It’s Quiet… Yeah, too quiet…

I’m sure by now even the three semi-regular readers I had have stopped coming by here (at least if my Jetpack stats are to be believed).  Updates to my Apple II Scans site and this blog are no longer appearing in the A2RSS feed, which is affecting traffic, and not posting anything interesting probably has a lot to do with it as well. In keeping with that grand tradition, here’s more uninteresting content that won’t show up in your RSS reader.

I haven’t recently had a lot to say that I felt needed its own blog post – I have a podcast for that (several actually) and that platform has become a much more interesting content delivery system for me, if I’m being totally honest. Between Open Apple’s new co-host and the great things we have coming up for Drop /// Inches, I’ve found myself re-energized to focus my efforts in those projects rather than this.  When Ken left Open Apple, I was completely demoralized and unsure I’d be able to continue to produce the shows without him. Ken’s fastidious professionalism and organization made it possible for us to produce three years of quality Apple II audio programming, including being able to book great guests and keeping the topics interesting and the discussion lively.  Without getting into details you don’t care about, I can say that the working relationship I had with Ken had become increasingly unhealthy for both of us over the previous months and it was clear the end was nigh. Knowing it was coming though, didn’t make it any easier to face when it finally happened and it affected me much more deeply than I’d expected.

Making matters worse, during the ensuing hiatus I was unable to book any guests for a return show.  Word of Ken’s exit had gotten around and people were unwilling to participate without his presence – I can’t say that I blame them.  I was in a really dark place personally in those following weeks, and (are you sitting down for this?) I’m not the greatest co-host, even with talented people like Ken and Carrington to work with. Carrington’s that Canadian guy who co-hosts another show I do. You can tell he’s Canadian because he smells like syrup and hockey.  (Who even knew hockey had a smell?)  On the mic, I stutter. I’m nervous and unable to convey thoughts in an eloquent, direct manner.  Who would want to hang out with a mumbling, depressed mush-mouth for the hours it takes to complete a recording session?

Quinn Dunki, that’s who.  She agreed to be a guest on #37 and she was great.  She was relaxed and comfortable on the mic and her homebrew 6502 project ‘Veronica’ was something new and fascinating, and I like to think I was able to help her make up her mind to come to Rockhurst. (Hey, I’ll take credit for it even if I had nothing to do with it).  The show was published in July, just before KansasFest and the feedback I got was very positive.  Several listeners even suggested that she should be the new co-host. The outflowing of love was enough that I approached her to come back and sit in the co-host chair.  I guess she also heard a lot of things at KansasFest about it because, after successfully trolling me, she agreed and I have to say, I’m pleased with the results.  Quinn has brought a new technical depth to the show that was evident from the very first episode we did together – the Lawless Legends development team interview was a resounding success largely due to her being able to ask the right questions, and to respond to the answers with even better lines of inquiry.  That episode is not something the listeners would have been able to experience without her participation.

Behind the scenes, it has been great to see her just dive in and get involved with making decisions about the future of Open Apple and what we want to present to you, the listeners.  Maintaining a certain level of quality with every show we put out requires many hours of work – much of it tedious and time-consuming.  It would have been easy for Quinn to assume a passive role and simply sit back, show up once a month to record and not gotten involved in the production or planning aspects at all.  And truthfully, I’d have been happy with that – just being able to continue Open Apple was enough for me really, so to have her instead as an eager and enthusiastic partner has been nothing short of amazing and I wanted to take a minute to thank her publicly.  In short, Quinn is awesome. (Note to self: don’t let Quinn find out she doesn’t have to work as hard.  Second note to self: don’t post notes to self about Quinn in a place she’s likely to see them.)

