Breaking News

Breaking-NewsjpgAfter further conversations with my publisher, we have decided it will be acceptable to leave the current Apple II History content on the site as it is. The caveat is that there is some material in the book that has been updated or expanded from what has been on the web site, and the content here will not be similarly updated for the time being.

So, for those who were concerned about the loss of the primary content on this web site as it has been for the past 15 years, this is a big win!


In the process of announcing my book, I made mention about this web site that I guess was unclear. I have had some concerned emails sent my way asking about it, and so I decided that I had better explain what I meant.

When this Apple II History web site first went online, all it consisted of were the various chapters of the original History as it was posted on GEnie back in 1991 and 1992. Then I added some links to other web sites (remember those? no one seems to do that any more!), and then I added in my Song Parodies, and then some pictures I found, and then some more articles. And then when I moved it to WordPress, I started including blog posts about topics that interested me.

So what I ended up with was The History as the core of the site, and then all of this other stuff that I’ve created or collected after I wrote The History. With time, I think The History part makes up about 50 or 60 percent of the entire content hosted here.  Oh, and I added some material to The History as I learned more that filled in gaps, or corrected mistakes, or whatnot.

clarificationThen I decided to make The History into a print book. I looked for and found a publisher who was willing to take the risk to make this into a real book (thank you Variant Press), and we entered into negotiations about the book. And one of the stipulations of our agreement was that when The Book came out, The History content would be taken off the web site.

What that means is I am not taking down the Apple II History web site. What I am doing (at least for the present) is I will be taking the various chapters of The History off the web site. Everything else (the pictures in the Museum, and the Song Parodies, and the other add-on material) will remain in place as it has been. I’m also working on a redesign of the web site that will look a bit more modern than this current WordPress theme.

And who knows? If the book does well enough I may be able to convince the publisher to let me restore at least the current History as it stands. But rest assured, the rest of the Apple II History site will still be here for as long as I am around.

The Presses Are Rolling!

Sophistication & SimplicityNot a dream! Not an alternate reality! Not a hoax!

Yes, the book is finally and truly available on Amazon for pre-order (see link below), and should be available for delivery after December 1, 2013.

The book was submitted to the printer during the past week, and the book cover design was finalized yesterday.

I am pleased with the final results, and expect that readers will like it also. As I was listening to the latest episode of the Open Apple podcast, in which Bill Martens and Brian Wiser discuss the newly released Wozpak Special Edition (another book I would strongly recommend), one of the comments made struck me.

Martens and Wiser were asked if the Wozpak was going to be available as a PDF, and they said that they felt the material was much more valuable as a print book that can be held in your hand. And I agree that the Wozpak is really better as a paper book. As a PDF, it can just go into a folder on my computer hard drive, and be forgotten. But in print form, it is simultaneously more real and more retro. It is something like the difference between running an emulated classic computer and running the real hardware. Personally, I more highly esteem physical hardware than some files on my computer, regardless of how much simpler it may be to operate.

In the same way, the release of Sophistication & Simplicity adds value to the Apple II History beyond what has classically been presented here in its online form. It is easier to read as a book that can held in the hand, rather sitting in front of your computer (or tablet) and go through all of the chapters and appendices.

Sophistication back cover
Back cover

At this time I will also announce that the Apple II History content on this web site will be removed for the foreseeable future at some time in the next month. Now, if you REALLY want to read the traditionally free version of this history, you can still download the old files from the Asimov FTP site, and you can probably find an archived version of this web site in its current form at (just enter “” in the search window for the Wayback machine.

However, I will say that although the core of the material in the History has not changed much, there is additional information in nearly every section, as well as a more interesting presentation of that material. In other words, the $29.95 price of the book (before Amazon’s discount) is not a deal-breaker if you need the info in the history for research purposes.

Click here to pre-order!

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain!

wizard of ozI myself have placed an order for the Sophistication and Simplicity book, so I would get announcements from Amazon about it. Tonight I got the email that says the order has been cancelled, and Amazon apologizes for the inconvenience.

Don’t listen to them!! It is within a week or two of being sent to the printer and will then finally be available! And I can’t wait to see it myself.

