April 8th, 2015

Apple ][ Watch

Check it out at: http://www.instructables.com/id/Apple-II-Watch/
March 10th, 2015

Brian Edwards of the UK Mirror is a [colorful metaphor]

Demonstrating he’s not much of an historical fact-checker, Brian Edwards dribbles out a hate piece that will probably rile you up too.

February 4th, 2015

Retro Computing Roundtable #93 released

Michael Mulhern posted via Facebook:

In a host packed Episode 93, Earl, Carrington, Paul, Michael, Jack, and Ken discuss the controversial topic of “Are We Cheating Cheaters?” Flash storage devices, Internet modems, multi-cartridges with entire software libraries, super RAM add-ons, LCD flat panels – what’s so retro about all that?

Also discussed is the saving of Bob Bishop’s computer gear and doco, Apple ][ Statisfaction, as well as a plug for OzKfest.

Go ahead, click on the link and join us. I dare you :)

January 20th, 2015

Brian Picchi reviews the Apple II, David Murray thinks the Macintosh may have been a mistake

Brian Picchi

David Murray

January 2nd, 2015

Open Apple #42: 2014 Year-End Roundtable, Eric Shepherd, Sarah W., Carrington Vanston

This month on Open Apple, we close out the year with our traditional Year-End Roundtable discussion. We’re joined by Eric ‘Sheppy’ Shepherd, Sarah W., and Carrington Vanston. We talk about alternate universes, our collective love of the IIgs, and Quinn takes cheap shots at Carrington. It’s the holidays, so Commodore users are given a respite. Well, a bit of a respite, anyway. Meanwhile, Sheppy solicits hatemail, Carrington calls shenanigans, and Sarah keeps everyone honest. Count the euphemisms! So many euphemisms!

As usual, we have lots of news to talk about as well. It’s been an amazing year for the Apple II, and we have new games, new hardware, and new video histories to share. I/O Silver is here, John Romero is there, and JSMESS is everywhere.


August 25th, 2014

ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation

I was recently given a copy of ‘ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation’ by Jonathan Zufi to review. I’ve spent the past week poring over it in my spare time. As I turned each page, I felt mesmerized and pleasantly surprised by the book’s high-quality photography of historical Apple products.

Which is odd. I’m not one for coffee table books. At least, that’s what I initially mistook ‘ICONIC’ for. I like to read books with stories that have something to say, or have something to do with science, engineering or history; in short, I prefer books that spark my imagination. Yet, that’s exactly where ‘ICONIC’ hooked me.


‘ICONIC’ is a giant, heavy slab of a hardcover divided into 6 chapters and 340 pages. Inside, you’ll find a phenomenal collection of photographs of Apple products beginning with the Apple 1 era and ending around the 2012 iMac. The six chapters are: Desktops, Portables, Peripherals, iDevices, Prototypes (my personal favorite) and Packaging. ‘ICONIC’ indeed turned out to be the ultimate coffee table book, but there’s substantially more to it than that. It’s a pictorial history of over 30 years of industrial design evolution and pursuit of technical excellence. As Richard Attenborough’s character John Hammond repeatedly states in Jurassic Park, the author and publisher appear to have ‘spared no expense’ to produce this homage to Apple Innovation. ‘ICONIC’ is every bit as impressive as the Apple products it explores.

Accompanying the pictures are quotes from the likes of Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Nolan Bushnell, Andy Hertzfeld and their contemporaries. The book doesn’t attempt to narrate the history of Apple Computer. Mr. Zufi has wisely left that tired road for others to trek and has instead found a Zen-like approach to presenting his vision in pictures. ‘ICONIC’ was four years and over 150,000 pictures in the making, and it shows. I imagine it was an excruciating task to settle on the final set of photos for the book.

My only complaint is trivial and hardly worth mentioning. I would like to have seen more pictures from the Apple II era placed within the book, but I admit I’m biased in that regard. Still, I completely enjoyed ‘ICONIC’ and recommend it highly.

Beyond Apple fanatics, ‘ICONIC’ will appeal to anyone with a love for elegant industrial design. So much attention to detail is captured, you may discover something new each time you open its pages.

You can order ‘ICONIC’ from the book’s website at http://iconicbook.com/purchase or from Amazon.

January 24th, 2014

Happy 30th Birthday Macintosh

The Apple II is still better than you’ll ever be.

January 24th, 2009

Macintosh turns 25

You’ve probably seen or heard it somewhere in the media recently, Macintosh turned 25 years old today. They’re saying the Mac is the computer that revolutionized microcomputing… but I would argue otherwise. I think we all know it was really the Apple II that kicked off the microcomputer revolution.

Still, the Mac quickly replaced the venerable Apple II as Apple Computer’s flagship product. It didn’t happen quite overnight; during the ’80’s, the Apple II series was a dominating player in the education and home computing markets and it remained the company’s cash cow for years even after the Mac’s introduction. At first, both platforms seemed to be on equal footing. The Mac was being pitched at business and creative professionals, and the Apple II in home and education.

It wasn’t long though, that a change in direction was felt. As the Macintosh platform gained traction, many Apple II enthusiasts began to feel Apple Computer wasn’t living up to their Apple II Forever hyperbole. All of Apple’s attention seemed to be focused solely on the Macintosh. And so it was, and the rest is history.

Today, I am a Mac user and I’m not really bitter about the past. On behalf of A2Central, I want to wish the Macintosh a Happy 25th Birthday, and many more to come. After all, it’s one of the best peripherals I’ve ever bought for my Apple II.

