March 12th, 2016

Open Apple #57 (March 2016) : Bill Budge!

This month on Open Apple, we sit down with legendary Apple II programmer, Bill Budge. In addition to being an icon of Apple II gaming and graphics, he is the number-one-requested guest by listeners of the show. Mike and Quinn are very excited he was able to make some time to talk to them, and hope you agree it was worth the effort. Bill is, of course, the author of such seminal classics as Raster Blaster, Pinball Construction Set, and MousePaint. He was an influential force in the golden years of Electronic Arts, and did many good works with early Apple as well.

After chatting with Bill, Mike and Quinn chew the fat about Soviet Apple II clones, slowing down the IIc Plus, and documenting rare II models. Meanwhile, Quinn constructs an impromptu sound studio in a conference room, and Mike waxes nostalgic about harpsichords. Also, this episode marks the most Apple III references snuck in to date. Mike even manages to goad the guest into bringing it up. Don’t miss Quinn struggling to remember the word “Dacta”, and Mike taking a cheap shot at Elevator Action.

A quick update to Quinn’s Floppy Emu Model B review- since this was recorded, Steve has updated the firmware so it now remembers the last disk image you used.

oa podcast cover color (400)

March 7th, 2016

Drop /// Inches #16: Taylor Pohlman

In this episode of Drop /// Inches, we interview Taylor Pohlman, who joined Apple in 1979 and became the Apple /// Product Marketing Manager in 1981, managing the “Reintroduction” of the Apple ///. He is also well known for the series of columns in Softalk magazine (“The Third BASIC”) introducing concepts in Business BASIC programming. Later, he left Apple to found Forethought (the company responsible for FileMaker and PowerPoint), co-founded Regent Systems, managed the development of GS-BASIC for the Apple IIGS, and then returned to Apple from 1986 to 1992, and is currently principal at Rohner & Associates, having worked with Sybase and Autodesk along the way.

We talked with Taylor about the innovations the Apple /// and SOS brought to the computing landscape, the launch at Disneyland, frustrations and missed opportunities with the Apple ///. We also heard about several other things, not specific to the Apple ///, such as the early days at Apple, interactions with Steve Jobs, launching the black Bell & Howell Apple II, using an Apple II to rock a baby cradle triggered by sound, Apple employees storming the Lisa building in Halloween costumes, the short-lived Apple IV, and lots more.


February 12th, 2016

ZDNet posts article on how communist-era clones of the Apple II influenced today’s technologists

ZDNet has posted an interesting story on how clones of popular computers (notably, copies of the Apple II) built during the communist era have influenced today’s technologists in Bulgaria, Romania and other former Soviet Bloc countries. Even today, the Apple II Community is benefiting; Plamen Vayssilov’s is a great example.

January 5th, 2016

Berlin GeekFest 2015 recordings (how did we miss these?) with Andy Hertzfeld, Randy Wigginton, Daniel Kotke and more

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 11.40.54 PM

Seriously, how did we miss these cool recordings? You can listen to them here.

January 4th, 2016

Apple Time Warp episode 2 released, featuring an interview with Chuck Sommerville

Apple Time Warp

Apple Time Warp episode 2 with John Romero and Craig Johnston has been released.

Check out their Facebook page, libsyn page or subscribe via iTunes.

October 31st, 2015

Open Apple #52 (October 2015) : GEOS! Robert Bowdidge, and more GEOS!

This month on Open Apple we sit down with Robert Bowdidge, one of three interns at Berkeley Softworks who ported GEOS to the best line of 8-bit computers. We talk about what a great place Berkeley Softworks was, along with the power of good tools and proper software engineering. Robert has great memories of the culture there, the GUI technology they had built, and the brilliant people who built it. Apparently GEOS existed for some other 8-bit computer as well, but we imagine it was slow and child-like. Users probably bought it at K-Mart or something.

After the interview, Mike and Quinn delve into their personal memories of GEOS, along with a couple of new projects they both did with the environment. Mike works on GEOS file conversion, and Quinn sorts out all the drivers so you don’t have to. We’re even having a contest this month! Download Quinn’s Ultimate GEOS disk image and find the secret phrase. First person to do so and email us at feedback (at) open-apple (dot) net wins nothing at all!

We also talk some news- lots of really great hardware is coming down the pipe. You won’t want to miss Javier Rivera’s hands-on with Plamen’s IIc VGA adapter, and the Uthernet II is now available. Don’t miss out! We talk some Woz, we talk some French Touch, and we revisit KansasFest yet again.

Celebrate GEOS with Quinn and Mike this Hallowe’en!

October 31st, 2015

Drop /// Inches #13: Dr. Wendell Sander

This month on Drop /// Inches, Paul’s Apple /// has trouble connecting with the world outside, so he speculates on possibilities for WiFi connectivity, and Mike’s Apple /// has trouble connecting with any worlds at all. So, we turn our attention to literature, including the full Apple /// patent, a survey of Apple II users, an early interview with Trip Hawkins, and books on the Apple ///. Paul’s gotten himself a Cursor /// and some late-era PFS software, and unexpectedly managed to get a CMC Quick-20 drive working, Mike’s gotten an Axlon 320 RAMdrive. And Charles Mangin has created a miniature Apple ///.

The second half of the episode is an interview Mike conducted over the phone with Wendell Sander, designer of the Apple ///, from a couple of years ago, covering things like the Apple-internal interactions between departments, problems and solutions to initial reliability issues, the RAM design and peripherals. Recorded from a speaker through the air for added retro sound quality, but very interesting indeed!

