Jump to content

Photo

Is the Apple II too simple a computer?


58 replies to this topic

#1 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Quadrunner

  • 18,935 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:44 PM

Is the Apple II too simple a computer to have a large following today?

 

That could explain why it is not as popular as the Atari 400/800 and C64 and the 16 bitters like the Amiga. The Apple II has no custom chips for sound or graphics, or anything else for that matter. So it gets boring rather quickly. The Apple II was not really a consumer product being sold at department and toy stores, but instead at "boutique" specialty stores. So that limited it to an older and more well-to-do audience.

 

The Apple II has far more in common with the S-100 systems and early single-board computers like the KIM-1 and RCA COSMAC VIP. Computers of the likes which no one ever discusses here.

 



#2 Osgeld ONLINE  

Osgeld

    River Patroller

  • 4,447 posts
  • Location:Nashville, TN

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:47 PM

no one discusses them here, but this is a video game fourm, if it doesnt go beep bloop and kaboom, its not going to be a popular subject 


  • jhd likes this

#3 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Quadrunner

  • Topic Starter
  • 18,935 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:51 PM

The sites that do discuss it are still focused too much on period-correct collecting.

 

As far as the sounds go, the Apple II excels at making beeps and bloops, but not the kabooms.



#4 Ransom OFFLINE  

Ransom

    River Patroller

  • 4,941 posts
  • Pre-Crash Gaming and Computing Enthusiast
  • Location:Just south of the Wisconsin border.

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:55 PM

As you alluded, not many kids had one in their bedrooms back when, so that's gonna limit it no matter what. I'm not sure how much nostalgia people get for computers they used only at school.



#5 zzip OFFLINE  

zzip

    Stargunner

  • 1,672 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:08 PM

Is the Apple II too simple a computer to have a large following today?

 

That could explain why it is not as popular as the Atari 400/800 and C64 and the 16 bitters like the Amiga. The Apple II has no custom chips for sound or graphics, or anything else for that matter. So it gets boring rather quickly. The Apple II was not really a consumer product being sold at department and toy stores, but instead at "boutique" specialty stores. So that limited it to an older and more well-to-do audience.

 

The Apple II has far more in common with the S-100 systems and early single-board computers like the KIM-1 and RCA COSMAC VIP. Computers of the likes which no one ever discusses here.

 

 

I think it was just too expensive a computer.   

 

Parents could afford to buy Ataris, C64's etc for their kids and gave us free reign.  We kids learned the ins and outs and they made a big impact in our lives. 

 

I suspect most parents bought Apple IIs for themselves and let their kids use them sometimes, unless they were well-off.  

 

You also don't see much nostalgia for Original IBM PCs or Original Macs.  



#6 spacecadet OFFLINE  

spacecadet

    River Patroller

  • 2,389 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:21 PM

Well, this is an Atari forum, so naturally there will be more talk about Atari computers. But, back in the day both the Atari 8 bits and C64 were a lot cheaper than the II line and also had better graphics and sound, so more kids had them. And those kids are the ones now feeling nostalgia. So it's not surprising to me if there are more feeling that nostalgia for A8's and C64's.

 

The Apple II is also unique in that it was produced by a company that's still making computers. In a weird way I think that dampens nostalgia a bit. Atari and Commodore computers all feel really like a piece of a bygone era. But when I think of the Apple II, I mean the first image that comes to my mind nowadays is some barefoot douchebag in San Francisco spending $3,000 on a "low serial" original Apple II on Ebay so he can have the computer that "started it all" for the company he considers himself the world's biggest fan of. He can put it on a shelf next to his 20th Anniversary Mac and his Lisa and his original iPhone so he can brag to all his friends about it when they come over for Twister parties or whatever it is that wealthy 20-somethings do these days.

 

That shouldn't make it less popular, it should make it more popular... but maybe it seems less exciting or interesting to be into the Apple II if you're just a regular person who lived through that era. To an average middle aged person, it probably seems like just an old product from a modern tech company, kind of like seeing Windows 98 or the original PlayStation. Whereas an Atari 8 bit or C64, that same average person if they saw it might think "hey, I remember those!" and go on a trip down memory lane. The Apple II just might not invoke that for most people.



