Red 5, standing by

Next up is Softape’s Star Wars and Space Maze, written by Bob Bishop. Again we find that the tape’s cover doesn’t quite match. In nearly everything I’ve seen, the relevant game is referred to as Star Wars, but on the cover it’s called Star Warriors, and on the tape case, Star-Wars. If it were today, the name on the cover would certainly just be a thinly veiled attempt to keep lawyers away, but I don’t think could have been the rationale in 1979, since it’s still called Star Wars in the catalogs I’ve seen. Or whatever year it’s from, since it is given as 1977 in the program listing, 1978 on the tape case, and 1979 on the splash screen. In any event, here’s the tape.

Star wars tape

Space maze tape

Star warriors cover

As with other tapes, I’ve created both WAV and AIFF files, and the AIFF files load with the default settings in Virtual II, and I’ve created DSK versions that load up the Integer BASIC ROMs and then run the program as it was loaded from tape. Nothing fancy, there’s no copy protection to contend with.

Probably not surprisingly, there are actually a number of different games called Star Wars on the Apple II platform alone. I’ll put screenshots of this one below. Apple Computer Inc. also had a cassette with a game called Starwars, which is kind of like a souped-up version of this one (and written by somebody else). Softape also has a different game called Star Wars included on Module 8 of their Instant Library, but that game is a lo-res version (and is as far as I can tell, practically impossible). The plot of all of these is basically the same, however. Maneuver a TIE fighter into your crosshairs and shoot it.

Star wars splash

Star wars play

Star wars game over

It’s even possible to read through the program to see how it works. I haven’t really done this, though. And even though the skeleton of the program is visible in Integer BASIC, a lot of the action takes place in calls to routines written directly in machine language code hidden within the BASIC program.

Star wars list

The game on the other side, Space Maze, seems to be a result of having written Star Wars and deciding that some of the elements could be recycled. In this game, you seem to have gone over to the Dark Side, and are now driving the TIE fighter. Your goal is to move it through a maze without hitting the walls, scored by how quickly you accomplish this feat. The instructions on the screen suggest this was initially a game to be played with paddles, which I imagine would be even more difficult than it would be with a joystick.

Space maze splash

Space maze ready

Space maze midpoint

Space maze 82sec

I can’t say the game play really holds up, I probably won’t be spending a lot of time playing either of these in the future. But it is an interesting bit of history anyway, as people were just beginning to explore what these machines could do.

A fierce competitor from 1979

Here are the contents of the Softape Othello tape, now that I have opened it up. There was no instruction card or anything, just the tape and the cover insert. The two sides of the tape contain different versions of the game, one side has a version for the standard Apple II (with Integer BASIC ROMs) and the other side has a version for the II+ (or upgraded II, with Applesoft/AutoStart ROMs). As with several of these tapes, the name on the cover doesn’t precisely match the name on the tape, though oddly, it does match the name in the program itself. Strange that this didn’t bother people. This game is “actually” called Othello, like it says on the tape cover, although on the tape casing, it’s called Super Othello.

Othello tape integer

Othello tape applesoft

Othello tape cover

Below are the audio files, as well as two DSK images that I created to load the data from the tape without having to wait around for the loading procedure. As before, I’ve tested the AIFF file and it loads fine with Virtual II, but I have not tested the WAV file.

I included both the Applesoft and Integer versions because I was just being thorough. There is no difference between the two programs, as I’ll detail below.

Starting up the game, you see the following:

Othello splash

I opted to go first, at which point the game board is drawn:

Othello start

Despite claims on the cover that Super Othello is a “fierce competitor,” I pretty much destroyed it on my first attempt.

Othello won

The loading procedure is quite straightforward, you just LOAD either the Integer BASIC or Applesoft BASIC version and RUN it. You might have thought it would have been a lot of work to translate from one dialect to the other, but you’d have been wrong. The game is actually written in machine language, wrapped within the BASIC program. So, if you were hoping to derive a learning experience in programming from examining how it is done, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.

Othello int list

Othello fp list

So, that’s (Super) Othello. Further tapes to come in further postings.

Superappleinvader Game captured

I made some attempts at capturing the audio from the cassettes, and the first one, Invader Game Apple Invader Super Invader Superinvader, was successfully transferred.

