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Apple Cat Chip Question…

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I have 2 apple cat 212’s.. I am a phreaker both past and present - and I collect things like the Apple Cat, old blueboxes, etc.. 


I noticed on one of my apple cats, the FIRMWARE socket is empty. On the other one the FIRMWARE socket is populated, but the little “window” on the chip no longer has the little sticker that went over the “window” …


2 questions:


1 - what does the FIRMWARE chip do? Is it what allows the 212 to do more than just be a “regular old modem”…?


2 - if the sticker on the FIRMWARE chip has been removed (and obviously subsequently been exposed to light) does that mean the chip is ruined?


There are places to buy said firmware chip - so its no big deal to replace it. I just wanted to know what the chips purpose was…



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Posted (edited)

1- That and more..


The Firmware Chip more or less let the 'cat be controlled through Applesoft Basic or the keyboard. It had a simple dialer/terminal and some other control routines. It was intended by Novation to eliminate or significantly reduce dependency on disk-based programs. It was also intended to give some compatibility with the D.C. Hayes MicroModem II's IN#x commands. It also allowed single command control of many functions and the cassette and voice synthesizer for use in answering machine applications. It was used to control the serial port on the expansion box. It allowed direct session-to-printing to a printer. A HAM I knew claimed he used to interpret and generate MorseCode with it and a 212 board. The chip may have been necessary for BSR, not sure on that.


There are two manuals, the Advanced Programming Manual, and the Apple-Cat II Firmware Manual that describe how to use it all. Including the access points and routines in the CatPack supplemental library (on Com-Ware disks). I'm fairly certain all the 'cat manuals have been scanned with the exception of the Firmware Manual. I have one and will eventually get to it.


Rak-Ware also made an alternative firmware. And its usage was one the up & up legit side of things.


Of course any hacker could put their own stuff in the firmware socket for enhanced voice synthesis and recognition and control of the UARTS. And we did. Program in things like shifting tones and fast dialing, and various boxes. Did stuff like call the Time Server to listen and set a TimeMaster II H.O. clock card. Did things with voice distortion and other semi-mysterious Sci-Fi'ish things. A continuation of communications experiments we conducted with the MicroModem II.


Sorry to say however, despite the Apple-Cat's prowess at making tones and digitizing and controlling things, I still have the best and most fondest vintage memories using the Hayes MicroModem II.


2- The chip wouldn't be ruined. The information may be corrupt or erased. The effect would be cumulative. If left in the sun, without a 100% opaque cover, it would self-erase in something like 2-weeks give or take. Ambient room light, much longer. But not to worry. You can get EPROMS everywhere and the firmware file is on Asimov.

Edited by Keatah
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Thanks for the explanation.. Cool.. Would love to find some of that “answering machine” software even just to check it out in an emu (as far as what it looked like, the options it had, etc… I know I wouldnt be able to “use” it in the emulator..) .. I’ve found gobs of apple cat software (wardialers, etc) but dont think I’ve ever found anything similar to answering machine functionality. 

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