Author Topic: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown  (Read 20098 times)

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Offline BradC

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2015, 05:59:28 am »
c64/Atari 800xl creamed it when it comes to graphics, sound and price.

They probably did, but without the benefit of an established user base and backward compatibility they remained toys with niche markets. Apple had a niche too, it was just a lot bigger. The Commodore saw a lot of use as a home games machine, but with it's crap keyboard it never went anywhere in the business world, and the Atari remains an (albeit clever) also-ran.

You may look at the old Apple stuff as archaic with the benefit of your years of expert experience and those 30 years of hindsight, but for those that used them on a day to day basis they offered a utility that was hard to match, and their sales proved it.

The //c was a bit of an anomaly that never really worked. It was clever though.
 

Offline coppice

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #26 on: August 28, 2015, 06:23:15 am »
What a terrible computer :(

All the clever Wozniak hacks are only neat from the hardware startup perspective. They were useful when Apple was launching, but made this computer pretty archaic and bad in 1984. Saving few cents for the price of no real floppy error correction (sum of all bytes instead of industry standard crc, trivial to miss errors) and cpu hogging (all the floppy decoding in software). Same for graphics, no sprites no scrolling, all the color modes with idiotic bit patterns/interleave and limitations (140x192 of real usable resolution and so on).

Its not like Apple was struggling, they were selling this pos  at >$2000, they had HUGE profit margins. Whole Apple 2 line was what kept Apple alive for a long time (deep into Mac era). $50 million blown on failed Lisa alone is a testament of fat profits on Apple 2.

c64/Atari 800xl creamed it when it comes to graphics, sound and price. I wonder what could of been if Visicalc didnt start on Apple2.
This thing was introduced to be compatible with older machines. Sure, its floppy scheme was crude, but anything else would not read and write disks compatible with an Apple ][. Sure its graphics were crude, but that was kind of imposed by the need to run Apple ][ code. There must have been a market for people wanting this, although most of us scratched our heads and couldn't figure out why anyone would pay so much for such a machine.

The really strange machine was the update with a 3.5" floppy drive. Without backwards compatibility, it seemed to have no purpose at all.
 

Online Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #27 on: August 28, 2015, 09:42:25 am »
c64/Atari 800xl creamed it when it comes to graphics, sound and price. I wonder what could of been if Visicalc didnt start on Apple2.
So?

Not everybody wanted a computer to play games. Some people just wanted a compact machine with business-like software.

A C64/Atari kitted out with floppy disks, printer interface, etc, would have cost about the same as the Apple but  have a lot more wires and take up a lot more desk space. And it wouldn't have the software.

all the floppy decoding in software
Unlike the C64...



(I don't know anything about the Atari floppies)
 

Offline Delta

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #28 on: August 28, 2015, 09:47:59 am »
The c64 disk drives had their own 6502 processor!

The fastloader were to overcome the fact that Commodore used a shitty software based serial bus implementation, due to a bug with the shift register on a CIA chip that was planned to run the bus...
 

Online Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #29 on: August 28, 2015, 09:59:03 am »
The c64 disk drives had their own 6502 processor!
I know!

The fastloader were to overcome the fact that Commodore used a shitty software based serial bus implementation, due to a bug with the shift register on a CIA chip that was planned to run the bus...
Did fastloader reduce CPU overhead? Did it transfer the data at full hardware speed using DMA?

That's what floppy disk controller chips are for.

The Apple didn't have one, the C64 didn't have one and I'm fairly sure the Atari didn't one either (Atari floppy drives were on a proprietary serial bus just like the C64).

 

Offline Godzil

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #30 on: August 28, 2015, 10:04:49 am »
The really strange machine was the update with a 3.5" floppy drive. Without backwards compatibility, it seemed to have no purpose at all.

I don't agree, the IIgs came with a 3.5" drive at that time the industry was moving our of the 5.25" driver and floppy, making a computer that still used per default them would have been silly. And it's not like you wouldn't been able to plug a real 5.25" drive with the back connector.

BTW, Dave, I'm sure you really want to play that Zork II game on you nice //c, my recommandation is to go to the Apple ][ Asimov ftp (google will help) they store virtually everything about the Apple ][, and use the ADTpro tool ( http://adtpro.sourceforge.net/ ) to rebuild a floppy from the image.

ADTpro is a really good tool and helped me numerous times to rebuild dead Apple ][ floppy and allow to bootstrap an Apple ][ DOS3.3 / ProDOS when you don't the floppy to boot them. Really handy, a must have tool for every Apple ][ users..
When you make hardware without taking into account the needs of the eventual software developers, you end up with bloated hardware full of pointless excess. From the outset one must consider design from both a hardware and software perspective.
-- Yokoi Gunpei
 

Offline Ketturi

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #31 on: August 28, 2015, 11:26:43 am »
Very nice retro teardown.
Are those red nippon chemi-con caps someway special? I have seen them on some "mission critical" equipment like in solid state electricity meters.
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Offline Delta

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #32 on: August 28, 2015, 11:29:48 am »
The c64 disk drives had their own 6502 processor!
I know!

