Author Topic: Your chance to own an Apple I. (Well, maybe not...)  (Read 4281 times)

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Offline TerraHertz

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Your chance to own an Apple I. (Well, maybe not...)
« on: May 01, 2013, 08:32:54 am »
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-04-30/better-purchase-ibond-original-apple-1-low-low-price-only-400000

Ha ha... Darn it, I nearly bought one back when it came out.
All I have now is an Apple II. Possibly the first one brought into Australia (since I worked at the Computerland store in Sydney that first imported them, and I got the original store demo unit) but still probably not worth $50 now.
Unless it being perhaps the most hacked/modified Apple II in existence counts for anything.
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Offline ivan747

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Re: Your chance to own an Apple I. (Well, maybe not...)
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2013, 04:11:36 am »
Show it to us  >:D
Nothing like the smell of rosin core solder in the morning.
"Could you not use some of that crowdfunded $1.5 million to hire a graphic designer who understands perspective?" -Delta
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Offline codeboy2k

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Re: Your chance to own an Apple I. (Well, maybe not...)
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2013, 12:34:17 pm »
yeah I nearly bought one too. 

I still have an Altair 8800b, not the first one which was the 8800.  That page lists the first 8800 as going for US $4000-$7000 :o

I checked up on it a few years back, and the EPROMS on my 8800b are wiped, all hex 0xFF, and so the front panel monitor doesn't work.
I would have to find the original monitor ROM dumps somewhere to see if I can restore it.

This picture is from the computer museum. Mine is at my parents home, a few thousand miles away,
and I haven't lived there in over 25 years :) I get back occasionally to visit my first home lab ...


 

Offline TerraHertz

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Re: Your chance to own an Apple I. (Well, maybe not...)
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2013, 05:21:25 pm »
Show it to us  >:D

I've been absent a while, didn't see that till now.

OK, why not. Give me a few days to dig it out.
The sad thing is that I never had a way to transfer Apple II floppy disk data to the Wintel  kingdom. So years of 6502 assembler work are probably all unreadable now, even if the Apple II still worked. Which considering the crap quality sockets used on the board, is extremely unlikely.  Annnnd... since the back of the PCB on my one is covered in kynar wire mods (you'll see!), replacing sockets is not an option.
Who cares anyway. The thing is just a personal nostalgia piece now. Though, an Apple II with an EPROM programmer card, EPROM bank and battery backed CMOS RAM, power-fail interrupt, battery backed RTC, working lightpen and graphics software, EPROM-based menu system, debugging 'front panel' extension complete with single step facility, software readable switch words, AtoD and DtoA ports, Triac controlled AC mains output socket, software controlled cooling fan, and some other stuff I forget, is probably an _unusual_ museum piece.

Hmm.. I can't even recall if I have image backups on hard disk of the EPROMs on the extension rom-bank board I made. If not, it's all gone forever now. And it doesn't bother me.

yeah I nearly bought one too. 

I still have an Altair 8800b, not the first one which was the 8800.  That page lists the first 8800 as going for US $4000-$7000 :o

I checked up on it a few years back, and the EPROMS on my 8800b are wiped, all hex 0xFF, and so the front panel monitor doesn't work.
I would have to find the original monitor ROM dumps somewhere to see if I can restore it.

This picture is from the computer museum. Mine is at my parents home, a few thousand miles away,
and I haven't lived there in over 25 years :) I get back occasionally to visit my first home lab ...




Nice. I never had a machine with a real front panel, but oh, how I wanted one! To this day I still dream of getting an original PDP 8 or 11 or whatever - the ones with the rows of paddle switches in the very sixties colour scheme. Just as a showpiece. Not that I really have room for it. I do have this hp1000 system and manuals for it, but it doesn't excite me because it lacks those cool paddle switches. In fact I should sell it, since I'm never going to use it for anything. Oh, and ha ha.. I have a complete HP reel-to-reel tape drive for it, and some other peripheral cards as well.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013, 05:39:50 pm by TerraHertz »
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Offline Joules

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Re: Your chance to own an Apple I. (Well, maybe not...)
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2013, 05:42:11 pm »
About 14yrs ago I moved and had to downsize my computer collection.  I threw out 5 Apple II computers I had aquired over the years, including the original one I bought instead of a car!!! in my early 20's.

It paid off in that I finally made it to computer engineer at a local university based on my "Nerd" decision all those years back.  As you I had reams of paper printed programs in Basic and Assembler that I created, plus all those hundreds of floppy disks you seem to accumulate.

Happy times doing 6502 assembly programming, and creating (or destroying) hardware.
 

Offline deephaven

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Re: Your chance to own an Apple I. (Well, maybe not...)
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2013, 05:43:07 pm »
I remember seeing the Apple I being demonstrated in the foyer of Stanford Linear Accelerator auditorium in Palo Alto back in 1976. I wish I had shoved a few dollars in their direction to invest in the company!
 

Offline TerraHertz

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Re: Your chance to own an Apple I. (Well, maybe not...)
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2013, 06:40:08 pm »
I remember seeing the Apple I being demonstrated in the foyer of Stanford Linear Accelerator auditorium in Palo Alto back in 1976. I wish I had shoved a few dollars in their direction to invest in the company!

