May 182012
 

After going through a pile of label images that I’ve been collecting in the recent past, it seems like I can start to make some generalizations. They might be right. [Warning: a lot of these pictures have just been lifted from eBay auctions, most of them aren’t mine.] [Warning 2: I may occasionally add more labels to this post as I see them.]

The oldest Apple ][ label I’ve seen (or at least have a picture of handy) is in this style, A2S1-4625:

A2S1-4625

That one enclosed a motherboard with date code 8040, which I have no reason to disbelieve based on the chip dates, which are all 1978-1980 that I could see. Which pretty much means that the motherboard was replaced along the way.

8040

Here are a couple more. A2S1-8576, A2S1-16122 (7903, sadly the ][ lid was replaced by a ][+ lid during an upgrade), A2S1-16784 (8068?, replaced, appears to be a ][+ board, rev 4), A2S1-27105 (7919), A2S1-39587 (but motherboard was replaced with a ][+ board):

8576

Label 16122 trim

Board date 7903

Label 16784 trim

Board date 8068 trim

27105

Board date 7919

39587

The next set of Apple ][ labels I’ve seen are the newer squarer ones, in red. Here the images I have jump to the 60000s, and perhaps there was a serial number “jump” somewhere here. But here are the red ones, A2S1-61786, A2S1-64313, A2S1-66077. I don’t have board dates for any of those. And in any event, there’s at least some cause for caution in trusting that the board that’s in there is the one it shipped with. Note that A2S1-4625 had 8040 in it, while A2S1-27105 had 7919 in it. The 7919 board matches the timeline better, it’s basically certain that the 8040 was a replacement. However, I’ve also seen 8022 and 8025 with all the hallmarks of an Apple ][ board (chip under slot 6, 16K select, flanged slots).

Label 61786

Label 64313

Label 66077

Moving on to Apple ][+, the serial numbers begin to start with A2S2, but the earliest ones are still in the earlier sticker style. The oldest one I’ve got an image of (update: now “second oldest one I’ve got an image of,” see A2S2-10087) is A2S2-11547, board date 7945 (along with what I originally took to be an “x”, but which I now believe to be a “plus”, signifying that this motherboard was built as an Apple ][+ rather than as an Apple ][, since it could have been either at the point of assembly). This board also has what I called above having “all of the hallmarks of an Apple ][ board”, which leads me to suspect that it was an Apple ][+ fashioned from an Apple ][ (by adding the Autostart ROM chip), though on the other hand I think all of these characteristics can be present on the earliest of the (actual) ][+ motherboards.

Label 11547

Board date 7945

Next comes A2S2-18606, same style. Board date hard to make out, but in the little bits I’ve blown up 4x, it appears to be 79xx. And same deal on this one, it looks like an Apple ][ board that was turned into a ][+ by adding the chip.

Label 16806

Open language card 79xx

Power supply top 79xx

Open language card 79xx 4x

Power supply top 79xx 4x

Then a big jump, new label style, lowest one I have encountered is A2S2-65001, board date 8006. But still the old hallmarks of an Apple ][ board.

Label 65001

Board date 8006

I have various examples of this label style, all of these others seem to have newer revision boards where I can tell, with “N” pattern under slot 6, non-flanged slots, no 16K select chips, RFI attachment screws. A2S2-66915, A2S2-93277, A2S2-109180, A2S2-115091, A2S2-120955 (board replaced, had an RFI shield, and dated 8519, also oddly enough had a ][-non-plus lid), A2S2-122481, A2S2-149143 (8102), A2S2-161227 (8110), A2S2-164919, A2S2-174147, A2S2-179992, A2S2-359691, A2S2-362495 (0182), A2S2-403239.

Label 66915

Label 93277

Label 109180 trim

Label 115091

Label 120955

Label 122481

Label 149143

Label 161227

Label 164919

Sticker 174147

Label 179992

Label 359691

Label 362495

Label 403239

The penultimate one there is interesting in that the motherboard inside it had a different date code style, listed as 0182, and stamped on rather than written on by hand (I don’t have any evidence one way or another for the last one above). Somewhere between 161227 and 362495 this practice must have changed. All dates I’ve seen before this are in YRWK order (or at least YRxx for some xx, there is a single example I’ve seen (shown above among the Apple ][ labels, where the board has a date code that appears to be 8068, which is clearly not YRWK unless it is a sloppily written 8008, which it could possibly be). Perhaps it was simply just the practice in 1982 and beyond, since I have a couple of (poor) examples above of 81xx dates as well.