The fastloader were to overcome the fact that Commodore used a shitty software based serial bus implementation, due to a bug with the shift register on a CIA chip that was planned to run the bus...
Did fastloader reduce CPU overhead? Did it transfer the data at full hardware speed using DMA?



Heh, no way!  The best fastloaders used 100% CPU time (and blanked the display to prevent the video chip stealing extra cycles for additional DMA fetches every 8 raster lines) in order get get extremely tight timing to be able to send data asynchronously using the data AND clock lines on the bus.

Very clever stuff 😀
 

Offline Godzil

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #33 on: August 28, 2015, 01:25:20 pm »
On the Apple ][ Disabling the display (and on every well made 6502 computer that use the "dead time cycle" time to read memory for display) it does not give any boost

That would mean that the C64 is not a well made computer :p
When you make hardware without taking into account the needs of the eventual software developers, you end up with bloated hardware full of pointless excess. From the outset one must consider design from both a hardware and software perspective.
-- Yokoi Gunpei
 

Offline Delta

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #34 on: August 28, 2015, 02:15:40 pm »

That would mean that the C64 is not a well made computer :p

HOW VERY DARE YOU!!!! 😡😡😡

/capslock
/c64fanboy
😉
 

Offline German_EE

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #35 on: August 28, 2015, 03:30:24 pm »
One thing I could never figure out on the //c was the way they placed the RAM on the board. In theory a line of sixteen chips like that should give horrible timing problems but, somehow, they managed it. More magic sauce from Woz perhaps.
Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.

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Offline Godzil

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #36 on: August 28, 2015, 05:07:38 pm »
All chip is a 1bit dram memory, and we are speaking about a 2 or 3Mhz memory access! So the timing difference between each chip is nearly irrelevant
When you make hardware without taking into account the needs of the eventual software developers, you end up with bloated hardware full of pointless excess. From the outset one must consider design from both a hardware and software perspective.
-- Yokoi Gunpei
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #37 on: August 28, 2015, 06:10:18 pm »
They also used the fastest chips. IIRC they would buy up entire untested batches of chips, and screen them for the fastest chips for use on the boards, then simply sell the ones that were still fully functional but too slow onto the open market again, recouping a lot of the test cost. If you only need a part to be faster than 120ns, and need to buy them in ton lots, doing your own sort was worth it to get the best chips out, then simply batch the rest into a speed group and sell them as tested chips to others. The markup probably covered the test cost, and this was at a time when DRAM was expensive and in short supply driving up prices. Only a few years later did an oversupply cause a price crash, as the foundries all were trying to cash in on the high prices and Moore's law meant they all were eventually losing money on them.
 

Offline Godzil

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #38 on: August 28, 2015, 06:19:02 pm »
DRAM was expensive but much less than SRAM or this would be meaningless to use DRAM
When you make hardware without taking into account the needs of the eventual software developers, you end up with bloated hardware full of pointless excess. From the outset one must consider design from both a hardware and software perspective.
-- Yokoi Gunpei
 

Offline Rasz

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #39 on: August 29, 2015, 12:09:22 am »
Not everybody wanted a computer to play games. Some people just wanted a compact machine with business-like software.

commodore/atari were popular as business machines in Europe, up until IBM clones took over in late eighties

A C64/Atari kitted out with floppy disks, printer interface, etc, would have cost about the same as the Apple

not even close, try half the price of naked Apple 2, quarter if you compare first Macs to Atari ST.

all the floppy decoding in software
Unlike the C64...

Yes, unlike c64/atari. C/Atari did all of the decoding on the floppy, and transferred sector data instead of raw bitstream. That means less main CPU spend while loading. Of course they had their own problems insisting on serial communication, Commodore shipped broken silicon, Atari shipped working, but hilariously slow SIO (128kbit).


That's what floppy disk controller chips are for.

The Apple didn't have one, the C64 didn't have one and I'm fairly sure the Atari didn't one either (Atari floppy drives were on a proprietary serial bus just like the C64).

Apple didnt have one. c64 got one after 1541, Atari also used proper Western Digital controller chips, of course both companies decided to build additional separate 6502 computer inside floppy drive and link them over super slow serial link with main machines (W T F) instead of utilizing cartridge slot(why?).

