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Desktops (Apple) Operating Systems OS X Software Apple Hardware Technology

23 Years Later: the Apple II Receives Another OS Update ( 81

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Yesterday, software developer John Brooks released what is clearly a work of pure love: the first update to an operating system for the Apple II computer family since 1993. ProDOS 2.4, released on the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Apple II GS, brings the enhanced operating system to even older Apple II systems, including the original Apple ][ and ][+. Which is pretty remarkable, considering the Apple ][ and ][+ don't even support lower-case characters. You can test-drive ProDOS 2.4 in a Web-based emulator set up by computer historian Jason Scott on the Internet Archive. The release includes Bitsy Bye, a menu-driven program launcher that allows for navigation through files on multiple floppy (or hacked USB) drives. Bitsy Bye is an example of highly efficient code: it runs in less than 1 kilobyte of RAM. There's also a boot utility that is under 400 bytes -- taking up a single block of storage on a disk. The report adds: "In addition to the Bitsy Boot boot utility, the ProDOS 2.4 'floppy' includes a collection of utilities, including a MiniBas tiny BASIC interpreter, disk imaging programs to move files from physical floppies to USB and other disk storage, file utilities, and the 'Unshrink' expander for uncompressing files archived with Shrinkit."
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23 Years Later: the Apple II Receives Another OS Update

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  • OpenApple - Reset
  • Still better. . . (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @07:36PM (#52904761) Journal

    than Windows 10.

  • by La Gris ( 531858 ) <lea,gris&noiraude,net> on Friday September 16, 2016 @07:37PM (#52904767) Homepage

    > is pretty remarkable, considering the Apple ][ and ][+ don't even support lower-case characters.

    Wrong, there was a Prodos for the Apple][

    > Apple ][ and ][+ don't even support lower-case characters

    There was a program that piggy-backed the char display and used graphic mod to display lowercase characters, even supported accentss. Had bee used by word-processors back then. AppleWord and the Jane environment.

    And Yes I affirm, there was a Prodos for the Apple][ back then.

    • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @07:52PM (#52904837)

      Correct, there was ProDOS on Apple II. I remember using it. However according to the author himself, it was ProDOS 1.0. ProDOS 2.x apparently did not run on the Apple II. He says: "ProDOS 2.4 includes both the 6502 compatibility of ProDOS 1.x and the slot remapping functionality of ProDOS 2.x. Now Apple II programs can use a single version of ProDOS to boot any Apple II and access all storage volumes. ... For the first time, the features and improvements of ProDOS 2.x are available on 6502-based Apple ][, Apple ][+, and un-enhanced Apple //e computers."

      • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

        How about the 6502c?

        [/troll] :)

        • I don't know why...
          • The 65C02 follows the same convention that the later variations of the classic 7400 series TTL glue logic used - sandwiching the technology indicator in the middle of the part number. The original 6502 was an NMOS part; the 65C02 is a CMOS version that uses less power. It also has a few enhancements.

            Over in TTL land, you originally had the 7400, 7401, etc. Since then there have been many variants in the form 74X00 (or XX00 or XXX00 or XXXX00), where the letters in the middle indicate a difference of technol

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        I ran ProDOS 2.x on my Apple II, it helped that it had a Transwarp card which had a 65C02 and 256 KBs of memory laid out the same as a //E. I probably had to patch ProDOS as well.

    • You had to physically solder the motherboard to get lower-case on the Apple ][+. I remember my dad doing it, and it only worked in AppleWord if I recall.
      • by La Gris ( 531858 )

        There were at least two versions of the LC ROM and there was multiple revisions of the Apple][ Motherboards. Some had a socketed dip chip.
        If you used the wrong LC ROM, you got garbled font display as the data alignment/interleave was wrong. One version of the ROM required piggy-backing a line to the IC so it could address the char values range for lowercase.

        About the graphical text environment that allowed you, lowercase text and mixed text and graphic. It was brought by a software suit named like Mibbit.

  • My dual floppy drive Apple II plus with 128K RAM drive (172K total) uses floppies that, um, melted.

    Going to be hard to update that.

    • You can buy replacement blank diskettes still. (The US government has legacy systems that need them, assuring that the ancient tech will persist forever.)

      • Even eligible for amazon prime shipping! []

        You may need a floppy drive to write to them on a modern system though.

        • Even eligible for amazon prime shipping!


          You may need a floppy drive to write to them on a modern system though.

          No, I have tons of those, can even tune them

          • I forget.. Did the apple II use 5.25" floppies, or 3.5" floppies?

            I remember seeing both...

            That said, here's some 360k 5.25" disks.


            • by laird ( 2705 )

              Apple II used 5.25" floppies. Mac is what forced 3.5" disks into the market.

              • Wikipedia is my friend.

                They DID make an 800k 3.5" drive for the apple II, but it was not popular, as it needed many expensive upgrades to work.

                Those 360k 5.25" disks should work, but to use the other side you will have to cut a notch.

                • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

                  Ah the Glory days. :)

                  I remember lovingly cutting those notches in brand new floppies. :)

                • 800K 3.5" drives worked fine with the Apple //c later //e's... it was called the UniDisk 3.5, and compared to a 140K 5.25" floppy it was practically a hard drive (well, a Zip Disk, if you remember those things). The //c+ had an 800K disk built-in.
                  The UniDisk was a little-bit smart, had it's own processor if I recall, which allowed it to be plug-n-play with the // line. External 800K disks for Macs, in contrast, wouldn't work on the //'s (except for the //gs).

                • They DID make an 800k 3.5" drive for the apple II, but it was not popular, as it needed many expensive upgrades to work.

