WOzFest 8-bit Recap

The last WOzFest for 2017 was held in mid-November, later than I intended due to a long recovery from the flu. The theme was 8-bit computers, especially, but not limited to, Apple 8-bits.

We had nine attendees in all, with Melody and April from Paleotronic making it all the way up from country Victoria to attend.

I used the opportunity to do a little bit of extra work on my “europlus Refurbapalooza” – I basically took apart all my europluses, and ordered the base pans by serial number, the motherboards by date code, and the power supplies by serial number.

Then, via this arrangement, each system was composed of these “chronologically aligned” sub-parts. I still have some cleaning and testing to do, as well as the replacement of any missing or damaged feet, and I expect these tasks to form the basis of my RetroChallenge 2018/04 entry.

Murray, who had brought a Hitachi Peach to WOzFest S7,D2, had recently acquired a second one, and he brought both along as alternative 8-bits. More work was done trying to identify components or assess the viability of connecting peripherals. Murray has posted info on the machine and his growing collection, and is even planning on hosting a gathering he’s tentatively named “PeachFest” in the new year – can’t wait!

Craig brought his Laser 3000 and Dick Smith Cat – these machines were quite clearly manufactured in the same factory, with the Dick Smith machine being re-labelled for sale in those stores.

Craig found a specific version of BASIC (v3.0) on one of the machines which other enthusiasts of these clones had been looking for, so he’s going to make sure the ROMs get imaged.

We had a couple of great Skype calls – the first was from Jonathan Zufi of The Shrine of Apple website (which is currently shut down) and author of the book Iconic. Jonathan regaled us with tales about his history with the Apple ][, his collection efforts for the Shrine and Iconic, and various trials and tribulations around publishing and selling the book. As a special treat for attendees, Jonathan gifted attendees with a copy of Iconic, which was exceedingly generous of him.

The book has exquisitely detailed photos of Apple products going all the way back to the Apple-1 – Jonathan said he didn’t want to create a product catalog of Apple devices, so not every device is shown, but I like to think he has showcased all the major elements of Apple design and the machines (and peripherals and packaging) those elements have been used in. It’s well worth getting your hands on if you can.

The second Skype was from another well-known Apple ][ author, Steven Weyrich, of the Apple ][ History website, which Steven has published in book form as Sophistication & Simplicity. Michael from RCR had brought his copy, and it’s a great book full of great stories about the history of Apple and the Apple ][.

We also chatted about how Steven first got into writing the history when he was on GEnie and how it morphed into a website. I’ve put it on my todo list for the new year to buy a copy, and it will make a great addition to the WOzFest Library.

Jon worked on his //c+, Andrew on one of his europluses, and Melody and April gave us an update on everything they’ve been doing at Paleotronic. As always, photos from the event (including a couple from Melody) are available in a separate Photo Galleries post.

There was pizza and cider, of course, and I believe a good time was had by all – as always, I’m very much looking forward to the next WOzFest, which I’m about to announce!

WOzFest S7,D2 Photo Galleries

Below are my photos from the gathering at Adrian’s and WOzFest S7,D2, including a tweeted photo and a link to an attendee’s gallery.

Update: Jeremy’s photos from Adrians gathering have been posted.

Adrian had both familiar and rare items on display the week before WOzFest S7,D2.

Adrian had both familiar and rare items on display the week before WOzFest S7,D2.

All ready on the day.

All ready on the day.

Comparing circuit board component variations (as you do).

Comparing circuit board component variations (as you do).

Proof that autocorrect is trainable.

Proof that autocorrect is trainable.

Not an Apple, but still a fruit – an Hitachi Peach.

Not an Apple, but still a fruit – an Hitachi Peach.

So many bytes free at 40 columns…

So many bytes free at 40 columns…

…80 columns, not so much! I guess the extra characters have to be stored somewhere.

…80 columns, not so much! I guess the extra characters have to be stored somewhere.

A double interface card from the Peach.

A double interface card from the Peach.

