July 23rd, 2014

KansasFest Day 1

For those willing to get up early and make the trek, breakfast happened. Others (imo) wisely chose to save their energy and sleep in. Today is the official first day of KansasFest 2014 and it’s going to be crammed full of activity.

Our first event was the Garage Giveaway, sometimes referred to as ‘freebay’. Attendees got to grab as much Apple II gear, magazines, software and books as they could carry FOR FREE. Apple IIGS monitors were a big hit this year, as were several Apple II and vintage Macintosh computers. At least 92% of what was brought has been claimed by eager KFesters. A great big thank you to everyone who donated to help defray gas, storage and shipping expenses, but our deepest gratitude is extended to KFest Alums Michael Mahon and Ray Merlin for their personal donations to the Apple II community.

After the Apple II feeding frenzy, a feeding frenzy of another kind was held. The annual Kookout hosted by GrillMeister Kirk Mitchell is the official ‘meat and greet’ social event of the conference. Burgers and hot dogs (even the veggie variety) were heaped before hungry attendees. Yum.

Margot Comstock, editor and publisher of Softalk Magazine presented the keynote. Margot is awesome, and it was a privilege to hear her stories about the history of the magazine, the early microcomputer industry and her personal anecdotes about relevant people she’s known (like Woz). Personally, Softalk will always be my favorite Apple II magazine (with Nibble being a close second). Margot and Al Tommervik (who both founded Softalk in 1980) were presented with the ‘Apple II Forever’ award by the KansasFest Organizing Committee in recognition of their contributions to the Apple II community.

Peter Neubauer next demonstrated Appletalk networking with GSport. Spoiler: Peter wrote the code that makes GSport the first modern Apple IIGS emulator with built-in support for Appletalk. Peter showed how seamless the Appletalk support is, by sharing files with emulated and real Apple IIGS machines.

After dinner, Rob Walch of ‘Today In iOS’ podcast gave his annual update on tips, updates and predictions for iOS. I skipped it, because I was doing Apple II stuff elsewhere.

The evenings activities were pretty laid back. Sarah W. presented an Apple II themed ‘make your own Christmas ornament’ session. Concurrently, the classic ‘Bite the Bag’ contest was held. First time attendee Ian Primus won, followed by Andy Molloy in second place.

The last session featured James Littlejohn leading a workshop on accelerating your Apple IIc Plus. It’s actually pretty easy to double your average IIc Plus from 4MHz to 8MHz or even 10MHz under the right conditions. James and a few helpers managed to upgrade about a dozen machines in the span of about an hour. It’s *that* easy.

Afterwards there were a few late night outings to local restaurants, and lots of gabbing in the common areas before eventually, sometime around 4:00am, even the die-hards began calling it quits.

July 23rd, 2014

KansasFest Day 0

Tuesday is move-in day, and it’s HOT here at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO. I arrived with James Littlejohn just before 11:00am and we were greeted by several other KansasFest attendees. We have a big turnout this year (lots of new people), about 70 Apple II enthusiasts have braved the elements, highways and crowded airports (with friendly frisking by Homeland Security) to come here for THE ULTIMATE APPLE II PARTY in the world.

Nothing official is planned today. This is when we unpack and settle in, fill the coolers, make our trips to get supplies and catch up with our friends. It’s when we unload a huge truck full of Apple II gear, software, magazines in the hot and humid weather, just to give it all away the next day. It’s when we hit a local favorite BBQ establishment en mass and overwhelm the reception staff. It’s where we stay up until 1, 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning swapping technical information and Apple II stories, showing off projects and trading parts.


June 26th, 2014

Vince Briel to host BIY workshop at KansasFest 2014

KansasFest attendees are in for a special treat this year. Vince Briel is attending and will once again host a ‘build it yourself’ workshop. You can sign up to assemble any of his famous kits, including the brand new Ohio Scientific Superboard III (another famous 6502-based micro).

Complete details are on the Briel Computers web site.

December 10th, 2013

Students experience 30 years of Apple technology

At Kenilworth’s Joseph Sears School (Chicago, Illinois suburb), students recently participated in a ‘visual history of technology’ exhibit featuring 30 of Apple’s products from the Apple II through the latest iOS equipped devices. The exhibit is now on permanent display.

The students researched the Apple computers used by their school district over the years and interviewed the former technology coordinator. It’s a fun read and it’s nice to see the contributions of the Apple II series in education weren’t forgotten.