Board date 0182

Board date 8102

Board date 8110

Board date 813x

At this point, the labels switched style again, to the newer, busier one, with a dot matrix serial number. A2S2-448225, A2S2-472596 (3782), A2S2-512896, A2S2-544771, A2S2-546018 (4782), and the highest two serial numbers I have actually seen, A2S2-569185 and A2S2-588496 (on empty cases).

Label 448225

Label 472596

Label 512896

Label 544771 trim

Label 546018

Label 569185

Label 588496 trim

Here are my own newer two Apple ][+es as well, for comparison, A2S2-412783 (1782), and A2S2-542439 (4682).

Label 412783

Label 542439

One thing I observed here is that somewhere between 512896 and 542439, the model number changed (from A2S1048 to A2S1048A). There is no reason to think that this disrupted the serial number ordering, however, just as there is no reason to think that there was any serial number reset along the whole A2S2 line. In fact, looking back I think it might even be true that the serial numbers weren’t reset even between A2S1 and A2S2—both A2S1s somewhere before 61786 and A2S2s somewhere before 65001 had the older style labels, then both switched. So, since we know any what that Apple ][ and Apple ][+ co-existed for a while, I expect that the serial numbers were still unique per machine, regardless of model.

Wikipedia reports that the Apple ][ was introduced in June, 1977 and discontinued at the beginning of 1981, an estimated 40,000 having been sold. It also reports that the Apple ][+ was introduced in June, 1979, and apple2history.org reports that it was discontinued in December 1982. I can’t seem to find a source for the number of Apple ][+es sold. However, the estimate of A2S1s sold is quite a bit lower than the 66077 represented in the latest serial number I’ve found, suggesting that A2S2s were eating up some of the serial numbers.

Next up are the Bell & Howells. They took on A2S3 as a designation. These, unlike the A2S1s and A2S2s, seem to have their own serial number stream, and had model numbers like A2S10xxB. The earliest one I’ve found is A2S3-001522 (no backpack). The rest are A2S3-008426 (no backpack), A2S3-011082 (backpack), A2S3-016147 (no backpack), A2S3-021075 (no backpack), A2S3-022390 (5281, no backpack), A2S3-023165 (no backpack), A2S3-031522 (backpack), A2S3-033219 (backpack). The last two are also extremely high serial numbers for a Bell & Howell, usually the estimates are of about 20,000 sold, but it looks like maybe it was over 30,000. Also interesting, perhaps, is that the Bell & Howell label for the late-style label is slightly different, redesigned to fit the late-style Apple label underneath.

Label bh1522

Label bh8426

Label bh11082

Label bh16147

Label bh021075

Label bh022390

Label bh023165

Label 31522 trim

Label 033219 trim

That last three are kind of interesting in that they use the last style of Apple ][+ labels. Also, it appears to me that the ones the came with the backpack (sample size above: 3) had the Bell & Howell black and silver sticker stuck overtop the Apple sticker. Perhaps this makes sense, since the backpack is what allowed the thing to be UL listed and suitable for use in schools? Anyway, the sample size increases to 4 for this generalization when I add in my own (below), A2S3-011472 (backpack). I think by now I’m relatively confident of the correlation.

Label bh11472

Actually, having written this much, I remembered this post from 2007, which did a similar kind of forensics. For A2S1, he has never seen a black on white sticker above 40000, or a red on white sticker below 60000. My labels conform to this, perhaps there was an actual jump to 60000. I have also not seen a green on white (bigger, simpler) sticker on an A2S2 below 65001. Perhaps 60000 to 64999(?) were printed as A2S1 and 65000(?) on were printed as A2S2? It could be, although that means that that 65001 is a pretty special machine. I’ve beaten his record high on A2S2 (which was 544703), though: I’ve got a picture of 546018 (4782). I have a picture of two that are even higher, 569185 and 588496, both of which were on an empty cases. Which I’m now suspecting were never used in building a machine, production having shut down first. My terrarium motherboard is rev 4, I’m pretty sure, which doesn’t match his specs (my terrarium board is 8050, he’d capped rev 4 at 8030).