#7 JamesD ONLINE  

JamesD

    Quadrunner

  • 7,866 posts
  • Location:Flyover State

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:47 PM

The die hard Apple people seem to frequent Apple specific forums, so you don't see much traffic around here.

Some even choose to stick with the old mailing list.  You see the same thing with the Tandy CoCo.
I think these people have an established reputation amongst the other members there, and moving to a different venue might make them seem like just another member.

The original "single board" computers, CP/M, and Flex machines seem to attract a couple groups of people.
People that owned them, and collectors that want them because they are rare.
Bragging rights are about ownership more than running the software.

The Apple II falls in between those machines, and models with custom graphics and sound chips.
It was a bit slow as a business system, but with 80 column support, it was better than other personal computers.
It had color graphics and sound, but the odd screen memory layout, lack of sprites, and lack of a sound chip put it far behind more game oriented machines.
If it were a motorcycle it would fall into the dual-sport category.  It could do a little of everything but nothing as well as specialized models.



#8 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Quadrunner

  • Topic Starter
  • 18,935 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:56 PM

I recall going over to my blastoff buddy's home and hauled my Apple II with me for a weekly wArEz session as usual. One day they got an IBM PC, but no one was allowed to touch it. Might as well have been in Area 51 for all practical purposes. After several hours of complaining and campaigning I got them to let me in the room to play flight simulator for a few minutes. It was so stuffy and everything. I was afraid if I hit the wrong key I might get kicked out or something. The "fun" lasted about 5 minutes, then it was back to normalcy and copying games on the cheap-shit Apple II.

 

A couple 2 or 3 years later I remember going over to this one girl's house and her dad had an XT or something similar. He was fat and bald and had those "ham radio" glasses. Its like he commanded the room with a dirty look. I remember wanting to check out the computer there too. But before I even stepped into the house I got a lecture saying not to disturb him and his "zip operations". So I went in anyways and mulled around, maybe played monopoly and had some frozen TV dinners or something. And after 3 hours passed the fat ass was still zipping and backing up files. Thrilling..NOT!

 

And back in high school I was not allowed into the computer lab or even to take a computer class because my math skills were not top-of-the-line. The room was filled with multiple Apple II & Corvus networks. Almost like a full-blown computer center. I could "out-program" any instructor in the school, in both Applesoft Basic and 6502 Assembler. Eventually I got the short end of the stick and got into a "Data Processing" class. It was a death sentence. We'd spend endless hours reading about different forms of input/output and storage. Nothing more. Reprieve came at 3:15pm when I could go home and do important work like optimizing that spinning cursor routine for my BBS or fix that fake interrupt in the Apple-Cat II modem's clock program.

 

---

 

So.. many of my early attempts to get hands-on experience with the 8086 (or other expensive computer) ended with "self-important" people hoarding and controlling the machines. Us kids couldn't be anywhere near them.

 

Today we have babies drooling on and dropping computers having 10,000x the power.



#9 zzip OFFLINE  

zzip

    Stargunner

  • 1,672 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:10 PM

I recall going over to my blastoff buddy's home and hauled my Apple II with me for a weekly wArEz session as usual. One day they got an IBM PC, but no one was allowed to touch it. Might as well have been in Area 51 for all practical purposes. After several hours of complaining and campaigning I got them to let me in the room to play flight simulator for a few minutes. It was so stuffy and everything. I was afraid if I hit the wrong key I might get kicked out or something. The "fun" lasted about 5 minutes, then it was back to normalcy and copying games on the cheap-shit Apple II.


LOL, those early IBM PCs were built like tanks! You'd have to try pretty hard to damage them!


