Tag Archives: ProFile

The End of an Era

To most people working in publishing today, the name Quark is synonymous with the publishing process itself. The Denver-based company’s flagship product, QuarkXPress, set the standard for DTP and anyone looking for a job in the industry had to have at least a basic knowledge of the program. In recent years, increased competition from Adobe’s InDesign application coupled with high prices and a poor customer service record to erode QuarkXPress’s near-monopoly. A delayed appearance on Mac OS X and comments in 2002 by CEO Fred Ebrahimi served to further alienate Quark’s core user base (ever met someone in publishing who doesn’t use a Mac as their primary platform? Yeah, me either.)

So after years of losing market and mindshare, today’s announcement that Quark has been sold to a mergers & acquisitions company intent on selling off Quark’s IP portfolio should come as no surprise.

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.


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 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.

A user would first install Catalyst onto their shiny new $5,000 Apple ProFile 10 MB 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 called these disks, “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.

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.

Have you been, uh… Catalyzed?

Great stuff!

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

Word Juggler

Word Juggler was a popular word processor for the Apple II platform for many years.

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 III, Word Juggler was the first, and for years only, commercially available word processor.

Word Juggler ad from InfoWorld, Nov 30, 1981

Word Juggler wasn’t immune to Quark’s copy protection schemes and customers had to install a hardware dongle in their Apple II to get the software to boot up at all.

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.

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

A Look at On Three’s 512K Memory Board for the Apple III

When Apple introduced the Apple III at the National Computer Conference in May of 1980 in Anaheim, California, it was touted as supporting up to 512K of RAM (as opposed to the Apple II and II Plus, which commonly shipped with up to 64K).  Thus, I was somewhat surprised when I opened this Apple III and took a look at the installed On Three 512K memory board.

On Three's 512K Board

On Three's 512K Board

I don’t know specifically what I was expecting – probably a similar set up to what you see in Apple IIIs with 128K and 256K boards.  And that’s sort of what I got, with the exceptions of the additional wires and cables coming from the memory board and attaching to various spots on the motherboard.  The person from whom I acquired the Apple III didn’t have any documentation about On Three’s expansion, so I was confused.  Why would a 512K board need such additional electronics if the III natively supported that much memory?

On Three's board includes several modifications

One of the unfortunate side effects of the III’s short lifespan is that Apple never developed more than a handful of expansion cards for the machine.  While cards such as the ProFile controller and the UPIC were produced in fairly plentiful numbers and are easy to find today, Apple never got around to releasing memory boards with more than 256K RAM, or much of anything else for that matter.  This left it up to small third party developers to manufacture and support peripherals for the die hard users who refused to migrate to Macintosh or other Apple products.

One of these developers, a user group called On Three, holds a special place in Apple III history.  While most UGs of the day held weekly or monthly meetings and offered other services such as shareware sales and newsletters to members, On Three took it much further.  In addition to printing a professional monthly Apple III-specific magazine, they also published numerous commercial-quality software titles and the 512K memory expansion.   The latter is doubly impressive, as Apple never released much in the way of low-level technical documentation for the machine, so it represents an excellent hardware hack in the truest sense of the word.

Back to the issue at hand.  I had this neat add-on, and no documentation for it.  Fortunately for me, when Dave Ottalini decided it was time to get rid of his Apple III collection, it ended up in the hands of Bill Degnan.  Degnan photographed and commented on much of the collection, including the 512K board.  It was his website that turned up in the Googles when I was hunting for more information.  After a brief email exchange, Bill provided me a copy of the scan he made of the user’s guide.  (You can get a copy here, if you’re interested.)

A quick perusal of the PDF gave me the answer to my question:  the Apple III doesn’t actually support 512K.  SOS does but not the hardware itself, at least not without some modifications.  The manual doesn’t really go into much other technical detail, but there it is.  In the mean time, enjoy some pictures of the board while my search for the specific function of On Three’s hacks continues.

Several hardware modifications are necessary to allow the Apple III to access 512K of RAM

On Three's new board includes addressing ROMs as well new address lines

In the end, the rather high $949 introductory price (On Three later dropped it to $449) and fact that it was introduced after the III was discontinued to an already-shrinking market, helped to limit the number of boards that made it into the hands of users.

Update (1/19): I added a gallery of high-resolution photos of the On Three board.  Check it out in the Picasa galleries.

