Category Archives: Apple II

Suncom TAC1+ analog joystick controller

I rarely see anything Apple II-releated sold in this side of the world (i.e. Finland) so i just had to get one more, joystick. This time it was TAC1+ made by Suncom that works with :
Apple IIe, IIc, IIgs and compatibles “plug A”
IBM PC, XT, AT, PS2 and compatibles “plug D”

The handle does look odd and not so comfortable at first but it actually is quite easy going and lightweight. Pretty accurate as well. It’ll just need some cleaning.

fb_img_15129325974003In bottom there’s the switch between IBM PC and Apple II.

It came with small User’s Guide.



FinApple 2017 (c)
Apple ][ forever.

A little bit about: Preserving Apple II casette-based software:

Apple and other publishers, released software on c-casette tapes since 1977 to early 1980’s
The c-casette tape was the only way to save your data until the Disk II became available in June 1978 ($495). And of course, it took time when it became dominant format for saving data on your Apple ][.

Recently i obtained some Apple ][ software tapes that did require preservation. All others
but “Mimic” were already preserved by Antoine Vignau of the great Brutaldeluxe, so i took the task to preserve the “Mimic”-casette release. To me, this was first ever (original) casette software for the Apple ][, so this was all “new” to me even i knew the process more or less.

Last time i’ve copied software tapes was back in mid 80’s when i realized i could actually copy
the software tapes with double-deck c-casette players. That was start of something.. wonderfull (and brought to me lots of new friends).

These came with the box (rather rare to happen thesedays) so i will scan them and the manuals as well and they’ll appear on Antoine’s collection later on.

Instant Software-releases from 1979:
-Math Tutor I 20k (0073A)
-Sahara Warriors: Commando, French Foreigh Legion 8k (0080A)
-Mimic 24k (0025A)
-Manual for : Math Fun 6 32k (0160AD)

Also additional tape came with these, it seems to have Star Trek game on it which i had to preserve as well. It was one of these “just in case” situations. Save everything, analyze later.

What is required in order to preserve the software tapes?
-Casette deck/player
-Audio cable
-Audacity -software
-Ciderpress -software

The setup:casettedeck_s
Nothing odd or difficult. Connecting the casette-deck to your computer, in this case, Pioneer CT-F650, i obtained from a colleque at work to laptop (Macbook Pro) with suitable cables (2*RCA->minijac). See that the possible DOLBY-setting is OFF.

-Using Audacity (WAV, 22kHz, 8-bit mono) to read the casette (or the data off it if you know excatly how much there is) to single, non-compressed .wav file. Reading “too much” (i.e. whole side of the casette) doesnt matter.

We are going to save the .wav file(s) as master/original file, but also, convert the .wav back to file-format in order to keep it (and it’s easier to be used) in DOS 3.2 or DOS 3.3 disk image.

Converting (to disk image):import-files-from-wav_2
Create empty DOS 3.2/3.3 -disk image, and using Ciderpress, import the files from the .wav file to the  disk image. Import : actions > import file from WAV, choose the file and press >IMPORT<

You can setup when importing the files the file-name, if it’s Binary, aAplesoft or Integer BASIC.
-Mimic loader
-Mimic program

instant_software_presents_sLoading program:


Mimic-the game:

Some good ideas:

-Do fast forward the tape back and forth few times if the tape have not been used for long time. The tape might be stuck due heat and lack of usage.


Collection of Apple II tape software:

By Apple: The format of data on the tape

By Apple: Read and write routines from the monitor


FinApple 2017 (c)
Apple ][ forever

Special thanks to Antoine Vignau of


Roadtrip: Swedish Apple’s

It all begins when i was contacted by Peter Fuks, who was an Chairman of the AUG (Apple User’s Group Sweden) in 1999-2002.
Apple User Group of Sweden – formed in the early 1980s, the AUG still has 30-35 enthusiastic members. The group usually meets twice a year in Stockholm and Gothenburg, usually 5-10 people each, and has an extensive software library, ”mostly older games on 5.25? disks. To join the group, the fee is 150 Swedish crowns (US $10) per year. For more information, visit the group’s web site at

So Peter offered some Apple ][ material he needed to dispose due need of space and lack of time as well other hobbies taking time when he got retired and he knew i could preserve the software and if there were, anything else, paper material for the other users and for the future.

