Nov 142013
 

I recently received a great collection of On Three magazines and I am working through them to fill in some of the holes in the collections on the net. I have started scanning on the tail end of the run, partly just because they were the easy ones. As of the March/April 1989 issue, the format of On Three was reduced to more of a newsletter, only 16 pages long, without the nice colorful covers that they had previously. The audience for Apple /// products and news had taken a sharp downturn, and On Three dropped their 800 number, shrank the magazine, and moved to Chicago. There are still nice articles in these last few issues, but it is kind of saddening to see it dwindle out. Despite that, the enthusiasm continues to show through, but it’s clearly an era ending, when the machines were getting well obsolete and when Apple’s support was essentially entirely gone.

From the 1990 issues, I have only the first and the last, the last of them being only 8 pages long. I don’t know if it continued beyond that issue.

OnThree1989 03 04 OnThree1989 05 06
OnThree1989 07 08 OnThree1989 09 10
OnThree1989 11 12  
OnThree1990 01 02 OnThree1990 11 12
Mar 042013
 

Apple’s ProFile drive, designed (clearly) for use with the Apple ///, came in a couple of variations, and quickly made its way to the Lisa and Apple II as well. They came in 5MB and 10MB varieties (the 10MB versions are quite rare now), as distinguished by their model numbers (A9M0005 vs. A9M0100).

Profile ready light on

Profile a9m0005

To use the ProFile, an interface card is required appropriate to the machine. The Apple /// and Apple II each require a dedicated interface card, while the Lisa (sort of) required a more general parallel interface card. I say “sort of” because the Lisa actually has a built-in parallel port that can be used for this out of the box, but the port in the Lisa 2 at least was internal, used to support an internal widget drive. In my Lisa 2, I have an X/ProFile connected to the internal port, so to connect an external (second) drive, I need the parallel interface card. I actually have a couple of 5MB ProFile drives and two parallel cards, but the first parallel card I tried didn’t work and I haven’t gotten around to trying the second one yet. My plan is to back up whatever is on the ProFiles now (which were almost certainly formatted for Lisa use), and then reformat them with the Apple ///.

Here is the Apple /// card alone, and then installed:

A3 profile io card

A3 profile io card installed

The Apple II card had a more generic name (“Apple II interface”), but was specifically for the ProFile. Moreover, the EPROM on the card determined whether it was for the 5MB or the 10MB ProFile. I am not at present sure whether a 10MB EPROM will work with the 5MB drive, but as I understand it the 5MB EPROM will only see 5MB of a 10MB drive if connected.

Profile apple ii interface

Here is the Lisa parallel card. I have two of them, and, oddly, they differ in that one has a 6-color logo on it and one does not. I have tested the white-logo one and it didn’t work, I haven’t tested the 6-color logo one yet.

Lisa parallel card Lisa parallel card 6color

Speaking of formatting the drives, another point about the ProFile: It is possible to erase a ProFile drive on any of the machines you can connect it to, but to do a low-level format requires an Apple ///, the ProFile interface card, and a special “low-level formatting kit.” I have the kit, but I haven’t used it yet (or even unwrapped it). First, I’ll back up the drives, then I’ll reformat them. My thinking is that they could use a good reformatting to extend their usable life. All of the ProFiles I have power on and make it to the “ready” state, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re on their penultimate legs.

The picture below is “of” my LLF kit, but it may well not be in its authentic packaging. It’s just in a standard “accessories” box, probably shrink-wrapped and labelled by the guy I bought it from (VintageMicros).

