So today, it is packing day. It is time to reassemble my Apple 2e Platinum after I’ve spent several weeks pimping it. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the pimping is over. On the contrary, but that’s for the next weeks. Today, I will describe a few extra cleanups and a few miscellaneous pimping I squeezed in this post. First, I used rust dissolver to remove some stubborn rust spots from the computer’s bottom plate. Once done, putting the beast back together is a sinecure. I used the opportunity to add missing screws here and there – mostly around the keyboard.
Did you know that the Apple 2 lacked a clock? As a pimp master, I couldn’t ignore this fact. It is why I installed a no-slot clock (NSC v1.0 from ReActiveMicro). Back in the days, if keeping time was paramount to your application, you had to buy an expansion card, which, of course, used one of your expansion slots. The go-to board during the 80s’ was the Thunderclock Plus by Thunderware. It became the de facto standard, and ProDOS recognized it by default. I added a few advertisements or the era for your reference, covering other clock options. Later on, and because wasting a slot for a clock is unacceptable, the no-slot clock – built upon the Dallas Smartwatch (DS1216E), was released. Solutions using this chip – other computers than the Apple 2 used this part – required to install the clock under any ROM chip.
Once powered, it monitors the address bus and doesn’t interact with the system until it recognized a specific address (a couple of address bits). When that happened, the chip took over the ROM, and software could read the date & time. Once finished, regular operations resumed. It also meant that you needed SW to be aware and act as a driver. ProDOS and Dos 3.3 recognized the NSC. To keep track of the time while the computer is powered off, these solutions used their battery – usually drowned in epoxy like the infamous NVRAMs of Sun Microsystems workstations. After ten years, when the battery died, you could throw the clock out. Hmmm, isn’t this precisely what Apple does with the iPhone? Luckily, the ReActiveMicro spin around the NSC uses two easily replaceable coin batteries. Another plus: it is a low profile so that you can use a long card in the slot in afront of the installation ROM.
The second pimping of the day is about the keyboard. The Apple 2 keyboard is OK, but certainly not a panacea. In particular, you must stick to the computer as the console is an integral part of the case. But we are all used to a modern computer these days, and we are used to the IBM PC keyboard layout. We also enjoy the extended keyboard cable. So, can we use a PC keyboard with an Apple 2? Of course! I am using the PS2 Keyboard adapter v1.1j by SDKim to perform this witchcraft. The small board replaces Apple’s keyboard and sits in the motherboard’s keyboard connector. A simple drop-in replacement. This adapter is a computer by itself and drives the communications between a PS2 keyboard and the Apple 2. It maps the Apple keys to the PC.
Older Apple 2 users will be delighted by the free numerical pad! For Apple2-specific keystrokes, for example, CTRL+RESET, you need to use a similar sequence: CTRL+SCROLL-LOCK. Add the left Windows key to the mix, and you just rebooted the Apple. The board allows for macros recording, assigning them to function keys. By default, F3 re-types the last line. With this system, typing listing almost becomes pleasant! Note that the adapter has a UART – needs power and some soldering – that allows using a terminal software on your PC to control the Apple 2. Unfortunately, we cannot have both keyboards connected at the same time. I will have to choose one at some point. But from a pimping point of view, I will stick with the PS2 for a while.