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(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

Of things new, old and somewhere in between

I felt it important to post something, if just to remind myself that 6502lane is still here and only mostly dead.  The latest lack of updates can be attributed to any number of things, but here are a few thoughts, just off the top of my head.

I started this with another Apple /// user (fan? user? is there really a difference when it comes to this particular Apple?):

http://drop-iii-inches.com/

Yep, that’s an Apple /// podcast.  I have an unnecessarily long blog post mostly written up for that.  I think it will be up soon over at that web page.  It explains why we started it and what we hope to get out of a podcast about a very (*very*) small corner of our hobby.

And this changed:

Open_Apple

I’ll be recording the next episode this weekend, actually.  Yep, you heard it here first, folks.  I don’t have a whole lot to say about it this very minute.  I may not have much more to offer once the mic is hot.  I know I have a few points I need to address and then maybe I’ll catch us up on the Apple II news.  Of which, there’s a lot…

I bought one of these:

BrickPi for LEGO and Raspberry Pi

Essentially, it lets you interface one of these:

RaspberryPi

with this:

9797_prod_27seethru

I’m hoping to plug this:

e7c1103d6ff854ada87f6e639b315cd8

into one of these:

DSC02211

… at the other end of the chain, the result being an Apple II that (eventually) talks to the LEGO NXT set at the other end.  Way back when, LEGO made a robotics set designed to interface directly with the Apple II.

952-2

Today, these sets are hard to find and command a premium price on the rare occasion they are offered for sale.  My little Frankenstein’s Monster project is probably as close as I’ll ever get to owning my own Technic set.  And who knows?  Maybe I’ll lug it with me to KansasFest this year and we can have some fun in the dorm hallways.

Next, a Facebook thread on the MicroSci A143 drive for the Apple /// prompted me to install a trio I acquired a while back and test them out.  According to the old articles in TauTales, ON THREE and other resources from that era, the A143s are notoriously tricky to configure properly.  I didn’t run into any of the problems noted by those authors, but that may be because the driver disk had already been configured for that set of drives, so it was mostly plug and play.

I did run into the dreaded “I/O Error” bomb when I tried to format a disk in any of the three A143s, but I think that’s probably a speed adjustment or alignment that needs to happen and not due to the vagaries of drive set up and installation.  The Apple /// was able to identify and communicate with the MicroSci’s, at any rate.  I attempted to document the process by making a video with this new thing I received for my birthday:

41+Y4ONKC2L._SY300_

The Zi12 was designed by Kodak and was about to go to market when they went out of business.  When Kodak’s assets went up for auction, JK Imaging bought the unsold stock and licensed the designs and the rights to continue making them (and other cameras) using the Kodak name.  More on that here:

http://kodakcamera.jkiltd.com/company/about.php

It’s a neat camera, earning high marks on most reviews and comparing favorably with the latest GoPro models.  I suspect that the Zi12’s uncanny resemblance to a circa-2005 BlackBerry dampens the “cool” factor that the GoPro enjoys, but it’s every bit as capable.

Anyway, my awfulness at making a video was really displayed nicely in the footage I captured.  I messed around with camera settings and watched a bunch of tutorials, but I couldn’t get anything decent, other than a new-found respect for anyone able to create watchable videos with home equipment.

And finally, my ongoing battle to learn 6502 assembly language continues unabated.  I’ve been trying to absorb the lessons of the Easy6502 guide found at: http://skilldrick.github.io/easy6502/

I really enjoy the interactive simulator and it has made a big difference in my learning process.  Of course, completely skipping the binary and hex math at the outset of the process is a big plus, as well.  For those keeping count (just me, I’m quite certain), my current obstacle is to understand how the carry flag works.  Admittedly, I am not making much headway, but hope springs eternal, and I’m not ready to give up just yet.

So that’s mostly what’s been happening.  6502Lane still has a pulse… sort of.

A look at an early Apple IIe

(Warning: I’ll be discussing topics that may seem extremely obscure and pointless to the casual visitor.  If you’re don’t find interesting the minor nuances in Apple II design, manufacturing and engineering over the years, this will likely be terrifically boring.)

A while back, I came into possession of an early Apple IIe and I thought it might be fun to post about it here.

This is Apple IIe serial number A2S2-01601.  The motherboard is a Rev. A, date-coded “8233”, in hand-written ink, which would put it mid-August 1982, several months before the IIe was announced in December of that year. Here’s a look at some of the chips and their date codes.

(click the ‘i’ for image captions and information)

Notes: The date code on the PCB, 8233, is the 33rd week of 1982, which (if we assume the week starts on a Sunday) puts the date of “manufacture” (probably when the board was assembled, rather than when the PCB was etched) between August 16 and 22.  Steve Jobs was 27 years old; Woz had just turned 32.

Older Apple IIs don’t necessarily match up with older power supplies, by serial number.  There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to how Apple decided which power supply went into which machine.

The “newest” chip in this Apple IIe is the MMU, with a date code of 8244, made eleven weeks after the rest of the PCB was assembled. I’m not sure if this means this batch of machines was assembled and then put on a shelf until the next shipment came in from Synertek, or if this particular computer had its MMU replaced at some point.  Judging from the pins on the chip, it doesn’t appear to have been serviced.

OKI Semiconductor used a 5-digit date code on the DRAMs that I haven’t figured out yet.  I can’t find a datasheet or manual describing how they did their encoding.  I believe that either the first two numbers, “24”, indicate the week of manufacture, and the “1” is used for the year, assuming a 1980 decade, so these were made in the 24th week of 1981; or the first digit indicates the year “1982” and the “41” indicates the week, which puts them as manufactured right around the same time as everything else in this IIe.  OKI had two plants, one in Taiwan and the other in Singapore.  I suspect the “52” and “97” trailing numbers on the DRAMs indicate factory of origin, though I might be way off here.

Here’s a look at some of the interesting and unique case features:

(click the ‘i’ for image captions and information)

Here’s a video clip of Apple II historian and hardware expert Tony Diaz comparing this computer to Apple IIe A2S2-01345 during his “Apple II Road Show” session at KansasFest 2013.  Fascinating to see how different were their fates, considering how seemingly close they were in production order.

Tomorrow, I’ll post some photos comparing this Apple to a II Plus, as well as a later model IIe.