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What's the one (or more) features you wanted the Apple II to have?


Keatah
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I guess it depends on what you consider a "feature". I wanted a better sound chip. That was the thing I was most embarrassed about whenever I'd go to my friend's house and compared his C64 games to my Apple II.

 

I got that in the IIGS, but I never was able to own one at the time. I have one now that it doesn't matter.

 

I'm not sure if this is related to the color text thing, but I also wanted white graphics and text to look "cleaner" - I had a monochrome monitor so normally I didn't deal with this but it was another source of minor embarrassment whenever I'd use a computer at school to show something to my friends and any white text or graphics would just bleed all over the place. Kids are dumb, and they'd constantly mock me for that, simply for owning a machine that had graphics and text that bled in color.

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Sadly, as long as the Apple II color is based on NTSC artifacting, you are stuck with the color bleed.
At best, you could disable color.

The rest of my list...

Lower case should have been standard on the II+. Putting the language card on board would have made sense as well. The Franklin Ace 1000 has both.

In moving from the Apple I to the Apple II or from the II to the II+, Apple should have fixed the video memory layout to sequential addresses.
BASIC needed an ELSE statement, and at the very least, a SOUND command.

The 65802 should have been standard in IIe, IIc, etc... machines after it's release and the CPU should have had a 2MHz mode.

The IIgs should have been at least 4 MHz.

A DAC should have been used instead of a speaker toggle. It's way more flexible.

Some sort of programmable timer should have been included. The VIA on the Mockingboard has a timer, but the machine could have had something built in based on scan lines.
Between that and the DAC you can produce some pretty decent sound in games.

Edited by JamesD
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I wanted a better sound chip.

 

That was also my biggest complaint. I eventually got a Mockingboard but the lack of application support left me disappointed with that as well. It would have been welcomed by many had Apple upgraded the audio capabilities the same time 80 column and more memory became standard. The //gs was awesome but it was pretty late to the game and by that time many of us were moving on from the Apple II and other 8-bit systems.

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I suppose if the CBM-II series with their onboard SID chip (*) had been a bigger success, Apple would have implemented an AY or SN into the IIe just to keep up the pace with business customers who preferred a bit of chip music when they did their spreadsheets, databases and word processing.

 

(*) However I'm absolutely sure Commodore added that for bragging rights, not because it was practical for that type of computer.

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Although I didn't really understand it back in the day, the main issue is that Apple was a company originally founded to build the inventions of a single person. Wozniak was a technically gifted guy who created computers using off-the-shelf components. However, this meant the computers would need to be minimalist designs. If you wanted fancy features, it had slots but the cost would be high and the support would be low.

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Although I didn't really understand it back in the day, the main issue is that Apple was a company originally founded to build the inventions of a single person. Wozniak was a technically gifted guy who created computers using off-the-shelf components. However, this meant the computers would need to be minimalist designs. If you wanted fancy features, it had slots but the cost would be high and the support would be low.

Well, one of the problems with the Apple II design is Woz was a brilliant engineer trying to be clever to reduce the parts count.

He was very proud of that design I'm sure and for the Apple I that made sense.

For the Apple II he should have thrown in a few more chips to fix the screen layout for the sake of making the programs easier and faster.

 

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Well, one of the problems with the Apple II design is Woz was a brilliant engineer trying to be clever to reduce the parts count.

He was very proud of that design I'm sure and for the Apple I that made sense.

For the Apple II he should have thrown in a few more chips to fix the screen layout for the sake of making the programs easier and faster.

The Apple I was really a simple design, It could only output a line of text at a time, which could then be scrolled up the screen. I'm sure Woz saw the Apple II as a monumental improvement. Everyone else was doing VLSI stuff, though.

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In 76-77?

Well, Commodore bought MOS about that time and Atari and TI had several VLSI projects underway. Apple managed to break through by making efficient use of common parts, which makes them sort of the opposite of IBM who designed the PC using available chips in a much more textbook and expensive way.

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..IBM who designed the PC using available chips in a much more textbook and expensive way.

 

..which ultimately proved to be more versatile and upgradeable.

 

Make no mistake, while I do like the magic of custom chips, those very parts can be limiting and lead to closed architectures that are more difficult to upgrade and expand without major redesigns.

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..which ultimately proved to be more versatile and upgradeable.

 

Make no mistake, while I do like the magic of custom chips, those very parts can be limiting and lead to closed architectures that are more difficult to upgrade and expand without major redesigns.

Well, the lack of a proprietary architecture led to the clones which led to more and more 3rd party upgrades, so IBM lost control of their platform while Apple still tightly controls their ecosystem (even though Apple II's were cloned as well).

 

Custom hardware does initially box you in, but as machines get more powerful the trend is for the hardware to become more generic and abstracted. The most amazing thing to me is that the Mac platform has jumped to a totally new hardware platform not once but twice, and now runs on what is essentially a PC clone.

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Name one custom part in any of the computer "Trinity" or hobbyist computers of that time.
You can't, there weren't any. Everyone used off the shelf parts for computers in 1976 and 1977.
Even the Exidy Sorcerer in 1978 was off the shelf parts.