And back in high school I was not allowed into the computer lab or even to take a computer class because my math skills were not top-of-the-line. The room was filled with multiple Apple II & Corvus networks. Almost like a full-blown computer center. I could "out-program" any instructor in the school, in both Applesoft Basic and 6502 Assembler. Eventually I got the short end of the stick and got into a "Data Processing" class. It was a death sentence. We'd spend endless hours reading about different forms of input/output and storage. Nothing more. Reprieve came at 3:15pm when I could go home and do important work like optimizing that spinning cursor routine for my BBS or fix that fake interrupt in the Apple-Cat II modem's clock program.


That reminds me. I took a programming class in high school on Apple IIs. Remember the "flippy" disks in the late 80s, where one side of the disk was the Atari version and the other side was typically the C64 version? Well in the case of "Beyond Castle Wolfenstein", the flip side was Apple. So naturally I was curious about what the game was like on the Apple.. Since I sat in the back of the computer lab, nobody would notice if I booted it up...

...Only problem is the castle Wolfenstein games were some of the first to have sampled speech. I didn't realize the Apples had a loud internal speaker without obvious volume control. I booted it up and the computer immediately starts shrieking out probably Nazi slogans in a loud scratchy German voice. Ooops!

#10 TMR ONLINE  

TMR

    River Patroller

  • 3,367 posts
  • Beeping the horn on the data bus
  • Location:Leeds, U.K.

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:59 PM

Is the Apple II too simple a computer to have a large following today?

That could explain why it is not as popular as the Atari 400/800 and C64 and the 16 bitters like the Amiga. The Apple II has no custom chips for sound or graphics, or anything else for that matter. So it gets boring rather quickly.


It's not much different to the Sinclair Spectrum in that sense, but there's still a lot of interest in those machines along with being fairly busy on the homebrew front. Most of that comes from long-term owners deciding it was about time they sat down and made something for the machine they love.

Looking at it from my perspective as a 6502 bunny it's interesting but frustrating too, i like the simplicity but finding a reliable way to synchronise to the vertical blank...

#11 remowilliams OFFLINE  

remowilliams

    Quadrunner

  • 10,317 posts
  • Location:Detonation Boulevard

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:03 PM

Simple - most of us (and/or our parents) didn't have wheelbarrows full of cash to head to the Apple II dealer with...



#12 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Quadrunner

  • Topic Starter
  • 18,935 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:05 PM

Looking at it from my perspective as a 6502 bunny it's interesting but frustrating too, i like the simplicity but finding a reliable way to synchronise to the vertical blank...

 

Well what about that wire mod. Not any more complex than the shift-key mod. Just a single extra wire.



#13 spacecadet OFFLINE  

spacecadet

    River Patroller

  • 2,389 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:30 PM

Simple - most of us (and/or our parents) didn't have wheelbarrows full of cash to head to the Apple II dealer with...

 

Apple II's weren't *that* expensive... at least not in the 1980's. It's true, my family couldn't afford a IIe (though plenty could; my family was lower middle class). But when the IIc came out, that changed things. It was about $500 less than a IIe in 1985 dollars and it included everything; you didn't need to buy any add-ons.

 

The difference in price between a full C64 or Atari XL system and an Apple IIc with matching monitor was not very much. The initial price of the C64 in 1982 was $595, but that was just for the unit. And while you could theoretically use only the base unit with no drives connected to a TV, most people didn't use them that way in my experience. All my friends who had them also had monitors and disk drives, which would drive the price up over $1,000. An Apple IIc with the matching monitor cost about $1,400 when it was introduced in 1984.

 

I think price may have hamstrung the II line a bit in the 1970's and very early 80's, but by the mid 80's the price playing field was more level. By that time, though, the 8 bit II was really showing its age and the C64 and Atari computers had a big game library built up that the equivalent Apple ports didn't compare well with. So in that sense, yes, it was too simple of a computer and didn't have the right hardware to make it more of a home/gaming success. But it was successful in other areas where the C64 and Atari models had less, like business and education.

