Apple IIc at BostonFIG

October 1st, 2018 7:03 AM
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One of my favorite annual traditions is the Boston Festival of Indie Games, or BostonFIG. Currently in its seventh year, this one-day event held at MIT is an opportunity for independent game developers to exhibit their works in progress and new releases. I love the creativity on display, where game designers who are not beholden to major studios can demonstrate original game ideas and concepts, be they commercially viable or simply interesting.

Interactive fiction has made appearances at BostonFIG before, and this year's festival was no exception. The Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation is based out of Boston, and their booth this year showed off everything from Infocom games (perhaps not indie, but Boston-based!) to the more recent Hadean Lands (whose Kickstarter I supported way back in 2010!). The IFTF is such a staple of BostonFIG that I was chatting with its organizers for a minute before I realized something new right in front of me.

Apple IIc at BostonFIG

An Apple IIc… at BostonFIG!

I always thought it would be fun to bring an indie game like Lawless Legends to BostonFIG, but the IFTF beat me to it by using an Apple IIc to show off classic Infocom games. They were running off the original floppies, as opposed to 4am's newer Pitch Dark GUI. The table was manned by Andrew Plotkin, who I interviewed for Juiced.GS's cover story about interactive fiction seven years ago; and the Apple IIc was provided by Nick Montfort, an MIT professor whose book, Twisty Little Passages, Juiced.GS reviewed nine years ago.

So as to not block the table from interested festival-goers who might not already have heard the good word of interactive fiction, I didn't linger at the table. But I was very glad to see this precedent set, and I hope to see the Apple II at future BostonFIGs.

Steve Wozniak and the Apple Historical Museum

November 19th, 2012 12:46 PM
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David Greelish is petitioning Apple to include a visitor center in their new campus. It seems that Apple is quick to forget their history, offering visitors to their offices little opportunity to reflect where in the evolution of Apple's product lines the user was introduced to the brand.

It wasn't always this way. In 1984, Steve Wozniak gave a tour of what was dubbed the Apple Historical Museum. As he works his way through the time tunnel, he presents to the viewers examples of original Apple-1 and Apple II hardware, regaling us with tales of design and manufacture.

What I love about this YouTube video, which was digitized from the Apple IIc rollout VHS tape, is how timeless Woz's presentation is. His enthusiasm, memory, and didactic nature are just as apparent in this 2010 tour of the Computer History Museum:

I wonder when Woz himself will be worthy of a museum and visitor center?

(Hat tip to myoldmac.net)

Hardware restoration done right

February 23rd, 2012 2:14 PM
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There is so much work being done to preserve Apple II software and documentation that we sometimes overlook the value of maintaining hardware, too. But that may be our most precious resource of all; after all, software can be duplicated, manuals can be reproduced, but hardware is unique and something they're not making any more of.

Just this month, two different Apple II users expressed their care and admiration for original hardware by rescuing vintage equipment, painstakingly restoring it — and exhaustively documenting the process in photos.

Kevin Rye of RescueMyClassicMac.com AppleToTheCore.me has saved two peripherals: first, a CH Products joystick; then, a week later, an Apple IIc external 5.25" floppy drive. Useful to the reader are Kevin's instructions for disassembling each piece of hardware, showing how he took everything apart then put it back together in working order. As for the actual cleaning, some of Kevin's techniques may seem crude but are effective: "I could just just wipe the whole thing down with some alcohol and have at it with some Q-tips, but there's too many little nooks and crannies that are caked with dirt and grime. It needs to be taken apart and washed in the sink. I might even give it a quick dip just to lighten it up a bit." But he does apply alcohol, peroxide, and Retr0bright where appropriate.

Meanwhile, Mike Maginnis had the opportunity to restore a full Apple IIc computer. His written documentation doesn't detail disassembly or cleaning techniques, but his photos of the IIc are brilliant, thorough, and artistic, as you would expect from Mike.

IIc keyboard

Before and after. Photo by Mike Maginnis.

For more details on how to restore your hardware to its original function and appearance, Tony Diaz has given multiple sessions on this topic at KansasFest. You can bring your goods to KFest for his expert evaluation, or view one of his previous presentations:

(Hat tip to the 68K MLA forum)

The portable Apple IIc

February 3rd, 2011 10:50 AM
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Last month, we saw two reviews of the Apple IIGS, but it's this model's less powerful siblings that tend to garner more media attention. Two different Apple IIc computers selling on eBay for four digits in the last three years proved sufficient for Matt's Macintosh, who provided one of the previous IIGS reviews, to turn its attention back to the pre-Mac era with this review of the Apple IIc:

The Apple IIc was a powerful and revolutionary computer. As Steve Weyhrich of the Apple II History site told me for another story, "The Apple IIc was to the Apple II platform what the PowerBook was to the Power Mac: a more portable version of a desktop computer — not as elegant as the PowerBook, but pretty good for 1984." Yet its lack of expansion slots that so defined the rest of the Apple II line has often left it overlooked by peripheral developers. Could the recently announced CompactFlash interface give the model some much-needed love?

(Hat tip to Mike Maginnis)

Sold on eBay: New-in-box Apple II, never to be opened

January 13th, 2011 9:14 AM
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About this time three years ago, Dan Budiac made headlines when he bought a new-in-box Apple IIc for $2,553. Although Apple II hardware is sold on eBay every day, this purchase was unique for a combination of three factors: the high price it fetched; the rarity of an Apple IIc whose original packaging had never been opened; and the fact that Budiac, rather than preserving that state as any collector would, instead removed the computer, booted it up, and played Oregon Trail.

Another such opportunity has come about, this one landing in the hands of Alabama's J. Scott King. He purchased the IIc from a dealer in Chicago for a sum far greater than Mr. Budiac paid: according to the eBay auction, the final bid was $4,995.

That's a lot of money to pony up for a 25-year-old machine, and Mr. King won't even get the joy of the machine that Mr. Budiac did: this IIc is staying in its box. He justifies his investment and decision: "I didn't buy the machine for its utility value, or even its stand alone value as a new machine," he explains. "No, I bought it because it was new in the sealed boxes and might be (maybe not) the only sealed factory box set left — to me that makes it highly collectible. I'll promise you this: in 10, 20 or 30 years from now and I going to be worried I might have paid to much — I don't think so."

He recorded his purchase's arrival in this YouTube video:

A photo gallery of the IIc is also available on Mr. King's Web site.

Mr. King emailed me earlier this month with the offer of an interview; unfortunately, his email response landed in my junk folder, which is why this blog post was beaten to the punch by the latest episode of the RetroMacCast podcast, which interviews Mr. King starting at time index 16:56. My apologies for the late report.