Tony has many stories to tell…

Tony has many stories to tell…

…and circuit boards to show…

…and circuit boards to show…

…so many circuit boards…

…so many circuit boards…

…and rareties, like this prototype ADB keyboard with development Apple ][ interface card.

…and rareties, like this prototype ADB keyboard with development Apple ][ interface card.

Before he arrived, Rob tweeted this image of his preparations:

Rob has subsequently posted his images from the day.

 

WOzFest S7,D2 Recap

Sydney put on a glorious spring day for WOzFest S7,D2 attendees recently.

For enthusiasts who had not been able to make it to Oz KFest 2017, it was the last opportunity to catch Tony Diaz before he flew back to the States.

The previous week, Adrian had hosted us at his office and showed off parts of his massive Apple-related retrocomputer collection, and Tony also attended that gathering – there were some enthusiasts who could only make one or the other gathering, so it was good we were able to cater to schedules in that way.

Similar to what later became known as WOzFest-1, Tony showed attendees the rare and interesting items he had brought with him and told the stories about them. Tony’s talks and items are real eye-openers, and if you ever get the chance to catch one of them, I highly recommend it. A sense of them will be gained when the videos from Oz KFest 2017 are released.

Breaking with recent tradition, and in light of the “late notice” nature of this gathering, I didn’t organise any Skype calls for this WOzFest – but I think being able to discuss Apple ][ and retrocomputer topics with Tony in person more than made up for this “shortcoming”.

Two traditions which were fulfilled were: at least one attendee travelled from interstate (Tim from Canberra); and we had pizza for dinner (of course!).

As sometimes happens, some non-Apple retrocomputing technology made an appearance, in this case Murray brought his recently-acquired Hitachi Peach (at least it’s a fruit!), a machine I’d never seen, although I was at least vaguely aware they existed.

It was interesting seeing it in operation, and I found small details intriguing, like it reporting different amounts of free memory depending on whether it was started in 40 or 80 column mode (as more memory had to be dedicated to screen memory to hold the extra characters). For some reason, what I found most fascinating was that it had three separate “?” keys!

The A2Heaven FASTChip //e which had been eagerly played with at Oz KFest also came along and WOzFest attendees who hadn’t seen it were as blown away as it seems everyone is upon seeing it in operation.

A few attendees stayed till after midnight, which was well past my bed time, but it’s nice to be able to provide a venue for such things. As always, photos from the event (and one from Adrian’s) are available in a separate Photo Galleries post.

Because this recap is so delayed, I don’t have to say “I can’t wait for the next WOzFest”, as WOzFest 8-bit has already been held, and I’m publishing its recap at the same time as this one – I’ll see you “there”!

WOzFest 8-bit Announcement

I’m very happy to finally announce the date for the next WOzFest, WOzFest 8-bit – Saturday 18 November 2017, starting around midday Sydney time (UTC+11:00).

The theme for WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card was the Apple IIgs, Apple’s only non-8-bit Apple ][. It therefore seemed appropriate to set the theme for WOzFest 8-bit to all the other Apple ][s (which were 8-bit)…and the Apple-1, Apple /// and Apple ///+.

On the Apple ][ front, this runs the gamut of the original Apple ][, the ][+, the //e, the //c,  //c+, and the IIe LC PDS card – and variants such as the euromod, the europlus (of course!), the j-plus, etc. And that’s without even starting on the numerous clones!

I have a couple of great Skype calls teed up to discuss this seminal time of Apple’s history – so many iconic models and such a phenomenal growth time for the company.

Attendees are welcome to bring their favourite 8-bit computer(s!) – I’ll even allow ring-ins if you have a non-Apple 8-bit you’d like to bring along. Projects are more than welcome to be brought along, of course – whether it be repairs, imaging, upgrades…whatever you want to work on.

As always, it will be held at my place at Wollstonecraft, on Sydney’s Lower North Shore – contact me for the address. Start time is 12:00(ish), with an expected finish time of around 21:30.