Oh, and to those few of you who have written to let me know that I only invited Quinn to be on Open Apple because she’s a girl and I’m somehow ‘kissing up’ or white-knighting (is that even a verb?), first I’d like to say that I appreciate you letting me know what I was thinking and what my real motivations were.  Apparently, I didn’t know this and it’s great to have you clear up my confusion.  Second, I’d ask that you listen to the shows she’s done with me objectively (because obviously you didn’t or you wouldn’t have sent those emails in the first place) and then let me know if you still think she’s a ‘fake nerd’ who’s getting things handed to her because she’s a girl (are we really still having this argument? Really?).  Actually, if you still believe that, don’t let me know.  I’d rather you didn’t listen to Open Apple at all and I certainly don’t care what you think.

Up next, we have Drop /// Inches, which has really become an interesting creature.  About three years ago, I decided it might be great to write a book about the Apple ///, focusing on the development of the machine and the people who were involved in it.  I’d read plenty of articles about Apple’s first business computer and they mostly focused on its failure in the marketplace and then repeated a few vague “facts” without really getting to the meat of the matter, so to speak.  Browsing through Google’s completely awesome archives of ComputerWorld and InfoWorld, it became clear that even the tech press of the day was more interested in vilifying Apple than present a clear accounting of the facts.  And so I started reaching out, finding and interviewing the people who were there, who experienced all of this first-hand.  I gathered several dozen hours of audio, as well as documents and other related information that I felt might go well into a book like this.  I even contacted a publisher that had previously released several highly regarded titles on various vintage computing platforms. It became evident that their vision for this project didn’t really align with what I knew I’d be able to provide them and nothing more came of it.  I was left with no clear plan on what I wanted to do with this archive of information about the /// and interviews with the developers, but I certainly didn’t expect what it seems like is going to happen.

I started Drop /// Inches with Paul Hagstrom earlier this year, almost as a laugh and certainly with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  The original goal was to provide an interactive forum for the two of us to get involved with other /// fans, and perhaps provide a valuable learning resource for new users who had just purchased one of these 26-lb beasts from eBay or recovered one from a dank basement/dusty attic somewhere.  The enthusiastic response we received was a complete surprise to us both.  More surprising though, was that we received messages from several people who were involved with the creation of the Apple /// on various levels, expressing their appreciation for what we were doing and wanted to contribute their own experiences and memories.  Of course we accepted.

As hilarious and charismatic as both Paul and I are naturally – we’re amazing and talented orators! I swear! – we realized we needed other voices to help tell this particular story and reached out to Dave Ottalini, former co-chair of the Washington Apple Pi’s /// SIG and keeper of the SARAsaur faith, to join us.  During the course of that interview we learned that while at the Phase /// Conference in 1987, Dave recorded many of the sessions and had saved the original tapes.  The session transcripts made it onto the WAP Apple /// DVD but due to space constraints, the audio was left out.  Dave made those files available to us and it’s been great fun plundering them for information about the /// and the Conference. You can hear the early fruits of our labors in show #6, a session by Don Williams about his experiences with the /// during his days at Apple.

As this was all happening, it occurred to me that those materials I’d been gathering weren’t going to end up in a book.  It’s Drop /// Inches, this weird little podcast about an obscure detour down a dark path on the highway of Apple’s history, chronicling the life and times of the Apple ///, where they would find a home.  I haven’t figured out the best way to integrate the collected research to the podcast in a way that makes sense, beyond the recorded interviews I did, but DTI is becoming this multimedia project to cover in-depth everything we know and can learn about the Apple ///.  Stuff we can scan will likely end up on the podcast’s web page and I know we’re going to eventually release all of Dave’s Phase /// audio files, first as cleaned-up segments for the show with the raw audio files eventually appearing on archive.org.

Through all of this, we’ve somehow ended up with so much material, we’re struggling to understand how to best present it to you.  I can’t go into all the details (don’t want to spoil any surprises!) but at the very least, I can tell you we’ve got some great interviews with developers coming up and I know their stories won’t be anything you could have Googled before.  I don’t exactly know what Drop /// Inches is going to become, but I’m very excited about the future of the show and it’s really great to be able to help tell the story of the Apple /// and write our own chapter at the same time.

And I guess that’s kind of it for now.  I still intend to re-publish some of the old articles that used to live here.  That will be sometime this year, I hope. Apple II Scans is sort of in zombie-mode: scan, post, move on, repeat.

