(REPOST) Beagle Bros IIGS

This article was originally published on May 1, 2012

For those who don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I recently came into possession of one of Randy Brandt’s Apple IIGS’s.  According to Randy, this ROM3 was used extensively in the development of AppleWorks and many other totally awesome Beagle Bros programs, including most of the TimeOut series.  The IIGS served its time well and was eventually retired and it lived in a quiet corner of Randy’s office for nearly two decades, until he rediscovered it a couple of weeks ago and dusted it off once again.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS

Unfortunately, the intervening years weren’t kind to this particular Apple, or more specifically, to the 3.6V battery that lives on every Apple IIGS motherboard.  As old batteries do, this one began to leak and spill its contents across the PCB.  The resulting “goo” (you can read all about the specific chemistry of battery leakage in this Google Knowledge article, if you’re interested) took out a couple of capacitors and left a nasty coating on the MC1377 RGB to composite signal converter IC.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - Motherboard Damage

Additionally, the leak spread to the bottom of the motherboard and pooled on the case RFI shielding.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - Motherboard Damage

Several of my fellow Apple hobbyists are optimistic that this repair shouldn’t be too difficult, and I tend to agree with them.  The first steps will be to remove the remaining corrosion and assess the MC1377 IC, and to replace the ruined capacitors.  I’ll probably get started this weekend – it would be a shame if an important piece of Apple II history like this couldn’t be repaired, but all things considered, it could be much worse.  I’ll keep you appraised of my progress here.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - Motherboard Damage

In the meantime, you can take a look at this Flickr set for more close-ups of the damage.

(REPOST) Beagle Bros IIGS Clean Up–Phase 1

This article was originally posted on May 6, 2012.

Here are some images of the initial clean up efforts on the Beagle Bros Apple IIGS.  You can see that one pin on MC1337 has been completely destroyed, and there is heavy corrosion on several others.  As this chip’s only function is to convert the RGB signal to composite, I don’t know that I actually need to replace it since I never use composite monitors with my IIGS machines.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - MC1337


There is still quite a bit of “goo” present on the board, and I will need to clean out the pin holes for C44 and C45 before I can replace those caps.  Should be a simple procedure.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - Caps


And while I’m at it, those expansion connector slots don’t look too healthy either.  Not sure of the corrosion I’m seeing in there is related to the leak, but it never hurts to be sure.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - Motherboard Damage


You can see the damage to the bottom of the PCB here.  I’m not sure what the white substance is.

Beagle Bros Apple IIGS - Bottom of PCB


I’ll continue to keep you updated here, and you can see higher-resolution images in this Flickr set.

Communicating with the dead (posts)

I said recently that I’d be re-posting here all the articles that were published before this site was hit by the PharmaHack.  That’s still going to (mostly) happen; it’s just taking a more circuitous path than I’d expected.

A reader comment to that initial musing suggested I restore the articles from the original WordPress database.  After spending several hours this weekend watching quietly as the sql admin thing resolutely refused my requests, and looking at the pages upon pages of error messages that I recognized to be in English only because each individual word (most of them anyway) could be located in The Oxford English Dictionary; I realized that if I wanted to restore my posts and keep the existing ones in place, this wasn’t the best course of action for me or my sanity.

I swung by archive.org and went back through a few of the old crawls it had done here.  The front page on any given day is there, but nothing deeper.  Any of the links I tried to visit to get to older posts returned with 404’s.

This leaves me to go through my old Windows Live Writer and Mars Edit caches and try to snag the texts there.  This will be more time-consuming to be sure, as I’ll have to manually re-add pictures and any other media that were included, but this will probably work out okay.

When my natural laziness runs into a thing requiring more effort, it just gets efficient, I suppose.  I won’t be restoring the old Tuesday Trivias, any of my assembly language learning rants, or the Thing a Week posts that never really went anywhere and will not be missed. I think there are a handful of interesting bits on various hardware and pieces of software I’ve collected over the years, and that’s what I’ll be concentrating on going forward.

What Apple got for $10K

I discovered Ed Tracy’s fun and informative series of articles titled “Apple and the History of Personal Computer Design” this afternoon as I was looking for something to do that I could pretend was work, should the boss’s shadowy form suddenly find itself looming in my cube entry.  It ties in with his series on computer design and is a good read.  This paragraph caught my eye:

“Though thought impressive on its introduction, the plastic of the initial Apple II case was quite crudely constructed. To fit a tiny budget and tight deadline – Jerry Manock was hired only nine weeks before the West Coast Computer Faire in April 1977 where the Apple II was introduced – reaction-injection molding was used. This process is fast and inexpensive to set up, but leaves surface irregularities. Many case parts had to be sanded to fit together properly. Moreover, the light brown paint chosen did not adhere well to the polyurethane, so that surviving cases from early production inevitably have flakes revealing the lighter colour of the plastic below. By December 1977, tooling was completed for cases made out of the more durable and smooth ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) plastic which did not require painting or finishing and could be produced in larger volume (Kunkel, 15).”

