Jan 232014

Softalk was one of the most highly regarded computer magazines focused on the Apple II series of computers, running from September 1980 until August 1984. They’ve been mentioned here before. In the later years, however, the publishers branched out to a couple of other platforms. There was a second magazine called Softalk for the IBM PC, which was—well—Softalk, for the IBM PC. But there was also a Softalk magazine devoted to the Mac, upon its release. This was ST.Mac, which is etymologically “Softalk” with a filetype/extension “.Mac”, although it also seems to have gone by “Saint Mac” as well.


ST.Mac launched just after the original Macintosh did, its first issue covered February 1984. Monthly issues followed, although unfortunately not for long—the whole Softalk enterprise pretty much stopped after August 1984, including both the original Apple II Softalk magazine and ST.Mac. So, all in all, there only were seven issues of ST.Mac, which might explain why even Mac enthusiasts often have never heard of it. I certainly hadn’t until pretty recently, despite having loved the Apple II Softalk for over 30 years.

The magazine is primarily focused on the Macintosh, but also considers Lisa within its scope, and it’s one of the best/only places to find magazine print ads relating to Lisa products. It’s also interesting to see some of the contemporaneous discussion, not all of it positive. I can say myself, having been fairly deep into the Apple II world at the time of the Mac’s introduction, that upon my first experience with a Mac (I think it may have been a “Fat Mac”, the second iteration that had 512K rather than 128K), I wasn’t actually swept away in the way people were supposed to have been. As a child (but one already pretty handy with the command line), it felt kind of slow and limited. True, there were a lot of dots per inch, but I still took it to be mostly a toy computer aimed at novices, and I pretty much ignored it for the next five years until I the Macs gained software and traction and speed (at which point I bought the SE/30, which I still consider to be basically the pinnacle of the compact Macs). And some of that kind of reaction can be seen in some the letters that got printed in ST.Mac, too, though of course the focus of the magazine was mostly the positive and new developments on the Mac platform, right as it was getting its start.

Anyway, I have now scanned the entire short run of this little magazine, and it is definitely interesting to read in retrospect. So, without further ado, here they are. The main links below are to the smaller 300dpi scans (around 70MB), and better, larger, 600dpi scans (around 260MB) are linked separately if that’s of interest.

Stmac feb1984 Stmac mar1984
Stmac apr 1984 Stmac 1984 may
Stmac 1984 jun St mac 1984 jul
St mac 1984 aug  
Jan 202014

Here is Quick File /// for the Apple ///. I imaged the disks and scanned the manual, since I didn’t find an existing manual scan online. The disks weren’t protected, and were actually already available on apple3.org, but these are (presumably identical) images of my own disks. The program does work in Sara OS X, but note that in order to get the “tab” key to work, you need to press Ctrl-I, since pressing the actual tab key seems just to emit an “i” character.

I have two of these, one open, and one still wrapped. The open one didn’t have the slipcover, and I haven’t convinced myself to open the wrapped one yet. So there is no scan yet of the slipcover, but I may either open it or try to scan through the plastic.

Qf3 box wrapped

Nevertheless, this is what I will find inside the box if I wind up opening it:

Qf3 box open

Strangely, the manual is called Quick File /// Sampler. It sounds like that would be some kind of auxiliary manual used to point out aspects of the example files, but it is in fact the only manual there is with Quick File ///.

From playing with it briefly, it seems like it’s a pretty well-thought out database system, given its goals. It’s not a spreadsheet, but it can do basic total calculations in reports, and there is no kind of cross-table linking or relations. It also seems particularly novice-oriented, there is quite a bit of onscreen help and opportunities to undo mistakes.

Qf3 splash

Qf3 sues cards

Anyway, here are the files:

Qf3 manual Qf3 addendum

Qf3 boot disk

Qf3 program disk

Qf3 sample disk

Qf3 packing list Qf3 sla Qf3 auir
Dec 142013

I finished up a few more scans of On Three, so here they are. I decided in the interest of collecting things together that I would post the whole volume in this post. I still need to scan June 1987 and re-scan March 1987, I’ll insert them in this post later once I have. I have also put up a static page with all of the scans I know about collected together for convenience.

Mike Maginnis scanned and posted a few of these issues earlier, which then made their way onto the asmiov Apple II archive site. I’ve fetched those for this collection—the ones Mike scanned are marked in the list below with an *.