All of this brings me back to my oldest ][+, the terrarium, however. Which is the real reason I got into this: What in the world is going on with this label? A2S2-1497165 (8050)?

Label 1497165

That sounds crazy. The sticker style and board date and the old-style board should have put this somewhere around 65000-149000. We know 65001 (8006) printed ok, and the next serial-board pairing I have is 149143 (8102), which is in the neighborhood of 1750 machines/week assuming no variation, so perhaps it should be around 142000 (as long as it is assumed that 66915, 93277, and 115091 had their motherboards replaced, since those were all RFI boards). So was this supposed to be A2S2-147165 and an extra “9” got in there?

Later note: The serial number on the box of the Apple ][+ listed at vintage-computer.com (1492548) is a similarly crazy one, so my machine might not be the only one. No picture of the actual label or the motherboard to allow me to compare it, though.

I don’t think there’s going to be any way to tell, without hearing a story from someone who saw this glitch happen, if that’s what it was.

May 052012
 

I finally decided to open up and deal with the problem I’ve been having with the Bell & Howell power supply. Let’s recap where we are so far.

I tested the power supply in the machine by plugging it in directly. It works fine. I tested the backpack’s auxiliary outlets. They work fine. That means the fuse works fine, and the power cord works fine. I verified that the green, black, and white wires are connected to the right pins in the power supply. I verified that the power supply itself was switched on. And yet, when I switched on the computer switch on the backpack, nothing happens. So, I have isolated the problem to the backpack, and moreover to the computer power (not the auxiliary power) of the backpack.

Ok, backpack. I unscrewed the back panel, to see what I could see inside.

Bhiiplus backpack unscrewed

And this is what I saw inside. A bunch of wires, very simple connections, pretty much everything looks connected.

Bhiiplus inside backpack

Tracing the connections, the interesting stuff is all on the hot (black) wire. It comes in to the fuse, and then splits off into two, going separately to the “micro” switch and to the “outlets” switch. From the “outlets” switch, it goes to the hot side of the outlets, which are all tied together. From the “micro” switch, it goes into a weird box and then out the back to the computer power supply.

The fuse had been out, but I put it back in, and then, armed with my alligator clips, I checked the connections at various points. Everything was as expected except when I clipped it to the other side of the weird box. Power seemed to go into the weird box but not come out.

Bhiiplus weird box

The weird box has a switch on it (indicated by the green arrow). Clearly a very inaccessible switch. I tried pushing the switch. I heard a little blip from the power supply, but no other real effect. It doesn’t slide, it pushes in. It clicks, but yet it doesn’t seem to have two states. It’s in or it’s not in, but it doesn’t click on and click off like, say, a caps lock key. Also, it’s at kind of a weird angle, but yet it is screwed into the case.

I extracted the weird box. Here’s the underside. Not particularly revealing.

Bhiiplus weird box out

But I made a discovery. When the switch is out, no power makes it through.

Bhiiplus switch out

When the switch is in, the power goes through and the computer comes on.

Bhiiplus switch in

What a weird box. Why would…?

YGTBFKM.

Bhiiplus lid screw

From oldcomputers.net’s page on the Bell & Howell model:

Bhiiplus oldcomputers net

There you have it. If I’d have just screwed the case lock screw back in, everything would have been fine. I am a diagnostic genius.

In case you were wondering, the case lock screw is partially pictured below (sitting next to an unrelated screw that kind of looks attached, but isn’t). When this is screwed all the way in, the body is fat enough to push the switch in, which, if you review the previous photo, is mounted right next to the hole through which the case lock screw goes.

Bhiiplus lid screw close

So, I added a disk drive card, a 16k RAM card, three new rubber feet, and game paddles, and now it’s all ready to go upstairs. Pretty much like it was all along. Sigh.