The only place custom ASICs were being used was video games. Bally, Atari, etc...
TI released the 9900 in 1976 to go in their TI-990 minicomputers that were competition vs the DEC PDP, not to go in a personal computer, and the 9918 didn't get released until 1979.
MOS was purchased in 1976 but Commodore didn't use a custom part until the VIC-20. Everything else had existed since the KIM 1.
The first personal computer based on custom ASICs that I'm aware of is the Atari 8 bit in 1979.
FWIW, even the Amiga prototype used off the shelf parts. They had some custom PALs/GALs but that's about it.
The CoCo III prototype was the same way.

The II+ was released in 1979 and they hadn't seen competition using custom ASICs before. It basically just included the upgrades that were made to the II.
Should they have added more? Why? They had slots!
Really, the II+ was where the Apple started to take off. It's where the Apple II really started looking like what we consider an Apple II to be.
Apple did use a custom ASIC for the IIe. It was just existing hardware, but I think they had planned on dropping the II series.
It might have been smart to include a DAC, timer, tone generator, or built in ports of some kind... but they were selling them about as fast as they could make them anyway.

The II was an extension of the Apple I design. The II+ integration of most of the II enhancements. They left out lower case, and the language card though.
The IIe added lower case, the language card, and used a custom ASIC, but nothing proprietary circuit wise.

The thing is... we are looking at this in hindsight. If Apple makes a break from the II, fixes the display, and adds some other features in a custom ASIC, they wouldn't have haf the clone issue for sure. But the open nature of the Apple II is also largely responsible for the machine's success. Atari went the opposite way, had a faster CPU, more capable hardware, and yet they struggled.

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You're absolutely correct. IMO, Apple was a David vs. Goliath story. Despite Apple's humble beginnings, Woz was good enough with TTL logic to offer machines that were simpler and avoided many of the costlier commercial VLSI chips of the day (the best example being his incredibly simple disk controller). But, it would be custom silicon that would eventually make machines from Atari, Commodore and others more affordable and feature rich. My point was that custom VLSI wasn't on their radar for a long time, and even then it was mainly used just to reduce the parts count of later model Apple II's. Also (from what I've heard) he felt at the time that hardware should remain minimalistic and wasn't a big fan of the rather complicated IIgs.

 

Despite having arguably superior technology, most computer companies were killed off by a nearsighted corporate attitude that Apple didn't have. Say what you want about Steve Jobs, but he was one of the few who understood that these things were the future.

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I think the best example of the II lineup is the Enhanced //e. And while it had custom chips in the form of the IOU and MMU, they weren't much more the the II+ logic condensed and packed into 2 large 40-pin ICs.

 

The power reduction was significant enough that I could eliminate the fan. And that was also helped along by the 65C02, which seemed to generate even less heat.

 

I also argue the Apple II was the most adaptable to the way users worked. I remember making less concessions and getting the least frustrated in comparison to the micros of the 70's and even the likes of the Atari 400/800 and Vic20/C64. Let alone the TI-994/A or even the TRS-80.

 

I just couldn't dig the other contemporary 8-bit machines. But I didn't dislike them either.

 

In a strange retarded/ADD roundabout way, the Apple II was like a box of relays to me. Not the fastest game in town, but sharp and crisp. Similar to a late 486/Pentium DOS era computer. Unencumbered. As far as the funky graphics and text addressing goes.. bagghhh.. we just learned it and worked around it as needed.

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Linear screen layout. That, and at least a VBLANK flag or timer would have made a lot of programs better / faster.

 

I actually agree with not using interrupts in the base design. This decision did limit software some, but it also made expansion cards and accelerators easy. Users, who did expand, got a lot out of that choice.

 

IMHO, Apple could have made a supported video / sound expansion. Doing this, and using the 65802 would have set the stage for the GS nicely. Business users would have taken advantage of some basics, like color 80 column text and a higher overall resolution bitmap. (which they got in the expanded models anyway)

 

As for custom chips... My thought on this has gone back and forth over the years. For sure, the custom chips did make for feature rich, but seriously purpose designed computers.

 

The Apple, running 80 columns, is just enough. Expansion cards were made for all kinds of tasks. This is a win over the custom chips in terms of just needing a workstation type machine. It's a loss for the home overall.

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The 65802 could have made a lot of difference.
The larger stack, stack relative addressing, 16 bit support, memory move instructions, and 24 bit addressing instructions... all leads to faster programs, smaller compiler output, and clear upgrade path to the IIGS.
If Apple had an upgrade program I think it would have been a no brainer.

You end up with more software written for the 65802 and 65816 instead of most software running through backwards compatibility.
Run it on the 65802... it runs but doesn't have a lot of memory for data.
Run it on the 65816 and the same code can address a lot of memory.

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I've recently started to learn more about programming the 658XX CPUs.
658XX code can be shorter, faster, easier to write, requires you to jump through fewer hoops for fast code, etc...
The 658XX has noticeable shortcomings vs the 6809 and 6309, but it's well ahead of the 6502.

Too bad the 6516 (sometimes referred to as the 6509) was never produced.
We could have seen similar features in 1979. I think having the Atari launch with that chip would have forced other companies to migrate.

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I just got an old ROM 0 or ROM 1, not sure, GS! As winter approaches, I may join you.

 

Agreed. It's amazing just how many 6502's are still made and sold. Just one of these paths may have improved tons of products!

 

And dammit, the 6809 should have appeared in more places. It's such a fun chip. Beautiful. At least we got the CoCo 3. Respectable graphics, MMU, good clock. If I want my 6809 fix, that's not a bad way to go.

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