October 16th, 2008

Random Access (10-16-08)

With the help of my friend and fellow Apple II user James Littlejohn, I’ve finally been going through my collection of Apple II and Macintosh gear. I knew I had a lot of stuff — too much stuff actually. It’s often been a source of friction at times with my Wife. I’ve had gear strewn all over our house from years of collecting, donations, etc. and it was high time to do something about it.

My goal is to NEATLY squeeze most of the retro-gear I want to tinker with into my basement office and use no more than 3 (maybe 4) storage racks in the garage for the spare parts I have. Oh, and still have room to work on the newer tech that keeps me employed.

Last weekend we started the initial sorting and purging. There were several times when we discovered something new I didn’t realize I had, or we found an item that I thought was lost for good. I was also able to finally get a slightly better grip on inventory. One of the best examples of how “off” I’ve been on what I thought I had in storage is Unidisk 3.5 drives. I was pretty sure I had 3 or 4 drives, but in actuality I have 13 and there might be more. Wow. They were all over the place!

James has been a big, BIG help doing a lot of the sorting, stacking and heavy lifting for me. He says he’s doing it for fun, and because he’d heard about my “legendary” collection over the years and wanted to see it for himself. In past years, I’d open the garage up to KansasFest attendees to freely pick over the extra gear and machines I had. Apparently the collection has a reputation in the Apple II community… but don’t expect roadside billboards proclaiming “Come see The Biggest Pile of Apple II Junk in the Midwest” any time soon. There are other collections bigger and more impressive than mine — Tony Diaz certainly has more interesting things (prototypes galore) and Jamie Steffens and others have tons o’ software I’d love to play with.

Purging the stuff is the hard part. Deciding on what to keep, give away and sometimes throw away takes effort, discipline and determination. I’ve been giving James the option of hauling off anything I didn’t want to keep… Well, that’s not quite right, I’d probably keep everything and be right back in the mess I’m in now. It’s more like “things I’d have kept, but realized I don’t have the room or time to deal with it anymore” type of situation. Woof! Giving the stuff away to James helps me feel better, since he won’t accept money or anything for the hard work he’s put into helping me.

I’ve dumped extra machines, premium parts, hard drives, CD-ROM drives, tape drives, Woz GS lids, misc. gear, software, manuals and much, much more that James has loaded into his 1972 Chevy bus. Yeah – he drove his bus up, and for good reason. We filled it up with stuff I didn’t want anymore. No pickup, mini-van or car would have held all the gear I gave him. I wanted to get rid of more but the bus was overflowing, and he wouldn’t load anything else on it this trip. He’s just going to have to come back for the rest.

Yah, I know I could have put some of this stuff on eBay (some of it will end up there eventually) but you know, that’s a hassle I didn’t want to deal with right now. Maybe during the next sort and purge I’ll do that. That’s THIS weekend by the way… Woof!

Updated: 10/20/08

James came up again this past weekend to help me wrap up where we left off. My home office is now cleaned out, and awaiting the new furniture I ordered. I’ll be able to move my day to day Apple II gear back in within a few weeks.

Practically every little bit of Apple II gear I own has now been “seen” by me. I now have an improved awareness of what I have (too much), and of what I need to get rid of (a lot). I gave more gear to James (we didn’t fill the bus this time), while other bits and parts are going out to Tony Diaz and other people in the community I’ve made promises to. The rest will either be posted to eBay, or saved for KansasFest attendees.

September 11th, 2008

Retro road trip followup

I left the house around 7:00am on Saturday the 6th. I noted that it was cloudy and cool, and felt a moments regret that I hadn’t checked the weather report. No matter, I was on my way to Oklahoma to see James Littlejohn. My Apple //e and IIc Plus motherboards were in the car and I was ready to do some hacking.

It wasn’t too long before I ran into heavy rain, and I had to slow way down to avoid hydroplaning. Even at reduced speed, I had several white-knuckle moments as I tried to maintain control. Luckily, I made it to Chelsea only an hour later than I had planned. My map wasn’t that great, so I had to call James to guide me in the last few blocks. Chelsea is so small, I half-expected to spot the Big Green Monster from the highway.

I walked into the house and immediately I was amazed, surprised and a little envious — there were several H.E.R.O. robots, many Apple II (and III) computers, shelves of techie gear, books, software, peripherals and various gadgetry EVERYWHERE. Oh, yeah… some Timex Sinclairs too. James has a nice collection, no doubt about it.

After a bit of small talk, we got busy upgrading the IIc Plus motherboards. Some of the needed parts were misplaced, so James spent time verifying the boards instead. Since we couldn’t do the upgrades while I was there, I agreed to leave the boards for JL to work on later. As it turned out, that was a good thing — he managed to get them running stable at 10MHz (and in the process made an interesting discovery), now he’s going after 12.5MHz!

After lunch, it was time to assemble the LittleExpanderPlus (LEP). The rest of the parts needed for the project had just arrived the day before. I was going to be the lucky recipient of the very first unit.

James started by asking where I wanted the rotary switch located. I chose to have it mounted on the left top of the case, directly opposite of the square Apple logo (it’s a platinum //e). He then measured out the case and wires to make sure everything would be neatly tucked away. Next it was time to solder the wiring between the switch and the board, and a solder on a few more components. That took awhile, but it was worth it.

…and here’s the LEP installed in my workhorse Apple //e. Check out all that extra room! Can you identify all the cards in there?

As you can see, I haven’t installed my Pico PSU yet. I had to order a new AC adapter for it because the one I had didn’t have sufficient amperage.

Well, after James finished with the LEP, I had to hit the road. I didn’t want to get caught driving through rural Oklahoma and Kansas late at night. The last thing I wanted was a deer through the windshield.

The hacking continues…

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