don't remember the software I used to get online, even though I used it daily. JXterm or something like that.

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Anonymous Coward

                  False. I've used the Video Toaster in a television studio. It creates the various sweeps between scenes, but the actual graphics are generated by the Amiga's GPU. When you look at ships in B5 or Voyager, or subs in seaQuest, or CGI-generated people in Hypernauts, you're looking at actual polygon graphics produced by the Commodore Amiga at 704x480 resolution.

                  None of those graphics were generated by an Amiga "GPU", because the Amiga didn't actually have one.

                  It had a blitter, which is a fancy DMA memory copy engine, and it had "copper programs", which were an old and primitive tech (as in, not Turing complete) descended from Jay Miner's previous personal computer design (the Atari 8-bit). Neither is a recognizable relative of a modern GPU.

                  Programs like Lightwave 3D did everything with software rendering engines. The only function of the Amiga's graphics hardwar

                  • by cpu6502 (1960974)

                    >>>Amiga didn't actually have a GPU

                    Funny that. I could have sworn the Amiga came with not just 1 but *4* processing units. One for sound (SPU). Two for graphics (GPU). And of course the central processor (CPU). And they multitasked the execution of programs, such that one could be playing music code, another manipulating graphics, and the CPU crunching algorithms.

                    To imply the chipset was nothing more the dumb slave chips with no intelligence is a falsehood worthy of a politician. It was beca

                    • The Amiga had a graphics accelerator (for hardware blitting), but it's a big stretch to call it a 'processing unit'. The difference between a GA and a GPU is that the latter is turing complete. The GA in the amiga couldn't do much beyond 2D parallax and sprite effects, although it was very good at syncing with NTSC/PAL signals, which meant it could act as an extremely good framebuffer (it was a hell of lot cheaper than buying a pronto!)

                      The GA in the amiga could not be re-programmed in any way, so it coul
        • My PC was a Commodore. ;-)

          This. When I started shopping for a PC in 1978, the choices were: Apple ][+, TRS-80, and Commodore PET. After playing with all three for several weeks ("Kid, if I see you come in my store again without buying anything I'm gonna call the police!") I picked the PET because it was so cool to be able to do "graphics" simply as printable extended ASCII characters, and animate them with PEEK and POKE directly into video RAM. I couldn't understand why people thought that stupid Apple was such hot stuff.

          Of cours

          • by Caerdwyn (829058)

            Bah. Kids these days.

            First computer: Processor Technology SOL-20. Intel 8080 processor, Northstar BASIC and a screamin' 143k floppy drive. 1975.

            You kids and your square keyboards.

            • by hawk (1151)

              Bah. You kids.

              Pre-built computers.

              and I thought I wimped out on my first machine by using ICs and wire wrap . . . :)

              hawk

          • by OakDragon (885217)

            This. When I started shopping for a PC in 1978, the choices were: Apple ][+, TRS-80, and Commodore PET...I picked the PET because it was so cool to be able to do "graphics" simply as printable extended ASCII characters, and animate them with PEEK and POKE directly into video RAM...

            You could do that with the TRS-80, too. (I am not sure about the Apple.) Unfortunately the TRS-80 "graphics" were blocky monochrome things... I was attracted to the TRS-80 because I thought it was neat that it came with its own monitor, and I liked the crisp 64 x 16 screen full of text. It was *not* good for most graphic games, but some creative types did great things with it (witness Leo Christopherson's [leochristopherson.com] Dancing Demon [dnull.com]).

          • by Rubinstien (6077) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @01:26AM (#39707951)

            I was able to get a standing pass out of art class as a sophomore in high school to go work on art projects in the Apple II lab for a couple of months. Our art teacher was on maternity leave. I decided I did not like the substitute teacher, and luckily for me she had been given the explicit instruction to let me do whatever the heck I wanted to. So I elected to spend my time elsewhere.