I’m no longer involved in any way with Juiced.GS or any of Ken’s current projects, so I can’t answer questions about that.  It’s great to see his creative efforts take shape in new directions and I wish him well in his future endeavors.

Why did I post this then?  Mostly because I needed to get it out.  No one reads anything here and certainly not this far into a 1900-word post, so I’m not worried about trying to sound grandiose or impress anyone.  The blog is still alive sort of and I’m still here.

German Apple /// ad

I found this Apple /// ad over at Zock.com, a German collector’s website.  It features the familiar flow of text wrapped around a “stretched” graphic of the Apple Monitor /// hovering above the ProFile drive, which itself floats over the main /// unit.

"Apple ///. The personal computer with the new ProFile." (click for full size image.)

“Apple ///. The personal computer with the new ProFile.” (click for full size image.)

Here’s a rough translation, courtesy Google’s handy utility:

Apple ///. The personal computer with the new ProFile.

Apple’s Third Generation. No question – personal computers are becoming more popular. And the number of suppliers is large. But before you buy any personal computer should you choose to progress rather equal; Apple’s third generation.

Apple III. The most powerful personal computer on the market. It will benefit them more than you think possible. To make it easier and faster than ever to do business transactions of all kinds.

Comprehensive Software. The Apple /// are the most advanced program packages are available simultaneously.

How VisiCalc for your plans, budgets or administrative costs.

In connection with the Business Graphics software package, you can implement the developed VisiCalc with data directly in graphics, drawings, diagrams, or tables.

Mail List Manager, another program from Apple, helps you to manage up to 960 names and addresses and print them. With any accessibility – according to your wishes. Alphabetically, postal codes or own search terms.

Take added Apple Writer /// software and a printer – and you have a complete text system. With 90% of the performance of the specific word processing computer. Incidentally, almost all programs of the Apple II also run on the Apple ///.

Integrated Data Processing. Exclusive to the Apple /// is the program package ACCESS ///. This enables you to change and returned able to take data from mainframe computers.

Personal Storage. Do you want more, take ProFile it. The special Apple /// hard disk space. More than 5 million characters are stored directly. Which approximately 1200 pages of text corresponding to A4 – enough to manage the data of a middle operation.

Growing with Apple ///. We want your Apple /// according to your requirements grow. And have therefore constructed him that you can connect almost any kind of peripherals. Expandable up to 256 KBytes RAM will help you just as the powerful operating systems SOS, DOS, UCSD and CP / M. What other personal computer has already four operating systems?

Apple /// for the Software Developer. With Apple /// Pascal software developers is the right tool available: A performance operating computer language.

Full-service through the Dealer Network. Service for your Apple /// offer in Germany over 200 dealers. Visit your nearest Apple dealer. And find out for yourself what is true computer performance.

With the exception of the ACCESS /// paragraph, the translator is remarkably good.  Here’s the text in the lower right corner:

Want to know more? Then please fill out this coupon and send it to: Apple Computer Marketing GmbH, Maximilian Street 29, 8000 Munich 22nd

I am interested in:

Commercial Solutions
Software Development

And of course, Apple’s slogan:

Apple.  The Personal Computer.

Quark. Only mostly dead.

Back in 2011, it was widely reported that Quark, the legendary maker of software that at one time was the cornerstone of the desktop publishing industry, had been purchased by Los Angeles-based mergers and acquisitions firm Platinum Equity. Quark’s star had been waning for years by then, its once-sterling reputation now tarnished by a series of blunders in what appeared to be a deliberate and targeted campaign of ill will against its primary customers, Mac users in the industry.  Increasing pressure from Adobe’s encroachment into the publishing space and a CEO that couldn’t keep his mouth shut accelerated the fall, so no one was really surprised when news of the sale broke.  The common speculation was that the whatever valuable IP remained would be sold off to the highest bidder and the company dissolved.  An ignominious end to a sad story, indeed.

Quark global headquarters in downtown Denver, Colorado.

Quark global headquarters in downtown Denver, Colorado.

