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Apple IIGS...Ideas and AppleTalk ImageWriter?


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#1 Scott Baret

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 03:58 AM

A little over a year ago, I got a freebie from my dad...a mint condition (aside from some yellowing) IIGS, complete with a monitor, keyboard, mouse, 3.5" drive, 5.25" drive, and all the original manuals. It had the original disks, too, plus the packing list!! (Basically, it was only missing a box; even the plastic bag around the coiled part of the ADB cable on the keyboard was intact). Print Shop IIGS was also there.

 

It's a later model 1MB IIGS, presumably ROM 03.

 

It's sat for a good while, as in a year. I thought of selling it, as I really had no purpose for the little machine, but now that I've sold off a few other Macs and never posted the IIGS for sale, I made the decision to hold on to it and play around with it!!

 

I have a IIe already and also have a IIe card in my LC; I started out on an Apple IIe in the late 80s so I am familiar with the platform, but my exposure to the IIGS came mostly at the office of a doctor who I absolutely hated as a kid!! He was the intimidating sort, but if you could get on his good side for the day, he may let you play a few minute of Montezuma's Revenge. (I actually bought a copy of that game a few weeks ago to play on my LC...)

 

My questions are as follows, now that I have decided to let a IIGS into my life...

 

1. What does everyone recommend in terms of software to play around with on here? The only IIGS-specific program I have at the moment is Print Shop.

 

2. I heard about a newly-released system for the IIGS, is it worth installing?

 

3. Can I hook this to a network to use an AppleTalk ImageWriter? I know the IIGS can use AppleTalk as a protocol as per the manual, which I read during a break today, but what would I need software-wise to get that printer to work?

 

4. What does everyone recommend for a hard drive on here? The manual had a lot of pictures of IIGSs connected to the old 20SC drives, presumably through a SCSI card (which I'd need to find for mine). I've got a spare enclosure somewhere but could I install anything internally?

 

5. Would anything need re-capped on one of these over time? It works fine and doesn't seem to have any capacitor failure odor. (Compare that to my Zoom router/modem, which has that stench after just four years...)

 

My only dilemma is where to set it up, I'm sort of out of space at my place!! Guess it's an excuse to go to Ikea :)


"Education is life."

#2 sstaylor

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 11:25 AM

I've been looking at a Microdrive IIgs, which plugs into a slot and uses a CF card as a hard drive.  $115, which doesn't seem too bad.  You can also change out the firmware ROM and use it in a IIe too.

http://www.ebay.com/...353.m1438.l2649


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#3 Cory5412

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 04:36 PM

The IIgs is basically two computers:

  • The first is that it's a really fast pre-upgraded Apple IIe that you can get started using the way you would use a IIe almost immediately.
  • The second is a weird 16-bit computer that needs a lot of upgrades that can easily cost you a lot of money, but that has a surprisingly dedicated hobbyist following.

I use mine as the latter, because 8-bit Apple IIs haven't ever been super interesting to me.

 

To that end, I have a Focus IDE card in it, with one of those 2.5-inch IDE to compact flash adapters, and an (overkill) 32-gig CF card in it. I have about 256 megs worth of partitions provisioned.

 

The next thing that would be worth looking at is the floppyemu. On the IIgs, it can emulate smartport (the IIgs' floppy disk connector) device. It will be slower than a SCSI card or something like a Focus or CFFA (the CFFA3000 is probably the true holy grail, simulating floppies and hard disks much faster than via smartport, with an onboard control panel that lets you connect and disconnect images, plus you can store things on CF/SD or on an external USB device.)

 

It's worth putting the newest OS on it. There are improvements that have been made, and at this point it's no slower than 6.0.1.

 

I have AppleWorks GS and HyperCard GS on mine, they're both pretty interesting. If I were to sit down on mine and use it to produce text, I would probably use Teach instead of AWGS. There's a lot of software and games though, so from a tourism perspective it should be a good machine.