 

As for the original IBM PC, I also had a friend whose dad had one, but he was more liberal about it. He'd let us into the computer room whenever we wanted and would allow us to do anything on the PC. The only thing he really had that we were interested in was Flight Simulator, though, so that's all we played. But the things I most remember about that experience was the sound and feel of the computer, the sound and feel of the Model F keyboard and the look of the characters on the screen. I mean, it had an actual *font*! The characters on lesser computers, including the Apple II, seemed like they were created solely so you knew what they were. Like, a "K" is shaped like this, so we put a few pixels to make a line here and another there and another there, and that's a "K" and you can read it and that's all that matters.

 

But the IBM PC had letters with *style*. They didn't just look slapped together only so you'd know what you were typing. They were an actual consistent and stylish font. The whole computer felt like something really high end to me, with all sorts of attention to detail that my Apple II didn't have. (Yes, at that time, IBM felt like a more detail-oriented, high quality product than Apple.) At that time, PC's really *were* extremely expensive, but I understood why and never questioned it. It seemed obvious why they cost so much. Using an Apple II was like driving a Jeep. Using an IBM PC was like driving a Bentley.



#14 R.Cade OFFLINE  

R.Cade

    Stargunner

  • 1,074 posts
  • Location:Augusta, Georgia, USA

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:42 PM

The C64 was only $595 for about the first few months. By mid-83, it was $295, by late 1983- $219, and in 1984 they were below $199.

The disk drives were $199-249, and most people didn't need/use the monitor.

 

So a whole C64 setup was less than $500 and the cheapest Apple was $1295... That's why there are at least 17 million C64's out there in the US, and only less than 5 million Apple II's that started selling 5 years before the 64 (and most of those were thrown away by the schools that bought them many years later).

 

Anyway, it is a nice computer for the late 1970's but it remained too expensive for the average family to own one. It made no sense compared to the other options.


Edited by R.Cade, Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:43 PM.


#15 Osgeld ONLINE  

Osgeld

    River Patroller

  • 4,447 posts
  • Location:Nashville, TN

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:58 PM

reason we had a IIe was my dad ran his biz on it, I got to use it for reports and edutainment, mom used it for her school work (she thought at the local community college) but as many of you have heard me say about a billion times

 

Dad said the coleco was for games, the apple was for work

 

for many people the thought of a game console and a computer all in one for a low price was a good deal for what they wanted, and frankly it was for a little bit. The problem started to come into form with market flood of cheap machines competing with eachother 

 

Ie here's the new C128, it works with almost all C64 software except the one thing you own and use the most!!! Meanwhile Atari released 8, 8 bit machines in the same timespan of the Apple II's all with a little quirk or nuisance

 

not that commadore or atari are the only ones that did this, and not that apple is 100% faultless in that regard, people started getting pissed off about buying the wrong computer after a while, which was reflective in the 16-32 bit era with most of the 8 bit survivors dying off all about the same time, leaving PC standard and Apple

 

Then Apple famously started pissing off all their customers which is why they were on the brink of death by the late 90's  



#16 spacecadet OFFLINE  

spacecadet

    River Patroller

  • 2,389 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:40 PM

The C64 was only $595 for about the first few months. By mid-83, it was $295, by late 1983- $219, and in 1984 they were below $199.

The disk drives were $199-249, and most people didn't need/use the monitor.

 

100% disagree with that. I didn't know a single person with a C64 who didn't own a Commodore monitor.



#17 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Quadrunner

  • Topic Starter
  • 18,935 posts

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:55 PM

Now you do. Because I never had a C= Monitor when I had my 64.



#18 eightbit OFFLINE  

eightbit

    River Patroller

  • 2,700 posts
  • Location:USA

Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:17 PM

I didn't have one either in the beginning. I didn't actually experience the C64 in chroma/luma until MANY years later. I ran a BBS on the C64 through the 80's using a small color TV and it wasn't until I purchased the 1084S a few years after buying my Amiga 500 that I was finally able to see what a C64 looked like on a commodore monitor.