No lunch provided, but nibbles, soft drinks and Apple cider will be available (I ask for a small contribution towards snacks), and we’ll all chip in for delivery pizza for dinner whenever we notice we’re hungry.

I hope to see you there!

WOzFest S7,D2 Announcement – and a Bonus Sydney Gathering!

I’ll try and be a little more timely in my Oz KFest 2017 reminisces than I was with my WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card Recap, but in the meantime, I have great news: WOzFest S7,D2 is about to be held – details to follow after a short diversion…

As I recounted in Juiced.GS, the first gathering I held, before it was known as WOzFest, was in the afterglow of Oz KFest 2015, as Tony Diaz, who had attended all the way from the US, was in Sydney before flying back.

Seizing an opportunity to again see the items he had brought with him (and he had brought numerous supremely interesting items), and to hear his stories about them, I held a gathering for what I thought would be Sydney-siders who hadn’t been able to make it to Oz KFest.

We set a precedent that first gathering which is a bit of a WOzFest tradition now – there was an interstate attendee, Kim, who had made it all the way from Tasmania. So far, there has only been one WOzFest without an interstate attendee (WOzFest ][), and it is amazing to me that people are prepared to travel so far for what is, at its heart, a small enthusiast’s gathering in a small-population city (from a global perspective).

Well, Tony has again attended an Oz KFest, and again brought a metric shed-load of historical Apple-related items…and will again be in Sydney before heading back to the US – this time for two Saturdays.

So, over the next two Saturdays, 9 and 16 September, we’re having two gatherings in honour of Tony’s presence in Sydney!

And the first one will not even be a WOzFest!

Local enthusiast Adrian has offered space he has available for a short while at Mosman on Sydney’s Lower North Shore for the first gathering – Adrian has a staggeringly large Apple-related retrocomputer collection, and has promised some interesting items to complement Tony’s. Adrian was featured on Episode 81 of RetroMacCast (almost 10 years ago!), and I know he’s made some interesting acquisitions since then.

Start time on the 9th is 14:30 Sydney time, with an expected finish time of 21:00 – contact me for the address if you can make it.

And then, as indicated above, on 16 September we’ll hold WOzFest S7,D2. There are currently no Skype calls planned, and, given its short lead-time and the fact I’m reserving my 8-themed name for later this year, it has a name which reflects its “between 7 and 8” nature (and it ties in nicely with the “Slot 7” name for the most recent “full” WOzFest).

The usual schedule applies – start time is midday Sydney time, if people are still here at dinner time we’ll get some pizza, and we’ll aim to finish by about 21:30.

Holding two events gives Oz KFest non-attendees the maximum flexibility to attend and see Tony and his items – some couldn’t make 9th, and some couldn’t make the 16th, so I’m really pleased that between Adrian and I we’re able to cater to as many enthusiasts as possible.

I hope to see you on one or both of the coming Saturdays!

WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card Recap

Apologies for the delay getting this recap out – real life interferes with more than just my Retrochallenge entries! But given Oz KFest 2017 has started, I thought I’d better get a wriggle on! Photos are in a separate post as usual.

We had a pretty good turnout on the day, with around 12 attendees all up. Most attendees had to leave by about 17:00, so I didn’t end up leaving many attendees alone when I had to get ready for my night out, and those remaining had left before I left home myself.

Melody and April, authors of the Octalyzer, had driven up from Melbourne – they attended KansasFest last year and wanted to capture some of the KFest magic by being here for the Skype hookup to Kansas City. They discussed their work on the Octalyzer with attendees, who were impressed by its features such as 3D rendering of Apple ][ programs, rewind functionality, and online access to disk images.

Speaking of which, the hookup went pretty well with a reasonable number of KFest attendees hanging around in the basement to say “Hi!”. WOzFest regulars Michael and Jeremy were there, and another Aussie, Steve from Brisbane, also participated.