            The graphics available from BASIC on the Apple ][+ were crude, but better IMHO than the programmable-character "graphics" available on the early Commodore and TI machines. I wrote code for all of them -- including a program that let you use a joystick or paddle for an on-screen "Etch-A-Sketch" style drawing program that would let you save and restore your drawings. Doing that by re-defining characters on the fly in BASIC was not much fun. It did have an advantage over the "real" Etch-A-Sketch in that you had to hold down a joystick button in order to draw, otherwise the single-pixel cursor would just be moved around. I wrote that same program in Commodore Basic for my best friend's PET (at his house while he spent the time playing Intellivision), TI-Basic, and AppleSoft Basic.

            That was the level I was at when I started trying to do "art" on the computer. While playing with things and reading magazines from the stack in the corner of the lab, I learned about how the Apple colors were actually pulled off, and realized that White 1/White 2 and Black 1/Black 2 were a half-pixel offset from each other. This allowed you to draw a white line and then draw a pixel-shifted black line on top of it to get thinner lines, which worked great for crosshatching and other fill effects. That got me interested in the fact that the fonts exploited this feature to get smoother curves on-screen, and I began exploring writing my own fonts and doing graphics from inside the assembler/monitor. As a result, I taught myself 6502 assembler and wrote fast "vector" graphics routines that I could call from BASIC, as well as routines that let me draw my own text on-screen as well, not constrained to the rectangular grid of normal characters.

            I had to demo how I had been spending my time to my real art teacher when she returned. She appreciated what I had accomplished artistically (including various "vector" animations), but understood little of it. Her eyes glazed over when I began explaining assembly language routines. I got an "A" for my self-directed art study though, which consisted mostly of learning 6502 assembler :-)

          • by TheLink (130905)
            You could poke directly into video RAM on the Apple II.

            The Apple II was actually a very simple/primitive machine in terms of hardware - Wozniak managed to have most stuff done by the CPU and so reduce the number of supporting chips.
        • by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday April 16, 2012 @11:52PM (#39707599)

          > true multitasking (preemptive)

          Well... yes, and no.

          The Amiga's UI was preemptively-multitasked (and interrupt-driven). To a large extent, Intuition was indifferent to the state of running applications. If an application crashed, the mouse pointer still moved, you could still drag screens, and you could still move and uncover windows. It SEEMED like preemptive multitasking compared to Windows, because Windows has always made applications responsible for managing their own window contents. If you obscure a window in Windows, Windows leaves it up to the application to re-draw it. In contrast, when you obscured a Window under AmigaDOS2.x (for instance), it just set a 'dirty' bit that didn't get cleared until the application did something to change the screen. As long as the dirty bit didn't get cleared, Intuition itself would save the contents of whatever got obscured, and put it back when you revealed the underlying window again. Under Windows, if the app crashed, covering the crashed app's window with another one just smeared it away into junk.

          Likewise, Amiga's dialog boxes were completely indifferent to the state of the running application. This occasionally caused problems, because if your application threw up a dialog, then took a long time to do something before bothering to check its message queue, you could end up with absurd situations, like "User clicked BOTH 'ok' AND 'cancel' at least once".

          In a real sense, Windows 2000 (maybe even NT) had better preemptive multitasking than the Amiga... but it didn't feel like it, because a badly-running (or crashed app) made the UI itself appear to be partly crashed. If you think about what Windows 2000 was really doing when it ran DOS apps, it was basically the equivalent of multitasking crack screens and megademos.

          Put another way, the Amiga's multitasking was more sizzle than steak, but it pulled off the illusion well, and basically pulled off multitasking better than everything else in its era (Mac, PC, ST). Win32 multitasking (at least, NT and beyond) was technically superior in more and more ways with each new version, but because Windows apps themselves sucked so badly UI-wise when things didn't go well, the illusion of multitasking was prematurely shattered, and the user felt like it was inferior. If you really want to see true preemptive multitasking in a vintage OS, get Windows 2000 and run DOOM, WordPerfect for DOS, AutoCAD, and a bunch of other DOS apps in windowed mode. That was where Windows could really shine... it's just that by the late 90s, nobody really cared about multitasking DOS apps any more, and Windows did such a shitty job of multitasking the UI for actual Windows apps.