 

Stuff was expensive then...and still is. But I could talk my parents into the C64 when the price dropped, and even into the Amiga 500 for $699 (and that was a TOUGH sell). But $1500? No chance in hell that would have happened. That would have been the cost for a IIGS and a color monitor that I wanted SO bad. They said deal with the $700 amiga and an A520 video adapter or nothing. I did....and it took a few years to get ahold of a 1084S for cheap.

 

It's not that I didn't want the Apple stuff. I did. It was just out of reach as a kid. Hell, their new stuff is out of reach for me as an adult :)



#19 TMR ONLINE  

TMR

    River Patroller

  • 3,367 posts
  • Beeping the horn on the data bus
  • Location:Leeds, U.K.

Posted Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:26 AM

Well what about that wire mod. Not any more complex than the shift-key mod. Just a single extra wire.


The problem with that is that you're writing code for a modification that only a minority of users have applied to their machine; if your code won't run on at least the majority of Apple II hardware that's a significant chunk of the potential audience gone and writing a reasonably sized program isn't trivial so most programmers want to aim for the widest possible audience.

#20 BydoEmpire OFFLINE  

BydoEmpire

    River Patroller

  • 2,740 posts
  • Location:Orlando, FL USA

Posted Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:43 AM

"Too simple?"  Of course not.  It did a lot of things really well.  Why was it so popular?  Software, hardware and business/marketing.  VisiCalc was an absolute revelation.  It was relatively easy to program for and lots of developers jumped on board early.  They had good developer support.  It didn't have sprites, but that didn't stop a flood of great games from coming out.  A good programmer can make a good game on anything.  Just like in the console wars, hardware specs never determine the ultimate success of failure of a machine.  It's a factor, but just one of many.   Fast disc i/o is nothing to sneeze at.  The expansion bay was a big selling point for some markets.  The business side of Apple was - especially in hindsight - much better run that Atari or Commodore.  Going after the school/small business market worked out really well.  They could charge a lot more, and success there led to success in the home market.  In terms of being "popular," anecdotally, I  knew more people with Commodores in their homes than with Apples although it wasn't a huge disparity.  Our school was filled with Apples, though.

 

 

If a computer like the Apple ][ series - with the incredible array of software available - gets "boring quickly" that's the user's problem, not the computer's.

 

For the record, I had a c64 at home and did a lot of Apple ][ programming, which eventually led me to getting a ][c.  I love both machines.  They have different strengths to be sure.


Edited by BydoEmpire, Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:50 AM.


#21 zzip OFFLINE  

zzip

    Stargunner

  • 1,672 posts

Posted Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:32 AM

Apple II's weren't *that* expensive... at least not in the 1980's. It's true, my family couldn't afford a IIe (though plenty could; my family was lower middle class). But when the IIc came out, that changed things. It was about $500 less than a IIe in 1985 dollars and it included everything; you didn't need to buy any add-ons.
 
The difference in price between a full C64 or Atari XL system and an Apple IIc with matching monitor was not very much. The initial price of the C64 in 1982 was $595, but that was just for the unit. And while you could theoretically use only the base unit with no drives connected to a TV, most people didn't use them that way in my experience. All my friends who had them also had monitors and disk drives, which would drive the price up over $1,000. An Apple IIc with the matching monitor cost about $1,400 when it was introduced in 1984.
 
I think price may have hamstrung the II line a bit in the 1970's and very early 80's, but by the mid 80's the price playing field was more level. By that time, though, the 8 bit II was really showing its age and the C64 and Atari computers had a big game library built up that the equivalent Apple ports didn't compare well with. So in that sense, yes, it was too simple of a computer and didn't have the right hardware to make it more of a home/gaming success. But it was successful in other areas where the C64 and Atari models had less, like business and education.


oldcomputers.net shows the IIe released in 1983 for $1400 and the IIc released in 1984 for $1300. Adjusted for inflation that's like $2-3000 today. Now true it doesn't say what you got for that money,

but in contrast, you could get Atari XLs or C64s for less than $300 in 83-84. You could use a TV if you didn't want to shell out for a monitor, use a tape if you couldn't afford a disk drive. That's what we did, buy everything piecemeal. I got a disk drive around 84-85 when the prices of the 1050 dropped significantly.