Commodore, being Commodore with head in the ass, moved backward with Amiga and copied Apple. Again cpu had to do all the work resulting in subpar error correction (XOR instead industry standard crc16), not to mention custom silicon was speed limited forcing later models to use another 'clever' (read stupid) hack in form of spinning HD disks at half the speed (half read speed as a bonus!).
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Offline Godzil

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #40 on: August 29, 2015, 11:02:09 am »
And 30 years after the Apple II disk and drive still work.

How many C64 drive/floppy still work?
When you make hardware without taking into account the needs of the eventual software developers, you end up with bloated hardware full of pointless excess. From the outset one must consider design from both a hardware and software perspective.
-- Yokoi Gunpei
 

Offline timofonic

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #41 on: September 01, 2015, 01:33:51 am »
I want to know what the 555 timers are for...

Joystick port. One 555 for each axis. Charge up a capacitor, discharge it through the potentiometer in the joystick, and use the CPU to count how long it takes to discharge. There was a ROM routine (and a BASIC command) that did all of that for you, but you could write your own code if you wanted to measure resistance values beyond what would've been used in joysticks.

Other Apple IIs used a 558 to support two joysticks. I started with a IIe in 1985, which I upgraded to a IIGS (by way of a motherboard swap) around 1992 or '93. Still have it, as well as some more Apple IIs I've picked up cheap through the years. Never had a IIc, though.

Those old tricks seem interesting. I wonder if they provide a DAC able to put analog inputs on them.

I never had a pre PC Compatible computer. My first computer was a Pentium 100MHz. But I love retrocomputing and retrogaming in an obsessive way, it's part of my personal madness to 80s and early 90s stuff, but I like these classic chips too.

My personal dream is design highly functional, robust, innovative and cheap OSHW for vintage systems. 99% designs are  propietary, some of the most interesting ones use somewhat complex chips (SRAM, FLASH, FPGA, CPLD) and the most complex ones are those that reimplement original Hardware as replacement chips  improvements (this happens specially in video chips, see, VBXE2 for Atari XL/XR and for Amiga OCS/ECS/AGA) to most of the time they also add  features and provide more modern video photos proud outputs such VGA/DVI/HDMI with different scaling modes)

Apple IIGS! The inspiration of Super Nintendo/Famicom! It has a very good audio chip!

http://www.callapple.org/software/announcing-apple-iigs-system-6-0-2/

https://youtu.be/Wu9a724Az3E

Naughty Dog started developing on it.

Dave, please make a good teardown of it if you can! It's an American machine and not so easy to get, but maybe you're lucky!

I only found the following, not do good teardowns like yours :(











Like in other systems, there are expanding. Both old and new:







Some games:











https://youtu.be/IsXPn6OCMF8









There's some demoscene:











And nice music:











Some videos and ads:













I liked your X68000 teardown a lot. It's an amazing machine with tons of excellent arcade ports, some exclusive games and lots of those horny cartoon games (hentai, eroge). It has a bunch

Here we have the modest Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128K, maybe I'll send one if get money next year plus some (hopefully) own Hardware design.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2015, 02:02:00 am by Circuiteromalaguito »
 

Offline Godzil

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #42 on: September 01, 2015, 01:00:37 pm »
Unfortunately, unlike the X68000 which have a lots of electronics inside, and is hard to teardown, the IIgs will show even less than the IIc.

Computers that could be nice to teardown are the SGI O2 and the Octane, they are quite complexe computer, but not cheap and especially heavy computer :D
When you make hardware without taking into account the needs of the eventual software developers, you end up with bloated hardware full of pointless excess. From the outset one must consider design from both a hardware and software perspective.
-- Yokoi Gunpei
 

Offline timofonic

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #43 on: September 02, 2015, 12:35:44 am »
Unfortunately, unlike the X68000 which have a lots of electronics inside, and is hard to teardown, the IIgs will show even less than the IIc.

Computers that could be nice to teardown are the SGI O2 and the Octane, they are quite complexe computer, but not cheap and especially heavy computer :D

I don't care just about the complexity of the design, but a proper explanation with proper details from a good EE.

Simple stuff could be beautiful because of it's simplify

There's also arcade boards in the 16/32 range with complex breadboards too.

I'll propose Dave or futon moderators a retrocomputing/retroconsoles section when having time. The rest of forums have retro users that most are even more electronics illiterate than me.
 

Offline tpw_rules

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #44 on: September 02, 2015, 12:49:11 am »
In case anybody cares, I know too much about the internals of Zork and its brethren.