Sensitive as I am to such things as the suffering of others, I exploited the opportunity to write a post about some of my favorite Apple II and /// products from Quark’s early days.  And, like everyone else, I was expecting the worst for Quark.

Well, turns out they’re still in business.  As I was trying to restore some of the old articles that existed here a few years back, I did a little Googling and yep – they’re still around.  I’m not sure what they’re doing these days.  Gaining market share lost to Adobe doesn’t seem to be a priority, but Platinum Equity is content to let them keep at it.  And that’s cool – my “not so fond farewell” can wait.  Here’s the old article, with the stuff about Quark’s demise excised.


This post originally appeared on 6502lane.net on August 9, 2011.

Those of us who have been playing around with computers for a bit longer than the average user probably remember Quark for more than just a powerful desktop publishing application. Here’s a quick look at some of the stuff they produced for my favorite 8-bit home computer, the Apple II (and III!). Don’t worry, the list is short.

Catalyst

2011-08-09_17-05-19_923

Quark was an early proponent of DRM and implemented draconian copy protection schemes in their products. Catalyst was designed as a program selector to assist Apple /// users in loading their expensive business products from diskette onto their new, even more expensive hard disk systems while retaining their copy protection. They were going for the best of both worlds here, and didn’t really attain either.

2011-08-09_16-37-47_992

An Apple /// user would first install Catalyst onto their shiny new $5,000 10 MB ProFile drive and then, through a series of convoluted steps, load various pieces of software into Catalyst. During the install, the user’s original diskettes would be disabled and permanently tied to the Catalyst diskette so that the originals would no longer boot and could only be reinstalled to the hard drive through the specific copy of Quark’s program to which they were tied. Quark whimsically referred to these lobotomized disks as, “Catalyzed”.

2011-08-09_17-04-07_236

Have you been… uh… Catalyzed?

Additionally, if your newly enslaved applications required access to your printer, Catalyst had to be manually configured through a quick, 30-step process… Okay, maybe not so quick.

2011-08-09_17-01-12_220

 

Catalyst itself was also copy protected and featured a serial number so that once “Catalyzed” your applications couldn’t be loaded by a copy with a different serial number.

You can imagine the headache you were in for if you one day decided to move to a different program selector to access your programs once they had been modified.

A version of Catalyst creatively called “Catalyst IIe” was eventually introduced for the Apple IIe and IIc.

Word Juggler

word-juggler-review-infoworld-july-05-82

Quark’s word processor for the Apple II line was known for its ease of use, extensive feature set and simple learning curve and matched up well against AppleWriter, which served as Word Juggler’s main competition until the AppleWorks suite was released by Apple in 1984. On the Apple ///, Word Juggler was the first, and for years only, commercially available word processor.

Apple recommended Word Juggler and even sold copies directly to customers and through dealer retail shelves while its own offering, Apple Writer ///, floundered in development hell.

Word Juggler ad from InfoWorld, Nov 30, 1981

Word Juggler ad from InfoWorld, Nov 30, 1981

On your Apple II, it came with a custom set of keycaps, silk-screened with convenient command information, and a nice keyboard template of sorts, that you could align with your number keys for easy reference while working.  Fancy.

2011-08-09_16-26-31_813

Word Juggler wasn’t immune to Quark’s copy protection efforts and customers had to install a hardware dongle in their Apple II to get the software to boot up at all. All that convenience and flare didn’t come for free, it seems.

quark-hardware-dongle

Lurking silently in your Apple II, protecting Quark’s IP.

And that pretty much wraps it up for Quark’s 8-bit Apple software offerings. They also sold a number of minor applications, most designed to enhance Word Juggler. Lexicheck was an 8,000-word spelling checker; Terminus provided telecommunications functionality; Mail List Manager Interface also integrated with Word Juggler as did TypeFace, giving you access to typesetting equipment, should you have it.

2011-08-09_17-12-16_776

 

And so we bid a not-so-fond farewell to the corporate entity known as Quark, Inc.

