I was a first timer to VCF and I was fairly impressed by the show that was put on. The exhibits were interesting, and the vendors had good products on sale. For me personally, I really enjoyed the speakers, and the hands-on labs – Glitchwrks XT-IDE board build and Commodore 64 BASIC programming.
VCF East was held on the InfoAge museum campus which featured early UNIVAC computers, several military artifacts, communications, and electronic warefare exhibits.
I am already thinking about next year’s trip. In the meantime, I put together a “what I saw” recap video. I hope you enjoy it.
As part of this year’s #MARCHintosh event (yes, I’m late, or am I really early for the 2024 event?), I started a project to restore and upgrade a vintage Apple Macintosh LC III. Originally released in 1993 at a starting price of $1,349 for a 4MB/80MB system, this Low Cost Color computer was intended for home users who wanted and inexpensive color Macintosh and at schools who needed a way to leverage their Apple II software library through the use of the optional Apple IIe Card, a $250 add-in expansion peripheral.
This repair was more work that I originally expected. To get this old Mac back up and running, I needed to replace the 80MB Quantum ProDrive ELS hard disk drive with a BlueSCSI v1 hard disk emulator. Then, I needed to take apart and service the 1.44MB SuperDrive floppy disk drive to remove the old grease. Thankfully, getting the Apple IIe card and Motorola 68882 FPU co-processor working was straight forward.
Overall, this was a fun project to work on, but there is still more work to do. While restoring this Mac LC III, there was plenty of evidence that I’ll need to address the issue of leaky capacitors to get the internal speaker working normally, perhaps add some more RAM, and wow! is that internal fan loud! It sure would be nice to have a quieter fan in there. However, that will be work for a future video.
In the final installment of my Apple IIGS Welcome-Home-Athon video series, I talk about the various solutions I tried to get the GS working with a modern LCD display and see what it was like to use System 6.0.1 and Zany Golf on a color display.
In this second installment of my Apple IIGS Welcome-Home-athon series, I work on testing out video output, booting up GS/OS 6.0.1, verify the RAM configuration, and check which ROM my little guy has. The RetroComputing Shenanigans Bus also takes us on a short trip to Dongle Town!
The Apple //e was my first Apple-branded computer. My first computer was an Apple II-series clone, the V-Tech Laser 3000.
As I am slowly working on restoring my main Apple //e, I’ve been buying other machines to pick up various parts that I need. For example, the second Apple //e that I purchased came with an Apple DuoDisk drive and an Apple Monitor II.
For purchase #3, I am on the hunt for expansion cards. Specifically, the Apple Mouse Interface card.
Here’s my vintage Apple //e unboxing video and a first look at the cards inside.
After buying a replacement Apple //e earlier this year, I wanted to find and Apple Disk II Controller Card and at least one Disk II 5.25″ floppy drive.
It took me a while to find a reasonably priced used Apple Disk II controller card and Disk II floppy drive on eBay. The card and drive needed a good cleaning before I tried to use them. While there was dust in the floppy drive, the read/write head was still remarkably clean. The card had a bent pin 1 on the drive 1 connector. I carefully bent it back into position. I used 70% Isopropyl Alcohol to clean the card and some DeoxIT D5 in the Apple //e’s expansion slot to ensure a good contact between the card and the computer.
One thing that I did learn was that I was unable to have both a Disk II controller card and the newer Apple I/O controller card, for use with the Apple DuoDrive, in the same machine. To get my Apple //e to boot from the Disk II controller card, I had to remove the Apple I/O controller card before the computer would boot properly. While you apparently can’t mix and match these two types of 5.25″ Apple controller cards, you can have two Disk II or two Apple I/O controller cards installed at the same time. Just not one of each. In my experience using the //e back in the mid-1980s, you either had two Disk II drives or a single DuoDisk drive. You never mixed the two systems.
Disk II History
The Disk II system for the Apple II, II+ and the //e offered users improved data transfer rates over cassette tape-based storage systems and allowed for the direct access of a file by name, according to the 1982 version of the Disk II Installation manual.
According to the Disk II article posted on Apple2History.og, Apple CEO Mike Markkula wanted a faster way to load programs on his Apple II. Steve Wozniak set out on the task of creating a custom disk drive controller board. Steve Jobs brokered a deal with Shugart Associates to sell Apple stripped down versions of the SA-400 disk mechanism.
The Disk II Floppy Disk System, consisting of a Disk II controller card and a Disk II floppy drive, was made available for pre-order at a cost of $495 in June of 1978. Once Apple started shipping the Disk II, the price increased to $595.
A single Disk II controller card was able to drive up to two floppy drives. The drives received power from the controller card which is plugged into an expansion slot on an Apple II-series motherboard.
Early versions of the Disk II system were able to store up to 113.75 KB when using Apple DOS 3.2.1 and earlier. With Apple DOS 3.3, the version of DOS that I use with my Apple //e computers, Disk II was able to write 140 KB disks. Apple provided a 13 to 16-sector conversion utility to upgrade disks for use with newer versions of Apple DOS.
This Public Service Announcement (PSA) deals with early generation iPod music players. If you own a first generation iPod with Scroll Wheel (2001), a second generation iPod with Touch Wheel (2002), or third generation iPod with Dock Connector (2003), you need the FireWire charging brick and a FireWire to Dock Connector cable or the FireWire/USB-A to Dock Connector dual-headed cable. The combo cable was pretty crazy: You connect the FireWire end into the charge brick and the USB-A end into your Mac or Windows PC so you could sync and charge your iPod at the same time.