Micro-design Can Give Mega-results

I’ve had the opportunity in the past couple of weeks to listen to two podcasts in which game designers were interviewed. (I recommend you listen, also – ANTIC, The Atari 8-Bit Podcast #4 has an interview with Chris Crawford, who wrote games for the Atari 2600, Commodore PET, and Atari 400/800; No Quarter classic arcade podcast #52 has an interview with Brian Collin, who helped create the arcade game Rampage.) It brought back to mind similar stories like the making of Wolfenstein 3D for the Apple IIGS. In all of these situations the programmers had a limited space in which to do their work. They were limited in graphics abilities or limited in memory, or both, and yet they managed to create (or duplicate) games that were considered to be state-of-the-art in their day.

It brings to mind the problem on modern computers with what has been called “bloatware” – code that is large, takes up a lot of space in memory or storage or both, and often does only a little more than its predecessors.

The advantage of the small memory footprint and simpler processors in the micros of the 1970s and 1980s is that it was necessary to write compact, efficient code. The graphics had specific limitations that had to be honored. These programmers had to come up with tricks to get around those limitations, to push the boundaries to achieve the desired effect.

The programmers mentioned in the above three examples sometimes had to buck the accepted knowledge that said what they wanted to do was not possible. Brian Collin overcame memory limitations on Rampage by re-using the graphics layout for one of his monsters to create another one. Eric Shepherd had to almost re-invent how the graphics of Wolfenstein 3D were implemented in the Apple IIGS, in order to make it work. And Chris Crawford, like all who made games for the Atari 2600, had a tiny memory footprint in which to put the game itself as well as its graphics.

This limitation did not only apply to games. AppleWorks’ creator Rupert Lissner created memory management techniques that made a 64K or 128K computer and made it look like a much larger computer.

With modern computers, the programmer has exponentially more power available in which to implement his vision. The advantage is the ability to create things that could not happen in a classic microcomputer or game system. The disadvantage can be wasted resources and processor cycles. The programmer does not necessarily have to be efficient; he has a lot of space in which to work, and the operating system can take up the slack.

I have always maintained that Apple’s neglect of the Apple II platform actually resulted in the hardware being pushed to its full limits in ways that would not have been possible if they had taken the proper approach and evolved it, rather than continuing to invent successors. I admire and applaud the programmers who found their way around the limitations of the Apple II and were able to bend it to their will.

Almost There

It has taken almost two years of travel to get to this point. I left my starting point in my packed up wagon of info about the Apple II, and slowly made my way west towards the new land of print media. Along the way, I spoke to some of the natives, who gave me additional information to add to my manuscript. I had to stop frequently and rest, sometimes hunting for food (clarification of facts) when my supplies ran low. Although sometimes there was little game available, sometimes I’d find a bison’s-worth of information. And, unlike others on the trail, I often found a way to drag back all 932 pounds of the carcass to supplement my writings.

After I reached the half-way point, I thought it would be all downhill from there. Oh, silly me. I was just entering the mountains, and some of the most treacherous ground was yet to be crossed. The weather had turned a bit more chilly than I had anticipated. Challenges like exhaustion, snake-bite, and yes, even dysentery had to be overcome. But yet, I persevered. The hunting now involved some dry spots where I could only catch squirrels, and sometimes crossed paths with bears. Thankfully, my ammunition did not run out.

Despite the difficulty of the trail, I still was able to speak to some of the others who were on or near the trail. They often were able to provide me with other stories that clarified what I already knew. Some of them were old, and sometimes their memory of events was fading. Still, most of them added to my supply of provisions to help me complete the journey. And although I frequently disagreed with my guide as to the correct path to take, we finally came out of the mountains and onto safer ground.

Oregon Trail 50 miles 2

And now, the Willamette Valley in Oregon is so close I can almost smell it. The final destination is within my grasp, and expect to arrive within the new 3-4 weeks.

Possibly sooner if I don’t get dysentery again.

Definitely Not Vaporware!