Perhaps Quark, Inc.’s final chapter has yet to be written…

Apple III by the Numbers

As one of the half-dozen or so Apple /// fans out there, I am often quizzed by skeptical Apple II users about the computer that has sometimes been compared to the Ford Edsel.  Usually, these grillings immediately follow a post (or occasional KansasFest presentation) in which I point out some of the obvious improvements and superior features of the /// as compared to the earlier home computer from Cupertino, and the queries inevitably include this one:

“Is the Apple /// really *that* much faster than the II?”

And the answer is simple: Yes.  Sort of.  Sometimes. Maybe.

Early reviews in trade magazines dated around the NCC ’80 introduction often mentioned that the Synertek 6502A (or later B) was advertised by Apple as “peak 2 MHz” and that more realistically, the /// tops out between 1.4 MHz and 1.8 MHz, depending on a number of factors, including the task you’re asking it to perform, how many device drivers are active, the version of SOS you’re running, etc.

(Note: SOS 1.1, which was used in the BYTE article referenced below and its predecessor, 1.0 were notorious resource hogs and ate away at precious CPU cycles and bytes of RAM even while sitting idle.  Most of the bugs, as well as the bloat, were squashed with SOS 1.3 and if you’re using a real /// at home, you really shouldn’t be messing about with those older releases… your /// tip of the day folks.  For the discussion below, SOS’s performance doesn’t factor in much until the disk tests.)

The common wisdom from the era is that in early ///’s, you could reasonably expect 1.2 MHz – 1.4 MHz and in later models with improved hardware and leaner software, around 1.6 MHz.  The reviewers are also careful to state that unlike the II, the /// was designed so that the 6502 had a handful of supporting ICs to which it could hand off tasks so even in 1980, true MHz numbers could be deceiving.  Additionally, engineers came up with a clever trick to squeeze an extra .2 MHz out of the aging CPU: if you didn’t need to interact with the /// or see what was going on (e.g., during a big sort or heavy number crunching), you could tap CTRL-5 to shut off the video signal generation circuitry.  Even cooler was the fact that certain programs such as VisiCalc were smart enough to notice this and automatically re-enable the video as soon as the operation was finished.  Neat!

One of the reasons I miss BYTE magazine (the old BYTE, like pre-1992-ish) is their extensive reviews that got way down to the metal and dug around for all the good stuff (and the bad stuff too that the companies didn’t want you to see).

September 1982 issue of BYTE.  Chock full o' geeky goodness

September 1982 issue of BYTE. Chock full o’ hobbyist goodness.

When Apple launched the re-introduction PR blitz for the /// in late 1981/early 1982, BYTE took another look at the “newly revised” business computer.  Apple had been touting the improved horsepower beneath the 26 lb. pressed-aluminum RFI chassis and how much better it was at number crunching, sorts and other functions the pinstripe Wall Street crowd would love, even two years after its release.  As part of the review in the September 1982 issue of BYTE, author Robin Moore decided to run the numbers and see how much spin was really coming from Apple.

Remember that when the /// was initially released in 1980, the IBM PC was still months away from retail shelves, so there wasn’t an interesting comparison to be done.  Revisiting the /// in-depth like this was really beneficial because Apple considered the PC its primary competition on the business desktop.  And Moore helpfully included Apple II numbers for us fanboys too!

Something else to keep in mind before we dive in: by the time this review was published, the /// was approaching its third birthday and had come down in price somewhat, but was still much more expensive than a II stuffed with expansion cards to approximate functionality.  Apple listed a 128K /// at $3,495; 256K /// at $4,295; and a monochrome Apple Monitor /// at $320.

The /// used in these tests was a 128K model with the Synertek 6502B, a single external Disk /// Drive, and Business BASIC.  Total price: $4,115.

The IBM PC was a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088-based system with 48K base memory, a disk adapter card and one 160K internal floppy drive, a 16K memory / game adapter expansion card, a single additional floppy drive (the PC could only handle one external drive at the time), a RS-232C interface card, another 64K memory expansion card, a color graphics adapter card, and IBM Advanced BASIC.  All of these add-ons brought the PC approximately up to what was available in-built to the ///.

