Archive for the ‘Apple II’ Category

Apple PROM board, MEA/Apple TTY emulation update

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

The SCELBI PROM board is working fine and I was able to create a small program in the editor and execute pass one of the assembler with MEA. I can’t completely assemble a program and run it until I get the cassette interface built and operating. Pass two of the assembler writes the output to cassette tape. I’ll have to hold up doing a video until I can get the complete package going. My impressions of the MEA package are quite positive. It’s not as elegant as later software you might be more used to. However, considering the time frame it was made and the platform is the 8008, it’s a pretty nice package.

SCELBI PROM and extra SRAM boards cost $50 each and are available now. This recent work also confirms that the TTY board is working fine and those are available for $30.

I’ve been using an Apple IIe in 80 column mode with a bit-banged serial serial card to act as TTY emulator. However there are a couple of fairly significant issues that need to be solved before publishing this teletype replacement solution. It’s usable for me, but there are some problems. The two issues with my current Apple II TTY emulation solution are:

  • 1)The Apple II isn’t fast enough to scroll it’s screen at the same time it’s receiving data in a bit banged mode. It drops a few bits from the next character while scrolling the screen. This means that I’ll need to come up with a special designed card to support 110baud current loop with a UART. Since I’m doing a new card, I’ll consider figuring out how to add paper tape support and possibly printer support, as well.
  • 2) In 80 column mode, the screen driver doesn’t support carriage return, without also doing a line feed. In other words, you can’t move the cursor backwards to position 0 on the same line, like a real TTY would when it receives a CR. I’ll have to look into a software fix for this, but it might take sending the cursor to home and then moving it back down to the correct position on the page or something like that.
  • SCELBI running MEA

    SCELBI running MEA

    This image shows the Apple IIe acting as a TTY for the SCLEBI 8B on the left. The screen contains a small program entered with the MEA editor. The listing of the program at the top of the screen has two extra lines at the end. The “D 000 006,000 007″ is an editor command that deletes lines 6 and 7. The “L” command lists the text buffer. The last two commands “P1″ and “P2″ are pass 1 and pass 2 of the assembler. Pass 1 shows no errors. Pass 2 writes results to cassette tape. Since the cassette isn’t installed in my system it actually does nothing. If I had a tape, pass 3 would read the object back into the system so it could be executed.

    The “E”s on the left side of the screen should be the first character of the next line, but the Apple IIe can’t scroll fast enough to be ready to receive the first character of the new line, so it receives a partial character.

    yeah – MEA running on reproduction SCELBI 8B

    Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    MEA dump memory command - Apple IIe used as TTY emulator connected to reproduction SCELBI 8B

    MEA dump memory command – Apple IIe used as TTY emulator connected to reproduction SCELBI 8B

    Here is the dump of memory from the SCELBI PROM card from addresses 060-000 to 0600-037 as displayed on a 40 column Apple IIe, running some very simple TTY emulation software.

    To interface to the SCELBI, I’m using an Apple IIe with an old serial interface card. The Apple Serial Card is the first serial card released by Apple, and was intended to connect to serial printers. It included support for current loop and 110 baud rate. It’s the only thing I own, that supports that combination of baud rates and interface protocols. Be aware that this card is not the same as the very common Apple Super Serial card, which does not support current loop.

    For TTY terminal emulation purposes, I’m doing a major rewrite to the driver, as the default printer driver is not suitable for TTY emulation. I’ll post the emulation software and directions on connecting this serial card to the SCELBI TTY card as soon as I clean up a number of small issues.

    More updates on this exciting development to come soon.

    SCELBI PROM Board Progress

    Saturday, December 6th, 2014


    The PROM Board is built, installed and appears to be running. However, it’s not completely checked out. I need to hack together a simple Apple IIe TTY emulation program that will work with Apple’s old serial card. That card is the only card that I have (outside of my SCELBI stuff) that will run at 110 baud, but it was designed for printing, so I couldn’t find any ready made terminal program for it. The standard PROMs on the SCELBI 8B assume either a keyboard/oscilloscope interface or a TTY interface at 110 baud. Since we don’t have the keyboard/oscilloscope software, I burnt the TTY software into PROMs.

    It should take me a day to two to complete the TTY/terminal program hack for the Apple II, at which point, I will probably make short video showing the capabilities of the SCELBI 8B minus the cassette interface.