When Apple announced that they were retiring the last iPod, the 7th Generation iPod touch from their product line up, like many of you, I pulled out my old “Classic” and “Touch” iPods to take a stroll down Memory Lane.
In my May 11 iPod look back, I was trying to charge my third-generation iPod with Dock Connector, I was doing so from an Apple USB-A charging brick. It wasn’t until I pulled out my FireWire charger and cables was I able to wake up my oldest iPod from it’s slumber.
A few weeks ago, I learned of a retro computing community event called #MARCHintosh. I decided to turn my Macintosh SE restoration project into a #MARCHintosh2022 video. I had been toying around with the idea of making a video – something that is outside of my comfort zone – and post it. You can watch in on YouTube now.
I think the hardest part about the restoration project was to get two working Sony 800k floppy disk drives. I needed to disassemble, clean, grease and lubricate the drives. Something that I have never done. If you are used to working inside a computer, you will be able to handle a floppy drive restoration project of your own. While I didn’t film any footage of my floppy restoration efforts, there are several good videos already on YouTube that do a much better job of explaining the entire process from start to finish.
Overall, I am very happy with how my Mac SE restoration project went. I chose to reconfigure my Mac SE as a two floppy drive model. It is unclear to me if my second-hand SE came from the factory as a two floppy model or as a FD/HD model that more common in the late 1980s. New hard disk replacement options, including the SCSI2SD bridge board allowed me to install the double high two floppy drive cage into my Mac while still being able to tuck the SD card to SCSI bridgeboard away inside the case giving me the best of both worlds: an unusual dual floppy Mac SE with a SCSI “hard disk”. I was happy to remote the third-party Microtech faceplate and MFM hard disk. It has been interesting to relive what it was like to use System 6.0.8 as an operating system. So much is the same, and yet, so much is different at the same time. This has been a fun and nostalgic project to have worked on.
I think by comparison, making the video was equally as challenging. Calling me an amateur YouTube video maker is a generous categorization of my skills. I am glad I made the video. I feel like each one is better than the last. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, but better use of the iPhone camera, microphones, lighting, and a good backdrop don’t hurt either. I’m sure that I will try making a few more shorter unboxing style videos and a follow up Apple //e video in the future.
Yellowstone is a new disk controller card that can be used by retro computing enthusiasts in their Apple II-series machines, including Apple and clone machines, with an array of 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch disk drives from the 1980s. Further, Yellowstone also supports BMOW’s own Floppy Emu disk emulator and naked Macintosh 800k and 1.44MB drives.
Yellowstone is a universal disk controller card for Apple II computers. It supports nearly every type of Apple disk drive ever made, including standard 3.5-inch drives, 5.25-inch drives, smart drives like the Unidisk 3.5 and the BMOW Floppy Emu’s smartport hard disk, and even Macintosh 3.5-inch drives. Yellowstone combines the power of an Apple 3.5 Disk Controller Card, a standard 5.25-inch (Disk II) controller card, the Apple Liron controller, and more, all in a single card.
I am excited to have received my Yellowstone card this week because I also received a second unenhanced Apple //e. (Have I mentioned that I have a deep fondness for my first Apple computer?) I plan on using the Yellowstone card in one of my //e’s as a way to get 3.5-inch disk drive support since finding new old stock 5.25-inch floppy disks is a bit difficult.
I ended up ordering the “Everything Bundle” ($169). This bundle, as the name implies, includes the Yellowstone universal disk controller card ($139) and two DB-19 female disk adapters ($19/ea) so that I can connect two sets of drives to a single computer at a time.
My end result could look something like an enhanced Apple //e with the DuoDrive and the BMOW Floppy Emu connected for easy image-to-floppy creation or to archive the original floppies in my small collection. Another configuration that I am looking forward to trying is connecting my Apple 5.25″ drive and a Macintosh 800k floppy drive to the same system to make a bootable floppy disk with a few different programs on it.
And that is what makes these new cards for old computers so interesting – you can mix-n-match new and old parts to extend and customize the Apple II-line just like Woz intended.
I have been in the IT field for over 25 years now. Interestingly, one of the applications that I have used almost daily for that entire time is Claris FileMaker Pro. Over the years, the company name changed from Clairs to FileMaker and back to Claris again. The one constant is that FileMaker has always been FileMaker.
As a help desk technician, I deployed and supported FileMaker Pro on Macintosh and Windows PCs. As a server admin, I deployed, managed, and upgraded FileMaker Server and the databases they contained.
So, it is only natural that when restoring a Macintosh SE with System Software 6.0.8 installed, that FileMaker Pro 2.1v3 be installed to go along with it. The Disk Copy floppy disk images that I found were either of 1.4MB floppies – which my SE can’t read – or 800k floppies that did not work for one reason or another (i.e.: corruption or a bad image file).
I ended up purchasing an original copy of FileMaker Pro 2.0v2 on a set of four 800kb floppy disks from eBay. Then, I found and downloaded the 2.1v3 updater from a University of Michigan software archive. With a working set of disks and the 2.1v3 updater in hand, I was able to install FileMaker on my little vintage pal. Using a Power Macintosh 7200/120 with a 1.4MB Apple SuperDrive, I created my own disk image archive in Disk Copy 4.3 and 6.3.3 formats suitable for use on vintage hardware like mine, or in a Classic 68k Mac emulator.