On3 v4n1 On3 v4n2 1987 On3 v4n3
On3 v4n4 On3 v4n5 On3 v4n6
On3 v4n7 1987 On3 v4n8 1987 On3 v4n9
On3 v4n10 On3 v4n11 1987 On3 v4n12 1987
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
Oct 192013

At a few different times in its history, Apple has published magazines of a sort. These were not just catalogs, although they did of course promote the Apple cause. The Apple magazine lasted for a few issues in the early 1980s, and I will be posting scans of those at some point in the future. Later on, there was an Apple magazine issue that made an appearance in 1997, but as far as I know was just a single issue and then the project was dropped again. In between, Apple produced two issues of Apple on Apples. I don’t believe that there were any more than those two. Apple seems to keep thinking this is a good idea, but then changing its mind and just going back to publishing catalogs. The second issue is undated, but the events list suggests it is from early 1983, so I’m going to guess January 1983.

The Apple on Apples issues are quite short. The first one has only a couple of contentful articles, amounting to a profile of a couple of companies using Apple II Pluses to run their businesses, and an interview with Mike Markkula. The second issue is more developed, with articles on Logo, the Lisa and //e, online and local networking with the Apple II Plus, an interview with Paul C. Dali, profiles of Allen Dziejma and Paul Lutus, and tips on integrating Visicalc and Apple Writer on an Apple ///.

Each issue features a “puzzler” as well. In the first issue, the questions included “What is the weight of an FCC-approved Apple II?” and the answers were provided. In the second issue, Apple was more ambitious with the puzzler and made it a contest, six winners being awarded “I solved the puzzler” T-shirts. I have no idea if those were ever given out, or what the answers to the puzzler were, because there was no issue number 3. One thing I don’t understand about the puzzler is that in issue 2, they list the winners of the last puzzler, yet the puzzler in issue 1 gave the answers and didn’t provide anywhere to write in. Did they just make those winners up? Very strange. [Update: see below.]

In any event, they’re sort of interesting, and they’re quite uncommon in the wild.

Apple on apples v1n1 Apple on apples v1n2

For the record, the problems I found in the “puzzler” were: One disk has its media access slot sideways, the logo and the feed advance wheel on the Silentype printer are on the wrong side and the plug comes out the back not out the side, the Monitor III is essentially upside down, though the switches are at the top instead of the bottom and are red, there is no useful need for antennae above the monitor, the keyboard is wrong in various ways (missing a row of keys, the space bar is red, some keys are elongated where they shouldn’t be. Anyone have an “I solved the puzzler” T-shirt?

Update: Turns out, there were actually two versions of Apple on Apples v1n1. The one I scanned and discussed here says “October 1982″ on the cover, and has the puzzler as discussed, with the answers. The other version does not give a date on the cover, has an additional introductory “About this issue” note, and has a trimmed-down “puzzler” section that actually does give an address to send answers to. Unfortunately, my copy of this second version has some water damage, but I will add a scan of it here shortly.

Oct 142013

Pretty much right from the beginning, Apple marketed itself heavily to children and the educational market. Through a happy accident I wound up with what seems to be an untouched Apple Curriculum Materials Kit, from February 1979. From what’s inside, it seems to have been sent out to schools (on request) to persuade them both of the value of having microcomputers in the classroom (as opposed to larger timeshare machines in computer rooms), and promoting the Apple II as the computer that would fit the bill, with a future and plenty of established material already.

IMG 3617

In this kit is a cover letter introducing the materials, an outline of why microcomputers and the Apple II in particular is a great step forward for education, some ideas for computer awareness and literacy units for various grade levels, a price list (effective February 15, 1979), a list of dealers, a list of users groups, and a reply card to get on the mailing list.

For grades K-3, it is suggested that the children might like nice friendly games like “Sink-the-ship” or “Shootout” or variations on “Hangman,” while in grades 4-6, it is suggested that children might enjoy destroying submarines.

Unfortunately, the original version of the reply card referred to the “educators mailing list” and it seems that somebody got nervous about sending this out to educators, and behind the scenes of this little card you can just feel the wheels turning.

Hmm. “Place me on your people mailing list” doesn’t sound right, so “educators mailing list” must not be quite right. “Mailing list for educators” would probably be best, except the cards are already printed. And this is 1979 for heaven’s sake, we’re aren’t anywhere close yet to being the most valuable company in the world. We can’t just print a whole new stack. Well, maybe we can salvage it by saying it’s the “educators’ mailing list.” That sounds nice, kind of personalizes it for them. Ok.

And so, somebody drew in apostrophes on the reply card so that it reads “educators’mailing list.” I don’t think these were hand drawn on each card, but it’s possible. It’s hard to say for sure. But it is clearly hand drawn after the fact.