                  Bollocks. The Apple Disk 3.5 worked out of the box on the Apple IIgs (and was the preferred drive sold with it) and worked on any other Apple II/II+/IIe that had a SmartPort controller. You're probably thinking of the UniDisk 3.5 which was, definitely, a pain in the butt on Apple II's but had its own onboard programmable CPU that made it "interesting" for copy protection strategies (and breaking them).

              • Actually the Apple IIe supported both 5.25" and 3.5" floppies under ProDOS. There was another drive controller card that worked in slot 7 iirc.

                I ran many a program and wrote all of my college papers using AppleWorks on my tricked out IIe.

                80 column card, heh, I had a 1M memory card. I had to put individual memory chips into it. Toss in the 5.25" controller, 3.5" controller, 2 slot AppleCat 9600b modem, parallel card for my Apple Color dot matrix printer and the 8Mhz Zip Chip and I had the most tricked out I

            • Initially 5.25" floppies.

              DOS 3.3 and ProDOS disk were soft sectored 16 sector @ 35 tracks for 140 KB.

              But a lot of games used Roland Gustafsson's 18 sector/track RWTS for 157.5 KB.

            • Mine used an old cassette player, video was on a tv via a video recorder.
    • HackADay covered this same story and mentioned that there have been hacks to add CompactFlash card support and even USB to Apple II computers. I have seen a development board that you can use for CompactFlash, but honestly, it's price exceeds the original purchase price of the computer. I have yet to see the USB support they mentioned (and they didn't provide a link).
  • Source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @08:15PM (#52904923)

    I understand this is an independent developer's work. How can he name the software like Apple's product, and even print "(c) Apple Computers Inc" on it? Shouln'd that awake Apple's army of evil lawers?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Short answer: technically yes; probably not.

      Apple had the trademark on PRODOS, but it appears to have expired according to USPTO. Even then, they could probably make a case* that using PRODOS is likely to confuse consumers. The (c) notice, however, is merely acknowledging Apple's copyright over the original version, which is still valid - if anything, that might appease their lawyers and provide evidence that the developer was acting in good faith.

      * they might not actually win that case - expired TMs vs goo

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Friday September 16, 2016 @09:30PM (#52905315)

    > Which is pretty remarkable, considering the Apple ][ and ][+ don't even support lower-case characters.

    Then why did Apple have a "Tech Note #141" describing how to install the Shift-Key Mod ???

    * []

    Apple II and II Plus: Shift-Key Modification

    Revised: 9/30/88
    Security: Everyone

    Apple II and II Plus: Shift-Key Modification

    This article last reviewed: 26 September 1984

    Probably all Apple II owners have heard of a mysterious "Shift-Key Mod". To
    many it has remained nothing more than a rumor, possibly because most
    modifications are thought to be costly additions. Not so the "Shift-Key Mod",
    the most simple and least expensive addition anyone could do for their Apple
    II. Of software recognizing this modification, there is a wide variety:
    Apple Writer, most other word processing software packages, and the firmware
    of most 80-column cards.

    Software must recognize this alphabetic modification; the Apple alone does not
    do it automatically. After modification, the shift key allows you to enter
    uppercase characters as you do on a typewriter, without the need to precede
    them with a press of the Escape key or some other control character. You can
    still use the shift key to type the regular "shift" non-alphabetic characters,
    such as &,*,(,), and so on.

    With the "Shift-Key Mod", you use the shift key to signal the software from an
    unused part of the Apple II Game port. The Port can address four separate
    hand controls and three hand-control pushbuttons of which only two of each are
    used by the standard game paddles and joysticks. This leaves unused two hand
    control inputs and a hand-control pushbutton input. The "Shift-Key Mod"
    exploits the address of this remaining pushbutton input. In practice,
    software supporting the modification first reads the character value at the
    address of the keyboard. Then, since joysticks use pushbuttons #0 and #1, the
    software reads the state of the address of pushbutton #2 (PB2) . If the PB2
    address is operated then the software simply makes the keyboard value
    represent uppercase.

    To keep things in perspective, please note that this does not modify the Apple
    II to display lowercase nor enter lowercase characters into your programs when
    the II is in its native 40-column mode. To read the shift key's new address,
    the Apple II must have special software; without it, the II stays in 40-column
    mode. Most 80-column cards have firmware to read the address and display
    lowercase when in 80-column mode. When coding, you can easily enter lowercase

    characters into your own program's output strings with 80-column cards
    supporting the modification. However, when the program runs in 40-column
    mode, lowercase characters will appear as "garbage" characters. Adding the
    reasonably-priced "Lowercase Character Generator" on the motherboard allows
    proper display of lowercase characters in 40-column mode. Apple Writer also
    supports lowercase character generators.

    Now to make the modification. Connect two micro test clips together with 8
    inches of 28 AWG wire and solder the connections. Use micro test clips to
    match the size of Radio Shack #270-370 clips. 28 AWG wire-wrap will do. Clip
    size is most important; wire size and brands are less important. Once the
    jumper cools, install it this way:

    1. Clip one end to pin 1 of the IC located at motherboard location H14, a
    74LS251 .

    2. Clip the other end to pin 24 of the molex connector that connects the
    keyboard electronics to the keyboard. Pin 25 of this connecter is at the
    end away from the Apple's power supply. Pin 24 is to the left of pin 25.

    Copyright 1988 Apple Computer, Inc.

    Tech Info Library Article Number: 141

  • I'm going to leave this conversation now, I'm afraid my geek will show too much.

The next person to mention spaghetti stacks to me is going to have his head knocked off. -- Bill Conrad