The audio files are below, in WAV and AIFF formats. I have tested the AIFF file in Virtual II, but I have not tested the WAV file. Note that this game is old enough that it assumes you have the Integer ROMs, so to use this you need to boot from the System Master and switch to integer with INT before dropping to the monitor and loading it with 200.6000R.

I also made a loader DSK image that contains the data captured from the cassette and will load the language card, switch to the Integer ROMs, and the load the game. Although the cassette load starts at $200, it immediately proceeds to $280, so the version on the disk just starts at $280 and can be BRUN. Note that this game was also distributed on disk, but the DSK image below is one I made just now, and uses the data read from this cassette. Later I will probably image the disk version (I have two of the disks), although I’m pretty sure it already exists out there, and it probably only differs in how the game code is loaded.

This game seems to have gone through several name changes in the course of development. The label says “Superinvader” but the initial splash screen says “Super Invader”, then a second splash screen calls it “Invader Game”, and then both the demo legend screen and the gameplay screen say “Apple Invader”. So it goes.

Superinvader splash

Superinvader invadergame

Superinvader legend

Superinvader game

Superinvader tape front

Superinvader tape back

Apple cassettes

Back in the days before the disk drive, one of the primary methods of distributing software for the Apple II was on cassette tapes, and there were actually quite a large number of tapes produced for the platform. However, they also were relatively short-lived, since the floppy disk provided a faster, more reliable, and larger storage medium. Disk drives were expensive initially, so cassette tapes persisted for a while, but it wasn’t very long before the 5.25″ floppy disk took over as a distribution medium.

Antoine Vignau at Brutal Deluxe has amassed a large catalog and archive of cassette tapes, a truly monumental (and valuable) effort. For each of the many cassettes he and the other contributors have archived, you can download the sound files and play them into a real Apple II or emulator. But just like software on disks, there are still some missing (though fairly few by now I expect). The records available on the internet of what was there are fairly slim. Here and there, a catalog appears, listing the offerings, but reviews are scarce, and most of the time all that exists is a line item in a listing or magazine advertisement.

Apple Computer Inc. itself distributed a set of cassettes with its earlier machines, and those cassettes are, relatively speaking, not so hard to find. I have amassed a fairly sizable collection of these, though it is by no means exhaustive (particularly since there were several versions). But there were quite a number of third-party software producers who distributed software on cassettes. And those are getting extremely hard to come by, mostly because there were not nearly as many of them to begin with. One possible exception is Hayden’s Sargon (chess) cassette, this seems to have been very popular, and I’ve in fact wound up with two of them. But a lot have practically vanished. One of the major software companies selling cassettes was Softape. They had a fairly large catalog of software.

What leads me to write about this is that I recently managed to get my hands on what was probably leftover stock from a dealer, in which were a number of Softape cassettes still in their shrink wrap. The shrink wrap is in bad shape, both ripped and quite dirty, but the tapes within are surely in great condition. I have opened one of them (Tic-Tac-Talker), but not yet opened the others.

So, I’ll take this opportunity to show pictures of the Softape tapes, and then run through the rest of the tapes I have. Partly, this was to do an inventory so that I can see if I have anything that Antoine does not yet have up on his site (either audio images, or cassette pictures and scans). I may well get more after this post, but this is what I have as of now, and I’ve made some nice pictures of them. What I have not done so far is any of the audio imaging. I will notate which of the tapes below can be retrieved from the Brutal Deluxe site as of now with a “(cBD)” (‘see Brutal Deluxe’), but you’ll need to go there to download the actual software. It turns out that I seem to have quite a few that have not been captured there, so it will be a project of mine fairly soon to capture those and submit them, and dig around to see if I have any more relevant documentation. I do intend to spotlight individual tapes, programs, and companies later on, but for now I’m just going to dump my pictures.

First, the Softape tapes: Star Warriors and Space Maze (SSB-1077), Othello (OHS-279), and Tic-Tac-Talker (TTT-978) (cBD).

St swar front

St swar spine

St swar back

St oth front

St oth spine

St oth back

St ttt front wrapped

St ttt spine wrapped

St ttt back wrapped

The last of these, Tic-Tac-Talker, I actually opened, so here is the tape that was inside, and a PDF scan of the cover and the instruction leaflet that was inside.