 

For data transfer, I use LocalTalk networking. System 7.6 and 8.6 on my PowerBook 1400 can share files with it. Long-term, I'd like to make it a member of a more permanent localtalk LAN and use an OS9 system to download software and share it to the machine. This is pretty reasonable to do now, the one limiting factor is that the IIgs' disk imaging software wants to write out physical diskettes, so I find myself very carefully using around 10 HD floppy diskettes to make install sets, then install things. That is likely just a matter of not having found an option that can mount images, or just extract all the files to a folder.

 

Outside of when it's needed to image diskettes, I usually run my IIgs with no floppies connected. I try to get everything onto it using the network, which isn't really "prototypical" but is easier.



#4 Gorgonops

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 06:33 PM

The next thing that would be worth looking at is the floppyemu. On the IIgs, it can emulate smartport (the IIgs' floppy disk connector) device.

 

The big limitation of FloppyEMU-as-Smartport on the IIgs is you can't boot from if you daisy-chain the Floppy Emu after a 3.5" drive, which makes it basically impossible to have a real 3.5" floppy and a "hard disk" at the same time. (Well, you can have it online as a hard disk after booting from a floppy, but... does anyone know of a boot disk for GS/OS that actually makes it possible to boot from the floppy and transfer control to a full install on a non-bootable HD?) Also, unless you add another disk controller in Slot 6 you're also stuck without being able to use a 5 1/4" physical drive.

 

(Now, on the flip side, if you're just interested in running GS/OS with everything on the "hard disk", either by copying it over the network or using an emulator to set up your disk image maybe the limitations on having physical floppies present aren't a big deal. It's mostly just a pain if you have specific reasons for wanting physical floppies online, like using the system to generate disks for other Apple II's or if you want to switch between using it a IIgs and booting "real" Apple II/DOS 3.3 software off floppies now and then.)
 

Let's see, other than that... Cory's description of the IIgs' native mode as a "separate weird 16 bit computer that needs a lot of upgrades" is pretty much on the money. He covered hard disk options (one of the various CompactFlash devices is probably your best bet if you want something trouble-free and internal; Apple's only option was the SCSI card, which can be hard to lay hands on at a reasonable price.) I only see one thing he missed:

 

It's a later model 1MB IIGS, presumably ROM 03.

 

To run GS/OS 6.x you really will want a RAM upgrade. The stock 1MB (or 1.25MB in a ROM 01 with the nearly-universal 1MB Apple card) just isn't enough. I bit the bullet and bought a cheap 4MB card for mine (one of these when it was on sale for $40), the 8MB cards are probably overkill unless you really want to dive into the deep end or can get one cheap.

Because I've been too stingy to get a "real" hard disk yet I mostly use Appletalk to Netboot my IIgs, into 6.x, and in the stock 1.25MB configuration there was only a couple hundred K free sitting at the desktop. If you're not using Appletalk the situation won't be quite so dire, but it's still not going to be great. 4MB gives it plenty of room.

(There is a guy selling populated 1MB Apple cards for less than $20, I suppose you could nab one of those and double your memory to 2MB. That would probably get you by for most things.)

 

 

5. Would anything need re-capped on one of these over time? It works fine and doesn't seem to have any capacitor failure odor. (Compare that to my Zoom router/modem, which has that stench after just four years...)

I have a working IIgs and a parts unit, and I recently had to swap power supplies because the one was definitely getting a case of the stinks. It's undoubtedly only a matter of time before I'll have to recap the supply or upgrade it to a more modern design.

 

The motherboard itself has a few electrolytic capacitors, but I'm pretty sure they're all the old through-hole cans, not the troublesome surface mount ones. If your unit looks okay it probably is, or close enough. The thing you *will* want to do something about is the PRAM battery. It's the same sort of thing that blows up and ruins plenty of other classic computers so even if it's working now you probably want to nip any future problems in the bud by preemptively replacing it. At least in the 03 it's in a battery clip; on the earlier models it's soldered on.
 

 

Can I hook this to a network to use an AppleTalk ImageWriter?