I was very honored and we figured out the dates as i’d need to travel from Finland to Sweden with ferry and take my car with me. It took some months to find the suitable dates and i booked the tickets to Viking Line-ferry that goes from Helsinki to Stockholm. It’s about 16.5 hour per side with the boat so it would take about two days for the trip in total.

Leaving: “It was Roadtrip time!”on_boat_s
So it was roadtrip time! My friend Marko joined me to the trip and i picked him from train station and we headed to the ferry. I booked the tickets so i could drive the car in the boat first, and get out, first. That would save time and nerves.

Lots of cars and trucks use the ferries to get over the sea to Sweden.

Arriving: “Så här är vi i sverige”
Arriving at 10:00 to Sweden. Weather was nice but slightly clowdy. Nice and dry compared to Finland when we left..

Driving to: “On our way to Järfälla”
Järfälla is about 20km away from downtown Stockholm to north-west so it’s rather easy task to drive there and back. There’s not that much time as the boat leaves back in afternoon but enough for quick round trip there. Or so we thought.. My GPS-navigator is about 10 years old that was however ok, it did work out well. Just IF i would have believed the route it offered.. I tried to use my own very easy, very fast route that i could now however track from the GPS-device itself…  so we drove some 15km to wrong direction first then i started to actually pay attention to the GPS and changed the route… and we found the place. Rather easily in the end 🙂

At Peter’s home: “Meeting Peter”
Me, Peter and Marko:

Peter and his wife, Gunnel, were waiting. So we drinked some coffee, talked about the tech in general (Peter collects old radios and those are so beautiful!) and the loaded up the car. We were sadly bit on a tight schedule so there were not so much time i was hoping. Peter and Gunnel were as nice people as you could think of.

Peter’s Computers:

Peter have/have had, lots of Apple ][ computers over the years. He had kept two i think, of Apple //e’s. The main unit he had was really COOL hacked one with just motherboard inside, external keyboard, HDD, 5.25″ and 3.5″ drives with powersupply in another external case!
He had Slotbuster, Phasor cards on his board among PC Transporter setup. What an great period perfect hack-unit!

Inside of the Peter’s Apple //e with SlotBuster-card.


Leaving: “Heading back to Stockholm”
Car packed with Apple ][-goodies..


Getting back to the ferry thru downtown Stockholm was easier than i tought. The GPS took us thru the oldtown of the Stockholm and thru the  construction area of Slussen, but the route was so FAST. We got in time to the ferry and even had to wait quite a bit to get in.

Waiting to drive the car inside the ferry at Stockholm harbor.

At home:
Roadtrip was over! Took about 40 hours for the total trip or so.

Of cos when getting home, i unloaded the material to my work/hobby/mancave-room but only few hours later, had time to start looking into them (i was exicited of cos).

What were there?apple_iis_s
Apple ][-case : REAL ][ but no serial number on bottom for some reason, only reads “2000”, Apple //e (taiwanese clone), Apple //e.

Pineapple : Apple II+ clone motherboard + ROM card

boards_cards_sApple //e international NTSC board, CP/M card (Microsoft card clone) with Microsoft Softcard manuals & floppies. The //e board reads “broken” so it might need some work to get it working again.

The Swedish Apple User’s Group (AUG Sweden) “User News” – magazines from 1982-1983.
These are very interesting! These all will be scanned of cos.

Manuals of all kinds and some game manuals for various games (copied), Apple II books etc. Some of the books “Bag of Tricks” and “Beneath the Apple DOS” seems to be Taiwanese/Hongkong copies. Deep Dark Castle Magazine’s are interesting, somesort of BBS-user’s magazine i think?

Few books, catalogs, Beagle Bros. manuals, Pineapple catalog/magazine.

Apple Answer Books Vol.1 and 2 and some manuals and catalogs.