    I used black tape to cover the windows on the EPROMs because I’m told that sunlight will erase them after a while.

    Meanwhile, you can run the software in my OS/X emulator by downloading the MEA hex file from and jumping to 060-000. In a quick trial, it appeared to work ok for me. Be aware that I don’t currently have the cassette interface emulated, so cassette operations will not work. Cassette emulation is one the things on my to do list.

    Brain Board Inventory Down to Two Kits

    Thursday, December 4th, 2014

    I have two Brain Board Kits left and don’t think I’ll do a rerun anytime in the near future.

    I had a total of 59 made in early 2011 and it’s taken a while to sell the last few kits after a fair level of initial interest. Given the numbers made, these are likely to be hard to come by in the future. If you don’t already have one, this may be your last opportunity to get one for some time.

    Bob Bishop’s Apple 1 Trade In Deal – and just when did Apple II’s first ship

    Monday, November 17th, 2014

    Apple 1 and Apple II programmer, Bob Bishop recently passed away. Though I didn’t know Bob Bishop, I did exchange a few emails with him in June of 2013. From the few emails I exchanged with him, I got the impression that Bob was a good guy, and I feel it’s unfortunate that I never got to meet him in person.

    Back in June of 2013, while refining the Apple 1 Registry, I noticed that at one time, that Bob had an Apple 1. I sent him an email, asking if he still had his unit. Bob replied, saying that he had traded it in. This was about the time that Fred Hatfield’s Apple 1 was sold at auction. There was much in the press about Fred’s Apple 1, which included a letter from Jobs, offering a trade in deal. This was a deal which Fred had refused. Bob was a little concerned that the trade he made, wasn’t as good as what Fred and others were offered.

    Here is the story of that trade in, in Bob’s words. The article he mentions, was a New York Times article that included some mention about how aggressively Apple pursued the Apple 1 trade in program.

    When I read that article, I was a little upset (and said so on my weekly radio show) to discover that the company had “an aggressive trade-in program, offering Apple II’s and sometimes cash incentives in exchange for Apple-1’s.” When I wanted to do MY trade-in, I had to go to apple and ask THEM if they would be willing to do it. They said YES… but only if I paid THEM some additional money! But I guess that was before they had fully started their trade-in program. So it may be that I have the dubious distinction of having been the very first person to trade-in my Apple-I for an Apple-II (since the serial no. of the Apple-II that I got was 0013). :)

    But now that you’ve showed me the original letter from Fred, It looks like the NY Times article may have gotten their information a little mixed up. According to the letter, it appears that Fred had to pay THEM the $400 — and not the other way around (just as in my case).

    I don’t remember exactly how much I had to pay when I made my trade-in, but I think it was about the same amount ($400). And I made the trade-in around late June of 1977, but Apple didn’t ship the computer to me until July. (I remember that they said it would be delivered to my home in the next few days. So on July third, I sat around anxiously waiting for delivey. The next day was going to be the Fourth of July, and if it didn’t come today, I would have to wait two more days to get it! Well, it didn’t come… so I had a very miserable Fourth of July that year. But around 10AM on July fifth, it finally arrived! :)

    – Bob -

    By the way, surviving evidence indicates that though Apple 1 trade ins occurred, it wasn’t a real great deal. Several surviving Apple 1’s that came through the hands of early Apple employees, were probably trade-in’s, but there aren’t that many of them. The only person that I know of, that actually acknowledged that he traded in an Apple 1, was Bob Bishop.

    Briefcase Apple 1 Sighting

    Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

    There are a couple of original Apple 1’s that were put in briefcases.

    One is owned by the “Main Personal Comptuer Museum” and is depicted on my registry page.

    The one of interest for purposes of this blog entry is shown in an image shown on a webpage put up by the Silicium Museum organization. I don’t believe that the briefcase unit is the actual Apple 1 owned by the silicium organization. In fact, since I don’t have good documented images of their unit, I am just a bit skeptical about whether Silicium actually has an Apple 1. My standards for posting original Apple 1 information has risen since I added the Silicium unit, and if I recieved a similar report today, I might not have added their unit to the registry, at least until I recieved a good image.

    However, it is interesting that I just got another historic look at this same briefcase Apple 1. It was shown on the program Computer Chronicles, which has it’s shows archived at the site It can be seen at the beginning of a show entitled“Apple II Forever”.