If you're interested in AppleTalk on a IIgs, and also because I mentioned netbooting, definitely look at this. If you have the requisite hardware to bridge a Linux box (it talks about a Raspberry Pi a lot, but you can easily install this on any Debian-like system) to Appletalk, either a hardware dingus or a Mac running the bridge software, it's a really handy way to both get a taste of GS/OS on your system without buying any sort of hard disk device and as an avenue for creating disks from downloaded software. (The GS/OS environment it installs includes the Asimov disk imaging software. It works well. You can even use this setup to make boot disks for Macs that only have 400/800k drives.)



#5 Gorgonops

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 06:40 PM

Oh:

 



the one limiting factor is that the IIgs' disk imaging software wants to write out physical diskettes, so I find myself very carefully using around 10 HD floppy diskettes to make install sets, then install things. That is likely just a matter of not having found an option that can mount images, or just extract all the files to a folder

 

 

The GS/OS distribution included with A2SERVER includes a widget that allows mounting disk images. Here it is for download separately. Note that this didn't work for me with the stock amount of RAM, it'd make the machine just wander off into la-la land. Works fine with 4MB.



#6 Unknown_K

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 01:42 AM

The IIgs with a Transwarp GS, 8MB RAM card, and SCSI card running GS/OS is like a really weird mac.

You can probably get buy using GS/OS with a 1.25MB ROM 3 machine and a 1MB RAM card (2.25Mb total) if you want to play around with it.

When I first got a IIgs it was mostly just to play old Apple II games since it was the cheapest option at the time (schools were dumping IIgs like crazy with few takers). Luckiyl I got the Apple monitors with my systems. The IIgs keyboards rock btw.

The Original Apple Rev C SCSI card works well enough and you can just turn off the external HD's power and boot to, disk with the card installed.

Prices for all the cool IIgs upgrades have shot up quite a bit since I got my gear.
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#7 Scott Baret

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 05:08 AM

Thanks to everyone for the answers!! The only question I still have is about that AppleTalk ImageWriter. (Mostly because I do have one for the Macs in the room where I'd likely set up the IIGS and I wouldn't have to put another printer up as a result and I know the IIGS can't use the StyleWriter II).

 

Along that line, I do have a LaserWriter 4/600 PS that I am fixing up...would that work?


"Education is life."

#8 Cory5412

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 01:57 PM

The RAM card is important and I did forget it. My IIgs has a 4-meg RAM card in it. I believe I paid like $20-40 or so for it "as is" at kansasfest and basically spent the better part of a day or so running it through RAM tests, just to be sure.

I don't have mine CPU upgraded, and I'll just be really honest about this point... Using it this way, running software and doing things is much slower than on, say, a Mac LC.

To make it worthwhile to use a IIgs long-term, I do think you have to be really interested in one of the experiences of it, and to make it better, an accelerator is definitely "mandatory" in a way that it's nice but has almost never been mandatory on a Mac.

For this reason, my IIgs basically sits on a shelf waiting until I can come up with some time for it. It's neat, but as a weird, somewhat idiosyncratic 16-bit platform, it's not very good if you hold it up against.

 

Regarding the FloppyEmu: I hadn't been aware of that limitation, although ostensibly part of why you have something like that is that you don't need or want to use diskettes. There are other floppy controllers, but it could be worth avoiding that particular item, since it should be possible to either order a CFFA as part of the next run or find something like a Focus. Each has their advantages and disadvantages.

 

I'll have to look at MountIt. It's possible I discovered it, because the name sounds familiar, but that might just be that I'm familiar with Brutal Deluxe existing.

 

I don't know anything specifically about printing in AppleTalk (or really generally) on the IIgs, but I will say that I wouldn't at all be surprised if LaserWriters aren't supported. Depending on what display you have, you'll ultimately end up discovering that the IIgs' graphics output is "good" in that it's color and that it exists, but that it's not good for the kinds of things where you'd have splashed out for a laser printer in the '80s or '90s. I don't think most software on the IIgs can create PostScript output and anything that can is probably some specialized tool, perhaps meant for just outputting .ps files, the way you might use the print to file functionality.