Audio was acceptable overall, but is always the weak link in the hookup – there were a couple of other groups of KFest attendees in the basement along with the Skypers, and I think that may have made the audio a little more challenging for Michael’s laptop to pickup properly.

That said, it’s great to check in with the KFesters and capture just a little bit of what it’s like to attend – Jeremy made that a little easier by providing a couple of 360° 3D pictures which we looked at in Sydney using Jon’s ViewMaster phone-holder. It was amazing to look around and feel like you were in Rockhurst. I’m sure nothing beats the real thing, though!

Craig worked on some custom ROMs for his //c+ which Leslie had burnt for him, and Mark discussed his IIgs port of Asteroids and checked out The Octalyzer.

Andrew worked on a few projects: he troubleshot a non-working Ensoniq chip in one of his IIgs’s; he changed the config of a Toshiba FlashAir SD card (which has built-in WiFi and HTTP POST-based access to contents) with the aim of updating it from an emulated IIgs build environment; he helped David check his //e PSU; and he helped Murray check the operation of his IIgs and IIgs PSU.

Look for an announcement soon on a mini-WOzFest in honour of Tony Diaz’s attendance at another Oz KFest – the gathering I held after Oz KFest 2015 before Tony flew back to the US became the seed that has germinated into WOzFest, so it seems appropriate to have another gathering with him in Sydney before he flies back this year.

WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card Announcement

I’m very happy to announce that the next WOzFest, WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card, will be held on Saturday 22 July 2017, starting around midday Sydney time (UTC+10:00).

The theme for the day will be “The IIgs”, and was requested/selected by attendees at WOzFest PR#6.

I’ll be taking a relative back seat on this one as I have a prior social engagement that evening, so I’ll have to leave my own gathering late afternoon and will be handing the evening into the capable hands of the attendees. The day really will be for attendees to fill, just like a IIgs slot assigned as “Your Card”.

What I have organised is the usual Kansas Fest video hookup we try for each year – the Skype call is slated to start at around 14:00 local time (23:00 Friday Kansas City time). Frequent WOzFest and Kansas Fest attendee Michael, from the Retro Computing Roundtable, will reprise his role as host of the Kansas City end of the Skype call.

WOzFest PR#6 attendee Mark has already announced to the Apple IIoz mailing list his IIgs-related project, a port of Asteroids for the IIgs, which he’s hoping to demo on the day. I’m looking forward to seeing it, as well as other IIgs-related projects attendees will work on for the day.

As always, it will be held at my place at Wollstonecraft, on Sydney’s Lower North Shore – contact me for the address! Start time is 12:00(ish), with an expected finish time of around 21:30.

No lunch provided, but nibbles, soft drinks and Apple cider will be available (I ask for a small contribution towards snacks), and anyone here for dinner can chip in for delivery pizza whenever the mood strikes.

I hope to see you there!

WOzFest PR#6 Galleries

Below are my photos from WOzFest PR#6 and Andrew’s tweeted photos.

Jeremy has shared his photos as well.

Dressed appropriately

Dressed appropriately

The attendee gifts are ready

The attendee gifts are ready

The fun begins

The fun begins

In full swing

In full swing

The gift revealed

The gift revealed

So useful!

So useful!

Andrew’s disk sorting

Andrew’s disk sorting

One europlus PSU repaired

One europlus PSU repaired

Neville’s imaging continues

Neville’s imaging continues

That’s a wrap!

That’s a wrap!

The neglected book scanner

The neglected book scanner

WOzFest PR#6 Recap

I think WOzFest PR#6 was a great success.

As usual, things officially kicked off at midday – Jon (half of Manila Gear and WOzFest regular) was first to arrive just before starting time.

By the time of our first Skype at 13:00, we had about six or seven attendees – the Skype caller was Paul Hagstrom, of Yesterbits and the Retro Computing Roundtable. We had a good chat about his history collecting and preserving retrocomputers, and he had several impressively precarious-looking towers of computers all around him in his office.