Microsoft Softcard manuals with disks (13-sector).

Original games (EPYX)) and Apple Special Delivery title and even one Apple /// software.

Early (1979) original games in casette with boxes (!). These things are quite rare.

magazines_sMagazines of all kinds: Call A.P.P.L.E., Nibble, Byte, InCider, User’s News (Swedish) etc.

broderbund_sBroderbund – catalogs.

Heavy-beast, HDD-drive (assuming 5MB) with the interface card. Never have had an “real hdd” with Apple ][ before.

Connections in the back. Made in Sweden i’d say.



Floppies : about 50 pcs (Apple II and CP/M).

Lots of material to be preserved! It’s like christmas for geeky Apple ][ guy like me.

FinApple 2017 (c)
Apple ][ forever.


3d-printed case for FloppyEmu:

I obtained long time ago an another FloppyEmu (Rev.A) but it came without the case. I didn’t use it (it had an Macintosh firmware on it) for anything but lately i started to need an sd-boot option for my “hack //e” as i am sort of CFFA3000-cards.


Using the bare-board is not so safe nor convinient.. specially when your desk is full of other electrical components or other stuff.


So i flashed the firmware so it could be used with the Apple II and notised it wasn’t really good idea to use it without any casing so i started to look for an 3d-printed case for it.  I remembered there were few made and i was able to find the files from  :

Top of the  case:

case_bottomBottom of the case:

The buttons:

I took the files to few local 3d-printer companies and asked for pricing. I was quite amazed how expensive it would have been. One complete box would have cost close to 50€ with shipping (locally). The original case at : would have cost some $35 shipped. Not that cheap either. If one would order the FloppyEmu and the case, then it would really not matter. No i wasn’t looking to get it for 1€ but less that 50€ for sure.

Luckily Eduardo contacted me and offered to print one for me. Thank you Eduardo very much!
I own you man. The case looks very much Apple //c or even //gs – styled design so it’s great fit for Apple ][.

First test assembly:

Eduardo game me good tip: to use tape to keep the buttons on their place and make the button movement more accurate.

case_with_tapes_eduardoPicture by Eduardo:

About to be closed up:

I have not yet glued it together however. If too strong glue is used, it’s impossible to open it evern again for any reason possible, That needs some thinking to do i guess.

FinApple 2017
Apple ][ forever!


Apple In Europa – Vol.1 No.4 (Januar 1982)

apple-in-europa-vol-1-no-4-januar-1982-german_s_2I found one nice Apple (internal?) newsletter from early 1982, in German, called “APPLE IN EUROPA”. It was usual sales/product/business info but also nice pieces of history for details-buffs like myself.

I found out for example the exat time/dates when they showed the Apple /// for the first time in Finland at the ELCOM ’81 exhibition/trade show, Helsinki, 2-6- November 1981.


As well DESIGN ’81 in Helsinki, 2-6 August 1981, had an FinApple’s presense and assume Apple ][ was the main item.


Also KONTTORITEKNIIKAN NÄYTTELY ’81 in Turku, 23-26 September 1981. I’ve been in some of these in Helsinki maybe in 1986-1988 time range or so. These were about all things releated to office work, papers, pens, desks, computers – all you can think of.



img_0000_sIF somebody have more of these, please contact me, share there, or contact me for scanning them. These are extermely interesting pieces of history and detail!

I am not sure if i’ve seen this Sales Promotion Price List scanned up.


Scanned pdf can be found at

FinApple 2017
Apple ][ forever.


EOA “Album sleeve” games for Apple ][


I have lately added to my collection some more nice games released by Electronic Arts (good ol’ “EOA”), those all come in  “album”-style sleeve. Activision also released games in such packaging – not sure if any other company did this?


This made me wonder of cos, what games were released by EOA packaged like this?
I found an list from wikipedia listing these:


I don’t think the Wikipedia-list is very complete however..

