About my favourite computer system

My preferred computer system is the Apple II gs. This computer mixes the reliability of the Apple II with the desktop of the Mac. OK, it may be slow, but this need not to be forever. In fact, you may customize this machine in a very easy way, add accelerators, CD-Rom drives, Zip or Jaz drives, inkjet or laser printers, scanners or fast FAX modems, whatever you want...

The Apple IIgs taught Apple an expensive lesson, but in my opinion the development of this machine was worth every cent. The IIgs is the only 16-bit computer which has TRUE hardware compatibility with the former Apple II models. They put a custom chip, the WDC 65816 in it and as the name of the chip suggests, it can be toggled between 8-bit mode and true 16-bit mode with a single bit. Nobody else has bothered with backwards compatibility, even MS-DOS PCs lost their compatibility with CPM. Commodore dropped the C64/C128 line when they released the Amiga, Atari made the ST line incompatible with the old XL line and so on. Apple believed in its own "Apple II forever" slogan in this days, this fact alone makes this machine something special. Emulators are no substitute for the real thing!

But there is more. The IIgs came out with two new super hi-res graphic modes, built-in AppleTalk hardware and the Ensoniq sound chip which is used in professional music synthesizers. This made the IIgs music capabilities one of the BEST in the computer world, in a time when PCs still spoke with bings and boinks.

The speed of the IIgs was slowed down to 2.8 Mhz, rumours say that Apple did this to avoid competition with their Macintosh line. Today it is possible to break this barrier with the help of accelerator cards with a faster 65816 chip. They also decided to omit the internal HD and SCSI interface to reduce costs, definitely a bad decision in the long run. With an internal HD, the IIgs would have had a much better start and Apple's creative department has planned such a thing indeed (see below). But in the meantime, some slimeballs in the upper management found a MUCH better solution (for them!).

The solution was simple: Death to the IIgs! Click here to read the transcript of the infamous "Operation Applestorm" and witness the "death" of the Apple II line...

I am very annoyed by Apple's marketing policy that was always focused on that other computer. While the Mac has been promoted and been sold with reduced prices, the price for the IIgs has always been held on the high side. Then these guys started to sell a cheap low-cost Mac with IIe emulation card. Finally, the kicked out the IIgs from their lists, followed two years later by the good old IIe, although the IIgs successor has already been finished as a prototype.

This prototype, the "Mark Twain" gs would have had an internal HD together with an internal 3.5" drive and a built-in SCSI interface. It would have had a built-in stereo card and SIMM memory chips like the Mac.

Nowadays, such a computer seems to be nothing special, but imagine what such a computer would have caused in these days when hard disks still were uncommon and expensive. The lack of a built-in HD may be one of the reasons why PCs and Macs evolved far more successfully than all other platforms which still had to stick with copy-protected 5.25" and 3.5" disk. Of course, aggressive marketing of the PC and Mac platforms may be the main reason.

So, the link has turned. If you have a IIgs, you may want to download one of my favorite shoot-em-up games, As The Link Turns - a game that really has something to say! Uncompress with ShrinkIt GS.

In the meantime, several more or less complete gs emulators have appeared. So Mac or PC users can try to emulate gs software on their machine. A replacement for a metal gs? Probably not. You won't be able to access slots or 5.25" disks and some older, copy-protected programs may not work at all! I doubt that these emulators will ever make me sell my own gs. Nothing tastes like the original!

So the Apple II is dead, isn't it? Not quite! There are still user groups which do not bow to the inevitable. There are still companies which offer new products like cards and CD-ROMs for the IIgs . If you look very hard under some bridges, you may even find the one or the other starving programmer who has not gone PC yet! Support these guys, if you have a IIgs! If you don't have a IIgs yet, you may visit some mail-order vendors for inexpensive hardware parts.

There are also some FTP sites where you can download many Freeware and Shareware programs. Support the few remaining active Shareware authors, please!

List of Apple II resources by Rubywand

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