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18/10/2011: Hard Drive Image Revisions & More Content Updates

I've been constantly revising my 32 meg hard drive images which can provide a quick setup of a virtual or real IIGS with compact flash based storage. The updates include newer versions of software and adding new ones, including more icons, cleaning up directories, colouring folders (red indicates it does not run from System 6 or isn't hard drive installable. The results are now available from the home page of 'What is the Apple IIGS?'. It should be the quickest way anyone even vaguely curious about the IIGS can quickly see what the machine can do.

In the quest to find every obscure IIGS piece of software ever made, feel free to submit your own hard drive images if they're loaded with apps (as long as they're apps no longer being sold), games (we just might find another hard drive installable version that the archive doesn't currently hold), and anything else that may be on them (graphics, sounds, etc). The older these old partitions, the better – any random setup may just hold a few gems not already archived.

Dave Touvell has submitted some awesome updates. Firstly, the archive now has the last revision of Hyper Studio, version 3.1j. I couldn't find any details as to what's different between the older 'g' version held in the archive, but it's nice to know we now have the last iteration of bug fixes and features ever for the popular hypermedia program. Also, Dave has sent an official hard drive installable version of the Print Shop IIGS, including a scan of an addendum that specifically refers to the removal of copy protection in version 1.1. In additon, Dave's scanned the docs for the Graphic Library Special Edition that came bundled with many copies of Print Shop IIGS (not mine, unfortunately!). Last but not least, Dave's also included an addition to the Graphic Exchange – originally the program included a Mac HFS formatted disk with utilities and some sample images to convert to the IIGS. This is now included in the archive, although because it's formatted in HFS, it's a Macintosh Disk Copy format disk image, which will probably only work with emulators Sweet 16 and Bernie ][ the Rescue.

I've recently also added the very excellent Script Central and Stack Central/Studio City collections for HyperCard IIGS and Hyper Studio respectively. A2 Central reported they were now available via a Creative Commons license back in 2010, so I've added them both to the hypermedia section of the archive.

In other news, I was overjoyed to read that the Apple IIGS version of Rastan was decided to be the best home conversion of the arcade title in issue 91 of Retro Gamer Magazine, outdoing all other home computing platforms and console versions!


10/10/2011: Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

As tributes to the co-founder of Apple continue to pour in, I thought I'd make a contribution.

Although Steve Jobs didn't have any direct influence on the Apple IIGS, his focus having been the Macintosh up until his well publicised ousting and resignation in 1985, our favourite Apple II still owes much to Jobs.

Obviously, it was Jobs and Woz who saw the original Apple II and the company itself to fruition in 1977. But one of the real flourishes of the IIGS can be attributed to one of Jobs actions in 1982, bringing in Frog Design, a European industrial design group whose modern style was exactly the attention to detail Jobs was looking for in creating ‘insanely great' products. Creating a range of studies as to how the future of computers might look, including tablets, the ‘Snow White' design language evolved and first was used on the Apple IIc. The IIGS was next to receive this styling, although substituting the white of the IIc with the neutral but warm ‘platinum' colour, which would remain with the Macintosh until the release of the iMac. The look of the IIGS was finalised by its unique hammerhead shark design with detached keyboard.

The other major benefit to the IIGS that derived from Jobs and the work of the Macintosh team was of course the graphical user interface they developed, now rendered in colour for the first time on the IIGS, as well as the toolbox, which allowed developers easy ways to take advantage of the GUI.

On a personal note, I've found it hard not to feel admiration for Jobs. We should never forget that Jobs has worked with incredible collaborators, from Steven Wozniak to Jonathan Ive and without them Apple would not have flourished. But what Jobs has done in his career is quite remarkable and why he is credited as a huge influence in the way technology has developed is well deserved.

It's certainly been true that Jobs' passing has made for some interesting discussion as to his merits or otherwise. The interesting thing is that if Jobs were still alive to read what everyone was saying about him, I doubt he'd care anyway. You can't make everybody happy, and this certainly is true of his customers and the people he worked with. But his unflinching focus remained on wanting to see computer products that would be smaller, easier to use and reveal more and more uses for everyday life certainly has changed technology for the better, allowing a much wider and broader audience to enjoy the possibilities of a digital world.