Welcome, IBM. Seriously.

Even with the extras you’d have to buy to match specs, the PC was still slightly cheaper, at $3,980.  On the other hand, this configuration maxed out all the expansion possibilities in the IBM; the Apple still had four free slots available to the user, plus the interface ports on the rear of the computer.

A fourth machine, a 4 MHz Z80 whose brand Moore doesn’t mention, is also given a lane in this digital derby.  This machine was tested with Microsoft MBASIC 4.51.

Moore takes a moment to note the difference in sales philosophy between the two companies.  Apple’s approach was to build in all the “good stuff” a business user might need and then charge accordingly, whereas IBM sold you a basic machine at a lower cost and let you fill it up with whatever you felt you’d need to get the job done.  Interesting that IBM’s thinking was much closer to how the Apple II was developed and marketed than Apple’s own offering.

Apple /// vs IBM PC: Price

Apple /// vs IBM PC: Price

Moore doesn’t list what he put in the II (and in fact, he may have run the tests in the ///’s Apple II Emulation mode, which obviously invalidates those results as anything but a curiosity), but he does pause to mention how differently Apple viewed its potential /// customers from the II buyers, and he does it by pointing out the documentation that ships (or rather, doesn’t) with the ///:

“Much of the technical information included in the Apple II is absent in the Apple /// package.  There is no discussion of bus structure, I/O addressing, memory usage, or screen-memory mapping.  There are no listings published for any of the system software, either in the Apple /// ROMs or on disk.  Apple does not even tell you about the monitor program in the ROMs…”

Moore goes on to check out the hardware (he really seems to like it – a man of impeccable taste, obviously…), features unique to SOS, graphics modes, INVOKABLES and other points of interest before he gets down to business and pits the machines against each other in a brutal performance deathmatch. Well, maybe not quite that dramatic… (I’ll have a link to a PDF scan of the original review at the end of this post, if you want to read the whole thing.)

Let’s take a look…

All of the benchmarks are done in the machines’ respective versions of BASIC and Moore lets us know that the ///’s 6502B is crippled right out of the gate by its own language:

The price of doing Business... BASIC.

The price of doing Business… BASIC.

He also notes that Business BASIC will likely see bigger performance gains over Applesoft with larger programs, and that the tests didn’t include the video blanking trick in the ///, costing it seconds in the final numbers.

Moore’s routines include a number of simple instruction sets, all of which seem likely to be functions commonly used by BASIC programmers: IF… THEN statements, REM execution, basic maths and variable handling, prime numbers, loops, etc.; as well as disk access times for floppies and fixed-media systems.

Moore puts the machines through their BASIC paces.

Moore puts the machines through their BASIC paces.

And… drum roll please… dah duh-duh daaaaaaah!

And the winner is...

And the winner is…

It’s clear that while the ///’s Business BASIC enjoys a slight-to-medium advantage in some (but not most) program execution areas when tested against the II running Applesoft, it’s really no contest when it faces the IBM PC and the Z80.  As expected, the II drops far back when tasked with complex math functions, but the /// still isn’t close to the other competitors.  The results are undeniable: across the board, the /// just can’t keep up.

At least in Business BASIC.

Unfortunately, Moore’s benchmarks are rather narrow in scope (in fact, it appears he didn’t test the PC or the Z80 himself, but pulled the numbers from another BYTE article).  It would have been nice to see how the /// stacks up when flexing some serious spreadsheet calculation muscle in Advanced VisiCalc (to be fair, the PC’s killer app, Lotus 1-2-3 wouldn’t be released until the year following Moore’s review), or Pascal program execution, or in a mixed BASIC and assembly environment.  Other critical testing areas such as graphics performance are absent as well.

So what’s the lesson here?

It’s something you still hear today, that “megahertz don’t matter”. And that’s true in the general sense (due to their efficient RISC architecture, both DEC’s Alpha and Motorola’s 680×0 chips for years easily outperformed similarly clocked Intel processors, for example), but a battery of focused benchmarks can give you a good overall view of where one machine is going to shine… or stumble.