My collection:

Adventure Construction Set
Music Construction Set
Movie Maker
Archon II: Adept
Lords of the Conquest
Age of Adventure
Murder on The Zuinderneuf
The Seven Cities of Gold
Pinball Construction Set
Marble Madness
Pinball Construction Set
Axis Assassin
The Seven Cities of Gold (Chinese disk and manual, no box)
Adventure Construction Set (Chinese disk and manual, no box)

What i am looking for:
Hard Hat Mack
Bard’s Tale
Bard’s Tale II
Bard’s Tale III
etc..etc…”collect ’em all”

FinApple 2017
Apple ][ forever

Apple Opas

img_20170912_0818312_sFinally i was able to find an copy of the “Apple Opas”. I had an photocopied version of it in my collection before. Book was translated to Finnish and written by Tietoväylä in Jyväskylä, Finland, 1981.

img_20170912_0818332The book covers BASIC / DOS3.3 / Pascal as well various hardware add-on’s at the time. The terminology sound funny now in 2017 however of cos.

apple-opas-_-oy-apple-computer-finland-ab_closeup_sAnd it have  have forewords by Seppo T. Nykänen CEO of OY Apple Computer Finland AB at the time.

The book will be scanned and it will be available as PDF at : later this year.

(C) 2017 Jorma Honkanen
Apple ][ forever – finapple

Vintage Apple-logo signs

mainos_loydetty_sThese Vintage Apple-signs or trade show props, were donated to my by a friend and colleague. He used to work to repair Apple and Macintosh computers back in 1980 and 1990’s. He must have saved these and totally forgotten these for all these years. They came across his basement storage recently and he of cos,  knew my interested in the “old apples”, offered them to me right away.  There were supposed to be just one, but to his suprisement, there were two of them. One being more rough,  the sticker corners are peeling off due old age, but the other one is in much better shape.  Needs just some cleaning. The better one will make nice props to my work/hobby room.

manos_puhditust_2Cleaning was needed or at least trying …

So basicly i tried just basic every household cleaning methods. Tolu-foam which really didn’t do much but maybe  polish the plastic a bit – the darker dirt came off however perfectly with Label-Off spray. The plastic itself was partly yellowed (I know! this sounds like a job for Mr. Retr0bright..). But i don’t think it’s much of a worth the effort to go that extreme on this case. If you want these, you can easily make your own copies.

mainos_puhdistus_1_sSo i was quite ok with them cleaned up, glued together the logo a bit and we’re good to go.

I placed them to my work/hobby room against the wall. But. I had an idea. I need to find where i can cut another of them to perfect square around the logo itself, it would make great framed decoration to the wall..

” I’m going FAST with FASTchip //e..“


What is it and what it is for?

It’s here! We have now newly produced accelerator made for 8-bit Apple’s from the Bulgarian electronics genius of Plamen Vaysilov of

It’s called “FASTchip //e” and it works as the name indicates, with Apple //e (6502 & 65C02) at the moment & more support is coming i.e. for ][+. All you need is free slot on your Apple II and you can experience the accelerated speed up to 16.6 Mhz (!) of pure  s-p-e-e-d. The 16.6 Mhz makes it fastest 8-bit Apple II accelerator available today.

The FASTchip //e is based on 65C816 processor with 512KB of fast SRAM memory (expandable) where it stores the software run in accelerated speed.

Acceleration for 8-bit Apple II’s have been around from very early 80’s. There’s been: Number Nine Apple booster, Saturn/Titan cards, SpeedDemon, AE Transwarp I and II as well ZipChip’s – and these have been very sought after products. Computers are never too fast and if there’s an way to make it operate faster, be it overlocking or accelerator chip, there’s market for that. That however can be problematic with 8-bit Apple II’s. You pretty much mess up the timings of the original games that are designed to run with 1 Mhz 6502/65C02-processor. Surely 1 Mhz 6502 processor wasn’t much to work with so lots of games/software indeed would run better accelerated, more or less.

But there are other software than games too. If you do use AppleWorks, work with databases or you want to take advantage of the higher processor speeds with your programming projects, now you can. The final FastChip //e user’s guide will contain FASTchip //e “Programmer’s references” how to use the chip with your programs, so the modern “home-brew” – software developers can use the FASTchip //e with their code and take advance of the accelerated speed on their products.