Llf format kit wrapped

Anyway, on to the manuals, disk images, and paper stuff. This is ProFile stuff specifically for the Apple ///, originally contained within a box, here’s a (particularly beat-up) instance of it:

Profile accessories box

Apple iii profile accessories packing list Apple iii profile accessories packing list 2 Profile driver diskette
Profile owners manual errata iii Apple iii profile owners manual Profile helpful hints with iii
Apple backup iii disk Apple backup iii users manual Apple iii user input report 2
Apple iii user input report 1 Profile warranty form

I don’t have any materials for the Apple II version, and I posted the ones I have from ProFiles intended for the Lisa a couple of entries ago about stuff packed with Lisa. So, there it is. When I actually go through the process of doing the backup and low-level formatting, I’ll document the process and results here, but for now, just clearing up the backlog of scans I’ve got.

Jan 262013
 

I just recently got a pretty big haul of Apple III stuff, including a bunch of boxed software (quite a bit of it still shrink-wrapped), and also a number of newsletters and catalogs. I’ve scanned what I have of the newsletters.

One that was new to me is The /// Magazine. It seems to have been a publication put out by Pair Software, which served as a kind of advertising vehicle for them, but also included quite a few articles. The editing is a bit spotty, spelling errors are somewhat rampant, but it’s still interesting to see. (Perhaps the worst of the errors is that on the cover of the October 1986 issue, in large type, it proclaims “November 1986″.) I have four issues, and I’ve also scanned a renewal notice and subscription card.

A more well-known Apple /// publication is On Three, three of which I have, along with a kind of “brochure” (On Three Tracks) that is really just a brief catalog, with one article in it. I scanned all of these, one of which already exists on asimov (among many earlier issues there, scanned by Mike Maginnis). Two of the ones I have scanned here (vol 5, numbers 1-2) were not represented there, though, nor was the On Three Tracks brochure. On Three was also essentially produced by an Apple /// software/hardware company, but it was nevertheless a pretty contentful and professionally produced newsletter.

I also have posted a couple of Sun Remarketing Sun Times catalogs. Sun Remarketing of course was the company that bought up a lot of Apple /// and Lisa stock and resold and supported it after Apple canceled the machines.

These are not entirely pristine. The original recipient marked the date received on them, and went through some of the catalogs checking off things of interest and making notes. I have made no attempt to clean this up. But it’s not particularly distracting, either.

The /// Magazine

On Three

Sun Times

IIIMagazine1986 10 IIIMagazine1986 11 12
IIIMagazine1987 01 IIIMagazine1986 12 subcard
IIIMagazine1987 02
OnThree Tracks1987 05 06 OnThree1987 10
OnThree1988 01 OnThree1988 02
SunTimes1987 spring SunTimes1988 winter
Sep 122012
 

Also scanned today were a few bits of miscellaneous paperwork. Not sure if they’re useful for anything, but they’re for some reason mildly intriguing. This came from the purchase of an Apple II plus system and related things in October and December 1982.

[Update: four more, from an Apple III, added after initial posting.]

A2plus acc pack

Of vital importance

Encoder board

D2 16 pack

D2 pack

D2 install

Auir iiplus

A2 lgcard pack

A2 ssc pack

Mon3 pack

Auir iii

Aiii syssoft pack

aiii unpack

aiii pack

Monitor iii owners manual

May 312012
 

So, I got an Apple ///, and as reported earlier, it started up to the “RETRY” prompt successfully, but when I put any disks in the drive, it made a godawful racket. There was clearly something not quite right about the internal drive.

As it happens, though, I just recently acquired a second, external drive for the Apple ///. A fairly rare creature called the Disk ///.

Apple3 disk3

It took me a while not to just see this as ugly, but by now I kind of like it.

Though I can’t say that I’m not a little bit annoyed that the previous owner decided to doodle around the Apple logo on the drive with a ballpoint pen. I did try to clean it up, but it still looks like this.

Apple disk3 ballpoint

I completely disassembled the drive in order to clean it up, which I’ll detail here, although it turned out that it really was already pretty clean.

The case comes off pretty easily, four screws on the bottom…

Apple3 disk3 bottom

…and then one screw in the back…

Apple3 disk3 back

…and plastic shell comes off.

Apple3 disk3 case halves

Oh, by the way, I also got a 5MB ProFile drive, speaking of things the case parts are sitting on.