Bhiiplus ready to go

Apr 152012
 

I did some testing of the power situation with the Bell & Howell ][+. As it stood, the machine would not power up when I turned it on using the backpack, but did respond when I connected a different power supply, so I initially thought the power supply needed replacement. And I have a couple of replacements, but I’d had my eye on this one (just lying inside the case on top of the original one), which, although not being an authentic power supply Apple would have used, is nicely all black and might have fit in well in the black machine.

Bhiiplus black power supply

However, when I removed the backpack and plugged the original power supply into the motherboard directly, it actually worked just fine. So, I don’t need to replace the power supply in this one yet, I guess, and so I won’t. I’ll find some other use for the black one.

This means that there was something wrong with the connection between the backpack’s power leads and the power supply, then. The connection between the backpack and the power supply is made by three wires (green, black, white) that are placed directly over the three prongs of the power cord receptacle at the back. Not being an electrician, I was not initially aware of the conventions, though now I know that green is conventionally ground. I was suspicious that maybe I had connected those leads wrong, so I rigged up a fairly complex setup to test this.

Bhiiplus power bench

The leads coming out of the backpack are running into another power supply I have, which then goes into a spare //e motherboard (useful because there is a red LED that comes on when the power is running to the board). A spare ][+ lid is propped up against the edge of the Bell & Howell motherboard with the keyboard plugged in, so I can see the power light come on if the Bell & Howell motherboard powers up. I used that latter part of the setup to show that the original power supply in the Bell & Howell was working. The backpack also has auxiliary power outlets on a separate switch, and I connected the monitor to those to see if they’re working (and they are). I also took the fuse out and looked at it, but it looked ok, and I think if it were not ok, the power shouldn’t have gone through the auxiliary outlets to the monitor.

Looking inside where the wires go, it turns out things in there are pretty simple, I was able to verify for myself what each color wire was supposed to be running to. The green wire connects to a center track that will connect to the ground hole of the grounded outlets, and the white wire connects on the left (which is to the rightmost blade of a plug inserted into the outlet, with the ground pin up), and the black wire connects on the right (which is the leftmost blade).

Bhiiplus backpack internal wires

This basically confirmed that I had not connected these wires wrong when I’d put the backpack back on. But, still, when the backpack was on, the power supply didn’t get power.

The power

supply

Hmm.

Well, it occurs to me that actually the switch on the internal power supply might have been off. That would have done it. Obviously, that switch has to be on. I’m only realizing that now as I’m typing this, and so it’s quite possible that when I put this together last time, I actually guaranteed that the power wouldn’t get to the motherboard. However, in light of the other couple of tests I did, I still think there’s a problem with the power getting out of the backpack.

For example, I took the output of the backpack and clipped it onto the monitor plug, but when I turned on the backpack, the monitor didn’t light up.

Bhiiplus backpack clipped monitor

And the setup in the overview picture above, where the backpack runs to another power supply which runs to a //e board, also didn’t result in the //e board lighting up (although plugging that power supply in the normal way does). In that case, I am pretty sure that I checked both possible connections with the black and white/yellow wires.

So I really do think that those wires that connect to the power supply out of the backpack are somehow less than fully live, although I’m still kind of kicking myself about leaving the power supply’s power switch off. I think that there really is something wrong with the backpack, though. I’ll try replacing the fuse, just in case it (a) governs only the connection to the computer and not to the auxiliary outlets, and (b) is actually blown even though it looks intact. I’d really like there to be an easy answer to this, and the fuse would be a great one. Beyond that, I don’t know, I guess I will have to open the backpack up and see if I see any broken connections or something, I can’t think what else it might be. I might want to open the backpack up in order to try to replace that frayed cable anyway, though, so I guess it’s probably ok.

Apr 072012
 

On the Bell & Howell front, I have now cleaned it all up, and reassembled it. In the process, I found this stamped under the keyboard, which pretty definitively indicates that I was right about this being an August, 1981, machine. (Further evidence that the “8138” really does mean “38th week of 1981,” corresponding to September 14–18, 1981. So, I guess they built the case on Monday, August 10th, and put it in a pile for five weeks, then built up the motherboard and assembled it.)