    I may have to add this unit to the registry, as a missing historic unit. There is a reference in the show to it being a museum piece. Since the show might have been taped in California, maybe it’s still sitting in some museum vault in the Bay Area.

    By the way, there is no better way to understand the history of personal computers than to read vintage publications and view vintage videos. The archive of “Computer Chronicles” show is priceless. Check out Bill Gates participating in the Computer Bowl II.

    Keyboard Gizmos

    Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
    parallel keyboard gizmos

    parallel keyboard gizmos

    Here is a popouri of parallel keyboard projects that I have been involved with designing.

    Not shown

  • A simple single chip AVR PS/2 to parallel keyboard adapter that I forgot about when I assembled the items for this picture.
  • At top is:

  • A reproduction Datanetics keyboard
  • At bottom, from left to right…

  • Home etched/prototype PS/2 to parallel keyboard adapter
  • Production PS/2 parallel keyboard adapter configured for Apple 1/Mimeo
  • Production PS/2 parallel keyboard adapter configured for Apple ][. The latest version firmware can also be used with other vintage computers
  • Home made Apple ][ keyboard to Apple 1/Mimeo motherboard dongle with clear switch – based on schematic at Wendel Sander’s Apple 1 site
  • Production Vintage Micros Apple ][ keyboard to Apple 1/Mimeo motherboard dongle with clear switch. Similar to home made one
  • Corey Cohen’s parallel keyboard multiplexor. Automatically accepts and switches input from two different parallel keyboards to a single destination motherboard.
  • Not shown are a number of projects that I have started, but not completed (yet)

  • Datanetics replacement using modern components
  • MM5740 replacement using modern micro controller
  • And then there are the projects that never got past investigation stage.

  • ADB bus to parallel adapter
  • PS/2 Apple IIe keyboard adapter
  • It’s really hard to imagine that I have spent so much time mucking with simple parallel ASCII keyboard technology.

    SwyftCards Now Generally Available

    Friday, April 11th, 2014

    Swyftcard kits are now generally available for $55, which includes shipping.

    Check out my SwyftCard page for more information about the SwyftCard and Information Appliance, Inc.

    Or send email for ordering information.

    Reproduction SWYFT CARDs Arrived

    Friday, March 14th, 2014

    I just got my reproduction SWYFT CARDs in and they look and work great.

    Reproduction SWYFT CARD

    Reproduction SWYFT CARD

    I’ll be releasing them at VCF east in a few weeks. I’ll also be doing a soldering workshop in which you will be able to build one, even if you are a novice at soldering.

    Reproduction and Original SWYFT CARDs

    Reproduction and Original SWYFT CARDs

    The SWYFT CARD was used as a prototype/proof of principal implementation by Jeff Raskin’s company, after he left Apple after the falling out with Steve Jobs. Later they came out with the SWYFT Computer and the Canon Cat.

    Check out the VCF website for details on VCF east 9.1

    Mike W.

    Kit and PCB status update and a question

    Saturday, February 1st, 2014
  • Coming for VCF east – SWYFT card reproduction kits – special introductory price if you join my SWYFT Card soldering Workshop – $40, drop me an email to register. Part of the proceeds goes to help support MARCH. After VCF east, price goes to $50.
  • Mimeo’s – out of stock – expect to have new batch around end of February
  • Datanetics PCBs – 1 left – rerun timing TBD
  • Brain Boards – 9 left – Note that I’m going to try move the remaining Brain Board kits over the next few months. I might even list them on ebay, to clear them out. If you want one, time to get it, is now. A rerun is not likely to be in the “cards”. I have a vague idea for an enhanced firmware board that may or may not get traction someday in the future.
  • SUPERPROTO kits – 8 left – rerun TBD – these are slow sellers and I haven’t actually made any money on these. However, I find them useful for my own purposes, so I might do another run (someday).
  • ACI kits – plentiful (currently I’m running low on PROMs, but expect I’ll be able to find another batch without too much trouble)
  • PS/2 keyboard adapter kits – plentiful
  • A2 rev 0 – ample supply
  • SCELBI 8H – I have less than 10 8H board sets remaining. I’ll make extra SRAM PCBs, when needed. Front Panels are in limited supply (less than 15, I think). TTY boards are plentiful
  • Now for the question – should I call my Apple II rev 0 reproductions Mimeo IIs, even though they came first?