The package contains:
– FASTchip //e – card
– External control panel (these are beta-testing models, actual production model might be different)
– Cable to connect the FASTchip //e and the external control panel.


It’s easy to install, all you need free slot (1-7) on your Apple //e or enhanced model. It does not override the 80-column function of the slot 3 when used in Apple //e-models.

The FASTchip //e – card comes with external control panel :

(picture 1 : beta model of the external control panel)

(picture 2 : beta model of the external control panel)

The layout of the external control panel is as follows (based on picture 2)

“STOP” (left) you can change between current and standard 1Mhz CPU speed.
“PAUSE” (center) you can pause the CPU.
“FUNCTION” (right) button you can choose which function will be displayed on the LED-screen in the middle of the unit.

Display messages:

cp  – FASTChip //e is in setup mode ( [ESC] is pressed after Power Up )
freq – FASTChip //e show working frequency (3.00 Mhz)
normal – FASTChip //e in normal 1Mhz non-accelerated mode.
stop – FASTChip //e in PAUSE/STOP mode.
slinky – Show current RamFactor page if RF is enabled.
sl_off – RamFactor is disabled.
rw – Show current RamWorks page if RW is enabled.
rw_off – RamWorks is disabled.
softsw – Show state of some soft switches (see table below)


It also have 4 digits LED-display as well rotary knob to set the working frequency of the 65C816-processor itself from 0.20 up to 16.6 Mhz. The card also have built in 192KB fast RamWorks compatible RAM and 256KB fast RamFactor (slinky) compatible RAM. It’s modern design and it is low power design for cool operation. The Acceleration works for programs running in both main and auxiliary memory. It is compatible with most interface and expansion cards for the Apple II.

It have an easily accessed from power-up, built-in control panel, which let’s you control the processor speed, joystick, speaker speeds and other options available.

The Control panel:

005_menu_control_panel_sThe FASTchip //e have settings you can alter built-in by accessing the control panel by pressing ESC -key during the boot-up animation of FASTchip //e.

With arrow keys up and down you can choose the setting you want to choose and with left and right arrow keys (or space) you can choose to alter the value.

With speed settings you can choose:

– Using the Space to switch between OFF and 16.6 Mhz
– Off and 1 Mhz are normal Apple II speeds.
– Off = FASTchip //e is disabled and uses original CPU
– Off = if you use another DMA device
– When set to 1 Mhz or anything else up to 16.6 Mhz the FASTchip //e is been used.

Using the external control panel is handy. You can STOP the CPU, adjust the CPU speed as close to perfection you desire for each software you are using.

Slot Configuration:
Here it allows you to define the FASTchip //e speed setting for each of the slots. If you have card that can’t run at accelerated speed, select “Normal” by pressing the spacebar. This is more like “trial-and-error” but that’s something you have to get used to.

Sample configuration:
SLOT 1 – Fast – Parallel Printer Interface Card
SLOT 2 – Normal – Serial Interface Card
SLOT 3 – Fast – FASTchip //e
SLOT 4 – Normal – Apple Mouse Card
SLOT 5 – Normal – Virtual slot for CFFA3000
SLOT 6 – Normal – Floppy Disk Controller Disk II
SLOT 7 – Normal – CFFA3000

I basicly setup all other slots Normal expect FASTchip //e and RAM-cards and everything worked fine.

Miscellaneous Options:
With miscellaneous-menu you can choose more basic settings, i..e wether you wish to see the startup graphics animation (boot time is slightly faster without).

With sound-mode you can choose from: distorted, fast, normal, music or HIFI.

With the DISTORED – setting the sound will be depended of the speed of the FastChip //e, in FAST – mode there will be 1ms delay, NORMAL – is the standard setting. With some music programs they might require the sound being slowed down a bit so if it doesn’t sound right, you can choose MUSIC – or HIFI. HIFI – is required by few music programs – you can try this if the sound is still too fast at NORMAL or MUSIC setting – but this however will slow down the acceleration.