Oh, and, by the way, that ProFile drive powers on.

Profile ready light

However, in order to use it in the Apple ///, I need to have a controller card. I could use it straight away on the Lisa without any extra hardware, and maybe I will, though I expect that (since I got the Disk /// and the ProFile drive in the same place) the ProFile was being used on an Apple /// most recently, and so might actually still be bootable. So, I’m postponing my decision about that for the moment, and just stacking the ProFile up with the Apple /// as it was designed to be placed, not connected to anything.

Apple3 with profile

Anyway, back to the story. So, once the Disk /// case is off, there’s an aluminum shield over the drive that is held in by four more screws. I took it off before I took this picture, though it’s still connected to the ribbon cable and partially visible in the back.

Apple disk3 shield off

The analog board is held in by two screws and some plastic clips. Once the screws are removed, and the at least one of the three things plugged into the board are removed, then the analog board slides out toward the back until it is free from the clips.

Apple3 disk3 anbo off

Below the analog board, there is another metal shield over the drive head mechanism, which is just clipped on. Here’s the drive head below the shield, I’ve lifted up the pressure pad on top. It was—amazingly—clean, but I cleaned it with alcohol anyway, for good measure.

Apple3 disk3 head

Now, with the drive all clean, I had the other drive—the internal drive—to confront. Since the external drive looked so nice, I decided that the best course of action would be to swap them. To put the mechanism from the external drive into the machine as the internal drive and put the internal drive’s mechanism into the external case. At the very least, it would be easier to work with it if it needed repair.

It turns out that this is easy, but not simple. The internal and external drives have the same basic mechanism, but they have different front panels. The internal drive has a drive door that rests at an angle, flush with the body of the machine, while the external drive has a drive door that closes to vertical. So, I needed to also swap the front panels as well.

Here is the internal drive in place, before any of the work began.

Apple3 internal drive in place

To get it out, a couple of clips need to be removed, which hold in the aluminum shielding around the drive, and then two screws at the front need to be removed. Once it’s out, and the cable is removed from the analog board, you can see where the screws were that held it in, as well as a small metal widget in the back that kind of holds it in place.

Apple3 internal drive out

Here’s a better look at the drive itself when out, and the analog board removed. Note the quite different front panel.

Apple3 internal drive out 2

I performed pretty much the same procedure on this one, cleaning the internals and drive head off with alcohol, though this was much less clean inside than the external drive had been.

Then I addressed the replacement of the front panels. Apart from a little bit of trickery getting the plastic pieces associated with the drive door lined up in their grooves, this wasn’t too tough. The hardest part was dealing with the drive busy lights, which are anchored in the panels. After a bit of investigation and wiggling of pieces, I determined that they are held in by a two-piece black outer case that pretty much slides apart, held together by friction. When the back of the case is off, the LED and the front of the case are free to move. The front of the case clips on to the LED with very small plastic clips, but gently loosening the clips while pushing the LED out through the back with plastic pen cap was sufficient to get them apart. I don’t have a photo of the disassembled LED, but just imagine it. Like in a text adventure.

Apple3 disk3 led

In order to get the front panel off, I had to break the seal on the screws that held it on. I think I may have voided the warranty.

Apple3 sealed drive screws

After that, putting the internal front panels on the ex-external drive was pretty straightforward. No additional photos of that.

Then I turned my attention to the now-external drive, to put the external front panel on it. This was the drive that wasn’t working properly. As I was dealing with it, I noticed that the whatever-it-is-called belted to the drive motor (that actually spins the disk when it’s in the drive, and has the checkerboard calibration marks on it) was slipping out as I held the drive. That’s not something the other drive had done.

Apple3 disk3 underside

I discovered that, on this drive, the ex-internal one, the metal thing that grabs the disk hub from underneath was completely loose, barely connected at all, and came off as I was investigating it. I don’t have a photo of it when it was off, but it’s this thing, shown here in its rightful place in the ex-external drive.