The bit about the irregular cases was particularly arresting, as I’d heard before of the unique personalities of each early Apple II and how they were so physically different, a lid from one case couldn’t be used in another because it wouldn’t fit.  I could feel my post-lunch carb crash hiding in ambush in the shrubbery just up the sidewalk, wearing a 70’s era hockey goalie mask… waiting… and I decided to stave it off for a bit by researching more on this.  Nothing like reading to help you stay awake, right?

Anyway, Jerry Manock’s own web page discusses this a bit more.  In the first paragraph under the “Manufacturing Process” section of his Apple II page (found here), Manock states:

The initial units used the Reaction Injection Molding process from wooden tooling due to the very short three month design and development schedule.  The lids were hand finished, then painted, and were non-interchangible. (sic)

There’s that non-interchangeable lid thing again.  He also mentions wooden tooling, a thing I find particularly fascinating, as I have next to no knowledge of industrial design and case manufacturing.  I’ll admit that I didn’t even know wooden tools could be used in what sounds to me like a physically punishing environment.  Stuff gets all hot and melty, and there’s chemical gooeyness usually happening. Stuff that you don’t normally associate with getting chopped up and punched full of holes, gets chopped up and punched full of holes, that sort of thing.

Were they really using wooden tools to make those Apple IIs?  Why on earth would they do that? (Spoiler alert).  Money, that’s why. (Shocking revelation, I know.)  It didn’t take Google long to lead me to the March 8, 1982 issue of InfoWorld, in the search giant’s own collection of digitally available issues.  On page 12 begins an interview of one “Steven P. Jobs”, then just 26, deigning to gift the eager tech news journal readers with some of Apple’s unique philosophies and even some company history. The piece was part of the issue’s “Special Section: Apple Computer”, which I’m sure Jobs insisted upon as a condition for allowing himself to be interviewed.  Therein, he reveals the answer to my piny mystery.

To the InfoWorld interviewers’ question, “What sort of problems did you have at the beginning?“, Jobs – his penchant for bombast and hyperbole already well-developed and on full display, even at that young age – replies,

We didn’t know much about plastics back then.  We went with the Apple II case with a molding process. We didn’t have much money to make molds. So we hired an outfit in Mountain View.  The company said it would make the molds for $10,000.  The problem was, you got wooden molds for $10,000.  Well, we introduced the Apple II and all of a sudden the orders started coming in like crazy.  The wood came off the molds and a third of the cases would stick in the mold.  We almost went broke because we couldn’t get cases.  It got so bad at one point that we decided the outfit wasn’t interested in supporting us, so we went down there and some of us kept the guy busy while the rest grabbed our mold real quick.

Apple's Steven P. Jobs

Apple’s Steven P. Jobs

So there you have it.  Steve and his wild and crazy team, pulling of one caper after the next!  A totally minor bit of Apple trivia there, but a fun afternoon spent researching Apple II case manufacturing was enough to keep me awake for a fe…d.g.hkllkhndg;lhn…


… While visions of Reaction Injection Molding Process manufacturing danced in his head…

Whistling past the graveyard… of blog posts past

Over the weekend, I was talking to a reader of this very blog when… okay – you got me. No one talks to me, and if they did, it certainly wouldn’t be about this place. But if they *did*, I’m pretty sure it would go something like this:

Totally not made up blog reader: “Hey Mike, I hear you used to have some Apple II stuff on that there 6502lane blog?”

Me: “What of it?”

Totally not made up blog reader: “Why don’t you repost some of those old articles? At least that way it will look like *something* is going on around here, even if it really isn’t.”

Me: “What a terrible idea! Go away, one remaining reader! I need you not!”

(Note to self: restore old articles and, if possible, pass it off as new content.)

(Second note to self: claim credit for the idea.)

Okay, so maybe trying to pretend like I’ve written anything interesting in the past few months is a bridge too far, but even if it’s for no other reason than to feed my bloated ego, I’ll be reposting some of the old posts that were here before the blog was hacked by Pharma-spammers way back in 20… 12?  11?

I don’t know enough about the goings-on of the WordPress database back-end black magick to be able to do a restore in the true sense of the word – reader comments and stuff like that won’t make reappearances. And that’s unfortunate, because they were often the best parts of my posts. Oh well.

So look for that in the near future.