Design Your Own Train – Apple ][ application – circa 1987

Sometimes I can’t resist things which cross over multiple hobbies that I enjoy, especially when the price is low. I recently picked up a near mint copy of this Apple ][ program on eBay.

Design Your Own Train - box

Design Your Own Train – box

The contents are in immaculate condition and were nicely produced.

Design You Own Train - contents

Design You Own Train – contents

The program is supposed to allow you to design a layout and run trains in what is now known as a virtual environment. Here is the screen that comes up when the program is first started up. It shows a completed layout up and operating.

Design Your Own Train - startscreen

Design Your Own Train – startscreen

I spent a couple of hours figuring out how to design a railroad myself, and run a train in this virtual environment. The result was this simple layout.

Design Your Own Train - custom route

Design Your Own Train – custom route

The learning curve was quick and within a couple of hours, I had a train running – really not a bad experience. Many “modern” programs will be much, much harder to come up to speed on.

However, my impression is that the limitations of the program prevent it from becoming a real design or operations planning tool that the companies marketing claims it to be. Though I might be able to put the City Point module that I am currently working on into the program, it would be only in a stylized way. Back in the day, my opinion is that pencil and paper would have been a better tool. Here are some of the more severe limitations of the program.

  • Tracks direction is limited to the 8 fundamental cardinal and ordinal points.
  • The amount of trackage is limited to what will fit on the screen
  • Only 4 trains can be run
  • There are only left and right 45 degree switches
  • Overall, learning this program was a fun and inexpensive little experiment in nastalgia.

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