Bhiiplus keyboard date

When I plugged it in, frayed cord and all, and hit the power switch, I got nothing. No response. This means one of two things to me: either the power supply in the machine is dead, or I plugged in the leads from the backpack to the power supply wrong (which, I suppose, might also mean that the power supply is now dead as a result). I have not tested the power supply separately, but I did plug in the terrarium power supply to the Bell & Howell and got this:

Bhiiplus side powered

All keys working, power light on, everything at least initially appears A-OK. The video is running on my composite amber monitor, out of the backpack, courtesy of a BNC-RCA adapter I picked up today as well.

Bhiiplus keytest

This also rectifies the oversight from before, as I now have a picture of the game I/O port on my own machine. Here it is close up, for your viewing pleasure.

Bhiiplus gameio

Now I just need to decide what cards go in it, replace the feet with some authentic spares I have coming to me in the mail, replace the power supply (with something authentic I hope), and set up the backpack in some useful way.

My current semi-crazy but interesting plan is this, for the record: I will install a language card (to bring it up to 64K), a Super Serial card (to allow it to connect to other computers), and a Disk ][ card (with one or two drives connected). Here is an “artist’s” rendition of that, courtesy of Penultimate on my iPad:

Bhiiplus art slots

And here is my similarly skillful rendition of the AV connections I intend to make with the backpack.

Bhiiplus art av

The features of the diagrams above are as follows:

  • I will bring audio in from one or two nearby machines, to allow them to be mixed by the backpack (just to give the mixing knobs in the backpack something to do, I can’t think of any real practical use for this).
  • One video out goes to a monitor atop the machine.
  • The second video out goes to a capture card, probably the Wings personality card in the Power Mac G3. Caveat here: I need to put some kind of surge suppression mechanism in there, because otherwise the power surge over that cable when the Apple is turned on will likely kill the G3. I don’t know if I have to build this myself, or if there is something out there that can accomplish this for me.
  • The speaker out also goes to the capture card, right channel.
  • The cassette out goes to the capture card, left channel.
  • The cassette in comes from the G3, left channel.
  • The Power Mac G3 streams the video/audio to the internet for remote consumption.
  • A webcam is also placed facing the Apple so that it can be viewed that way, too, and not just through the straight video out.
  • The Super Serial Card in the Apple will be connected to some Mac capable of communicating with it and with the internet (maybe the Power Mac G3 again, maybe the Performa 6116CD).

What I will have accomplished here is, I think, the following. Presuming that I write the Super Serial Card modification to the modem driver that I discussed in an earlier post, and presuming that the Apple is set to start that up automatically upon power up, I will be able to control the Apple’s command line over the internet. I will be able to see what I’m doing both through the webcam stream and through the AV stream. I will be able to send programs not already on the machine through the cassette port, which I can get on the internet. If desired, I can also save data via the cassette port into one channel of the AV stream (though for both loading and saving, I could do this over the serial port if I made a slightly more sophisticated driver). Et voilà. Mostly controllable Apple ][ plus over the internet. Better still, using the backpack for what it adds to the machine, since the “speaker out” function wouldn’t have been available in a regular Apple ][ plus, and none of this requires additional line splitting.

Further, if I can get the Apple Cat ][ set up with X10 modules on a different Apple II that I can communicate with over the internet, I can use that to power the Bell & Howell off and on if it ever freezes or gets into a state where it needs local input that I can’t provide.

There are a lot of moving parts to this plan, but if it works, it would be very cool. And it seems like it should be technically feasible.

Apr 062012
 

Today, the current king of my collection arrived, a Bell & Howell Apple ][+, notable both because it’s quite rare, and because it was really “my first” computer. I never owned one, although this is what I started using at school when I was in 6th grade, and they even let me borrow it over that following summer, while school was not in session.

Bhiiplus badge

The Bell & Howell model is mostly just an Apple ][+ that was painted black and was marketed exclusively to schools by Bell & Howell. Inside, it is mostly just an unremarkable Apple ][+. Some proportion of these came with a “backpack,” which provides additional power outlets and some audio and video ports, and which fits onto to the back. Mine has the backpack, making it even a little bit more rare (and also a little bit more worth having, since with this it is something more than just a differently-colored Apple ][+).