Check out the article here. You can also see a tour and listen to the students present their written and oral reports on the various Apple models at Elisabeth LeBris’ Apple Computer Museum site.

It looks like the students grabbed pictures of some very well-equipped machines off the Internet. If only school cast-offs were loaded like these units (with accelerators, RAM and other goodies).

September 12th, 2013

Original Mac dev team gathers to remember the Twiggy Drive

As an Apple II fan site, we don’t post very many articles about our frenemy, the Macintosh. That’s unfortunate, because I’ve often felt several of the Macintoshes (especially later models) were amongst the best Apple II peripherals ever made.

This story posted on CNET today is an exception, as it features pictures and anecdotes from many of the early Apple employees who worked on the Apple II and the first Mac. Check out Apple’s ‘Twiggy Mac’ comes back to life by Dan Farber. It’s an interesting read for Apple history buffs.

August 3rd, 2013

Open Apple special KansasFest 2013 coverage

The Open Apple team forced Carrington Vanston of 1 MHz and KansasFest first-timer Kevin Savetz of the new (and excellent) ANTIC: The 8-bit Atari Podcast into a room in the basement of Corcoran Hall at Rockhurst to record the very first Open ANTIChertz.

Listen in as we discuss KFest goings-on, from Kevin’s impressions — both as a newcomer to the week-long convention and as a life-long Atari fan — to Randy Wigginton’s keynote, the appearance of a working Apple-1, and did someone mention Woz? Yes, for what feels like the thousandth time, Mike recounts the harrowing tale of how we got the Apple co-founder and creator of our favorite computers to return to Kansas City on the 10th anniversary of his keynote speech, and 25th anniversary of our favorite summer camp for geeks. Download our collaborative KansasFest report now!

Then Mike and Ken kick out their guests just in time to hustle Woz away from the hectic crowds of Apple II fans for a few minutes, and sit him down for an interview. Did the Apple co-founder have fun at Rockhurst this year? Listen to our interview to find out!

July 24th, 2013

KansasFest 2013 is officially here


KansasFest seemed to start early this year, as some of the Apple II faithful began arriving Monday in anticipation of Tuesday’s usual early move-in day. Once Tuesday arrived, people started unloading their gear, computers and supplies for the week-long experience. We have *several* new attendees this year, and the dorms are buzzing with rumors that Woz will make an appearance. Meanwhile, old and new friends alike are prepping for one of the most epic KansasFests ever. Tonight we’ll dine out, and then head back to the dorms.


Hackfest kicks off today! It’s like the Apple II version of Beyond Thunderdome.

This morning started out with sorting and organizing recent acquisitions for the somewhat annual ‘Garage Giveaway’. Magazines, manuals and disks full of software were donated for attendees to peruse and add to their collections. As the time approached for the event, KFester’s were circling the table like sharks. It’s safe to say, many a suitcase will be going home stuffed with Apple II goodies. Special THANKS go out to Ray Merlin and George Osner for their contributions to the Apple II Community and Archive.org.

Today’s first official scheduled activity is the KFest Kookout provided by the grillmeister, Kirk Mitchell. The Kookout gives early and later arriving attendees an opportunity to ‘meat and greet’ over hamburgers and hotdogs (and even some vegetarian fare). Yum-yum, thanks Kirk, for slaving over that hot grill.

Next up, the keynote by Randy Wigginton – not to steal Randy’s spotlight but… WOZ IS HERE! Randy Wigginton gave us a thrilling account of how Apple started, from the Homebrew Computer Club all the way up to the Macintosh. These weren’t the usual tales you may have read about over and over — Randy had several inside stories, humorous anecdotes about Woz, Jobs and his own experiences at Apple (often with additional comments from Woz) that had the crowd laughing and hanging on his every word. A Q&A ensued afterwards. Cameras were rolling, so hopefully someone will have this posted online soon.

Back to Woz… he’ll be here all day tomorrow and part of Friday participating in sessions. SQUEE!

After a short break, Eric ‘Sheppy’ Shepherd showed off the new Sweet16 3.0 which is available NOW from: http://www.sheppyware.net/downloads/downloads-mac/files/Sweet16_3.0.zip

After dinner, Rob Walch presented his annual update on the state of all things iOS related. Rob showed off his favorite new apps and add-ons for this year.

Dagen Brock released Recre8, an iOS-based pocket reference for 6502 and 65816 processors.