I think he needs to be more recognised for being able to cut through the bullshit of people in suits: of striving to bring better products to market instead of playing things safe, yet still playing within the rules and making deals with the music, film and software industries. It's a far more reaching and holistic view of designing products and the end result is and has been that Apple has always made more interesting products than its competitors and that's what the praise for Jobs should really be about. It's a hell of a legacy.

On another personal note, Jobs lost his life to pancreatic cancer, which was how my family lost our mother a little over 2 years ago. It is one of the most insidious forms of cancer and my heart goes out to all those who knew Steve personally.


28/09/2011: Even More Content Added! Sesame Street Learning Library & Disk Access II

François Michaud's began the next round of content updates to the site by submitting manuals for The King of Chicago (with some good hints and tips as to how to complete the game, which I never have) and Font Factory (the comprehensive font creation and editing program from Seven Hills Software) as well as an alternate manual scan for screensaver extraordinaire Twilight II, which has made for a good cover scan.

Antoine, never to be out-done of course, has shot through some more material as well: manuals for Chess Master 2100 (specifically, the IIGS reference card), Instant Synthesizer, Master Tracks Pro, Second Chance, So What Software Utilities and Universe Master. In addition to the documentation to Second Chance, Antoine's also found version 2.0 of the program, now included in the archive. It's an interesting program – the beginnings of something like Adobe Photoshop for the IIGS! Additionally, Antoine's also been able to provide version 1.0.2 of Universe Master, newer than the v1.0.1 the archive previously held.

A recent trans-world effort to help catalogue and archive more Apple II software between myself, Antoine and Bill Martens of Call A.P.P.L.E. has yielded some early fruit in the form of several disk images: Disk Access II (a new desk accessory that enables file management from any standard GS/OS program) and Sesame Street Learning Library Vol 1 (a nice addition to educational 8-bit Apple II software on 3.5" disk). Additionally, a new version of Speller Bee (v2) has been found and added to the archive. Again, this shows that many programs received newer iterations and that sometimes obtaining the 'same' software again reveals nice surprises like newer versions.

04/09/2011: GSTape! Alge Blaster Plus! Sweet 16 v2.3.1! Lots more manuals!

We've got more goodies to fill out the archive quite nicely this month.

Antoine Vignau, busy as ever, has provided a working archive and complete documentation to one very rare utility: GSTape, which allows you to back-up to tape drives via SCSI on the IIGS (see docs for what SCSI cards and tape drives can be used). Also adding to utilities, are So What Software's batch of little useful programs: DiskTimer v2.1 (for benchmarking performance of IIGS hard drives), SCSI Hacker (for those who want to mess with SCSI configurations at a low level), Screen Thief (for screen capture, similar to Ninja Force's Picture Ripper) and Menu Maker, for use with their Iconix BASIC extender.

Additionally, Antoine's also sent along Simon Says and Women in History, both with their accompanying documentation, adding to the new category of 8-bit educational software on 3.5" disk.

Not only that, but if you can handle a little French (or let Google translator handle it for you) Antoine's also scanned in the manuals for the following titles: Bouncing Bluster II, Full Metal Planete and Photonix II.

He's also provided the docs and a packaging scan for Call Box, the programming framework that allows you to tie together BASIC programming with the IIGS toolbox and also for Prism, the graphics conversion app. Last but not least, Antoine's also scanned complete documentation to Talking Math and Me.

Antoine's also done some digging about what the fate of Ultima VI on the Apple II was, or more specifically, was a IIGS version really in the pipeline? As always, if anyone has additional info regarding unreleased software, be sure to write in so we can set the story straight...and relax in the knowledge that there's nothing to actually pursue in regards to disk images!

Daniel Kruszyna has been able to supply a disk image for Alge Blaster Plus! from his original copy and Antoine has been able to crack it! Keep these Davidson releases coming in people! It's strange to think that such classic software for the Apple II such as these haven't been archived before now!

That's it for content additions, for now anyway.

KansasFest is over for another year, and I'm typically late in reporting anything about it. Some highlights of the event include the release of version 2.3.1 of Sweet 16, the IIGS emulator for Mac OS X 10.5 and higher, its greatest benefit being that it no longer freezes when playing back SynthLab or Diversi-Tune music.

