Beginning a Mimeo build

Just thought I’d throw a quick post up… I’m going to be starting a Mimeo build very soon. (For those unfamiliar with the Mimeo, it is a (rather faithful) clone of the original Apple-1, Apple’s first computer. I got to use the real thing at KansasFest 2013, thanks to Chris from Chicago, and caught the bug.)

What all have I bought so far…

  • Mimeo PCB, PROMs, and ACI replica from Mike Willegal – still waiting on that
  • Panasonic RQ-2102 cassette recorder. I did find out that this is not the cassette recorder that Apple recommended in 1976 (it appears to have come out in 1994, in fact), contrary to what’s floating around, but it is one that apparently works quite well with the Apple Cassette Interface.
  • Apple-1 parts kit from Unicorn Electronics – that shipped lightning fast, sitting on my kitchen table now, although I need to check the BOM against what shipped just to be safe
  • Various odds and ends for the power section (mostly from Digikey) – well, I just ordered those, so except for the couple things I got locally today…
  • Oak plywood to use as a base to mount all of this on – needs to be stained to look better, but I think it’ll be decent

What I still need to buy…

  • Replacement encoder for the ][+ keyboard that I have – many years ago, I was given a ][+ that had been (even more years before that) converted into a (cheap) analog clock. Machine was gutted, hole drilled in the lid to install the clock guts. So, it’s a damaged case, and a keyboard – I don’t feel bad about taking the keyboard (the lid is the interesting bit anyway as far as this particular machine’s history goes). Unfortunately, when it was gutted, the encoder was taken. There’s a couple options I’ve got here – Vince Briel sells the Apple II Super Encoder, and Wendell Sander once did an Apple-1 specific encoder for the Apple II keyboard – I need to see if he still has any.
  • Plexiglas cover. My ideas for the enclosure are extremely minimal – wood base, with everything mounted to it, some nice tall standoffs (about 4 inches), and a plexiglas cover.
  • Plexiglas box around the power components. (Das 120-Volt-Komponenten sind nicht fΓΌr gefingerpoken!) This will need to be laser cut, and will provide mounting for the fan (I don’t trust those power components to stay cool otherwise), power socket, and power switch.
  • Vince Briel’s Slot 1 Expander (listed on the page for his Replica 1 (which is not a replica, but it is compatible with the Apple-1)) – not needed, but nice to have, and I’ve got a nice place for it in my planned case layout. And it makes some plans for Apple-1 shenanigans a little easier. πŸ˜‰
  • Maybe a CFFA1? But I don’t strictly need that…

I’ll be posting more status updates as I make progress along the path to owning a computer 1976-style.


Bard’s Tale for Android IIGS emulator analysis… and then some

The other day, I saw that Bard’s Tale for Android had an Apple IIGS emulator hiding in it. Given that the game was $2.99, and I have an HP TouchPad running Android handy, I decided to grab it, just to see what was going on with the emulator.

Here’s my initial analysis, in the form of a YouTube video (sorry for the poor quality):


Bard’s Tale (Android) embedded Apple IIGS emulator – YouTube

So, now that I had identified what the emulator actually was, I decided to go for a deeper look. Continue reading “Bard’s Tale for Android IIGS emulator analysis… and then some”


Mac OS is the new Apple II, iOS is the new Mac OS

This is a thought that I’ve actually had for a while now, but I thought I’d put it in a blog entry.

There’s plenty of signs, in my opinion, that within 5 years, there will be no more Mac OS, or it will be a niche OS for developers and such. Instead, iOS will be Apple’s main platform. And, Apple’s target market will embrace this change.

So, you’re asking, what evidence do I have for this happening? Read after the break, and you’ll see my evidence. Some of this is sourced from rumors, but some isn’t. It’s not in any particular order, either – just because I have it listed earlier doesn’t mean it’s more important. Continue reading “Mac OS is the new Apple II, iOS is the new Mac OS”


Communications networks, Tunisia, Egypt, Lieberman, UBB, and you.

Recently, revolts in Tunisia and Egypt have caused the governments of those nations to shut off access to the Internet, to try to prevent protest groups from communicating.