        • by toejam13 (958243) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:15AM (#39707715)

          Except that the IBM PS/2 came with a VGA video adapter. It could display 256 colors from a 65K color palette; the Amiga could only display 32 colors from a 4096 color palette. The extra half-bright (EHB) mode still used a 32 entry CLUT... it generated colors 32-63 by halving the luma intensity of colors 0-31; it wasn't a true 6bpp color mode. And the hold-and-modify (HAM) mode used differential values to calculate color; subsequent pixels had a limited color range as you could only jump so far in the color palette from one pixel to the next. Sure, you could use unique CLUTs for each scanline to increase the number of on-screen colors, but it required a great deal of processor power to calculate on the fly. That's why it was mostly limited to static images (just as it was on the Apple IIgs that could do a similar trick).

          And while the Denise could thump any PC audio chipset in the 1980s, it was not near CD quality. The highest sample rate was only 28KHz with 8 bits of resolution. CDA has a sample rate of 44.1KHz with 16 bits of resolution. Sure, you could use the 6-bit volume control register to create additional quantization steps, but you sacrificed two audio channels to do it. And 12 bits of resolution was a theoretical maximum; real world resolutions were smaller, especially as samples got louder. And again, it required a great deal of processor power to calculate on the fly

          Lastly, you could install Coherent-386 on an IBM PS/2. True multitasking along with memory protection and multi-user support. You also had Concurrent CP/M-286 and -386 editions. They weren't popular, but they were available. And if you really want to split hairs, OS-9 was one of the first preemptive multitasking operating systems for consumer computers (read: not mainframes or minicomputers).

        • by tyrione (134248)

          >>>sixteen colors

          You poor souls. My PC had 4096 colors, near-CD-quality sound, and true multitasking (preemptive). In 1985. My PC was a Commodore. ;-)

          My NeXTCube with a NeXTDimension board crapped all over your Commodore. Not to mention the OS was lightyears ahead.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My 48K Apple ][ was my first major purchase (in 1981); it cost more than the nonrunning car I bought in 1980, and more than the total of the car and the repair costs to get it running. Saved every penny, used a used color TV for a monitor, hacked a gameport print driver cable, and with later purchases played marathon sessions of Wizardry 1 and 2. It took a year to save up enough for the floppy drive (a Lobo, not an Apple Disk ][ which I could not afford for another year) and a better monitor.

      I still have

      • I'll have to ask my dad whatever he did with the old A2+.... Dual 5.25 drives, 80 column card, I think it even had a ram upgrade.

        My dad's factory used networked apple ][s for production QC for YEARS, it was really the only cost effective data acquisition at the time. Worked just fine!
      • by Rotag_FU (2039670)

        I started as a kid with a pretty sweet Apple IIe with dual disk drive, extended memory, and 80 column card. I learned basic on it, typing, and general computer knowledge. I loved that thing. I was absolutely heart broken when I found out that my dad sold it at a garage sale after I was in college for not much money. If I would have known he was going to sell it, I'd have bought it from him. It still worked great and meant more to me for nostalgia value than whatever pittance he got for it. Oh well.

    • by antdude (79039)

      I had an Apple //c for gaming, edutainment, LOGO, BASIC, AppleWorks (love those ASCII art works like multiple folders), etc. Fun times. :)

    • Apple ][+ was my first computer too. Learned BASIC on it. DOS BOSS, peek, poke, so on. Played tons of games on it too. I was in grade school.

      Then... After a few years, a new one came into the house.... Tandy 1000 with it's fancy pants 10 meg hard drive. Well now, aren't YOU special?

      Sigh.

      I remember occasionally it would glitch out and I would solve the problem by lifting up the front of the chassis by maybe 2 or 3 inches and let it fall down onto the desk. Worked like a charm. My dad disagreed, he prefe
  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Monday April 16, 2012 @04:32PM (#39704425)

    My old Apple ][+

    Damn I'm old.

