Category Archives: Apple II

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.

Estimated price for the FASTchip //e is 150 USD shipped everywhere. Product is not yet released.

This quick preview was based on preview beta-unit.

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

Jorma Honkanen, 16.06.2017.

ECHO-sound synthesizer cards

I got few pairs of ECHO Sound Synthesizer -card speakers awhile ago and started to look for the interface card as well as one did not come with them.

Luckily i was donated pair of cards  (thanks Will!)

“ECHO”-speakers. Is there reason for different color of the button?

-Echo 2+ (have mono and stereo outputs)
-Echo ][b

ECHO+ installed to my “main” Apple //e platinum.

Video of the “Alien Clonepure” & ECHO+ sounds:



Found this image from the internets, so this is how the retail package have looked like.




Thanks to friend, and oldtime Apple II user, Marko Laaksonen, for these Apple ][ -paddles. These are modified to fit the connector used in Apple //c and //e. The pair in the left, is Apple II+ era original and the pair in right, is generic, possibly original ment for Atari VCS.



Preservation: To have floppy-disks in 2017 is normal?

I Received bunch of Apple II (5.25″) and IIGS (3.5″) floppies from Germany, bunch being an about 66 kg of them in total! In year of 2017 to receive floppies in mail, is perfectly normal isn’t it? Feels very much like  golden days of 8/16-bit piracy in 1980’s in a bit larger scale however. Not all 80’s software pirates used BBS’s, specially in europe..

5.25″ floppies for Apple ][

3.5 ” floppies for Apple IIGS

My estimation is somewhere around 600-700 of 5.25″ and 1600-2000 for the 3.5″.
To my amazement 99% of the 3.5″ floppies had printed labels with numbers and excat listing what was on them. This is precise!  Not just typical, common home pirate there. However the 5.25″ floppies were more of a mess (like often they tend to be).  Not everytime anything written on the label, or some had an paper note inside the sleeve to indicate what the floppy might have written to.

Every collection must have atleast one copy of “Karateka” and rare “Loadrunner” 🙂 (Typo: Loderunner).


For the 3.5″ floppies, some of the software seems to be even for the 8-bit Apple as they’re listed as “IIe Spiele” (IIe games). Those game collections were made with using “UniDOS” by MicroSPARC Inc. which allowed you to use 800k disk space on 8-bit computers and of cos, you then needed the UniDisk 3.5″-drive or Apple //C Plus or GS. This was very handy.

I am aware most likely big persentage of the material on floppies is already preserved, but that doesn’t stop me. It’s too temping to go thru them all to find hopefully, something that is not preserved yet. There are probl. lots of Cracks made out of Apple II software in specially Europe, which are not preserved yet. Maybe crack made by neighbor kid who happened to use name “Krackman” or “WarezLord5000”. Who knows. It’s history and it needs to be preserved.

For some, obtaining old-obsolete floppies may sound like crazy, but there are valid reasons for doing this, unless you’re preserving your own personal AppleWorks floppies from the 80’s with your personal data:

-Not all Software is preserved.
-Not all Versions of the software is preserved.
-Not all Cracks of the software is preserved. No, they are not.
-We are running out of time. The magnetic media is on it’s end of it’s lifecycle, not much longer they are readable by decent way, or at all.

-And for me, to find local, Finnish Apple II software is the holy grail of it all. As Apple II wasn’t very popular in Finland, finding anything programmed or released in Finland, is very important and interesting for me.  But i am interested as well anything published in Europe.. or elsewhere.


I recently scanned bunch of game manuals from Taiwan, them being in Chinese of cos. Those are not scanned to my knownledge so it just had to be done.



As our community’s favorite archivist, Mr. JASON SCOTT would put it :
“The House is on Fire, the Fire Trucks are on Fire, The Fire is on Fire.”


I’ve used few different ways to preserve software in the past, but in this case, there’s most likely, not much of a problem with different copy protections so basic setup is enough. In this way you can name the file already what’s there for easing up the post-image processing. There surely is more ways to do this, specially when using GS, but let’s focus here on these options, specially on 5.25″ floppies. Basicly the same workflow works for preserving the 3.5″ disks.


You can use just Apple IIGS if you want for preserving either format. But i don’t have 3.5″ disk controller for my Apple //e so i am forced to use GS for 3.5″ preservation.

-Apple IIGS + 3.5″ floppy drive(s)
-ADTpro + Uthernet II -> ADTPro host on modern computer (in this case, OSX) to receive & save the floppy to image file.
-Cleaning 3.5″ floppy + bottle of isoprophyl alcohol for cleaning the drive head. Essential.

-Apple IIe + 5.25″ floppy drive (Disk ][)
-Apple IIGS + 5.25″ floppy drive
..just keep it open. You need to clean the R/W-head often anyway.

-CFFA3000 -> read directly to .dsk image (USB/CF)
-ADTpro + Uthernet II -> ADTPro host on modern computer (in this case, OSX) to read the floppy to image file.
-Sometimes the need is to save up an .nib file from problematic disks.
-Bottle of isoprophyl alcohol and cotton stubs for cleaning the drive head.


ADTpro v2.0.2 (Client on: Apple II, /// and Host (server) on: Windows, Linux, OSX etc).

-Automated cleaning program for cleaning the 3.5″ and 5.25″ floppies for Apple II & GS:
“You, Dusthead!” by Brutal Deluxe Software.
It’s available in 140k (5.25″) and 800k (3.5″) disk images as download.