Also, some new hardware was previewed: The long awaited CFFA 3000 card, which works not only as a solid state hard drive like the CFFA cards before it, but also as a virtual floppy drive where you 'insert' disk images from a handy USB stick, was available for pre-order...was being the operative word. 300 cards were produced and already, 300 cards have been pre-ordered! Rich is considering another run in 6 to 12 months time. I myself have pre-ordered a card, even though I won't have access to it until I return to Australia late in 2012! It really will be one of the most convenient additions to a IIGS or IIe, eliminating the need to use and wait for floppies! If you missed out, let Rich Dreher know you're interested by sending an email.

But that's not all: Vince Briel, another hardware developer extraordinaire, has developed the A2MP3, a card that will play MP3s from a USB stick and be controllable from your Apple II! Sheppy is hoping to develop a IIGS New Desk Accessory, so you can play your tunes as you work in GS/OS, but in the meantime, control can be had with any model of Apple II. I love the concept, that the Apple II is simply a 'front-end' for such a sophisticated device (at least in relation to the Apple II) and wonder what else could be achieved with new hardware in this fashion? Perhaps another revision would be to include an antenna that could pick up digital radio?

19/07/2011: 8-bit Software Available on 3.5" Disk

There's now a hell of a lot more software on 'What is the Apple IIGS?'. Strictly speaking, it's not Apple IIGS specific software, but 8-bit software that will run on the IIe, IIc and IIc+, but it IS on 3.5" disks, which has the convenience of no disk swapping, faster disk access, 3.5" disks are easier to come by than 5.25" disks and many of these programs are hard drive installable and even System 6 compatible.

This new section of the archive is very much a work in progress and at the moment only covers games and educational software...but there's a huge first haul to be had between these two new categories. Currently, you can only access them via these links, as I haven't even had time to update the pull down menus of the masthead navigation.

For 8-bit Educational programs available on 3.5" disk go here.

For 8-bit games on 3.5" disk look no further.

As usual, I ask everyone to have a look at these new sections, see what's missing in terms of disk images, cover scans, manuals and disk labels and help where you can by checking what you have in your own collections.

And for all of you at KansasFest, keep an eye for these items at the Garage Sale! ;-) A big thanks to Antoine Vignau for providing cover and manual scans for The Whole Neighbourhood and Read n Roll, as well disk images for The Whole Neighborhood and Story Starters: Science. Rare titles indeed.

12/07/2011: Lots of new Visual Content and More Manuals!

Thanks to François Michaud's growing Apple collection, including a sizeable section devoted to Apple's first line of computers, he's been able to scan a lot of missing covers for applications including AppleLink: The Personal Edition, Beagle DrawGNO/ME, Micol Advanced BASIC, FAXination, Express and DeskPak. Additionally, he's also contributed manuals for ExpressFAXination and Firepower.

I've also included a manual and cover scan for Flashboot (courtesy of Wayne Stewart, although I'd had this for a while!) as well as a cover scan for Deluxe Paint II Arts Parts Volume 2 (thanks to Antoine Vignau). Detlef Kahner has also helped out by submitting the manual for Chess Master 2100.

As always, please check the list for box scans and manuals we still need to complete the archive here at 'What is the Apple IIGS?'. I've been recently writing the text for the coffee table book and in these days of the Apple App Store, Android Market and other online venues to get your software, it's becoming clearer just how important it is that we record ANY history of how software used to be obtained...and there's no better way to do this than by scanning the packaging of software from the past. Consider: with the future of the digital age sprawling wider and further in front of us - there will be but a small period of time in which people went to physical stores and bought tangible media from which to run or install their software. Those days will soon be forgotten unless this is all recorded.

So spread the word if you're one of the lucky ones attending KansasFest next week, or if you'll be at home during the event, why not delve into your collection and add to history? Contributions are always credited (unless you wish to remain anonymous) and will appear online and within the coffee table book. As for the, I still can't give a release date yet!

There's also a NEW category for which you can contribute. Before leaving Australia I scanned almost all of my original 3.5" disks (OK, so I missed a few in my rush to reach the plane before it took off) and as it turns out, Antoine's also been scanning his disks...and François as well. Between the three of us, we've got well over half of all game and application disks and a good start to educational software. If you've got any original disks with their labels intact, check the list and read the step by step guide as to how to get the best possible quality scans.

03/07/2011: Another Previously Lost Educational Title Found! Talking USA Map

A huge thanks goes out to Daniel Kruszyna (who'll be presenting at this year's KansasFest) for not only being able to make working disk images for Talking USA Map, but also for a scan of its box and manual! Fantastic! Another educational title now archived, no longer in danger of being lost forever!