The book is in the final editing stage now, so it’s getting really close. Those who have pre-ordered it are probably getting messages from Amazon that say, “Are you sure you still want this? It’s still not available.” Please be sure to tell Amazon “yes” by clicking that “continue” button. It’s a Simple choice for the Sophisticated Apple II fan who wants to have the Time of his or her Life. (You see what I did there …)

You’ll be glad you did. The final result will be worth the extra wait.

Krazy KansasFest

If you have looked over the content on this site, you have found the various song parodies I have created over the years. This year, I am inspired to make one for the annual Apple II gathering, KansasFest.

Wigginton and Woz at KFest

This year has been outstanding! I didn’t have my book ready to distribute as I was hoping, but that’s actually a good thing. The keynote speaker, Randy Wigginton, provided some insight to events that I didn’t previously have. Additionally, Steve Wozniak attended and, like Wigginton, stayed to listen to some of the sessions, including mine. Very exciting!

Steve Wozniak after my presentation

Anyway, I felt ready to create a parody for KansasFest itself, and here is what I have to share. Enjoy!

Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of KFest
by Steven Weyhrich

(parody of Nat King Cole’s song, “Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer“, from 1963)

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Those days of ProDOS and BASIC and bytes
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Dust off the Apple IIGS, don’t sleep at night.

Just fill your luggage up with floppy disks and cables
Then buy your ticket, now you’re set
And at the dorm, you’ll see the hackers at their tables
Making their projects; I don’t think they’re finished yet!

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Bring out the II Plus and plug in your gear
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
You’ll wish that KFest could always be here!

(key change)

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Plug in some slot cards, and flip on the switch
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Trace out that object code and try to find the glitch

Don’t need to tell a coding fella ’bout a RAM chip
Or some confusing address scheme
Why, from the moment that his file starts to unzip
You’ll see his winner of a program on the screen!

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Just get your IIc to plot out a sphere
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
You’ll wish that KFest could always be here

You’ll wish that KFest could always be here
You’ll wish that KFest could always be here!

Still bookin’ along

book-clip-art-7For those who are wondering when this wondrous and highly informative chronology of the Apple II and its culture will actually be available for purchase, rest assured that progress continues on the editing and polishing process. It is later than I’d hoped, but I believe the extra time being taken will result in a final manuscript that will be better for the extra care being taken.

For those others who lived through the 1970s, remember these famous commercial phrases:

“We will sell no wine before its time.” (Orson Welles, for the Paul Masson Mountain Winery)

“Is it soup yet?” (Lipton soup)

And the best known phrase of all:

“Are we there yet?” (nearly every child waiting for the end of a car trip)

It will be ready when it is fully fermented, the water has boiled, and we’ll get there when we get there, so sit back and enjoy the scenery.

As for now, I am preparing to head to KansasFest, where I expect another amazing week of Apple II retrocomputing, things old and new revealed, surprises and fun with other similar-minded enthusiasts. Hope to see you there!