Facing it from the back, we have, on the left, the audio and video inputs and outputs. These didn’t really add any particular additional capabilities to the computer, except that it allows for mixing in (mono) audio from the computer and two other sources, each of which is controlled by a separate volume knob, and can be sent to a speaker or headphones through a 1/4″ phono jack. It also provides pass-through ports for the cassette in and out ports on the Apple, and, somewhat inconveniently, BNC video connectors for the video out, which have been multiplied so you can send the video to two different monitors simultaneously.

Bhiiplus backpack back av

On the right, there is essentially a glorified power strip (with a fuse), containing three power outlets (into which you could plug, say, the monitor, or an overhead projector) on a separate switch from the computer. In the upper left corner is the access screw; this passes through the backpack into a hole in the computer’s lid, so that when it is screwed in, you can’t remove the top. That was necessary in order for this to be certified properly for use in schools and marketing by Bell & Howell, to discourage operation of the computer while the case was open.

Bhiiplus backpack back power

The other change is that there is a game I/O port on the side. I somehow didn’t take a picture of this on mine yet, but it looks like the picture below. This is supposed to be a good thing because the normal game controllers for the Apple ][ had fragile 16-pin connectors that were pretty easy to break. So, the idea here is that this is a much sturdier place to plug them in. The problem is, now, I don’t know where I could find any game devices to plug in there. I don’t know what uses that type of connector. It is still in principle possible to plug in regular game devices inside the machine, though, if you disconnect this external port.

Bandh paddle oldcomputers net

[Picture credit oldcomputers.net, hosted here.]

My particular computer is in pretty decent shape, for the most part. The paint is not too chipped. It was a little bit dirty, and in my efforts to clean off some of it, I may have rubbed off some of the texture on the lid in a way that might be noticeable from close up (which I am not pleased about), but overall, it looks quite good (particularly in comparison to some that have gone by on eBay recently). It’s still going to be a little bit of a fixer-upper, but getting the innards working is something I think I can handle, there would have been no helping the paint if it didn’t look good. So I’m glad that it looks as good as it does.

When it arrived, it had suffered some key detachment during shipping. My initial horror at seeing this subsided a bit when, upon inspection, none of the key stems appeared to have been damaged, and all of the keys were unscathed and present. Had there been damage, I would have been up the creek, because finding replacement keys would be nearly impossible.

Bhiiplus keymess

Out of the packaging and a little bit more organized, we have the machine pictured below. (I don’t know what that little yellow cylinder is, but there was another one that fell out of the case when I opened it up as well. So I have two of them, and they must have come from somewhere. I’m not sure I’ll ever know where, though.)

Bhiiplus above keyline

The machine also has lost three of its four feet somewhere along the line, but I plan to get replacement feet and go ahead and put them on myself.

Bhiiplus foot

One thing that I am not too happy about is that the stickers have been disturbed. Here are the many stickers from the bottom of the machine.

Bhiiplus stickers

In particular, the official Bell & Howell sticker has been peeled back some part of the way. (Why would anyone DO that??) It does appear that after an initial attempt to get the sticker off from the edges, it was abandoned, so it’s still mostly intact, but it is kind of a mess. However, it does reveal that there is a fairly standard Apple sticker behind it, you can make out the “inc.” of “apple computer inc.” in the upper right corner, and a little bit of the “MADE IN U.S.A” notation underneath the word “microcomputer” on the Bell & Howell sticker, and the “listed” of “UL listed”. And what I expect is a model number checkbox, which probably reads “A2S3048″ (corresponding to the Bell & Howell model number 3048D). Ultimately, I don’t know what the serial number of this machine should properly be. It’s either Apple’s A2S3-011472, or Bell & Howell’s 1278033, although probably the Apple serial number is the one of more consequence.

For completeness, too, here’s the board date, indicating, I think, an August, 1981, assembly. This board date is not like any I’ve seen before. It seems to read “D 8133″ and I don’t know what the “D” refers to. It’s also, like the terrarium ][+, not in week-year order. I still haven’t quite managed to figure out these handwritten ones. Nearly every one I’ve seen starts with “80”, and this one starts with “81”, so it seems a reasonable bet that this represents the year. I’d guess that the second two digits represent the week, except that the “Apple ][” on display at myoldcomputers.com has “8068” on it, which can’t represent a week. It doesn’t seem likely that it is a sequential serial number (since all that I’ve seen start with “80” or “81”), but what it is I don’t know. Perhaps the “8068” is really just a sloppily written “8008”, in which case it’s just year-week, but it really doesn’t look like that. Maybe someday I’ll come across somebody who knows what these mean.)