The evening session track started with Charles Mangin demonstrating his RetroConnector products that we’ve previously posted news about.

Next up, Tony Diaz hosted the Apple II Roadshow, where he pulled out some of his older Apple II collectibles and discussed their history. Attendees were invited to bring their own vintage or unidentified hardware to share, with Tony identifying, commenting and appraising various pieces of equipment.

Dagen Brock then hosted a workshop on assembly language programming that was standing room only.

The last activity for the evening is the annual ‘Bite the Bag’ contest. As of this update, the game was still in progress — no winner as of yet. UPDATE: Daniel Kruszyna wins! Congratulations Krue.


As KansasFest progresses, people get up later and fewer people make it to breakfast. Still, there was a sizable group of tired, hungry KFester’s in the cafeteria this morning.

We have a real Apple 1 in the building. Chris from Chicago brought his Apple 1 to power up with Woz in attendance.

This morning’s first session is Apple IIe repair and restoration presented by Jay Graham. Jay took us through tear down, cleaning, soldering and other tips to bring a broken old Apple IIe back from the grave.

Martin Haye was up next for a tutorial on boot tracing and removing copy protection. Before he launched into his session, Martin previewed a new RPG game he’s been helping to create called ‘Lawless Legends’ that in appearance seems similar to Ultima and Bard’s Tale. It’s early in development, but it looks very interesting. After that bombshell, Martin proceeded to give us a crash course in the monitor, examining and changing contents of memory, data registers, etc. Today’s victim for deprotection is Might & Magic, a popular RPG game from ‘back in the day’.

Before the break, Brian Wiser announced an updated special edition of the WozPak, produced by himself and Bill Martens with forwards by Woz, Randy Wigginton, Andy Hertzfeld, Keith Walls, Robert Clardy and Wendell Sander. The book is 350 pages, and it’s available for ordering online at the introductory price of $39.95 USD. Order your copy today at wozpak.callapple.org

Our next presenter is Ivan Drucker to talk about the Raspberry Pi. Today’s presentation is an orientation of the RPi, preparing us for tomorrows in-depth A2SERVER and A2Cloud sessions.

Afterwards there was a *massive* autograph and picture session with Randy and Woz. Many attendees got their treasured Apple II artifacts signed and then posed for pics with our esteemed guests. Woz and Randy have been great and are very approachable — two of the nicest people you could ever meet. Once the autographing frenzy died down, Woz (and nearly everyone else) then went upstairs to the lobby to boot the Apple 1 (it worked) and several attendees were allowed to write and run programs on it. Thanks Chris for sharing your Apple 1 with us.

Eric ‘Sheppy’ Shepherd guided us through the new Sweet16, showing us some of the new features and then presenting a tutorial on how to use it. Sweet16 with it’s EmuPacks, networking, Mac integration and powerful debugger has become (imo) the most capable and feature-rich Apple IIGS emulator in existence.

Our next session is Tony Diaz on the theory and design of the Disk II. Tony *completely disassembles* a Disk II, and then puts it all back together, then calibrates and tunes the drive back to 100% functionality.

Charles Mangin taught us how to level-up the easy way using a hex editor. Using Bard’s Tale as an example, his hex-edited characters were quickly invincible (or at least had a fighting chance), ready for Bard’s Tale’s worst monster encounters.

Matt Hellinger then presented a session on ‘Teach US Kids To Program’ which I have to admit I missed due to a co-worker needing tech support. :(

There was some soldering tutoring going on… I should have gone to that.

Stephen Buggie then launched into his hardware hacking session. Buggie is well known for his BUGG-POWER PC power supply conversions, disk drive R/W switch and other useful hacks.

Now it’s getting late, and we still had another session (wow, we have a lot of sessions this year)… Martin Haye presented part 2 of his boot tracing and deprotection series. All I can say, when it comes to cracking, Martin has old skool skillz.

Our last activities for the night were Brian Wiser’s ‘Firefly’ session (many of us are fans of the show) and the annual Krispy Kreme doughnut social. We do the latter in memory of our late friend, Ryan Suenaga. Donations were accepted to benefit a scholarship program that’s been created in his name.


Last night, some of us made the Steak and Shake run and didn’t get back until almost 2:00AM. I was one of them… and I’m a little tired.

Steve Weyhrich took us through the historical development and evolution of Apple’s DOS options for the Apple II, including DOS, CP/M, ProDOS.