Also, various politicians in the US have been proposing an “Internet kill switch” that would disable access to the Internet, if our infrastructure is threatened. Of course, there’s no checks and balances on that…

In addition, major ISPs in Canada are forcing smaller ISPs into a nasty “usage based billing” scheme that threatens to ruin the Internet for Canada. Of course, US ISPs are seeing if they can get away with it.

So, in light of that, I think it’d be a good idea to set up infrastructure to work around any potential shutdowns or restrictions – both by the government and by ISPs. Continue reading “Communications networks, Tunisia, Egypt, Lieberman, UBB, and you.”



More fun with retrocomputing

Added some retrocomputing stuff to my “collection,” so thought I’d post about it.

We’ll start with the smallest machine and work our way up. I bought a replacement eMate 300 (mine died in a fall, and I literally cannot find where the component came off the motherboard to replace it,) but this one has the RAM/flash upgrade – faster, and has a useful amount of storage.

Next up is an upgrade to my IIGS – a ZipGSX, this one with all of the card upgrades, and running at 10 MHz with 32 kiB cache. I’ve got parts on the way to make that either 12 or 12.5 MHz and 64 kiB cache, though. Having an accelerator makes a world of difference with performance – things happen on the desktop almost instantly, GNO/ME works significantly faster, Spectrum becomes much more practical for telnet use, etc., etc., etc.

Finally, something I’ve been thinking about getting for a while, and has been in the works for a couple months… I posted a request on P370-L asking if anyone would be willing to sell a Personal/370 Adapter/A, which was IBM’s first “mainframe-on-a-card” for PCs. Pretty quickly, I got an e-mail offering a PC Server 500 System/390 8641-MYC, which runs a much more modern version of that card (compatible with ESA/390 software, whereas the Personal/370 is only compatible with 370/XA,) for cost of shipping.

It arrived yesterday, and it looks like I’ve got a project on my hands, bringing it up. Some of the MCA cards came loose in shipping, and need to be reseated. Here’s the specs on what I’ve got, though:

Pentium 90 (all PC Server 500s have this,) 32 MiB of RAM
Dual SCSI RAID controllers (each with two channels)
Dual LANStreamer (not gonna be that useful, I don’t have Token Ring)
Two ethernet cards (that will be useful)
Some XGA card, I think
System/390 processor card
96 MiB S/390 RAM card (the most for this configuration)
14 hard drives totalling 159.3 GB

Yeah, this will be a fun one to set up. I plan on running VM on it, and maybe playing with the other IBM mainframe OSes as well.


KansasFest 2010: ACTION RETROCOMPUTING CONFERENCE

So, I guess it’d be a good idea to blog about my first time at KansasFest, an annual Apple II convention held at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.

(For the benefit of any readers of this blog that don’t know… I have absolutely no problem with the Apple that made the Apple II, and as I grew up with an Apple //c and a couple Apple II clones, I kinda have to be a fan of that Apple. πŸ˜‰ The Apple that I have a problem with is Apple, Inc.)

Due to the length of this post, I’ll use the intro feature, so everything else is after the break. Continue reading “KansasFest 2010: ACTION RETROCOMPUTING CONFERENCE”


Why Apple is evil: Lying to their customers about the future of their products

Today, we’ll have a more historical look at Apple’s evil actions.

In 1977, Apple released the Apple ][, the refinement of Steve Wozniak’s engineering into a more complete computer. This machine and its wide family of descendants were extremely popular for many uses, and were used in many schools across the US.

Prior to the 1980s, computers in the hobbyist market, what Apple knew, tended to last for a couple years on the market, and then were pushed out by the latest and greatest. Backwards compatibility wasn’t understood. So, Apple figured that by 1980, they would be dead in the water if they stuck with the Apple ][, hence a project to create both a short-term and a long-term successor, aimed at the business market.

These machines were the Apple /// and Lisa, both colossal failures in the marketplace, for different reasons. However, Apple decided to actively neglect the Apple ][ while developing the Apple /// – despite the Apple ][ Plus racking up massive profits for them, and funding all of the projects meant to kill it.

That’s not what’s evil, that’s just them not knowing better.

