It’s Business Time

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

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  1. Ah, nice. I’d skimmed over early Computist issues, but I haven’t read them all and hadn’t reached 1987. Like the author of the article, I’d kind of given up on there being a softkey. But this is great, it’s good to know what the protection is, that makes making a faithful copy much easier. That’s actually kind of what I’d guessed, the nibbles across track 1 were just all AAs, no address or data marks anywhere to be seen.

    I think this means it should also be fairly easily reproducible in the more common .nib format (rather than Virtual ][‘s v2d format), assuming that .nib allows for a track with no address/data marks. I’m not certain whether I got a good copy with Locksmith in my first round (but I didn’t want to do a lot of work on the original until I knew what was happening). I do, fortunately, have a second set of originals as well (and, moreover, each one was shipped with a backup), so at least one of the four of them should be readable. But I’ll see what I can do with my Locksmith copy first, since that seems to run fine on my real hardware.

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