    • by Nimey (114278) on Monday April 16, 2012 @04:43PM (#39704573) Homepage Journal

      Are /all/ your computers called Eric?

  • Hooray! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    35 years ago one could play games on their Apple computer, like Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Dragon Wars, Wasteland, among others.

    Today Apple creates consoles that run Photoshop with one button to avoid confusion by 'savvy' users.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      35 years ago one could play games on their Apple computer, like Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Dragon Wars, Wasteland, among others.

      Today Apple distributes the first and third most popular single Unix distributions in the world.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Monday April 16, 2012 @05:31PM (#39705085) Journal

      You can still play [sourceforge.net] Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Dragon Wars, Wasteland, and others [asimov.net] on your Apple computer, even if it isn't 35 years old.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        How would things go if you submitted an iOS version of that? Things have changed.

        It's fun to ask people if they played the original Castle Wolfenstein, with most thinking of the much later Wolfenstein 3D. It was a pretty cool trick to get 'voice' out of an Apple ][ in the early 80's.

        • by ncc74656 (45571) *

          How would things go if you submitted an iOS version of that? Things have changed.

          Look up Best of FTA [google.com]. Used to be you could get it to drop to a BASIC prompt, but I think the current version reboots on Ctrl-Reset. I tried changing the startup slot in the Control Panel, but got nowhere with that. I think you could still transfer ProDOS filesystem images over to it and use it as a more general-purpose Apple IIGS emulator, but I've not tried doing that yet.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday April 16, 2012 @04:36PM (#39704483)

    - Commodore PET (same CPU as Apple II)
    - TRS-80 with Zilog-80 processor (best selling computer of 1978, 79, and 80).

    Source: http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2005/12/total-share.ars/3 [arstechnica.com]

  • by EXTomar (78739) on Monday April 16, 2012 @04:40PM (#39704535)

    Although not strictly the Apple II, the IIe was the first real computer brought into my house growing up. Now that I'm a professional working adult, looking back on that box with the green monitor, the one floppy drive, and other details I wondered how in the world my parents were able to justify and afford the thing! As the article correctly points out, at $1200~ 1980 dollars that is around $5000 today! That was probably the most expensive piece of technology in the house at the time and I never realized it at the time where instead I was simply happy to mess around with Applesoft Basic and various games.

    • As the article correctly points out, at $1200~ 1980 dollars that is around $5000 today!.

      Close, but about $1000 [tomshardware.com] short

      • by NibbleG (987871)

        As the article correctly points out, at $1200~ 1980 dollars that is around $5000 today!.

        Close, but about $1000 [tomshardware.com] short

        How is an eBay auction today relevant to the adjusted price of a [computer] in 1977?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Although not strictly the Apple II, the IIe was the first real computer brought into my house growing up. Now that I'm a professional working adult, looking back on that box with the green monitor, the one floppy drive, and other details I wondered how in the world my parents were able to justify and afford the thing! As the article correctly points out, at $1200~ 1980 dollars that is around $5000 today! That was probably the most expensive piece of technology in the house at the time and I never realized it at the time where instead I was simply happy to mess around with Applesoft Basic and various games.

      A couple of years ago people were spending more than that on big screen TVs. They've come down in price since. It all depends on whether you have a disposable income. TVs can be educational but are usually used to watch junk and a bigger TV adds nothing to the quality of the content (though bigger may impact learning/attention for younger children). Your parents through wisdom or accident chose to spend money on something that contributed to your education and your ability to compete. Then and now there are

      • by iroll (717924)

        I spend about eighteen hours a day with a computer on in my presence, and eight-plus hours interacting with one. I'd hazard to say that I'm computer literate.

        I also happen to be one of those luddites who thinks people should learn to do math on paper first, only I prefer to think that it's important for a person to be flexible and capable of doing math without a calculator. You might never do long division again, but then again, you might; wouldn't it be a lot easier to have it already exist in your mental

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          I spend about eighteen hours a day with a computer on in my presence, and eight-plus hours interacting with one. I'd hazard to say that I'm computer literate.