Cleaning the drive’s read-head is important.
Old floppies vary in quality, they can have mold, dirt, whatever which really doens’t belong there.

When the floppy rotates inside the sleeve, the dust, dirt stucks on the head and blocks the readout results. Sometimes the whole inner disk can stuck inside the whole sleeve and cause the whole drive to slowdown in speed.

For 5.25″ floppies my workflow is pretty easy and straightforward:

Reading the disk images:inside_apple_iie_s-I use the Apple //e platinum with Disk ][-drive(s), CFFA3000 and USB-memory or ADTPro.
-Read the floppy with CFFA3000 to -> .dsk in USB-memory, name accordingly. I usually use some prefix-for the job, i.e. GERMAN001~
Sometimes the reading fails. Either: adjust your drive speed closer to optium, the disk is bad, or it’s copy protected. Just put it aside and look at it later.


Read the floppy with ADTPro -> your modern computer. Name accordingly. ADTPro allows you to read .nib files from the floppies as well. Sometimes that’s needed to get working image from the floppy.
I am using Uthernet-II card.

adtpro_configure_sSettings for the network:

adtpro_send_image_choose_drive_sChoose the volume and then you can choose either standard (S) .dsk image or (N) nibble .nib.

adtpro_send_image_sAnd send the image.

Transfering the image.

-Sort the actual real-life floppies:
-If the floppy is non-readable, it gives too much of errors when reading, i place it in “to be checked”-box.
-Good ones i put aside so long i’ve tested the images in emulator/real hardware to be working.



Working or not?virtual_ii_s
-To check the image that it works, what’s on them, it’s easiest to use an Emulator.
-Either one will do, but basicly i’m using Virtual II (OSX) and AppleWin (Windows or OSX under Wine).
-So, test in Emulator. Name the file. Sort accordingly in folders on your HDD (sorted, upload etc. your call here).

What is on them?ciderpress_s
-For checking the contest of the created image, easiest way is to use Ciderpress (Windows, OSX under Wine) wich allows you to take a look of the files in the disk image- if it’s in normal DOS 3.3, ProDOS-format.

-Sometimes if the image wont boot, you can just copy-paste the files to new empty disk image (.po/.do).

To upload or not to upload?
-I dont upload images with personal information on them, so check the image thru before uploading please. Somebody’s business records or loveletters from the 80’s really doesn’t belong to the internet.
-Upload non-preserved images for the community to be enjoyed.



Ciderpress v4.0.1 (Windows)
-Tool to process the disk images. Sometimes you can just copy the files off the image and put them in a fresh new image and save it up.

AppleWin v1.26.0.6 (Windows)
– Emulator for Windows.

-Virtual II v7.5.4 (OSX)
-Emulator for Mac OSX.
-Limited (free)
-Full licence 40€, limited 18€

-OpenEmulator (OSX)
-Now supports Apple //e (128k)!
-Also supports .fdi files made from .edd files (Paul Hagstrom’s python script).
-Download: (not released yet)

The Internet Archive : “Where everything belongs”

Textfiles (Jason Scott)



SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY AT 4AM :Crash-course to: Preservation for Copy-Protected floppies?

These can be either original floppies or just badly cracked/bit copied floppies you have obtained.

passport_menu_1Where you absolutely need to start this with is, to try running Passport by 4am first to the disk.
Either using some CF/USB/SD-card solution as bootup device or just plain floppy-to-floppy solution. Note: Picture from Emulator so Slot 6 is been used only.

What Passport does is it reads up the original and if the protection scheme is supported by the Passport, it uses the disks own RWTS-routines to read up the floppy and write the resulting disk image (.dsk) without the protection. Easy. Quick. Perfect!

With CFFA3000 you can easily do it as follows:
-CFFA3000 in Slot 7
-Disk II interface card in Slot 6
-Empty virtual floppy image (.dsk) in Slot 5

-Boot up the latest Passport from S5,D1 and have an empty .dsk image in Slot S5,D2.
-Check the Slots are chosen correctly at Passport (S6,D1 -> S5,D2)

-You can run verification to the original floppy by pressing “V”.

passport_crack-If the floppy is ok, you can try cracking it with pressing “C” for Auto-Cracking.
-If the protection scheme is supported by Passport it’ll report the result on screen and produce an unprotected .dsk file.
-Also if the protection scheme is not supported, it’ll report the result on screen.
-Boot the cracked .dsk with CFFA3000 or in emulator to see if it works.

If the Passport can’t crack your floppy, then you have to manually crack it, which then requires more knownledge, time and coffee. Sometimes such help can be found from the community..


Passport by 4am:

Apple II software library by 4am:




Get your Retro Apple ][ – products from :a2heaven_logo



Floppies, who could live without them in 2017?

Obtained literally thousands of 3.5″ and 5.25″ floppies lately for Apple II and Apple IIgs and this  where it ends to. Total chaos in desktop which is perfectly fine and normal. I love floppies!

This time it’s basicly all non-originals so there’s not much work for 4am’s absolutely stunning preservation software “Passport”. I’ll write an post later with more details about the process i use.


Passport by 4am:

CFFA3000 by R&D Automation, LLC.

ADTPro by David Schmidt:

Ciderpress (Windows):


Apple II – Chinese Game Manuals online

Finally, i got the remaining Chinese game manuals scanned! These are now all available at:

They are scanned either 300 or 60dpi, black&white and some have box pictures and floppy labels scanned, if available. The quality of the originals wasn’t that great sometimes, but i did what i could. Important is, that they are now been saved up in digital form.