January 30th, 2009

Alex Freed’s AppliCard clone project

Alex Freed has created a modernized clone of the PCPI AppliCard (also distributed as the Franklin ACE-80 and MicroPro StarCard) and released it as a free, open project.

The original AppliCard is a popular peripheral; it is generally considered by most Apple II CP/M enthusiasts as being one of the most capable Z80 cards ever released. Not only was it the fastest Z80 card for the Apple II (at 6MHz, faster than many dedicated Z80 computers of the era), it was also expandable with RAM and serial port options. Freed’s card runs at 10MHz (or even faster with a higher frequency oscillator) and also features potential expansion possibilities.

Alex has already sold a few do-it-yourself kits to other enthusiasts, but has enough parts left over for 6 or 7 cards at $50 USD each. Assembled boards are $100 USD. If you are a CP/M junkie, or just alternate OS curious, Freed’s CP/M card might be just the thing for you — and it might even be easier to get than an original AppliCard.

January 29th, 2009

Help request: reverse-engineer and document VisiCalc for posterity

Tim McNerney wrote in with a surprising and intriguing request:

I am looking for volunteers to help reverse-engineer and document Apple II VisiCalc, recreating fully commented source code from the binaries in the process. Besides documenting this historic work for engineering students, educators, and future historians, in fact, I plan to give all this work to the Smithsonian, I’d like to get Apple II VisiCalc running in emulation. Right now this isn’t possible because of the copy protection. (BTW the PC DOS version is available on the web, and doesn’t have copy protection).

I have three versions of the Apple II software. I know one of them still boots (1983?) and have some confidence that the other two versions (1979 and 1981) work also.

I have been in contact with both Bob Frankston and Dan Bricklin (they both live practically down the street from me). Of course you ask, well then why do you need volunteers? The answer is because no one can find the sources. Bob and I plan to dig around his garage when the weather gets warmer, but there are no guarantees, and the 30th anniversary is in October 2009.

I’ve done this sort of project once before. See www.4004.com for more details.

Tim McNerney

Comments are open on this post.

January 26th, 2009

8 Bit Weapon releasing new CD featuring Apple II effects

Seth wrote in, with news from retro-music group 8 Bit Weapon:

Hi A2Central! I have some news for you and your patrons. :)

Coming Spring 2009 Sony Creative Software will be releasing a loop and sample library called, “8 Bit Weapon: A Chiptune Odyssey”. The library covers Apple II (E and C), Commodore 64, NES, Gameboy, and the Atari 2600.

Each system library has everything from drums, bass and synth to special effects. Both ComputeHer and I have featured demos built into the collection. The sound library works with ACID, Ableton Live, Cubase, Garage Band, Logic, Soundtrack, and more!

I used DrumKey, the Built-in Beeper, and other cards for the Apple II section!

Enjoy!
-Seth :)
www.8bitweapon.com

January 25th, 2009

ProFUSE extension reads ProDOS volumes on Mac OS X

Kelvin Sherlock, prolific programmer of iShisen, Silver Platter, and PNG Floyd, is now developing ProFUSE, a command line tool for Macintosh OS X that mounts ProDOS-formatted disk images as volumes on the Mac desktop. These volumes are read-only, allowing files from the disk images to be opened and read in any Mac program, or copied or burned to Mac-writable volumes.

ProFUSE, an offshoot of the Google Code program MacFUSE, is an open-source project that can be downloaded from http://code.google.com/p/profuse/. It has been tested on both Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard); the source code can also be compiled to run on Linux.

January 25th, 2009

Kelvin Sherlock’s Java-based Apple II developer tools

Kelvin Sherlock has been developing new Java-based developer tools for the Apple IIgs. These projects have been in work for some time now, but aren’t getting as much attention as they might deserve. They’re open source projects, all hosted on Google Code.

First, there’s his 6502/65C02/65816 assembler. The project’s goal is to support ORCA/M syntax, with an eventual goal of offering support for Merlin and MPW IIgs syntax as well. The code can be checked out at http://code.google.com/p/asm816

This relies on the Java OMF (Object Module Format) library Kelvin has created. This library provides routines allowing projects to read and write OMF format files. OMF is the file format used for executable code files on the Apple IIgs, including applications, desk accessories, extensions, and so forth. This project is located at http://code.google.com/p/libomf

Finally, tying everything together, is Kelvin’s OMF linker. The linker turns object files built using the assembler into executable Apple IIgs programs. Its URL is http://code.google.com/p/linkiigs

Hopefully these tools will evolve and become a key component of any Apple II developer’s toolbox.

Thanks to Sheppy for writing this post.

