The Apple IIe on a Card

The Apple IIe on a Card


The dawn of the personal computer age really
started around 1977 with the introduction of the Commodore PET, Apple II, and TRS-80. These were the first truly affordable computers
that didn’t require a customer to assemble it from a kit. All 3 of these computers had some success
in the education market. But during the 1980s, Apple managed to almost
completely take over the educational market from Commodore, Tandy, and even IBM. This strategy was good for Apple, as it meant
that students who learned on Apple computers might be more likely to buy an Apple themselves
when the time came. The Apple II series was manufactured from
1977 all the way to 1993. That’s around 16 years, a pretty impressive
lifespan. Even the Commodore 64 didn’t last that long. Of course, in 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh,
which they figured would eventually replace the Apple II. However, sales weren’t what they initially
hoped and the Apple II continued to keep the company afloat for many years after its introduction. In 1986, Apple released the successor to the
Apple II, the Apple IIgs. This was a 16-bit computer, and while it does
bear the name of the Apple II series, it’s actually almost a completely different architecture,
featuring vastly improved graphics and sound, a faster CPU, and just about everything about
it was improved. However, there’s one particular chip I want
to bring to your attention. All of the chips on the board are labeled
with their functions. For example, this one says it is for sound. These here say ROM, this one is clearly a
graphics chip, and so on. But what is this chip here labelled MEGA II? Well, believe it or not, this chip basically
contains almost an entire Apple IIe motherboard on a single chip. Now, that doesn’t include things like the
CPU and RAM, but basically everything else. This chip allowed the Apple IIgs to be backwards
compatible with software for the original Apple II series. However, as you can see by the time line here,
the Apple IIgs never entirely replaced the Apple II systems, and in fact, ironically,
it was discontinued a year before the IIe. Apple also had a really expensive desktop
system called the Macintosh II, but it saw very little success in the education market. Many school districts had invested heavily
in the Apple IIe and Iigs systems and the vast majority of the software they used in
the classrooms was designed for the original Apple II. And so it could be difficult to convince some
schools to upgrade to Macintosh computers because they would no longer be able to use
the large library of Apple II software. In 1990, Apple released the Macintosh LC,
which stands for low-cost. This finally gave schools, businesses, and
home users an option for a Macintosh computer that had color and an affordable price tag. But the LC also had something else. Inside it had something called a PDS slot. In time there would be a variety of peripherals
designed for this slot, including ethernet cards, processor upgrades, and of course,
the topic of this video… the Apple IIe card. Taking a closer look at the card, this large
chip here is called the Gemini chip. This is actually a slightly revised version
of the Mega-II chip that I showed earlier in the Apple IIgs. So, again, it’s basically most of the logic
chips of an Apple IIe combined into a single chip. This next chip here is a 65c02 microprocessor. It looks a little different from the earlier
models because it is in a square package instead of the usual DIP package. Over here is 256K of RAM. Apparently 128K is used by the Apple IIe system,
and the other 128K is used by the Macintosh side for some reason or another that I don’t
fully understand. And this chip over here is called an IWM or
an Integrated Woz Machine, which is basically a disk drive controller all integrated into
a single chip. And so that’s all of the important stuff
on the card. What I’m going to do next is go ahead and
install this into my Macintosh LC-II so we can try it out. On the back here it has a proprietary connector
where you can install this breakout cable. One of the cable ends is for connecting to
an Apple II disk drive, and the other end is for connecting an Apple II joystick. I’m going to go ahead and connect up a 5
and a quarter inch floppy drive here since most Apple II software was distributed on
this format. However, these drives can be daisy chained. In fact, you can connect up to 3 drives to
it like this, including the 3 and a half inch drives. And you can also make use of the internal
disk drive as well, which technically makes 4. OK, let’s fire this thing up. I’m going to put in a fresh COPY of the