          I also happen to be one of those luddites who thinks people should learn to do math on paper first, only I prefer to think that it's important for a person to be flexible and capable of doing math without a calculator. You might never do long division again, but then again, you might; wouldn't it be a lot easier to have it already exist in your mental

          • by iroll (717924)

            It's funny; the basic argument that I hear for "more computers" and "more calculators" is that the calculator frees you from drudgery and allows you to spend more time on the big picture, or the important concept.

            I'm not going to deny that this is true sometimes. But having been a teacher I also think that it's warning that the lesson isn't being done as well as it could be. There's so much in math and physics that can be done without pages of arithmetic or with just a limited amount of algebra or calculu

            • by tlhIngan (30335)

              It's funny; the basic argument that I hear for "more computers" and "more calculators" is that the calculator frees you from drudgery and allows you to spend more time on the big picture, or the important concept.

              I'm not going to deny that this is true sometimes. But having been a teacher I also think that it's warning that the lesson isn't being done as well as it could be. There's so much in math and physics that can be done without pages of arithmetic or with just a limited amount of algebra or calculus

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      $1200??? Wow. My first computer was only $400 (the C64). For a CRT, we just plugged the thing into the TV.

      • Being able to be plugged into a tv was one of the outstanding features of the Apple II from very early on. You'd need a Sup 'R' Mod if you didn't have a composite input on your tv, but this was no obstacle.

        IIRC the guy who made the things (per an agreement with Apple, who didn't want to bother with the FCC certification for it) sold a few hundred thousand of them.

        • by hawk (1151)

          It wasn't so much "didn't want to bother," but a deliberately distancing.

          My understanding is that that circuitry had been meant to be part of the ][, but it would have crated FCC issues for all of the machines, not just the ones going into homes.

          Sending it to another compay made it just plain not an apple product, and completely distance the real product from FCC rules, which were changing rapidly at the time.

          Gee, if someone wanted to sell an adaptor for it, wow, that was cool, and it just happened that tha

  • by KatchooNJ (173554) <KatchooNJ@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Monday April 16, 2012 @04:44PM (#39704575) Homepage

    Toast to evenings once upon with that soft green monochrome glow... and me dying of dysentery.

    • by wjcofkc (964165)
      Ah memories. If I had a mod point for you. Cheers old timer.

      Wonder if I can get the apple ][ version of that game running under emulation or maybe it's off written in javascript or flash somewhere...
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      M.U.L.E.
      Enough said. "Archon" was also a cool game. And Spindizzy. And Silent Service. And Red Storm Rising. And Pirates. And.....

      • by Creepy (93888)

        Weird... I didn't play any of those on the Apple ][, and I played nearly everything on the Apple ][. Oregon Trail is the exception, because I was living in the state that created and funded it. I played a bit of M.U.L.E. on a trash-80 I think (youch!). Silent Service was definitely on a colorless mac, and Archon and Pirates definitely on an IBM PC. Spindizzy I've never heard of until now, but looking it up I see it was similar to Marble Madness, and I played the actual Marble Madness port, so I probably did

    • by antdude (79039)

      You can play it in colors AND online: http://www.virtualapple.org/oregontraildisk.html [virtualapple.org] ... ;)

  • The Apple-][ was my first as well. I had to move beyond Integer Basic to asm in order to figure out the increasingly complex copy protection that was evolving as fast as we could figure it out ... Did my first BBS'ing with a Hayes MicroModem...

    good times ...

  • Started with a used ][+. Strangely, to this day, I've never owned another Apple product. In the early years, it was a matter of cost and availability to me. These days, I just prefer to stroll around outside the walled garden. But, man, I loved that computer.

  • The Apple ][+ (please, people, use the right characters for it) on which I learned to code back in 1980 in school, thanks to the incredible forward vision of a man I only knew as "Mr. McAniff." All good things in my life...and there are so, so many of them...came from that. Rest in peace, Mr. McAniff, I bow to you now and for all time.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      characters depend on model, II appeared on the IIe platinum, I usually type // cause that is what my //e enhanced that we had for half my life, and the //c that I have today

  • Maybe not. The IBM PC was way more important.

