Apple IIGS: All together again at last!

In the day ("the day" meaning in the 1980s) I had never been a fan of Apple Computers. Here in New Zealand they seemed incredibly overpriced but perhaps the biggest negative was the insufferable smugness of Apple owners. Many would say this hasn't changed even now! (-:

It's only since I started collecting and exploring Apple machines of the late 70's-80s that I've come to appreciate them. The Apple II line in particular. Not only was WOZ's original design pure genius, but the sheer openness of the machine makes it a hardware hobbyists' delight. Pop the top off the sleek case to get to the innards and all sorts of interface cards can be added. For example drop in a Z80 card and you have a decent business machine. What's more, the details of the circuitry was easy to get hold of so both repairs and add-ons could be explored. I can now see why these machines found such favour.

In 2007 a few Apples came into my care. One of these was a boxed Apple IIGS, complete with software and manuals. It was a machine I knew nothing about. Unfortunately the only thing I did learn on receipt was that it was a BAD idea to leave the battery on the motherboard during storage. The battery had leaked, destroying the circuitry.

Deciding the situation was hopeless I ditched the motherboard and base, but held onto the RGB screen, keyboard, mouse, 3.5 inch Apple drive, SCSI card, docs and software thinking that perhaps one day, a main unit would appear and I would have a IIGS to play with.

It's taken a while, but a few weeks ago it happened. A IIGS box appeared on our local Trade Me site and, although in competition with one other bidder, I managed to secure it at a price I was happy with. On arrival I could see the box was in good condition. It wasn't yellowed, any marks came off with a good clean and the motherboard was spotless.

Apple IIGS ROM3 Motherboard

Figure 1. Nice clean IIGS motherboard. ROM 3 even!

But would it work? The box was sold "as is" and I hadn't tested the screen, mouse or keyboard. Holding my breath I plugged everything and switched on. Oh joy! A splash screen appeared showing I had a ROM 3 version and then an attempt at disk access.

It worked!

Initially I couldn't find the GS/OS disks that came with the machine but swapping a 5.25 IIe drive for the 3.5 one saw me running Apple II programs with ease. A bit of searching and eventually I found the IIGS software stash. They were labeled System 6.0.1. Originally I'd overlooked them thinking they were Macintosh disks! Mounting these, I was soon playing with the Mac-like operating system.

I'm very pleased with my new acquisition. It feels solid and the screen is remarkably clear…even for those old Apple II games. Getting to the innards and expansion slots is just as easy as early models; simply a matter of popping the top off. I also like the feel of GS/OS and will enjoy obtaining and trying out software written specifically for this operating system. I've added it to the collection listing.

Apple IIGS

Figure 2. My Apple IIGS.

As well as building a software collection the only remaining thing to do is to de-yellow the screen, keyboard and drive. They are a little cheese coloured rather than the platinum white they should be. Summer is coming in New Zealand though which means plenty of UV rays, so that's a project for one of those fine weekends.

2nd September, 2012

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