Kelvin Sherlock is up next with Cross Development with MPW (Macintosh Programming Workshop). Mmm, programming. Kelvin started with the history of MPW, it’s relatives, variants and system requirements before explaining what a pain it is to use. He didn’t want to use an old Mac (or Mac emulator) for his projects, so he’s developed a new utility to run MPW tools in OS X’s terminal, basically an MPW emulator for Mac OS X. Details to come later on where to get it (it’s open source).

Here is the source code and installers from the MPW session.


Source code:

mpw is the emulator itself. mpw-tools is some replacement utilities (GetEnv, SetFile, Duplicate) which were built into the MPW shell.

Due to technical problems with his Apple ///, Mike Maginnis couldn’t present his session, so Tony Diaz jumped in with a second Apple II Roadshow. He showed off several prototype motherboards (including the IIx and Mark Twain), Twiggy drives and other gear.

Next was Ivan Drucker, to demonstrate A2SERVER and A2Cloud. There must be a Murphy-virus circulating, as he had technical difficulties as well. Still, Ivan gave a great intro and description of A2SERVER before having to end his session.

Brian Wiser is up again showing the history of popular copiers, packers and BBSes. It’s a kind of Apple II Americana, looking at old magazine ads and talking about which copy cards and software were most effective, etc. Overall, a fun, nostalgic session.

The last session before dinner is Peter Neubauer with an in-depth discussion on Localtalk networking. Peter reviewed the evolution of Apple’s networking protocols and hardware through the years and explained it’s benefits for the Apple II.

Usually, we have a banquet for dinner but this year it was decided to keep things simpler and have the festivities in the dorm. Carl Knoblock, Mike Maginnis, Antoine Vignau and Olivier Zardini (the latter two make up Brutal Deluxe) were awarded the ‘Apple II Forever’ award. A special ‘KansasFest Forever’ award was presented to Ken Gagne, formerly known as the busiest man in the Apple II Community. Congratulations to all of you! Prizes were awarded to Melissa Barron and Krue who won the best door sign prize, and Geoff Weiss took the tie contest. Next year’s conference was also announced, so mark your calendars and make plans to attend KANSASFEST 2014 JULY 22nd-27th at ROCKHURST!

Later in the evening, Dagen Brock held part 2 of his assembly language course while other attendees socialized, played Starship Artemis or participated in the Structris tournament. Juiced.GS generously sponsored this years pizza night (thank you Ken) and there was much rejoicing. Around 11:00PM many of us participated in a Skype video call to our friends in Australia. After some technical difficulties, we were able to finally connect and exchange pleasantries and a few good-natured barbs with our counter-parts down under.

Steve Kazoullis sent us some news from down under…

The second OzKfest kicked off on Saturday 27 July, to coincide with Kansasfest. After a four-year gap, we returned bigger and better with new faces and inspiration.

On our first day, Michael Mulhern started us off with an overview of virtual machines, and running emulators within virtual machines. Jason Griffiths showed us the SAM (Software Automatic Mouth) card, and his efforts to create a kit to replicate it. He gave away some kits for attendees, as part of a fun quiz.

Matt Jenkins took us through RAM in relation to the Apple II. He demonstrated a surprise project in which he has created a prototype “Scramworks” card using a single modern chip. Nick Marentes took us through his restored Apple ///. He then demonstrated the Maximite computer, a modern take on the hobbyist computer. He showed us some of his programming projects, including various demos and his game “Donut Dilemma”, a port of a TRS-80 Color Computer game.

Our skype link-up with KansasFest was fun, after some minor hiccups we did manage to link up, and cyber-socialise.

Andrew Roughan then took us through his experiences with NFC on the iPhone, and drscribed the function and limitations while exploring some possible current and future uses. Michael Mulhern outlined cc65, and the process of cross-compiling for the 6502 in C, on OSX. Alex Lee showed us some of his work on the “What is the Apple IIGS” web site. he described the best techniques for scanning Apple II documents and took us through the optimal settings and techniques for monochrome and colour documents.

After a meal together, we returned to the venue and carried on with individual and group projects. Jon Co described and demonstrated the process of converting a 1MB RAM card into a 4MB card, somewhat long and tedious process. The individual projects went well into the night.


Ken Gagne announced Juiced.GS is still going strong and will continue on into 2014, which is remarkable. Juiced.GS is the longest running Apple II print magazine EVER. Ken also introduced some new compilations that he’ll offer for sale during the vendor fair and online at https://juiced.gs/.