It's actually a pretty advanced system. The games are all in an interpreted language which means that once the base interpreter (the Z-machine) is ported to a given computer, all the games automatically become available for that computer (of course there are different versions of this language but you get the idea). The games are divided into a resident and disk portion. Zork 1's resident is 9K and the disk is 83K. Only the resident portion can be written by the interpreter, and it is loaded into memory at the start of the game. The disk portion contains code, data, and text, and is paged in and out when needed. The first command would page in a lot of text analysis and parsing routines but since you have 128K it would never get paged out. This system has the advantage of course that any computer with 9K of ram + whatever the interpreter (if available) uses can play Zork without modification to Zork's binary at all. Automatically loading in more would require the interpreter know what parts of the game do what and would increase time from boot to prompt.
 

Offline Godzil

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #45 on: September 02, 2015, 01:31:43 am »
Unfortunately, unlike the X68000 which have a lots of electronics inside, and is hard to teardown, the IIgs will show even less than the IIc.

Computers that could be nice to teardown are the SGI O2 and the Octane, they are quite complexe computer, but not cheap and especially heavy computer :D

I don't care just about the complexity of the design, but a proper explanation with proper details from a good EE.

Simple stuff could be beautiful because of it's simplify

There's also arcade boards in the 16/32 range with complex breadboards too.

I'll propose Dave or futon moderators a retrocomputing/retroconsoles section when having time. The rest of forums have retro users that most are even more electronics illiterate than me.

I doubt there is really a lot of thing to explain, th IIgs is a really simple design if you compare it to the ][(e) or the //c

A "nude" IIgs contain only the power supply and the mainboard nothing more, and the mainboard is nearly empty, you will find the ROM, the VGC (Video Graphic Controller) the MegaII and that nearly all you can find.

I have some photo of the internal of my own IIgs I could put them here if you want
When you make hardware without taking into account the needs of the eventual software developers, you end up with bloated hardware full of pointless excess. From the outset one must consider design from both a hardware and software perspective.
-- Yokoi Gunpei
 

Offline timofonic

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #46 on: September 02, 2015, 03:00:31 pm »
Unfortunately, unlike the X68000 which have a lots of electronics inside, and is hard to teardown, the IIgs will show even less than the IIc.

Computers that could be nice to teardown are the SGI O2 and the Octane, they are quite complexe computer, but not cheap and especially heavy computer :D

I don't care just about the complexity of the design, but a proper explanation with proper details from a good EE.

Simple stuff could be beautiful because of it's simplify

There's also arcade boards in the 16/32 range with complex breadboards too.

I'll propose Dave or futon moderators a retrocomputing/retroconsoles section when having time. The rest of forums have retro users that most are even more electronics illiterate than me.

I doubt there is really a lot of thing to explain, th IIgs is a really simple design if you compare it to the ][(e) or the //c

A "nude" IIgs contain only the power supply and the mainboard nothing more, and the mainboard is nearly empty, you will find the ROM, the VGC (Video Graphic Controller) the MegaII and that nearly all you can find.

I have some photo of the internal of my own IIgs I could put them here if you want


I understand the PCB might be simpler, but the ICs can be a lot more complex.

That's what I like to know too. The PCB design might look damn simpler because better Integration into ICs, but the whole thing is a lot more complex once you look at the inside those tiny black bricks :D

Apple IIGS has a very nice audio system too and the first Apple system to feature ADC.
 

Offline Godzil

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #47 on: September 02, 2015, 03:49:41 pm »
Ok ok, as soon as I have my IIgs with me, I will make a thread with some specific photos and comments about it
When you make hardware without taking into account the needs of the eventual software developers, you end up with bloated hardware full of pointless excess. From the outset one must consider design from both a hardware and software perspective.
-- Yokoi Gunpei
 

Offline RupertGo

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #48 on: September 02, 2015, 04:04:46 pm »
I'd love to see an Amstrad PCW8256 teardown. That was an astonishing piece of consumer design - extremely low chip count, but managed to be a fully integrated computer/monitor/printer device that cost much less than anything remotely comparable.

It even managed to do without a boot ROM.



 

Offline TheNewLab

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Re: EEVblog #788 - Apple IIC Teardown
« Reply #49 on: September 03, 2015, 10:24:43 pm »
Hey!
I still have an Applce IIc. I used it for a small business from 1984 through 1995. version 1.01 Appleworks and Dollars and $ense. I even got a Micro Orange adapter to connect the system to a HP portable DeskJet.

In fact, I still use  MacOS 9.1 on one computer to run MYOB an accounting application.  Handles payroll and large inventories. Prints out all the forms and financial analysis reports I can dream of.  Besides MYOB changed their name and only offers a "Cloud" application and storage. Weren't personal computers all about getting control of our own data?

Regarding the Apple IIG, a film processing lab by the same name above. used one from 1990 until they closed in 2007. In fact, as Apple got to MacOS 7.0 they began buying up all they could. They had an entire shelf of IIG's just in case the original machine went down. the it was the only program that could print four lines of the Paco plastic slides mounts.
 


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