With a couple more attendees having arrived, our second Skype at 14:00 was with another American, John Morris, who has come to prominence on the Facebook Apple II Enthusiasts group recently as he develops Applesauce, a USB interface for the Disk ][ 5¼″ floppy disk drive which allows that drive to be connected to modern computers. John recounted his programming history and the motivations behind the Applesauce.

It was exciting to hear about John’s plans for the device, and we got the lowdown on such issues as imaging speed (unprotected disks to .dsk file in under 11s!), his new file format and the rationale for it (bit copy with more information than an EDD file, but at about a quarter of the size!), and his discussions with developers of Apple ][ emulators and solid state disk drive emulators to support the new format. I think Applesauce is going to be in high demand – I know I certainly want one.

At 15:00 we got to Skype with Terry Stewart from New Zealand about his history with retrocomputers and preserving them, especially makes and models particular to the Australasian market. Terry’s site has extensive information for use by retrocomputer enthusiasts, and his videos are always informative.

Jon had organised our next Skype call as a product update – I didn’t have any direct knowledge of the content of the call, but I expected it to be with his Manila Gear partner, John Valdezco, and about their recently released No Slot Clock (NSC). It turned out, however, to be with John Brooks (so many Jo[h]ns!), along with Michael Guidero, and started just before 16:00.

John Brooks released a couple of ProDOS updates last year, the first in 30 years, adding new features and bringing a smile to Apple ][ enthusiasts’ faces around the world. He was able to tell WOzFest PR#6 attendees that he’s adding native support for any NSC (including the DClock)  to ProDOS – it will automatically determine which clock is present – as well as native support for the Ramworks and RamFactor memory expansion cards (which should include the Apple //c RAM expansion card).

Other exciting news is that John is working on Bitsy-Rip, which, as described by John, “will make a digital image of 5¼″ disks, including copy-protected and failing disks. Bitsy-Rip uses the built-in IWM (Integrated Woz Machine) chip of the Apple IIgs to make EDD-like ‘complete’ disk images, but with no additional slot cards or hardware required.” WOzFest PR#6 attendees were lucky to get the first public demonstration of Bitsy-Rip at work, and it it feels like we’re entering a golden age of disk preservation between Bitsy-Rip and Applesauce.

Michael Guidero has recently released new ROM versions for the Apple //c and //c+, which had been very favourably received by owners of those machines. Leslie had arrived at WOzFest PR#6 with some EEPROMs burnt with the new version for attending //c owners, so Michael’s update was well-known to them, and they were able to relay their enthusiasm, questions and observations to him directly.

We still had one final Skype call to receive – at 16:30, Jorma Honkanen, a well-known Finnish Apple ][ enthusiast, dialled in to have a chat about his own retrocomputing history and preservation efforts.

Jorma relayed the difficulties he’s had securing hardware and software in Finland, where the Apple ][ was never as prevalent as in other countries like Australia and the U.S. and he told us he’s only been an Apple ][ enthusiasts for a few years – all of which makes the material he has secured and preserved, and his efforts, all the more impressive!

My thanks go out to all the Skype callers, who took time out from their Friday nights or Saturdays to chat with a bunch of Apple ][ enthusiasts in Sydney.

That brought to a close the “organised” parts of WOzFest PR#6, and people returned to the projects they’d started, or started working through the projects they’d brought. We also snuck in a couple of pizzas a little later than usual as my wife had catered finger food snacks throughout the afternoon – the snacks were very enthusiastically received.

Michael from the RCR podcast received a sheet feed scanner brought up by Jeremy, who drove up from Canberra again (what a trooper!). They then proceeded to work together to preserve a couple of software packages and associated documentation.

One of those was Learning To Cope With Pressure by Sunburst Communications. The other title was Sandy’s Word Processor, which was an Australian Apple ][ title. Thanks Michael and Jeremy for your ongoing preservation efforts!

Andrew worked on testing the capacitors in a Mac LC 630 PSU, and also sorted through a whole heap of 3½″ and 5¼″ floppy disks. On the manual labour front, he cut down plastic shells for the two ends of a IIgs VGA adaptor cable he’s been working on.