  • . now!

    I've got a project going to put a modern micro-controller into it. There are times when I will write on it too. The keyboard just brings back a wonderful state of mind and many memories of happy times.

    Like another contributor up thread mentions, I owe a lot to a Mr. Krouse, who put a few of us on the machines and encouraged us to "go boldly forth", and we did! Figuring out binary math on the blackboard, typing in 6502 assembly language into the monitor to make fast little subroutines, and sounds. Shape tables. Then there was Copy II+ Yeah baby! We had some of everything floating around the school.

    Text adventures were the best. I still enjoy playing them. Heh, I've not looked, but those need to be on the smartphones yesterday. Hook 'em early.

    LOGO, PASCAL, CP/M...

    Artifacting. When I was a kid, the Apple graphics fascinated me. Other computers had a different look to them, well generally. It turns out Woz exploited NTSC to get color. The 3.58 Mhz color carrier present on composite video signals limits overall luma resolution. Small pixels end up getting translated into both luma and color because of their high frequency content. The phase between them and the reference color signal dictates which color will be seen.

    Pixel position on the screen equates to color, in other words. Additionally, on all but the very first revision Apple ][ computers, the 7th bit in the high-res graphics screen would trigger a 1/2 pixel phase shift, creating the first "color cell" type graphics to be seen. Of course, that also introduced color clashing...

    My first Apple experience was on the monochrome green or amber screen monitor. They had a fairly high image persistence too. I want one for some stuff today, for that exact reason. Man! We are tossing the CRT's at an amazing rate, driving up the cost considerably. I regret getting rid of my old one now, but I digress.

    Simple on or off pixels made a lot of sense, until that Apple was connected to a TV where the color fringing on text could be seen, and a whole lot of it could be seen on the 80 column text! That triggered a lot of learning about TV signals, and artifacting on just about every machine I've been on since. If it outputs to TV, I've tried artifacting on it. Lots of fun.

    Some of us in high school proposed making up a character set to provide for moderate resolution color graphics. Non user definable characters was seen as a clear disadvantage after we saw what the Atari, Commodore, and other machines could do. My CoCo also had a fix character set, BTW.

    The number of variations on artifacted pixels ended up being quite high, with some impressive images possible. Before the Beagle Brothers software came out, we had written a simple painter program in Applesoft and were creating some fairly nice images, though many of those ONE DOT AT A TIME. When displayed on an 80's era TV, colors were seen all over the place, creating pretty solid pixel artists out of some of us.

    (not me, I kind of sucked)

    When double-high resolution graphics hit the scene, it became apparent that the 1Mhz 6502 wasn't really enough to fully exploit the machine capability. Until that time though, I was stunned at what people managed to do with the Apple. The other machines had faster CPU's, or better graphics chips, not just some hard-wired TTL thing, and that made for more appealing visuals in most cases, but... The Apple was a well rounded experience, and the funny thing about them was most owners had a good setup. Games saw good ports, and the experience, even the wierd audio from clicking the speaker was very good.

    So much software for the Apple...

    The best though? The machine was laid bare. It shipped with ROM listings, and the slots and pins inside just screamed, "hack me!", and the built in monitor said, "program me!"

    Those years spent learning how to get an Apple to do stuff were responsible for my professional work today. We learned so much!

    Some days, I'm crappy, bur

    • At $250/copy, this was not a cash cow; it was a cash stampede. I got far more than my money's worth from it--used it hours a days for years.

      • by PotatoHead (12771)

        Yeah, same here. Great value, and everybody knew it. If they didn't, it only took a quick, "hey look at this!" demo to seal the deal. Notably, Apple still leverages software in tandem with hardware today. It's a compelling model. Not the cheapest, but very high value overall.

        The only other company, I can think of right away, that did this was SGI. IRIX came with a nice set of basic multimedia tools.

  • Some cool Apple ][ trivia ...