Bhiiplus boarddate

There are a couple of things I need to address with this computer before I actually try to fire it up. One thing that makes me a little bit jittery is the fact that the power cord is frayed near the plug (and this, incidentally, is one absurdly long power cord. I actually haven’t explored how it connects to the backpack, I may be able to just replace it. This fray may not be serious, but it looks like a fire hazard.)

Bhiiplus plug frayed

The other thing is that it’s just kind of dirty. So, as with the other computers destined for my office, I disassembled it so that I could clean the keys individually and blow out the inside of the keyboard. One thing about this computer, though, is that it has so many doodads connected to bits of the case and the backpack that it’s a little bit hard to get apart. The backpack plugs into the built-in AV ports in the back with plugs that lead out of the backpack on the inside, and the power is brought to the power supply through three individual wires that attach to the pins in the power supply plug receptacle. I’m not looking forward to reattaching those.

Bhiiplus backpack av

Bhiiplus backpack power

The little grey-white-red wire takes the sound output of the motherboard back to the backpack (grey-red), and then the white wires bring it back to the built-in speaker, routed through an anchor on the side of the case. I assume that this is so that the volume control in the back can control the sound output of the built-in speaker as well (and probably also cut out the built-in speaker when headphones are plugged in). There is also an orange wire routed through that same attachment in the side of the case that connects to the game port and to the keyboard, which I assume is a shift-key mod. The PCB on the side is the interface to the external game I/O connectors, which plugs into the game port on the motherboard. I was able to unplug nearly everything, but the keyboard is still attached to the case due to the shift-key mod (which appears to actually be soldered onto the keyboard and onto the side PCB!), and the motherboard is still attached to the case due to the speaker wire, which doesn’t appear to be easily unpluggable. So, it is going to be a bit clumsy to clean this out, since everything has to pretty much stay together. And if any of these wires ever needs to be replaced, it will be a pain.

Bhiiplus apart

One thing that makes me sad about this is that the person who sold it decided to part it out, and so the black Disk ][ drive that goes with this didn’t end up going to me. The auction for the drive and the auction for the computer ended at the same second, and so it was impossible to go bid high on the drive once I’d ensured that I’d gotten the computer. So, somewhere out there, someone has a black drive without the black Apple, and I meanwhile have a black Apple without any black drives. I think it is very unlikely that I’ll ever be able to get one, except if I were to buy a second Bell & Howell Apple ][+ that comes with two black drives. And that’s not likely to happen. Here, though is what it would have looked like if I’d had one. (The normal beige drives of course work just fine, they just aren’t color-matched.)

Bandh drives macgeek org

[Photo credit: macgeek.org, cropped and hosted here.]

The next steps, then, will be cleaning everything up and reassembling it, possibly replacing that power cord, installing some beige drives (of which I don’t really have a shortage), and making it go. I’ll probably need to get a BNC adapter (to convert the video back from BNC so I can use a composite monitor), but otherwise that’s about it. I have some black paddles coming as well, though they won’t plug into the side ports (I’ll have to plug them into the standard internal port).

But, this may mark the end of the acquisitions phase for a while now. I did pay quite a bit to win this auction, it’s true—but it’s hard to know how I fared because the prices have been all over the map in the few months I’ve been watching. I paid more for this than some have recently gone for, and quite a lot less than some others have gone for. Some of those had the backpack, some didn’t; some had drives, some didn’t. I think I probably did ok given the current climate, and I wound up with a machine that is aesthetically in better shape than a lot of the eBay offerings have been. But it was still a significant purchase, and enough to cool my enthusiasm a bit for future bidding. Probably more importantly, with this, I’ve now got the things I have been most interested in acquiring. Though I’d kind of like to get a Lisa and an Apple ///, both tend to be hopelessly expensive, and both would be major hassles to get running and keep running. So, I’m probably just going to stick here. Time will tell.