St ttt front

St ttt back

St ttt cover

St ttt insert

I have a couple of tapes from MUSE, who went on after this to be quite successful in the disk medium as well (responsible for Castle Wolfenstein, Super Text, and a bunch of other things—I will definitely write them up as a separate topic). Below are the tapes for U-Draw, and Global War (cBD).

Muse udraw cover

Muse udraw front

Muse gwar cover

Muse globalwar tape front

Hayden produced quite a bit of software on tape and later on disk, but among the more popular titles were the Sargon series of chess games. I have the tapes for Sargon (cBD) and Sargon II (cBD).

Sargon tape cover

Sargon tape front

Sargonii tape cover

Sargon ii tape front

Another big producer of software on cassette was Programma, I have a couple of loose Programma cassettes: Football Predictions, and Ampersort II.

Football predictions tape front

Ampersort ii tape front

subLOGIC sold a number of things, mainly later in the disk era, most somehow related to rendering 3D graphics (mostly flight simulators). I have a very early 3D library on tape, the main program on the front and a demo on the back. I removed the screws in order to replace the pad, which had fallen off, in order to get a read of the tape, and apparently I didn’t put them back in.

Sublogic 3d graphics tape front

Sublogic 3d graphics tape back

Then, I have a few single cassettes. Personal Software’s Bridge Challenger (cBD) (the company that also produced VisiCalc), Rainbow Computing’s Apartment Building Cost Analysis, Cosmos/Astar’s Super Invader, Mountain Hardware’s Setting the Time (cBD) (software for setting the time on their Apple Clock).

Bridge challenger tape front

Bridge challenger tape back

Rainbow apt building cost tape front

Superinvader tape front

Superinvader tape back

Mountain setting time tape front

And then… and then I have a whole slew of Apple Computer Inc. cassettes. The oldest one I have is the Apple Software Bank Checkbook and Database Management System program (cBD). This may well have been the first ASB title, and I believe there are also screen shots of it in action included on some of the earliest Apple II ads. The style of the cassette is quite different, and it came in a nice folder. The writing on the cassette is extremely faded, I did some contrast tricks in the picture below to make it readable at all.

Checkbook tape set

Checkbook tape contrasted

The rest of the tapes are kind of a mix between the tapes that were supplied originally with the Apple II, the Apple II+, and I believe some that were sold separately, probably through Apple Software Bank. I still need to finish researching these. For now, I will content myself with the pictures and then finish this very long posting. What is pictured below is:

  • 002-0001-01 Breakout / Color Graphics (P/N A2T0003X) (cBD)
  • 002-0007-01 Applesoft IIa / Floating Point BASIC Demo (P/N A2T0004X) (cBD)
  • 002-0014-01 Leases / Loans (P/N A2T0011X) (cBD)
  • 002-0015-01 Finance / Savings (P/N A2T0011X) (cBD)
  • 600-2013-00 Startrek / Starwars (P/N A2T0002X) (cBD)
  • 600-2023-00 Little Brick Out / Color Demosoft (cBD)
  • 600-2024-00 Alignment Test Tone / Renumber/Append (cBD)
  • 600-2025-00 Finance I / Penny Arcade (cBD)
  • 600-2026-00 Hopalong Cassidy / Lemonade (cBD)
  • 600-2027-00 Brian’s Theme / Phone List (cBD)
  • 685-0001-00 Tape Measure / Alignment Test Tone (and accompanying card) (cBD)
  • 685-0005-00 Applevision / Biorhythm (cBD)

002 0001 01 breakout

002 0001 01 color graphics

002 0007 01 applesoft iia

002 0007 01 fp basic demo

002 0014 00 leases

002 0014 00 loans

002 0015 00 finance

002 0015 00 savings

600 2013 00 startrek

600 2013 00 starwars

600 2023 00 brickout

600 2023 00 colordemosoft

600 2024 00 alignment

600 2024 00 renumber

600 2025 00 pennyarcade

600 2025 00 finance1

600 2026 00 hopalong

600 2026 00 lemonade

600 2027 00 brianstheme

600 2027 00 phonelist

685 0001 00 tape measure front

Prom tape measure front

685 0005 00 applevision

685 0005 00 biorhythm