    - Karateka was one of the first games to have cut-scenes. Here is the end-game music in MIDI format =)
    http://michael.peopleofhonoronly.com/dev/applewin/karateka/karateka_end.mid [peopleofhonoronly.com]

    - Conan: Hall of Volta by Datasoft (*) was the one of the first games to use a 1-bit stencil buffer!
    http://michael.peopleofhonoronly.com/dev/applewin/conan/conan_stencil_buffer.bmp [peopleofhonoronly.com]

    - Broderbund games (Drol, Spare Change, Captain Goodnight, Choplighter, etc.) offered smooth animation because they used the (initially) undocumented V-SYNC: (Vertical Blanking) !
    RDVBLBAR = $C019 ;not VBL (VBL signal low)

    I highly recommend AppleWin for finding out old Easter Eggs =)
    http://applewin.berlios.de/ [berlios.de]

    * To see the stencil buffer you need
    a) disk image
    ftp://ftp.apple.asimov.net/pub/apple_II//images/disk_utils/cracking/the_saltine/Conan%20A.dsk [asimov.net]
    b) Mount disk A in the first drive in AppleWin
    c) press F2 to boot
    d) at the intro. screen press F7 to enter the debugger
    e) in the debugger type the following commands to view the HI-RES pages 1 or 2 respectively
    HGR1
    HGR2

  • Don't you actually have to be alive at 35 to reach the age of 35?

    Apples have been obsolete and out of production for a long time. We don't normally talk about those who are dead, transformed into aquariums, and buried, as reaching a certain age -- corpses are ageless.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      Don't you actually have to be alive at 35 to reach the age of 35?

      Apples have been obsolete and out of production for a long time.
      We don't normally talk about those who are dead,
      transformed into aquariums, and buried, as reaching a certain age -- corpses are ageless.

      My Apple II is still going strong.

  • Don't like the mac, the iphone, the ipod, the ipad, or the isoul. woz++

  • I was there and stopped by the Apple booth to pick up one of their brochures after hearing about the company from a friend. Still think it is stashed away somewhere in my collection. I was a bit more impressed by the Compucolor, but that machine unfortunately never took off.

    One amusing note was finding out five years later that Trip Hawkins had also attended the Faire that year and that's what led him to join Apple.

    • by tgeek (941867)
      Ah the old CompuColor! I fell in love with it at a local computer store in Toledo, OH. The big selling point for me was the Star Trek game where the Enterprise shot a block graphics phaser at the Klingons. Previously all my Star Trekking (actually a modified Space Wars) was scrolling text based. I don't recall if the price tag was $2000 or $5000 -- either way it was well beyond any reasonable hope for my working class minimum wage budget (at that time).
      • by hawk (1151)
        The Compucolor, or the Compucolor II (with its peculiar half density drives). I don't think I ever saw a "I," and am not sure that it really made it to production.

        anyway, AppleTrek is the one I found unique--the computer set its move before you made yours, and the Klingons had photon torpedos, too.

        You could maneuver between two of them, the move. One would oft shoot the other--who, if he survived, w likely to return fire.

        I learned to program cheating at that game :)

        hawk
  • I was lucky enough to get an Apple ][ when I was a kid. Not the ][+ so it had Integer Basic not Applesoft floating point basic. So you could only use integers..

    I remember many, many hours spent making an animation for my middle school art class project (everyone else was drawing stuff). It was a drive through the desert looking through a dashboard, with cacti going by and I think engine sound.

    I remember getting a Language Card (a 16KB memory expansion I think) so I could use Pascal which was very cool thoug

  • I sold my old Apple ][ just two months ago on eBay. It went to a fellow in Colorado who needed to do some kind of data work. I was happy to see it wasn't gong for parts, at least not yet.
  • If someone hasn't heard about it yet, the source code for the Apple II version of the original Prince of Persia has been found in Jordan Mechner's spring cleaning. Before someone spouts "sure, and my uncle is Bill Gates", check out the website [jordanmechner.com]. Enjoy.

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