Yeah. Or even just had a few dollars spare at all, in those days. It really sucked being in Australia, and poor, at that time. So much potential, but no way to bootstrap. Or at least, I lacked the financial sense to be able to do it. Plenty of technical capability, few tools, no capital.  Didn't even know anyone who was getting anywhere in the technical field. Except for the owners of Computerland, and they were no great help to me. Rudi Hoess (German) and  his wife Lorna (Chinese.) Great people to work for, but not exactly philanthropists. And no Internet yet...

But I think maybe I did 'invest in Apple', just not usefully to me. Funny story...
I was working at Computerland. Had bought the first demo machine, and been using it for a year or two. Apple had finally brought out their AppleDOS floppy disk drives, that used a Shugart chassis but an Apple circuit board. Unlike the Apple II, they provided no schematics for the disk drive or interface card. I had schematics for Shugart drives, but the Apple floppy drive was fascinating - so few parts!

So I reverse engineered the whole disk drive, interface card and AppleDOS binary. Derived the schematics, read the PALs, figured out how it dealt with the data stream to and from the heads, disassembled all the relevant code in AppleDOS.
Then realized that they'd missed a trick. The conversion of head transition data to bytes was done partly in the AppleDOS code running on the Apple. And they'd used nested loops to do it - with all the loop counter overhead that required.
I rewrote it with the loops unrolled, integrated it back into AppleDOS, and found that I could get much higher data density on the floppies. It was originally something really pathetic like 100Kbyte (I forget the exact figure.)

Anyway, being a naive and ignorant twit at that time, I had no idea this was really valuable information. I just thought 'oh cool' and went about other stuff.
One day a frequent customer in Computerland was chatting with me, and I mentioned my improved AppleDOS code. He was very interested, and I (stupidly) just took it as friendly interest. Gave him complete copies of all my reverse engineering notes, schematics, the code, etc.
Never saw him again, and I heard he'd left for the USA.
Not very long after that Apple came out with ProDOS - which seemed to bear a remarkable resemblance to the code I'd written. And ProDOS really kicked Apple's sales off.

Sigh. I'll never know for sure.


Ha... here's another less painful story. In that it's about someone *else* being a dick. I worked in the Computerland service dept (just a room at the back of the store.) One day I heard a series of noises from out front. Sounded like "Wham! Wham! Wham! WhaKSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
Ran out, to find one of the two huge tempered glass doors at the storefront converted to a mound of tiny glass cubes. Rudi had wanted to put a lit-up advertising sign out on the sidewalk. But there was no space for the powercord as the door closed quite tightly. So he'd tried to knock a corner off the huge sheet of plate glass with a screwdriver and a hammer.

God, it still makes me laugh.
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Offline deephaven

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Re: Your chance to own an Apple I. (Well, maybe not...)
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2013, 08:30:34 pm »
Not very long after that Apple came out with ProDOS - which seemed to bear a remarkable resemblance to the code I'd written. And ProDOS really kicked Apple's sales off.

Wow, that's quite a story, I guess you learnt the hard way. I worked for a year in the US 76/77 and it was an amazing time for me. I lived in Sunnyvale and worked in Mountain View and I remember driving around open-mouthed seeing all those headquarters of the semiconductor companies that I knew. I went to Fairchild in the evenings on a microprocessor course, a bit of a strange introduction to such things as they used their device which was an F8. When they finally started talking about other micro's like the 8080 and Z80, it was like a breath of fresh air. A few years later I designed a single board computer based on the 6809 and running the FLEX operating system. I advertised it as a kit and sold a few. It was a mistake selling it as a KIT, I'm sure I would have sold a lot more if I had sold it as a ready made computer. However, I can't complain as I eventually incorporated it into a product as a bespoke design for someone which then sold pretty well.
 

Offline mikes

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Re: Your chance to own an Apple I. (Well, maybe not...)
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2013, 12:36:02 pm »
But I think maybe I did 'invest in Apple', just not usefully to me. Funny story...
I was working at Computerland. Had bought the first demo machine, and been using it for a year or two. Apple had finally brought out their AppleDOS floppy disk drives, that used a Shugart chassis but an Apple circuit board. Unlike the Apple II, they provided no schematics for the disk drive or interface card. I had schematics for Shugart drives, but the Apple floppy drive was fascinating - so few parts!

So I reverse engineered the whole disk drive, interface card and AppleDOS binary. Derived the schematics, read the PALs, figured out how it dealt with the data stream to and from the heads, disassembled all the relevant code in AppleDOS.
Then realized that they'd missed a trick. The conversion of head transition data to bytes was done partly in the AppleDOS code running on the Apple. And they'd used nested loops to do it - with all the loop counter overhead that required.
Oh, bullshit. Disk schematics were published in "The DOS Manual." Data density and speed was determined by the disk rotation speed, the processor clock rate, and the group codes implemented by the state machine ROMs (first 13, then 16 sector). The nibble code only had to keep up with the hardware - software wasn't a limitation to speed or capacity. ProDOS didn't come out until 5 years after the Disk II was released (1983 - the Disk II came out in 1978),  didn't offer higher capacity, it was fundamentally just a different filesystem.
 


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