January 25th, 2009

A2Unplugged show #0031 released

Ryan Suenaga presents A2Unplugged, show #0031. In this episode, Ryan hosts his annual combination end of year review, and beginning of the year preview.

A2Unplugged can be freely downloaded from the podcast’s web site, or subscribed to from the Apple iTunes store.

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.

January 21st, 2009

VGA interface for 8-bit Apple II update

Back in April and July of 2008, and again during KansasFest we posted exciting news about Ferdinand Meyer-Hermann’s VGA project. Ferdinand has since been collaborating with ReactiveMicro, leading to design and specification enhancements that have delayed the card. The news isn’t all bad, the VGA card is anticipated to work with practically any 8-bit Apple II, which now includes the Apple //c. Sorry IIGS owners, I’m afraid you’ll be waiting a little longer. You can read Ferdinand’s Apple][VGA updates here.

January 12th, 2009

Virtual Apple ][ online disk archive to be updated soon

More good news from Call-A.P.P.L.E. today. Bill Martens posted via Twitter that an update to the Virtual Apple ][ online disk archive site is imminent (version 4.0 is expected sometime today).

Seattle Omniworks Releases Virtual Apple ][ Version 4.0 – Latest update to the Virtual Apple site supports Macs and other platforms on the Apple ][ section.

Seattle, Wa. — 13 January 2009 — Seattle Omniworks, Inc. is proud to finally announce the long awaited update to the Virtual Apple ][ online Apple II and IIgs emulation system. Virtual Apple ][ version 4.0 is the result of many months of work on the part of several people, making the site available on all platforms that support Java.

In our chase to get support for all platforms for our website, we decided to use the open source AppleIIGo emulator and Nick Westgate worked closely with us to update the available version of the emulator to provide both near perfect sound and to fix issues with putting the emulator online.

Both of these items were successful and there were other fixes to the emulator such as multi-disk capability, hot disk swapping, and zipped disk immage support, which meant that the only thing left once the program was ready, was to re-write The Library generator which produces the Virtual Apple website.

Now with all of these tasks completed, the emulator is online, playable and the focus will now change on the website from the emulation side to the programs side. We have over 15,000 abandonware and public domain programs that will eventually come available on the website making it the worlds largest online playable software repository. Manuals for the applications will also be added for those programs still missing documentation.

For more information about the website or to play the games, you can go to the Virtual Apple ][ website at http://www.virtualapple.org

January 12th, 2009

Digisoft Innovations announces Golden Grail 1.0

Bill Martens of Call-A.P.P.L.E. announced the immediate availability of Digisoft’s Golden Grail CD, an updated collection of Apple II software originating from the Golden Orchard project.

Bill’s announcement (sans version and production notes) follows:

DigiSoft Innovations Releases Golden Grail 1.0

The latest Apple IIgs version of the popular Golden Orchard Series CD’s has been released.

12 December 2009 — Tokyo Japan — Digisoft Innovations is proud to announce the immediate availability of the Golden Grail CD for the Apple II gs and Apple IIgs Emulators.

Golden Grail 1.0 is the result of our effort to make a modern age compilation of the best old Apple IIGS software. Golden Grail originates from the Golden Orchard project of the 1990’s. Golden Grail finally brings Golden Orchard into the modern age by providing the original contents of Golden Orchard in a series of hard drive images that can be used by all modern Apple IIGS emulators. This project has been many years in the making, and much like the original Golden Orchard, turned out to be more complicated and time consuming than originally anticipated.

Let’s face it, nowadays most people probably only run Apple IIGS software in emulators, not in actual Apple IIGS systems. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to use the original Golden Orchard with emulators, due to its complicated multiple HFS partition structure. What’s really needed is a version of Golden Orchard split into convenient 2MG disk images, and now, after many hours of additional work, this is finally possible!

The original Golden Orchard partitions were HFS (except for a single ProDOS boot partition) and larger than 32MB in size. As such, when converting them to ProDOS 2MG partitions, we needed to break up the original partitions into a new structure. The details of this new structure are below. We have written what original partitions map to what new partitions in the list below.

There are two versions of the original Golden Orchard: one with 6 HFS partitions, and a second version with one giant HFS partition. The differences are negligible besides the partition structure. This work is however based on the original Golden Orchard.

We recommend Eric Shephard’s Sweet 16 Emulator for Mac users and KEGS for everyone else for running Apple IIGS programs in an emulated environment. CFFA Users should be able to copy the partitions directly to the CFFA card using Andy McFadden’s Ciderpress utility.

The package is freely available for download from the Digisoft Innvations website as a 228MB zip compressed file which is platform independent.

Website
http://digisoft.callapple.org

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