Oregon Trail. Unfortunately, I don’t have an original
of this disk. And I’ve already got the necessary software
installed on the Mac, so I’m just going to start the IIe application. And there we go. So, there’s a few things I want to tell
you about this. First of all, this always runs full-screen. It cannot run in a window. Plus, the Macintosh is no longer multi-tasking
any other applications during this time. While the card technically is running the
software on real hardware, it’s not an emulation as such, the video however is technically
emulated. The video is drawn by the Macintosh and it
is actually a little slower than the real video system on an Apple II. The audio, on the other hand works a bit differently. I noticed something recently when looking
at the schematics of an LC system that I was troubleshooting. This section here is basically the audio portion
of the schematics. This part here is the main sound chip, and
it’s output goes down here to the amplifier portion of the circuit. If we take a closer look at just the amplifier,
you can see it has 2 sound sources. The first one comes from the Macintosh’s
sound chip, and the second one down here actually says it comes from the PDS slot. So, that means the Apple IIe card produces
its own sound and it goes straight to the amplifier. Anyway, let’s see if we can setup a party
here on the Oregon Trail. I’ll enter my name as the 8-Bit Guy. It appears it won’t accept numbers, so I’ll
have to spell it out. And I’ll need some other people, let’s
add LGR and Techmoan. Then let’s do Doctor Mix… ok, well, that
won’t fit, so I’ll shorten it. OK. And we need one more. How about Look Mum No computer. That sure won’t fit, so I’ll abbreviate
that too. OK. So we’re going all the way back to 1848. I can only imagine the 5 of us trying to survive
in that time. Anyway, if you want to exit the IIe session,
you can press control-apple and then escape. This will bring up the preferences menu. There are actually quite a few things you
can configure here about your emulated Apple IIe. For one thing, you can actually substitute
native Mac sounds for the simple Apple II beep. Over here you can setup memory expansion for
the Apple II, and this will actually use RAM from the Macintosh to emulate a memory expansion
board. You can pick anything from 256K to 1 megabyte. Here you can change the settings for the mouse
emulation. Although, I am not even sure I have any Apple
II software that uses a mouse to even test this with. There are various other things you can configure,
this is one of the more interesting ones. Slots. This allows you to select a startup slot. But more importantly, you can move things
around. So these slots represent the 7 expansion card
slots you would have on an Apple II motherboard. You can move things around to better suit
certain software configurations, although most software is standardized on a certain
layout, so I’m just going to leave it as-is. And here is smart-port. This emulates a smart-port card and you can
select what sort of drives you would like the Macintosh to emulate. Right now, drive 1 is the internal drive on
the Macintosh LC and then I have two ProDOS partitions mounted as well. Anyway, let’s try some other software. Here’s Donkey Kong. I actually can’t figure out how to control
this. I think it requires a joystick, which I don’t
currently have plugged in because at the moment I can’t find my Apple IIc joystick. Well, let’s try something other than a game. I want to see if AppleWorks will load. We actually used this software back in my
Junior High in the computer lab on our Apple II systems, mostly for the word processor
feature so we could type in our essays and things like that. However, it does work in 80-columns mode and
I wanted to see how that looked. It wants me to put in a date. I guess this is a good opportunity to see
if AppleWorks is year-2000 compliant. So, I’ll put in August 22, 2019. And nope. It doesn’t like that. So I guess we’ll put in March 20, 1986. Ok, well, other than that, it appears to be
working fine. The 80 columns is actually more readable here
than it would be on the original composite monitors. Of course, that’s the thing about the video
here. The video looks almost too good. That’s because it’s being emulated and
thus it looks almost just like a modern emulator. So, I want to try a few other things, including
BASIC. I’ll just write a little program here. OK. Now one of the things I wanted to try was
increasing the speed. So, apparently the emulated Apple II can run
at 1 MHz or 1.9 Mhz. So I’m going to put it into fast mode. Surprisingly, I don’t see much difference
here. And I suspect that’s because the bottleneck