This brings the list of IIGS specific educational disk image requests to this shorter list:

Talking Academic Quiz Kid, Computer Video Reader: World of Nature - Reading About Animals; Reading About Sharks, Bird Watcher, Inner Body Works, Logic Master.

There are also educational hyper/multi-media titles still required too, although they also require a laser disc. Although no form of emulation for the Apple IIGS supports laser disc and the Apple Video Overlay Card (and probably never will), a video capture of the content of the laser discs would be ideal to preserve their content alongside disk images of the actual GS/OS software: GTV: A Geographic Perspective on American History, Science Vision: Astrovision, Science Vision: BioExplorer, Science Vision: Chemical Pursuits, Science Vision: EcoVision, Science Vision: ErgoMotion and Science Vision: TerraVision. Lastly is the IIGS only CD-ROM title that quite possibly wasn't even released: YourWordBox!

And in preparation for a big bonus of software soon to be added to 'What is the Apple IIGS?', we're also on the lookout for 8-bit educational software that was released on 3.5" disk. See if you can help with any of the following titles:

The Treehouse, Word Attack Plus Vocabulary, Alge Blaster Plus!, Grammar Gremlins, Stickybear Numbers, Stickybear Reading Tutor, Stickybear Spell Grabber. Also, be on the lookout for other Davidson, The Learning Company, Learning Ways Inc., Hartley, Sunburst and Weekly Reader titles.

16/06/2011: More Lost Software Found! Playwrite: The Talking Puppets

Good news everybody!

We now have another piece of IIGS software that I found out about in the last 12 months for which we now have a working archive!

Playwrite: The Talking Puppets is a sequel of sorts to Cartooners, the animation program specifically for kids. Talking Puppets allows kids as well as the young at heart to create talking dialogue between two characters, setting the scene, costumes and even the tone and pitch of the actors' voices! It's always great finding 'new' software like this, especially when you've got another reason to show off some educational software to the youngins.

Thanks go to John Liska and Antoine Vignau (even though no cracking was required this time!) for this rare find. There are still other educational software titles the archive does not yet hold, so be sure to check this list and see if you can help.

13/04/2011: More Manuals! NiftySpell New Desk Accessory now freeware!

Antoine Vignau continues with scans of all the manuals he has to hand:

DeskPak, Jam Session, Pointless, Salvation Supreme, TML Pascal (for Complete Pascal - I hope the documentation doesn't vary too wildly between the early and later versions) and Word Perfect. If you've got more up to date documentation for Complete Pascal v2.0, or any other manuals not currently on the site please refer to this list and submit them.

In a nice surprise to the Apple II community, Ewen Wannop, IIGS communications software developer extraordinaire, has released the NiftySpell New Desk Accessory as freeware. The new package got started when Chris Vavruska, the original author of NiftySpell, asked if support could be included for Ewen's SAM2 Email client for the IIGS. After discovering incompatibilities with SAM2, Ewen disassembled NiftySpell, its source code long lost, fixed the bugs and then released a public domain version that's now better than ever.

From Ewen's site, he's also recently released the HTML Tool Set, a programming library that programmers can use as the engine for a IIGS web browser...interesting! Maybe a IIGS web browser might look something like this?

25/02/2011: Apple IIGS Emulator for the iPhone and iPad!?! Kinda

Wow! Now you can emulate the Apple IIGS on your iPhone or iPad! Get excited, but also realise that currently you can only run FTA software with it. Yes, that's right, all the work Olivier Goguel has been putting into emulating a IIGS through a browser, best demonstrated at Virtual Apple ][, is also paying off for use on mobile devices.

While it was revealed that Olivier was working on a iOS IIGS emulator solution thanks to footage at the FTA's recent FTA Wormz Party, there were many doubts as to how anyone could get past Apple's stringent control checks before allowing apps to appear in the iTunes Store. The Gogs has managed to do it, but in keeping Apple happy, he's only included FTA software with the app.

Playing around with the app on my iPhone 3GS, it can keep up with emulating a stock standard IIGS at 2.8Mhz with a minor skip here and there at 20 frames per second. I imagine on an iPad or iPhone 4, emulation speed would never dip and fingers crossed it performs at 60fps. If anyone who regularly commutes, let us know how it affects the battery life of your iOS device running the app.

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