Apple3 disk3 lower hub

That thing, though, seems to just be held on by friction. I was able to push it back on and it seemed pretty secure. So probably it had come loose during shipping, or some previous jostling the machine had been subjected to. It did explain fairly well the noisiness of the drive when spinning, though, if it wasn’t gripping properly to the drive motor. So, it was a pretty easy repair in the end.

Everything reassembled, I decided to give it a whirl. I made a couple of Apple /// disks using ADTpro on a //c that was nearby, including a demo disk and a diagnostic disk. I put in the demo disk, and, lo:

Apple3 sos boot

Though then I got this:

Apple3 sysfailure 0x06

Still not sure what’s up with that. I’ll worry about that later. [Later: It's a 6502 stack overflow error, which Apple says is a common result when booting a copy of certain copy-protected disks. And this was no original. So, I'm not too worried about this error, I'll just boot different disks. I'm also clearly not the only person having this issue, since Google Suggest had my target ("apple iii system failure $06") in view by the time I had finished typing "apple iii sy".] Undaunted, I put in the diagnostic disk, et voilà:

Apple3 diag

I ran a bunch of the tests, though it takes a bit of practice to know what it is expecting. The video diagnostics seem to be taking a particularly somber view of their duties on this occasion, knowing that if they failed, the whole world would sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Apple3 diag video

And as far as I can tell, there were no tests that it failed. There might have been a problem with one of the modes in the video test but most worked fine, the RAM and ROM and keyboard and sound passed, and the disk test I think came out ok as well. So, indeed, the diagnostics came though. Surely, if this Apple /// lasts for another 30 years, men will still say, this was their finest hour.

Churchill

May 222012
 

Today I got another label:

Apple iii label

It was attached to this:

Apple iii bubblewrapped

Yep.

Wedonttalkaboutiii

One more thing. Let us never forget the glorious victories of the past: World War I, World War II, ][+, //e, and //c.
—What about ///?
—We don’t talk about ///.

The Apple /// was not exactly a great success—there were various problems with it, some real, some legend, but it is generally considered a flop. One of the things that was known to be kind of a problem with them is that their chips sometimes came unseated (whether due to being loosely inserted initially or due to “walking” out as a result of heat cycling seems to be debated), but before I started trying to do anything with it, I wanted to be sure that the chips were seated. And I wanted to give it a full cleaning. Also, the seller indicated that the machine started up with just an error code. Since the seller also told me that (a) the code it presented did not indicate any RAM problems, and (b) the keyboard lamp did not come on, I was optimistic that all it really needed was a new keyboard lamp. The Apple /// has the kind of strange property that if the lamp under the “ON” light burns out, the machine won’t start. In discussions on IRC, this was hypothesized to be in order to make sure that people could tell the machine was on, so there were no attempts to add or remove peripheral cards while the machine was powered up. However, at least in mine there is in fact also an LED on the motherboard that lights up when the power is on, so that doesn’t seem to be a complete justification for this design decision. Nevertheless, the fact remains: if the light burns out, the machine is rendered inoperable.

Anticipating this, I ordered two replacement bulbs for the keyboard, which, as luck would have it, also arrived today. So, I disassembled the machine and cleaned it up, and replaced the bulb. The old bulb’s filament was clearly severed, so things were on the right track.

Apple iii replacement bulbs

Et voilà.

Apple iii bulb lit

Apple iii powered led

Best of all, no error codes on the screen. As it happens, I never got to see the error codes in the first place, because I didn’t want to power it up before I’d checked to be sure the chips were seated. But now, what I got was exactly what I should have gotten under the circumstances (with no disk inserted).

Apple iii retry

I did try putting in a disk, though I didn’t think it would work. I think the disk drive needs cleaning, it was pretty noisy. But I’m well on my way. Next stop will probably be to try to boot it with ADTpro, and then we’ll see where it goes from there.