Also remember that Moore’s tests don’t take into account the ~ 30% speed increase gained from disabling the ///’s video circuitry, so the gaps may be narrower than they first appear.

And finally, considering all the complex memory bank switching and other voodoo the /// system has to do behind the scenes to trick the 6502 into seamlessly accessing as much as 512K, the fact that it didn’t fall hopelessly behind the simpler, more elegant Apple II is a testament to the brilliant engineering that really is present in the ///.

On the other hand, given those same very thin apparent margins over the II (again, assuming that the Applesoft tests weren’t run in emulation) and the significant price disparity and divergent design philosophies behind the machines, it’s easy to see why the /// had a such a hard time finding a place of its own in an increasingly crowded and cut-throat marketplace.

Tomorrow, we’ll go over the rest of the article, where Moore looks at the all important disk seek/access times…

(REPOST) Mac XL

Back in 2012, I posted a link here to a Flickr set of photos I’d taken while disassembling one of my Mac XL’s for cleaning. I think originally I’d intended to eventually do a little write up on it or something and never got to it, so here it is now.

The Mac XL is a re-branded Lisa 2 with a new operating system called MacWorks XL and some hardware modifications allowing it to display square pixels as the Macintosh did, rather than the older Lisa-style rectangular pixels. The new video ROMs and software were part of the Macintosh XL Screen Kit, which made it possible for an owner to run Macintosh software on her converted Lisa, and without sacrificing the larger 12″ monitor.

Apple converted many of the original Lisa 2’s when they were brought in to service centers for maintenance; the dealership would install the hardware – as with many upgrades and add-ons, Apple didn’t sell this kit directly to end users – and the owner could do the upgrade to MacWorks XL once they got it home. Customers could also ship their machines directly to Apple for a full retrofit, if they were willing to live without it for a few days. Apple also converted their remaining Lisa 2 warehouse stock and sold them new as XLs; this particular unit is one of those machines.

Upgraded machines could no longer run the Lisa 7/7 software that originally shipped with their computers.

* I apologize for the dreadful layout below; WordPress still stinks at understanding simple stuff like that.

If you prefer just the pix, without the  layout ugliness, you can visit the original photo set at 500px: http://500px.com/Computist/sets/apple_mac_xl

Photograph Apple Mac XL (1985) by Mike Maginnis on 500px


The Lisa was the first line of computers from Apple to ship with a keyboard not integrated into the case.

The 1/4″ TRS phone connector used to connect the keyboard to the main CPU box was a design choice Apple didn’t revisit in the Macintosh.

The glowing light above the plug is the power button.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - keyboard connection and power light by Mike Maginnis on 500px


This Mac XL is running MacWorks.

After Apple got out of the Lisa game and sold its remaining stock to Sun Remarketing, the Logan, Utah-based reseller continued to develop the software and soon released MacWorks Plus, which shipped with System 6.

MacWorks Plus II was the final upgrade, and allowed the XL to run System 7.5 software.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - The Macintosh Finder by Mike Maginnis on 500px

 


A close-up of the Apple rainbow logo, just beneath the 3.5″ floppy slot.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - floppy and logo by Mike Maginnis on 500px


The Lisa was designed to be as modular and accessible as possible, to make it easy to access the machine’s internals for troubleshooting and upgrading.

Loosening the two silver thumb screws at the top of the rear panel is the only step necessary to remove it and get inside.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - back by Mike Maginnis on 500px


The only bit of color on the back, this rainbow logo centered in a sea of beige draws the eye and reminds the viewer of the neatly symmetrical industrial design around it.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - rear logo badge by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Removing the plastic front bezel is as simple as pressing two latch release tabs along the bottom front edge and lifting away from the unit.

The drive cage on the right has the 10 MB Widget drive mounted above the 800 KB 3.5″ floppy drive.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - open front by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Closer to the Widget drive.