Anyway, the shape that this kit was in was truly remarkable, given that it took nearly 34 years to wind up in my hands. So, here are the scans.

Dear educator cover letter Microcomputers in education
Microcomputer classroom Apple price list feb15 1979
Apple authorized dealers Apple users groups
Apple v1n1 currkit cover Curriculum reply card
Oct 052013

Almost certainly the biggest player in the Epson QX-10-specific software world was Rising Star Industries, the creators of Valdocs and its various successors. Valdocs is an integrated software suite that (as I understand it) was generally packaged with Epson QX-10 machines. RSI pretty much tied its future to the QX-10 (and to the QX-16) with Valdocs, and when the QX-10 lost favor with the public, RSI went down with it. But in its heyday, they produced a newsletter called The Rising Star, with some articles on the background of the company, tips and tricks in Valdocs, new versions, etc.

I have gotten ahold of four of these. I don’t know if there are others out there anymore, but here are the ones I have:

Rs v1n4 1984 fall Rs v2n2
Rs v2n4 Rs v3n1
Sep 212013

Prompted by discussion on the Softalk Forever!!! Facebook group, itself prompted by the initiation of an ambitious data mining project (The Softalk Apple Project) using Softalk as its base, I present the one full scan I’ve done since the last round at the beginning of the summer.

It’s a nice one to have, though, it’s issue number one, September 1980, which started it all. My copy is not perfect, but it’s not bad. It is, however, a bit aged and quite brittle. So, although the issue is not particularly long compared to what issues would become, it was a challenge to get it to look even as good as this does.

Softalk1980 09

Welcome to Softalk. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a businessperson, a programmer or a nonprogrammer, Softalk is designed for you, because each of you has chosen Apple for your computer; and so did we. (Straightalk, Softalk Sep 1980, p. 3).

Addendum: actually, I’m seeing a lot of compression artifacts in this scan at high magnification. Though it might destroy this issue to go through the scanning process again, I might try once more to see if I can get a cleaner scan. I don’t really think it’s a dpi issue, since my 600dpi version of this has similar artifacts. Might require some experimentation. This version will stay here for now.

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.

Mar 022013

Today, we have the Apple II Business Graphics package. I was surprised to discover that it didn’t seem to be archived in any of the places I looked, but it also turned out to be kind of a beast to copy. Even Apple-branded stuff back in the day was copy protected.

A2bg outer box

A2bg opened

This is a complete set, at least according to the packing list. The only thing I haven’t scanned is the “How-To Sheet”, which is glued to the inside of the top cover of the box.

Here is the scanned documentation and paper that came along with it:

A2bg packing list Apple ii business graphics manual A2bg user input report
A2bg software lic agrt A2bg sticker A2bg disks
A2bg slipcover side2 A2bg slipcover front A2bg slipcover side1 A2bg slipcover back

The real coup here, actually, is that I finally managed to get disk images that seem to work in an emulator. It was no easy task. I first managed to get a bootable copy using Locksmith 5.0, and then tried a couple of different nibble disk transfer methods until I finally wound up using SST to nibblize the disks on actual hardware and then reconstitute the image in an emulator. Virtual ][ seems only to like it in its half-track format (v2d), so accordingly, it only runs right now in Virtual ][. Maybe someday I'll try it again—it is not flawless. Sometimes (randomly?) it bombs out with an I/O error and you have to reset the machine. But I tried it a little bit (nowhere near exhaustively), and it basically seemed to work.

Update: Thanks to Rich Thompson in the comments, I was made aware that Computist #48 has a softkey for this. The trick is that track #1 is unreadable on the original, and if it can be read, the program bombs out. So, I re-imaged the disk straightforwardly with ADTPro, converted it to a .nib file using Disk Muncher in the emulator (reading from the .dsk.po file, writing to a .nib file), and then went in with a hex editor and changed all instances of D5 AA 96 FF FE AA AB to D5 AA 96 FF FE FF FF, which effectively destroys track #1. The .nib file now boots fine, so I have replaced the disk images I’d had up before with these. Because the Computist softkey relies on using a magic volume number (005) to see if it’s dealing with the PLOT disk, and because the .dsk format doesn’t preserve the volume number, I have not gone ahead with deprotecting the disk, since it would have to be stored in a .nib file anyway.

I was previously having occasional I/O errors that would force me to reset, and I don’t know whether that behavior is gone or not (perhaps that even happened BITD). I haven’t stress-tested this new image, but I was able at least to recreate the plots I’d done without any errors appearing.

A2bg splash

A2bg start

A2bg posts