here is the screen drawing routine, which I have read is actually slower than a real
Apple II. So, maybe some other programs that do more
number crunching would speed up more. There’s another interesting feature I want
to try. I’m going to load up Ultima IV here. And this looks really great, better than it
would on a real Apple II, I believe. Anyway, you can change it to a monochrome
monitor, which would certainly be useful for some applications. But I just wanted to see how Ultima would
look. And yep. This is exactly how I would expect it to appear
on a monochrome monitor, with the vertical striped lines instead of colors. I did a whole episode on how Apple II graphics
worked if you haven’t seen it, but it’s really bizarre as all of the color is achieved
by NTSC artifacts and timing gimmicks. And, of course, the software here is having
to emulate that effect on this RGB monitor. But it is really convenient to be able to
change it on the fly like this, it’s almost like having two different monitors for your
Apple IIe. Speaking of monitors, the Apple II series
had a resolution of 280 pixels across by 192 pixels tall. Or, if you had the 80-column card, it could
technically be double the horizontal resolution making it 560 pixels. However, this creates an interesting situation
with the LC series computers. While they can technically display 640 by
480, the default and most common monitor used with the LC can only display 512 by 384. And so, if you look at the numbers, you can
see that the vertical resolution is perfect because the Mac is exactly double that of
the old Apple II, so this is easy to scale. But the horizontal resolution is a different
story. In fact, the LC monitor technically can’t
even display all of the pixels of the Apple IIe’s 80 columns mode. They won’t even fit. Steve Jobs was very picky that Macs have square
pixels, and with an aspect ratio of 4:3, that means you have to have 512 pixels to match. So how, then, was this situation handled,
as you can clearly see the 80 columns mode working fine in AppleWorks as I showed earlier. Well, it turns out, the LC and its monitor
have a hidden graphics resolution of 560 by 384 and the only thing that can access this
resolution is the Apple IIe card. Of course, the LC series was not the only
computer that could run the Apple IIe card. In fact, another popular computer that has
a PDS slot is the Macintosh Color Classic. So, I’ll show you how to put the Apple IIe
card inside the color classic. Just turn it around to the back, and this
little cover pops off. Then you just grab and pull. It requires no tools, similar to the LC series. This particular board has an ethernet card
sitting in the PDS slot. And since there is only one slot you sort
of have to decide which card you’d rather have. For the moment, we’ll just put the Apple
IIe card in its place. Then just shove the board back in, and replace
the cover. And here we go. The color classic up and running. I already have the IIe application installed
so we’ll just start it up. I still have Ultima IV in the disk drive. And here it is on the tiny little color screen,
and it looks absolutely fantastic. Very sharp and bright. Again, this looks actually better than on
a real Apple II. There’s one thing I want to show you. This happens really fast, so I’m going to
do a freeze frame right here. Notice that the screen appears to shrink and
move to the left very briefly? Well, this is the Color Classic also entering
the special 560×384 mode, which was designed into the computer specifically for this purpose. So, which other models will it work with besides
the LC series and the Color classic? Well, it also works with the Quadra 630, and
the all-in-one LC520. However, one limitation is that it does require
system 6 through 7.5.5. So, it won’t run on anything newer. Also, there are some other Macs it will physically
fit inside but is not actually compatible due to those Macs being 32-bit or PowerPC
Macs. This card sold for $250, which was actually
a pretty good deal compared to buying an entire Apple IIe setup at the time, which could easily
cost 5 or 6 times that amount. And it’s a pretty nifty piece of hardware
and it probably did help convert quite a few Apple II customers into Macintosh customers,
which was part of the goal of this card. It’s actually kind of a pity that Commodore
didn’t have a similar device for the Amiga like the 1000 or 500 that would allow it to
run Commodore 64 software. I think that would have gone a long way towards
helping to convert the Commodore 64 base into Amiga users a little faster. Anyway, that about wraps it up for this episode. So, as always, stick around for the next one
and thanks for watching.