And after you’ve listened, be sure to read Dr. Sander’s follow up comments on the infamous National Semiconductor clock/calendar IC, loose chips in sockets, and the article on


September 1st, 2015

Open Apple #50 (August 2015) : Rebecca Heineman, Plamen’s Clones, GS/OS Updates

This month on Open Apple, we sit down with Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman. Becky is a legendary Apple II developer (not to mention many other platforms), and was the keynote speaker at KansasFest 2015. We discuss Becky’s KansasFest experiences then and now, how the community has changed, and what she’s up to now. She has a lot of Apple II gold archived away, and we’re starting to see more and more of it as a result of the continued warmth and friendliness of the Apple II community.

Tune in after that interview, when Quinn and Mike go on to talk about amazing Bulgarian hardware products, new ways to acquire Byteworks software, the mysteries of Double Hires graphics, and of course Halt & Catch Fire. KansasFest stories abound, Mike plugs the Apple III, and Quinn acts oblivious to Mike on the subject of Prince of Persia. Listen in awe as she tells the exact same story about Mechner’s source code, immediately after Mike says the same thing. We swear your co-hosts do listen to each other most of the time, folks.

Place your orders now for the hottest new fragrance, R3TR0: By Gagne.

August 5th, 2015

My First KansasFest – Ian Marks

During KansasFest, we asked 11 year old Ian Marks to write about his KansasFest experience. This was Ian’s first time attending the conference with his mother, Giselle Marks. The adults weren’t the only ones having a good time with their Apple II computers.

This was my first year at K-Fest. I think that it has been the most interesting thing I have ever done. What I liked the most about K-Fest was how kind and generous everyone was to me. Everyone was so helpful, and I think that made the difference. It was the most fun that I have ever had.

Ian Marks

The first thing I went to was the keynote speech by Burger Becky. It was a very interesting story of how she got away from her parents to become a famous programmer. Having abusive parents is difficult, but she still managed to make it. My favorite part of the story was when she won the Atari game tournament by a long shot. I hope I get to see her again at K-Fest next year.

The next thing I did was make a string bracelet with Loren Damewood. This is where everybody started being so generous, because he let me do it for free. Later, Loren helped me download Sweet16. Someone else let me use one of the ROM files he had, and Loren gave me a disk image. It was cool being able to use an Apple //’s software on a modern computer. I was also able to try out real Apple // computers, and Jeremy Moskowitz gave me my first very own Apple //e!

Late that evening, I played Bite the Bag. Everyone thought I was going to win, but I didn’t make it far! I will have to practice to get more experience. All the same, they were kind enough to award me a prize for playing for the first time, and I chose a Juiced GS subscription from Ken Gagne.

Assembling a radio kit

The next day, I did soldering. I was making a radio. I didn’t finish my project on the first day, but when I did finish it, I didn’t have any batteries. Greg Nelson kindly donated a 9 Volt battery from his camera flash for me to use. It worked! I also participated in the game tournament. I played Little Red Bug and FlApple Bird. I didn’t do very well in Little Red Bug, but I placed third in FlApple Bird.

Playing Dagen Brock’s FlApple Bird in the game tournament

The next day, I went to the session where they had eight Apple //s playing music in harmony. I can imagine that it was very difficult to put that together! After that, there was the group photo. One of the photographers had us point at him with expressions of horror on our faces! He said he would edit something into the photo later! Then, I went downstairs to eat pizza. Mark LaPlante had some cool posters that he had brought specially for us kids from NASA, where he works – he donated them to me and Christian Schmenk. I went to see the winners of the door sign contest. In the door sign contest, people customize their doors. One of the winners was Carrington Vanston. His door sign was my favorite, because it was a game! You chose a card, which led to another card, and so on, until you reached an end card.

Ian and Mark LaPlante showing NASA mission posters
Playing Carrington Vanston’s adventure game

After that, I hung out in the lobby of the dorm where we were staying for a while. I enjoyed talking to Sean Fahey, who was also very helpful. Ms. Sarah gave me an extra Apple // computer ornament kit she had. I would have had to pay for it, but she kindly gave it to me for free. I haven’t finished it, and I probably won’t finish it for a while, but I will get it done eventually! After starting on the ornament, I went to the vendor fair they had in the basement. Dagen Brock, the maker of FlApple bird was selling copies of the game. I was interested in buying a copy, so I went up to the table and asked how much it would cost. He had decided that since I placed third in the tournament, I could have a copy for free!

On the last day, we went to see the movie Ant-Man. K-Fest was so fun! Before we left, I tried to say thank you to everyone who had helped me. I hope to go again, and I can’t wait to see what will happen next year!

August 2nd, 2015

Open Apple #49 (July 2015) : Laine Nooney, Technowarp, 4am

This month on Open Apple, we sit down with Laine Nooney, researcher of early computer and software companies. She has been digging into the history of such greats as Brøderbund and Sierra On-Line. In particular, she has done some awesome research on the infamous Soft Porn Adventure, including behind-the-scenes details on the infamous advertising photo. We talk about broken microfilm projectors, we talk about printer stands, and we talk about revisionist small town historians. Trust us, it will all make sense in the end. Laine is going deep into the role of the microcomputer revolution in transforming domestic life (and the very layout of the houses we live in).

Listen and wonder why Quinn thinks it’s 2010, wonder how loud an ASR-33 really is, and why Mike reads local newspapers of small towns in Utah. Explore the lost art of naming computer user groups, witness the first pure hack of Rastan, and see what Woz thinks about… well, everything and everyone.

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