A clear case for the IIGS

February 24th, 2020 8:47 AM
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Last fall, MacEffects launched a Kickstarter campaign for an injection-molded clear case for the Apple II and II Plus. Its 68 backers pledged $21,171, falling short of the $29,000 goal.

Deciding that the fatal flaw of their campaign was the limited audience of Apple II and II Plus owners, MacEffects has returned to Kickstarter with a new crowdfunding project. This time, it's to create a clear case for the more popular IIe and IIGS models.

But despite the project title of "Injection Molded Clear Case for Apple IIe and IIGS", you don't get to pick whether you want a IIe case or a IIGS case. Instead, only the IIe case is available, which the IIGS board can be adapted to fit using a kit included in certain reward tiers, such as "Clear Case Kit for Apple IIe > IIGS" ($350) and "Kitchen Sink" ($675). These options are proving quite popular, as evidenced by the first 32 backers raising $12,855. That's an average of $402 per donor, higher than their previous campaign's average of $311 per donor.

Even though MacEffects' previous campaign was unsuccessful, they've upped the ante this round with a goal of $35,000. At the current rate, they'll need a total of 87 backers to reach their goal.

I'm tempted to splurging on one of these cases for my own IIGS. But I recently transitioned to a nomadic lifestyle, putting most of my possessions in storage. It's motivated me to buy fewer things that I won't immediately use, including Apple II peripherals, sadly.

But that's a unique situation and one that shouldn't keep others from considering this project, which ends on April 19!

The Apple IIGS turns 30

September 26th, 2016 8:56 AM
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September 15, 2016, marked the 30th anniversary of the release of the Apple IIGS, the last model of Apple II to be developed and produced by Apple Computer Inc. Released two years after the introduction of the Macintosh, the IIGS was the only 16-bit Apple II, offering an entirely new operating system and suite of software.

Happy 30th to the Apple IIɢs!

I was 9 years old when we got our first Apple IIGS. I'd already been weaned on a steady diet of Apple IIe software, from VisiCalc and AppleWriter to Castle Wolfenstein and Choplifter — so that's how we used the Apple IIGS: as an accelerated Apple IIe. It wasn't until I started plundering the games library of the Apple II Users Forum on CompuServe that I started exploring what the Apple IIGS was uniquely capable of. With advice from Scott Everts and Loren Damewood, we invested in some hardware upgrades from Quality Computers that made the Apple IIGS a far more powerful machine than the IIe we once owned.

It wasn't long before my gaming hours were being spent on Bouncin' Ferno, Milestones 2000, Copy Killers, DuelTris, Floortiles, GShisen, and Xenocide. For telecommunications, I moved from ProTERM to Spectrum and its infinitely scriptable environment, where I crafted many chatroom games for CompuServe and GEnie. This budding podcaster got his start manipulating people's voices in AudioZap. And for word processing — well, I stuck with AppleWorks, of course. But for the most part, I never looked back once I "upgraded" to the ultimate Apple II.

Yet today, it seems the vast majority of today's retrocomputing programmers are developing 8-bit software. Quinn Dunk is hacking the Apple IIc Plus ROM, Martin Haye and company are building the world of Lawless Legends, French Touch is crafting 8-bit demos… the quantity and quality of Apple II software seems to dwarf releases for the Apple IIGS.

I can think of two reasons why this may be true. Given its late arrival and relatively limited number of models, the Apple IIGS was never as popular as its predecessors nor as likely to be someone's first Apple II. Thirty years ago, there were more 8-bit users than there were 16-bit users, and the two communities have experienced attrition proportionately. And with more secondhand 8-bit Apple II computers available, it's more likely to be the gateway for new community members than the Apple IIGS is.

The second reason is that the 8-bit Apple II offers a greater programming challenge than the Apple IIGS, in that constraints breed creativity. Although the Apple IIGS has more software and hardware resources at its disposal, it's more of a challenge and an accomplishment to create a cool program when you have only 48 kilobytes of RAM and not 4.25 megabytes.

It's similar to what Eric Shepherd said at KansasFest 2013: the Apple is finite and capable of being entirely grokked by a single developer. That's more true for the Apple II than it is for the IIGS.

The IIGS is the youngest Apple II, just as for many years, I was the youngest of the Apple II community. It'll always hold a special place in my heart. Now I'm curious to know why you think this technically superior machine doesn't hold that place in the hearts of more Apple II users. Share your theories in the comment belows or on Facebook or Twitter!