#22 Ransom OFFLINE  

Ransom

    River Patroller

  • 4,941 posts
  • Pre-Crash Gaming and Computing Enthusiast
  • Location:Just south of the Wisconsin border.

Posted Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:02 AM

Good point about the piecemeal thing. While you could technically hook the Apple ][ to a TV and tape drive, there wasn't much support for that sort of setup. ][s were strongly disk-based systems, whereas I started with an Atari 400 w/ a 410 tape drive, then went to a 1200XL w/ that same 410 and an Okimate 10 printer, then got a 1050, then got a 1025, etc. When the //c came out, I got the //c, an external drive, an Imagewriter ][, the 9" monochrome monitor and stand. And that was considered pretty basic -- the monitor was both tiny and monochrome. Later on I upgraded to the 12" //c color monitor, but just that initial package was way more expensive than my whole 1200XL setup that was purchased piecemeal.

 

That said, I considered the Apple //c an upgrade over the 1200XL, because it had 80 column output, the default printer had much nicer printing, AppleWorks was better than anything available for the Atari, there were a lot more programming languages for it, the documentation was much more professional and extensive (the //c-era hardbacks vs. Atari's 3-ring-binder hardware and OS manuals plus De Re Atari), etc...and the //c could connect to standard devices using just the built-in ports.



#23 spacecadet OFFLINE  

spacecadet

    River Patroller

  • 2,389 posts

Posted Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:47 AM

oldcomputers.net shows the IIe released in 1983 for $1400 and the IIc released in 1984 for $1300. Adjusted for inflation that's like $2-3000 today. Now true it doesn't say what you got for that money,

but in contrast, you could get Atari XLs or C64s for less than $300 in 83-84. You could use a TV if you didn't want to shell out for a monitor, use a tape if you couldn't afford a disk drive. That's what we did, buy everything piecemeal. I got a disk drive around 84-85 when the prices of the 1050 dropped significantly.

 

You "could get" a IIe or IIc for less than list price too - you're comparing list prices for the II line with street prices for the other two systems.

 

You could also hook up a II to a TV just as easily. Most people didn't do that for *either* the Apple II or C64. I can't speak to Atari because I don't think they marketed a monitor specifically for the 8 bit line. But Commodore did (the 1702) and I didn't know anyone who owned a C64 that didn't also own a 1702.

 

Of course this is all anecdotal, and anyone here could say "everyone I knew ran C64's connected to a TV and only used cartridges!" and I'd have no way to argue with that except to say "that was not my experience".



#24 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Quadrunner

  • Topic Starter
  • 18,935 posts

Posted Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:45 PM

The problem with that is that you're writing code for a modification that only a minority of users have applied to their machine; if your code won't run on at least the majority of Apple II hardware that's a significant chunk of the potential audience gone and writing a reasonably sized program isn't trivial so most programmers want to aim for the widest possible audience.

 

RetroBall was a game that needed that mod. And it came with a wire/plug thing. It connected from an aux stake-connector for video to the cassette port. If you can plug the computer into the monitor, you can plug this wire/mod in. And it read vsync that way.

 

The downside was that you couldn't use the cassette port while installed, you had to (gasp!) unplug it.



#25 R.Cade OFFLINE  

R.Cade

    Stargunner

  • 1,074 posts
  • Location:Augusta, Georgia, USA

Posted Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:31 PM

 

You "could get" a IIe or IIc for less than list price too - you're comparing list prices for the II line with street prices for the other two systems.

 

 

 

I tried searching and could not find "street pricing" for the Apple IIe/IIc in 1984 (or any year). I tried looking for ComputerLand ads. I don't know if they were able to be sold mail order in places like Computer Shopper.  I think only Apple dealers could sell them, and they were bound to sell for MSRP.

 

If you can find something solid other than hearsay, it would be great. It's easy to find pricing for Commodore and Atari, since there were sold in retail stores.


Edited by R.Cade, Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:32 PM.




Reply to this topic



  


0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users