The hard disk drive itself is the rounded unit with the “Apple Computer” sticker, with the logic boards mounted above.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - 10 MB Widget Hard Drive by Mike Maginnis on 500px


The drive cage module slides out easily by loosening one thumb screw at the bottom of the assembly.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - removing the drive cage by Mike Maginnis on 500px

 


Drive cage, totally removed from the chassis.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - two layer Lisa Widget controller by Mike Maginnis on 500px

 


  Another view of the drive cage removed from the chassis, cables still plugged in.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - drive cage out by Mike Maginnis on 500px  


Close-up of the Apple Computer label on the hard disk drive.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - 10 MB Widget HDD by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Close-up of the floppy disk mechanism.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - floppy drive by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Mac XL chassis with all of the rear modules removed.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - empty chassis by Mike Maginnis on 500px


These connectors link the read modules to the components in the front of the unit.

On the left is the CPU cage connector; the power supply connects on the right.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - internal connectors by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Rear of the Mac XL with the access panel removed.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - rear open by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Close-up of the serial connectors and the interrupt. The mouse is plugged in on the left.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - rear ports by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Another view of the rear connectors.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - connector ports by Mike Maginnis on 500px


CPU cage removed from the chassis with the boards still mounted.

The two smaller boards in front are the memory PCBs. The slots to the right are for expansion boards.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - card cage by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Close-up of the color-coded board fasteners.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - System I/O, CPU and memory board cage by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Close-up of the expansions slots.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - expansion slots by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Power supply module.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - power supply module by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Power supply serial number label.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - power supply by Mike Maginnis on 500px


CPU board. The Motorola 68000 processor is at the top right corner of the PCB.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - CPU board by Mike Maginnis on 500px


System I/O board.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - System I/O board by Mike Maginnis on 500px


CPU cage with the boards removed, showing the logos on the backplane.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - card cage slots by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Close-up of the “Lisa” and “Apple Computer” logos on the CPU backplane. “8502” date code indicates this board is from February 1985.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - Lisa and Apple Computer, Inc. logos by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Another view of the CPU backplane logos, this time with the layers of dust cleaned away.

The “ICT” stamp above the motherboard part number likely indicates this board as passed “In Circuit Testing”.

ICT is expensive and time-consuming and requires a costly test fixture, but is an extremely thorough method for confirming proper operation of a PCB and components, and ideal for high-volume production of mature products, which the Lisa line was by 1985.

It is also a highly effective method for detecting design-related and component failures, things Apple was very sensitive to following the Apple /// debacle.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - silkscreened Lisa logo and dates by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Close-up of the DRAMs on the Upper Byte memory board.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - "Upper Byte" board by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Part Number and assembly information for the Upper Byte memory board.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - memory board P/N & copyright by Mike Maginnis on 500px


DRAMs on the Lower Byte memory board.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - DRAMs by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Close-up of the “Lisa” logo on one of the PCBs.

This logo and in fact the word “Lisa” itself only appear internally on the Mac XL.

If someone had never seen this machine before, they might be hard-pressed to identify it unless they opened it up. The Mac XL had very little external “branding” other than the rainbow Apple logos.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - Lisa logo by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Apple Computer part number and copyright on the I/O board.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - PCB markings by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Close-up of the Mac XL disk ROMs on the System I/O board.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - Disk ROMs by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Close-up of the Mac XL boot ROMs on the CPU board.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - boot roms by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Close-up of the 8 MHz Motorola 68000. This CPU is the heart and soul of Lisa and Macintosh.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - CPU by Mike Maginnis on 500px


The card cage backplane is dirtier than it looks…

Photograph Apple Mac XL - "Layers of Dust" by Mike Maginnis on 500px


A little cleaning reveals there’s an Apple Computer copyright stamp hidden under the layers of dust…

Photograph Apple Mac XL - layers of dust by Mike Maginnis on 500px


… and completely cleaned up. Amazing what you find under all that dirt.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - no dust by Mike Maginnis on 500px


Artsy view of the DRAMs on one of the memory boards.

Photograph Apple Mac XL - DRAMs by Mike Maginnis on 500px