 

Just casually guessing though, unless this has already been talked about, I would bet that AppleTalk printing to the ImageWriter is supported, because that's about the speed of the IIgs and makes sense for the environments where the IIgs was likely to be networked (K12, where IIgses were often being used as fast IIes).



#9 lisa2

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 06:13 PM

FYI, the GSOS does support appletlak laserwriters by downloading postscript code into the laserwriter that emulates an imagewiter printer.  



#10 Gorgonops

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 06:50 PM

Appletalk printing to an Imagewriter is definitely supported. However, since I haven't ever used it myself I can't really comment on the operational aspects. I *think* that printing from both ProDOS and GS/OS applications is supported once you've mapped the printer from the chooser, but how well it works for 8-bit software is something I don't know. (The "Apple II Workstation Card" for joining an Appletalk network from an Apple IIe has essentially about as much detail about that as the GS/OS manual, IE, it covers using the chooser, text based on the Apple IIe, to map the printer and that's about it.) The three supported printer types listed in the GS/OS manual are the Imagewriter, the Imagewriter LQ, and an Apple Laserwriter (original Postscript), and there was apparently an option of downloading an Imagewriter emulator to the Laserwriter.

 

 

I don't have mine CPU upgraded, and I'll just be really honest about this point... Using it this way, running software and doing things is much slower than on, say, a Mac LC.

To make it worthwhile to use a IIgs long-term, I do think you have to be really interested in one of the experiences of it, and to make it better, an accelerator is definitely "mandatory" in a way that it's nice but has almost never been mandatory on a Mac.

Yeah, that's something you'll find out pretty quickly: Apple really hobbled the IIgs by limiting it to 2.8mhz. (It's not clear why Apple did this, as the units shipped with CPUs rated for 4mhz; some say it was intentionally kneecapped to keep it from outshining the contemporary Macs, while others claim it's because the early runs of the 65C816 were very buggy and wouldn't run reliably at any faster than 3mhz, so the machine was designed around what was available.) The IIgs' main competition was the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, both of which sported 8mhz-ish 68000s, and while apologists will point out that the 65C816 has shorter minimum instruction times than the 68000 (some instructions run in as few as two cycles, while four is the minimum on the 68000) that doesn't compensate for:

 

  • 2.8mhz is still awfully dang slow, and while some instructions happen faster than the directly comparable instruction on the 68000 the 68000 has a much "richer" programming model based on a clean (mostly) 32 bit model, while the 65C816 is a very "16 bit" extension of the 8-bit 6502. In other words, a given instruction on the 68000 might be slower than a sequence of simple ones on the 68C816 but might also accomplish more. (This is in part why I personally don't buy the "intentionally kneecapped" argument much; a bump to 4mhz, or even faster, might make a IIgs capable of running some rigged benchmarks faster than a Mac Plus, but it's hard to argue it'd be a "better computer" in the general case.)
  • 65C816 has a narrower data bus than the 68000. (8 vs. 16 bit. Note uncomfortable parallel with the infamous Intel 8088 used in the IBM PC.)
  • The IIgs essentially has the "dumbest" video hardware of the bunch. Plenty of ink has been spilled about how the Amiga's chipset provides tonnes of sprite/blitter magic, enough that it's really no comparison to the other two. The IIgs and ST compare *fairly* evenly, but some of the details (like the ability to double-buffer and move page boundaries) often work to the advantage of the ST, and:
  • By a *particularly* cruel twist of fate access to the video buffer only happens at 1mhz in a IIgs, even with an accelerator installed.

Anyway, that's why (in addition to the IIgs' relatively high price mostly limiting it to educational environments) the arcade game selection for the IIgs is sort of meager, and some of the most impressive games that came out after its demise (like the Wolfenstein3D and Lemmings ports) are unplayable without an accelerator while similar games (such as Lemmings) work fine on stock Amigas and STs. Unfortunately accelerators are freaky cracktastic-ally expensive, so, yeah, they're pretty much reserved for folks who've already drunk the kool-ade.






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