More Apple III Randomness

Inspired by a recent posting to the comp.sys.apple2 Usenet newsgroup, I went ahead and scanned and posted all four issues of Apple /// Dimensions.  This was a newsletter that Apple published beginning around the time it launched the newly revised Apple III, as a step toward boosting sagging sales.  The revised III, of course, corrected many of the problems found in the original III and came with a reduced price and the option to buy a 5 MB ProFile hard disk drive system.  The newsletter is mostly thinly-veiled advertising, but there are some good bits here and there, such as the “Technical Notes” column.  Additionally, Apple /// Dimensions was intended to shepherd users through the warranty replacement/upgrade process, if they were unlucky enough to own one of the first 14,000 machines out of the factory.

Each newsletter is 8 pages long, and you can download the PDFs here.

As I was scanning, I came across this picture in one of the newsletters.  I couldn’t resist posting it here, because when I start to think of things that might be going through her mind, I start to giggle.



So, without further ado, I’m announcing the first ever (and quite possible last ever) 6502 Lane Photo Caption contest.  I haven’t decided what (if anything) the winner will get, but I’m thinking I’ll actually give away something more than just my undying respect for your quick wit.  Since it’s an Apple III-related picture, whatever I give away will probably be, well, related in some way to the Apple III.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t participate if you’re not interested in the III, though, right?  I’m mean, c’mon!  It’s my undying respect!

So send me your entry and I’ll pick the winner from what will undoubtedly be a short list.  As I don’t actually know what email address is associate with this site (embarrassing, right?), just use the Contact Us form here and fill in your entry in the body of the message.

Finally, the Apple III has made another Worst Of list.  This time, it shares the ignominious honor with the Lisa and several other top Apple failures in the January 2011 issue of Maximum PC.  The list, handily called “The List” goes where so many have gone before, listing their favorite Apple failures.  Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, remind ‘em how much they used to suck, I guess… (Note: Maximum PC’s web page doesn’t seem to have the list available to browse online, so you’ll actually have to pick up the magazine at your local book store to read it… Or, I guess if you want to throw your money away, you can buy it in this eBay auction.  Only $8.99 + $3.99 shipping.)

Apple: Touch the Screen

Here’s a fun set of videos that were captured from a 1984 Apple Kiosk Laser Disc.  Designed to be used in a touch screen kiosk, the disc goes over the latest offerings from Apple Computer, including the Apple IIe, III Plus, Macintosh, Lisa 2/10 and the brand new, portable Apple IIc.  Other items covered include the ProFile 10 MB Hard Disk, the DuoDisk, Apple’s line of printers, Apple credit cards, and the AppleCare Extended Warranty program.

Interestingly, this is one of the only pieces of Apple III advertising, other than scanned magazine print ads, that I’ve been able to find.


Part 1 of 3


Part 2 of 3


Part 3 of 3

Working with Catalyst

This turned out not to be as bad as I’d thought.  The first Catalyst disk I tried (which I’d made from an image I stumbled across somewhere in the dark recesses of the net) immediately popped up a Drive Not Ready error.  Since the activity light on the ProFile didn’t blink, I suspect that this particular copy was configured to look for a ProFile controller in a different slot.  Catalyst doesn’t do any kind of automatic slot scanning, and there’s no menu option to reconfigure this – you have to go in with a sector editor and make some changes to the disk itself if you want Catalyst to look somewhere else.


As I couldn’t be bothered to load up the sector editor (I’m old and tired) or open up the /// and manually move the card, I took the easy way out.  I had better luck with Dave Ottalini’s disks, as Catalyst recognized the ProFile and loaded the program list from the configuration file it found.

DSC_0024 DSC_0026

I poked around a bit in the application configuration options, before diving in and running a few applications.


Here, my luck ran out, as almost every application failed to start, a number of somewhat cryptic error messages popping up:

DSC_0030 DSC_0031 DSC_0033

I decided to take another approach, and as I was browsing the ProFile directories with the System Utilites disk, I ran into the real problem:


I don’t have one of the ProFile low level format kits (available on eBay for a mere $300 or so… sheesh), but the drive passes the inital diagnostics that run at power up, so I’m hoping I can reformat and install a new set of programs.  The existing data, unfortunately, is probably lost but that’s how it goes sometimes.   I learned that someone wrote an Apple /// driver for Rich Dreher’s excellent CompactFlash for Apple card, so I may just shelve the ProFile for now and continue playing with the Apple ///’s mass storage capabilities in a different area.  I wonder if Catalyst can be made to work with the CFFA…