Ten years ago, I received an email from a gentleman named Moses Weitzman. He wanted to know if I was interested in some old Apple II manuals and other materials that he had, but wanted to get rid of. He preferred to not just throw them away, and wanted to pass them on to someone who would appreciate them. I replied that sure, I’d be glad to take them off his hands. He shipped out a box that was not very big, but had some nice items in it, including a copy of the Red Book reference manual, and also the Blue Book Applesoft Reference Manual from August 1978.
I kept this box safely on a shelf and then later in my basement, and other than being happy in my ownership of the Red Book and Blue Book, had not really paid detailed attention to the other materials in the box.
And then, during the past few months I found myself making additional edits to my History in preparation for publication (real soon now!) I went digging on the Asimov FTP site, and found a number of old manuals and other documents that had been uploaded in the past. One of them, called Apple The Personal Computer Magazine & Catalog, Volume 1, Number 2, from 1979, made mention of the Apple II Euromod and Apple II Europlus, which took me on an investigative tour of Apple’s early years in selling the Apple II outside of the United States. And I thought to myself, “I wonder what was in Volume 1, Number 1 of that magazine that Apple published back in 1979?”
In a recent email from Andreas Siegenthaler of Switzerland, he told me that Apple DOS 3.0 actually was released to the public, bugs and all, though it was promptly replaced by DOS 3.1. He mentioned to me that he had a copy of the preliminary manual that was released, as well as the printed one for DOS 3.1 that eventually came out. I replied that I thought I had one of the printed manuals in that box in the basement sent to me years ago by Mr. Weitzman. In the interim since I received his box of materials in 2003 I have learned a bit more about scanning and how to create a PDF (thanks to Preview in Mac OS X). It occurred to me that I should get my DOS manual scanned and posted.
And then, upon opening up that box again, I found that there was not a DOS 3.1 manual. Instead, it included the photocopied pages of the DOS 3 manual that shipped with the Disk II when it came out in June 1978, plus some tech notes about the Disk II and DOS that were released a month later.
Plus, there was all of this other great stuff (which can be found here):
  • Appalogue, Volume 1, June/July 1982 – a catalog of Apple II software and hardware, apparently part of a planned magazine that I do not believe went beyond that single issue. It looks like this catalog was created in anticipation of Applefest ’82, and was probably distributed at that event.
  • Apple II Plus registration materials – You just bought a new Apple II Plus? Here is your registration card and other miscellaneous papers.
  • Apple Orchard introductory brochure, 1982 – a trifold introducing Apple Orchard to potential subscribers.
  • Apple The Personal Computer Magazine & Catalog, Volume 1, Number 1, 1979 – Yes, here is that issue #1 that was not on the Asimov FTP site. This issue focused on Apples in education. It was released before the II Plus came out in mid 1979, as there is no mention of it in the list of products available from Apple. It makes mention of PAL/SECAM versions of the Apple II for the European market, essentially the Apple II Euromod before it was called a Euromod. Also featured is the Apple Graphics Tablet without its familiar color grid (the same as the original Bit Pad from Summagraphics, which Apple adapted and sold for its own use), and the Modem IIA bundle (an Apple Communications Card and a Novation CAT acoustic modem).
  • Apple The Personal Computer Magazine & Catalog, Volume 1, Number 2, 1979 – This is the same magazine that can be found on the Asimov FTP site, but I think my scan has better colors than the one found there. This issue focused on business use of the Apple II (yes, Apple actually did promote the Apple II for business once upon a time). In the catalog section the Apple II Plus is mentioned, as well as the Apple II Euromod and Apple II Europlus. The Modem IIA package was now renamed as Modem IIB, but seems to be the same product (no explanation as to what is the difference). One of the accessories offered was a clock/calendar card, although I do not recall Apple ever selling its own such product for the Apple II series.
  • Disk II Application Note, July 30, 1978 – As mentioned above, this is basically a list of bug fixes for the recently released Disk II and DOS 3.0/3.1.
  • DOS 3 Manual (preliminary), June 1978 – The very first “manual” for Apple DOS.
  • Parallel Printer Interface Card manual, 1978 – It was this manual that I had, not the book one for DOS. Includes source code for the firmware on the card.
  • Special Delivery Software catalog, Fall 1980 – Catalog of software written by third-party developers and offered via national distribution through Apple’s own software arm. Something like the Mac App store, but 33 years ago, and without downloadable automatic updates.
  • Special Delivery Software, Spring 1981 – An update to the previous catalog. Interestingly, it mentioned Apple III software also, but I don’t think I found anything in the catalog that was for the Apple III.
  • Super Disk Copy III manual – This was not a product from Apple, but rather from Sensible Software. Written by Charles Hartley, it was primarily a more robust set of disk utilities than those offered by Apple’s FID program, even to the point of being able to recover some information from damaged disks.
  • What Is Apple Pascal? brochure, 1979 – An introductory trifold brochure about Pascal and its benefits.

So, this past weekend I went nuts with the scanner, and got all of these scanned in (other than the Red Book and Blue Book, which had already been done in the past).  I have packaged them together into the Weiztman Collection, available in the Files section of this web site at this link. The “heaviest” files are the two magazines, each 100-120 MB in size, and the “lightest” is the Disk II Application Notes, at 3.7 MB.

(I’m open to suggestions on how to fix page one of the Parallel Printer Card manual; I had a version with the sticker that says “Mo” removed (digitally), but when I tried to put it back into the PDF with the tools I have to use (Preview on my Mac) it is a different size than all of the other pages.)