Our community is made up of very creative people, and our next session was lead by two of them. Melissa Barron and Daniel Kruszyna (aka Krue) put on a workshop for homemade floppy sleeves. Something so simple, deceptively easy and artistically interesting, attendees soon had colorful, customized floppy sleeves to store there precious disks in.

John Lane was up next to show us his techniques for converting some DOS 3.3 game to run on ProDOS. That can be handy, especially if they can be put on a mass storage device.

Stephen Buggie had his second session, where he demonstrated his techniques for tuning 5.25 disk drives using manual and software-assisted methods.

Next up, the vendor fair and exhibition. Syndicomm, Juiced.GS and a few individuals were there, selling their new and used products. Some of the items I saw for sale were RAM and SCSI cards, InnerDrives, books and magazines, BUGG-POWER supplies among other things. A few exhibits were also underway. Krue lined up a set of Apple II computers and launched a demo he created — I think it was called ‘Satin Weave’. Ivan Drucker was able to unkink his earlier A2SERVER and A2CLOUD demo, and successfully demonstrated them during the fair.

Hackfest winners were announced (Margaret Anderson took 1st), prizes selected and there was much cheering and clapping. There were a lot of nice prizes this year, donated by generous members of our community.

KansasFest 2013 was one of the best, for sure. As we started to wind down, some of us headed out to a local Greek restaurant for dinner while others went to see a movie (Pacific Rim) at a theater that had unlimited play arcade machines for five bucks. Others stayed in to socialize or pack and prepare for their early morning departures.

And that’s what we did on Sunday; we cleaned up our area, packed and after some farewells, we headed home.

I can’t wait for next year. Apple II Forever!

June 20th, 2013

Woz attends historic testing of five Apple 1 computers

Today’s Woz-stalking is courtesy Dean Nichols and The San Jose Mercury News. Tuesday, June 18th saw Steve Wozniak and several other *very notable* attendees gathered at History San Jose to power-on and test no fewer than five Apple 1 computers. How many of us wish they could have been there to see that?

June 17th, 2013

OzKFest dates announced, July 26-28 Brisbane Australia

Andrew Roughan has announced the date and location of the (we think) second-largest gathering of Apple II users in the world.

The Australian retro computing gathering, OzKfest, will be happening in Brisbane, Australia, July 26-28. That’s just 6 weeks away. Steve Kazoullis and I would like you join us for a few of days of retro inspiration, Aussie ingenuity and camaraderie.

Some of the confirmed sessions include:

  • Live discussion of the events of KanasFest that will have taken place in the previous days
  • Matt Jenkins will take us on a ‘A trip down Memory lane’
  • There will be a demonstration of the Carte Blanche with HDMI adapter in an Apple IIe (courtesy of Stephen Howell)
  • I will be demonstrating The Complex, a turn based, multi player, RPG created by Sean Craig (who may be in attendance)
  • Skype link up with Woz
  • Skype link up with KansasFest attendees

I keenly anticipate some hardware hackery from Alex Lukacz and Jon Co and I’m sure Alex will be bringing his turtle robot controlled via Bluetooth. There may even be some Apple interfaces with the Raspberry Pi. We also have some presentations related to other classic computer platforms and current hobbyist innovations such as the Maximite.

The website has all the logistical details including a registration form. Session details will be updated shortly. http://ozkfest.net/

There will be a few attendees of past KansasFests and the previous OzKfest and we hope to imbibe the KansasFest spirit into OzKFest again this year.

Now is the time to get your registration form in, arrange how to get there and where you’ll stay. If you need help, let us know how we can help.

If you have an idea for a session that you’d like to present, please let us know so we can allocate a time slot for you. If you would like to learn something, let us know what that is and we will try to find a presenter for that topic, e.g. Stephen Wright would like an introduction to IIgs development and I’d like to find out how to change and manage disk images within ActiveGS.

Steve and I are really excited about this event and can’t wait to see you there! Reminder that the ‘Downunder Chat’ happens every Friday night from 9pm Australian EST in irc.a2central.com #a2.chat

May 30th, 2013

Time running out for KansasFest 2013 early registration

If you’re planning to attend KansasFest this year, this is your reminder that early registration discounts and event t-shirt ordering will expire after May 31st.

Attendance is UP this year, as regulars and several new attendees alike converge for the largest gathering of Apple II enthusiasts in the world. Be there or regret it forever.

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