Andrew also told attendees about the release of AFPBridge, by Stephen Heumann. AFPBridge, to quote its own info pages, “is a tool that allows an Apple IIgs to connect to an AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) file server over TCP/IP. AFPBridge works by using the existing AppleShare FST, but redirecting its network traffic over TCP/IP rather than AppleTalk.” This will greatly simplify file server access for IIgs users with an Ethernet card in their machine.

Craig worked on a few things throughout the day. Firstly, he, Leslie and David installed the new //c and //c+ ROMs Leslie had brought. The testing of them included installing an A2Heaven Apple IIc RamExpress II expansion card – the goal was to use this card as a battery-backed up RAM disk with the new ROMs.

After a bit of work, David worked out the RAM card needed to be zeroed out using the new ROM’s tools before the RAM disk was then formatted by Copy II+. This then allowed the //c and //c+ to have a super-fast booting (2s), battery backed up 1MB RAM-based ProDOS disk.

Craig was also keen on getting a G4 Mac mini I’d passed on to to him tested, his goal being to get it booting into Mac OS 9. I think an iBook G4 I had also passed on to him provided a proof-of-concept boot via Firewire Target Disk Mode.

Jon worked on testing a pre-release copy John Brooks’ forthcoming ProDOS update with the Manila Gear NSC – this NSC will not only work with the Apple //e, but also the original Apple ][ and Apple ][ plus (and europlus, of course – my only currently operational europlus was used for testing this NSC) and the Apple //c and Apple //c+.

Leslie installed the new //c and //c+ ROMs he had brought, and helped out with advice and help on other projects as well.

Tim had brought an interesting collection of Apple ][ expansion cards with him from Canberra – I’m constantly amazed and thrilled that attendees would travel so far. David also made the trip down from the Blue Mountains via public transport.

Neville, who had provided the impetus to Hans Coster to re-release Caverns of Mordia, also attended – Neville had just that morning written about finding Caverns of Mordia, reaching out to Hans, and the resulting re-release of the software at WOzFest 5¼″ – it’s well worth the read for fans of preservation, digital archeology, and text adventure games.

Neville’s project was to check on his IIgs and associated equipment, which hadn’t been powered on for some 20-odd years. The IIgs powered up first go, but the monitor wasn’t faring so well. He was able to use another monitor to boot up, which allowed him to check his “Cutting Edge” brand 100MB SCSI drive.

After a bit of wrangling, Neville was able to image the four partitions on the SCSI drive to disk images via my CFFA3000 card. Each of the three main 32MB partitions took around half an hour to image! I believe there were a small number of disk errors while copying, but he’s since reported to me that the disk images have successfully loaded via the Sweet16 IIgs emulator. Throughout this project with his IIgs he was greatly helped by Jeremy, Leslie, and Jon.

I was able to get rid of some of my excess computers and associated bits: two //e’s, several Mac minis, several laptops, an old Airport Express or two – but I still have more material to shift, so hopefully the disposal doesn’t slow down.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any scanning done with the book scanner, but I have it on extended loan for a month or so, so I’m hoping to get at least a few books scanned and I’ll post-process them later.

I was able to successfully replace the filter cap in one of my europlus PSUs and test it with my known-working motherboard – this as part of my Retrochallenge entry, and more details on that are in my wrap up blog post.

Because the neighbours most likely to be disturbed by noise were away on holiday, we were able to kick on a little later than usual, and the final six or so attendees finished up their projects for the day and headed off at about 23:00.

As usual, I’ve posted the WOzFest PR#6 photos galleries in a separate post.

I know I’ve missed projects and attendees, but I can’t keep track of everything! I know some attendees come to just enjoy the vibe, some to see other attendees’ interesting items, some for the Skypes, and some to work on other people’s projects and share their knowledge and skills. These various motivations for attending are what make WOzFest so much fun to host, and I can’t wait for the next one!