The Mac was eventually the ultimate successor to the Apple II line, although it had to push the wildly popular Apple II out of the way first. So, again, Apple started neglecting the Apple II, not giving it upgrades or promotion that it deserved.

Here’s where it got evil. Apple, knowing they were trying to kill the Apple II, started releasing the Apple II Guide. This was a series of guides listing all sorts of information about the Apple II, with statements that Apple had no plans to cancel the Apple II, to reassure customers. Problem is, they did that in the 1992 edition, right before cancelling all Apple II projects (and knowing they were going to do it.)

Way to abandon your loyal customers, Apple.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t around for this, but I’ve read a lot about it. If I’ve gotten some of my facts wrong, please comment, and I’ll correct it.

No specific source for today.


Zombie OSes – OSes that aren’t dead, but they aren’t the most alive, either

I’m probably going to piss a few people off with this, but it’s something that’s been rattling around in my head for a while, and I wanted to get it posted somewhere. This might not even make much sense. πŸ˜‰ Also, please note that I’m not knocking your favorite OS when I classify it as a zombie OS.

So, what is a zombie OS? A zombie OS is an OS that “should have” died, but has been kept alive and at least somewhat up to date by its community. Or, maybe it really did die, but its community has brought it back. (By “should have” died, I don’t mean that the OS deserved to die, just that the situation that it was in meant that it would have died if it weren’t for the community.) Either way, it’s now “undead,” if you will.

Most zombie OSes are now considered hobby OSes – OSes that most people play with for fun, and then reboot into a more mainstream OS (or switch to a more mainstream computer) for daily work. That said, there are often many die-hard users that use such an OS as their primary OS. At one time, most of these OSes were commercially sold, but their developer has abandoned the OS, or has gone out of business. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a new owner commercially selling it to the hobby market – in fact, in many cases, that is the case.

Why use a zombie OS? Quite a few reasons. For starters, nostalgia – you may have used the OS before, you liked it, so why not play around with it nowadays? That happens with a lot of dead OSes, too – OSes that have truly been abandoned, and the community around it exists solely to have fun with stuff they used years ago. Alternately, maybe you’ve always been using it, it fits your needs the best, or it has some features that you really like, so why stop now? Or, maybe you’re interested in using alternatives to the mainstream OSes, and as zombie OSes were usually well supported in their past, there’s usually more support available for them than for OSes that began as hobby OSes.

So, what is there to know about them? Continue reading “Zombie OSes – OSes that aren’t dead, but they aren’t the most alive, either”


Starting a documentation and file collection project for the Sun-1

For a few months now, I’ve been interested in Sun workstations, and when you seriously (or even not so seriously) get into a hobby, you sometimes start looking into its history. While looking into Sun’s history, I’ve found that information on the early Sun workstations (that is, those before the Sun-2 line) is extremely scarce, and scattered across the Internet. While I was able to find what I was looking for at the time, even a few months later, I’ve lost some of those links. Therefore, I decided to start an archive for information about the Sun-1 and its predecessors, and for files for those machines. It’s currently hosted off of my own personal server, although mirrors would be appreciated. If you wish to contribute to this project, either by providing information, files, or providing a mirror, please let me know. Here’s the information I’m looking for:

  • Any documents published by Stanford University about the Stanford University Network hardware
  • Any documents published by VLSI Systems about the SUN hardware sold by that company
  • Any documents published by Sun Microsystems about Sun-1 workstation models with 68000 (not 68010) CPUs
  • Any documents published by third parties about the above systems, or hardware included in these systems
  • Firmware for any of these systems
  • Software for any of these systems, especially UniPlus V7 Unix
  • High-resolution images of circuit boards, including:
    • SUN and Sun-1 68000 CPU boards
    • SUN and Sun-1 framebuffers, both monochrome and color
    • SUN and Sun-1 memory boards
    • Disk controller boards used in SUN and Sun-1 systems, including the Interphase SMD 2180
    • Ethernet boards used in SUN and Sun-1 systems
    • Any other boards of interest for the SUN and Sun-1
  • Screenshots and photographs of SUN and Sun-1 systems in operation
  • Personal accounts of using SUN and Sun-1 systems