Apple // e: nostalgia for 8-bit machines

jordan Mechner was one of the most notable programmers of the Apple II era. He is the creator of two of the most notable titles of that time: « Karateka » and « Prince of Persia «, emblematic games of those 8-bit computers, limited in many ways but unlimited in the imagination of programmers.

For the Apple II platform, real gems of the software were written, considering that they only had 64K bytes and, in addition, only 48K were usable by programmers since the rest occupied the operating system, the Applesoft language (a BASIC created no less than by Microsoft!).

Those who had the opportunity to see computing grow from 8-bit computers surely feel nostalgic for those times when computer science was still in its infancy. There were no -properly said- programming professionals, software engineers. Basically they were enthusiastic and even obsessive people to make the computer work as they wanted.

Back to the past

There are things that usually don’t come back. They say that “every past time was better”, and although it is a nice phrase, it is wrong, because today we have facilities that we could not even imagine in the past. The modern Internet, smartphones, and endless incredible apps are a miracle of technology, although in many cases we forget the pioneers of computing and the incessant work they did.

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Choplifter … a classic

Perhaps more than one would like to re-power their Apple II (if they still have one), and run the most formidable programs, the Apple Writer text editor (created by Paul Lutus ) or their Graforth language on 5.25-inch disks. , a very interesting implementation for an 8-bit computer.

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Well, you don’t have to physically go to the past. Today, thanks to emulators, programs that imitate the behavior of these machines from before, it is possible to return to relive those times, to run those programs again and also to understand and make context about this time that is already gone.

One of the best known emulators is AppleWin , which is an Apple // e emulator for Windows. It was written by Mike O’Brien in 1994 and the first version was announced in April 1995, just before the introduction of Windows 95.

It is a program written in C ++ and today the emulator is maintained thanks to the efforts of Tom Charlesworth and Oliver Schmidt. A 486 or better machine is required to run it. It is open source .

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AppleWin supports 80 columns, has 128 Kbytes of memory, two 5.25-inch “floppy disks,” a joystick, serial card, and a 6502 processor. The emulator supports low, high, and double resolution.

It can emulate monochrome and color monitors. It also emulates the sound of the horn on the Apple computer. It must be said that the emulator takes advantage of tools such as DirectX, Ethernet, images from Apple disks, // e, etc. It is undoubtedly one of the best emulators that can be accessed. The software executable can be downloaded from this site .

And the software for Apple // e?

Obviously the emulator cannot be run without the programs for it. On the Apple2OnLine site, you have a vast collection of software-generated for the Apple II, from the simplest to the most complex programs.

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There are compilers, assemblers, program editors, programming languages ​​(Forth, Pascal, C, among others), games -of course- and all kinds of educational programs. Come on, there is where to entertain.

In addition, in this same site you can find all kinds of documents. There are PDF books where you can even analyze the work of those who created the disk operating system, which may seem uninteresting to us today, but which undoubtedly required a lot of work to make it a reality.

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Beagle Bros, a sui generis software company

Are there simulators for Mac and Linux?

In addition to AppleWin, there are other emulators , such as Octalyzer, which works on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Sweet16, which works on Mac, POMDS, which works for Nintendo DS !, KEGS, which is an emulator for the next generation of Apple machines, the II GS ( Graphics and Color ), but which can run the previous software . There are also emulators in Java, like JACE and MicroM8 , one of the most interesting that I have seen in this endless work of reviving the old machines.