Joystick delay : You can choose NONE, SHORT or LONG. Mostly the LONG – setting works for most of the games where the timing is sensitive. Some games might work with SHORT – and might work faster with NONE.

And, RamFactor and RamWorks! FASTchip //e contains build-it emulation of 256KB Fast RamFactor (slinky) and RamWorks 192KB. RamFactor you can enable them here and setup the slot.

Backlight led of the card : set or disable the backlight illumination modes from Disabled, Fade, Speed, Red, Green, Blue.

System test:
With system test you can do basic hardware testing to see if the FASTchip //e works with your Apple II or if there’s any issues to be solved.

Save configuration
You can save your configurations here. The settings are saved up in FASTchip //e.

About FASTchip //e
Information screen about the manufacturer, and contact information.

Quit Fastchip //e
When you have made all the settings & saved them up to your configuration, this makes the Apple //e cold boot.

Testing the FASTchip //e:

I used as a testing unit my Apple //e enhanced (ntsc) with ZipChip 4000 installed on it and few common cards :

  • CFFA3000
  • EDD4+ card
  • Uthernet II
  • Mockingboard-T and Mockinboard v1a
  • RamFactor 8M
  • RamWorks 8M
  • Apple Mouse Card
  • ZipChip 4000
  • RamWorks III + VGA addon card

Of cos having ZipChip on this computer how is pretty useless but it did not interfere the FASTchip //e in any point.

Beta testers tested several hundred of original Apple II 5.25″ floppy software & games and we could easily say the success rate is very close to 100% at this point. The FASTchip //e firmware wasn’t final version yet and is soon finished with more support i.e. ][+ and full support for Platinum //e – model. However more testing is been still done as well more programming-releated tests and code compiling tests by Plamen Vaysilov and Antoine Vignau.

Playing games was great FUN! The rotary knob is insanely great idea (seriously it is!) when you have an game which runs somehow slowly. You can find the perfect speed for it from anywhere from 1.1 to 16.6mhz range. I found games like “Xevious” very much more playable when i accerated it up to 3-4mhz.

Youtube video playing “Xevious”:

And of cos, i just had to, test the “Alien Downpour” by Michael Packard and slow it down! That game feels quite difficult to me so i slowed it down a notch, and all the sudden it left me more time to response in all those aliens 🙂

Youtube video playing “Alien Downpour” (sorry lower quality):

For the huge performance gain is available with simulators. I tested “The Jet” and you’ll be the judge is it fast enough?

Youtube video “The Jet” (demo mode):

Apple II Desktop / Mousedesk was really an nice experience when run from .dsk image using CFFA3000 and accelerated. Now you can actually do something productive with it, if you choose to do so. I run out of time at this stage to test with GEOS but that’s something i’m intended to test soon.

Final thoughts?

FASTchip //e must be one of the most versatile accelerators made for Apple II 8-bit computers. The built-in menu is very user friendly, quick to access and you can adjust lots of things.

Some people might think accelerating 8-bit Apple II’s is pretty much waste of time. That really depends. But with FASTchip //e it’s made so easy, as you can find the “sweet spot” for the gaming speed which is perfect, not too slow, not too fast. The rotary knob is absolutely perfect for this. I believe this is first accelerator, atleast for Apple II, that does have such feature – and it makes great difference what comes to usage. Honestly, to me this is the selling point.

It does also make it possible to run the “difficult” shoot’em ups like “Alien Downpour” (or i just suck on it) slower than standard 1 Mhz, if you wish. That’s one cool feature if never even thought of before! You never know when you might need this kind of feature as well.

I personally think the FASTchip //e is brilliant modern product and gives lots of advanges to any Apple II -user today. You don’t need to run everything… 16.6mhz!

setup_of_cards_sThe final FastChip //e user’s guide will contain FASTchip //e “Programmer’s references” – how to use the chip with your programs.

Price for the FASTchip //e is 150 USD shipped everywhere.

This quick preview was based on preview beta-unit.

FASTchip //e is ™ by Plamen Vaysilov of 2017.

Jorma Honkanen, 16.06.2017.