Apple announces the IIc. George A. Miller.
On April 24, 1984 Apple Computer made an earthshaking announcement: the Apple IIc. The Moscone Center in San Francisco shook for nearly three minutes with the force of 6.2 on the Richter scale. The occasion for the announcement was a combined dealer/sales convention for Apple. The theme of the convention was "Apple II Forever," which neatly summarizes Apple's long range strategic plan for the Apple II.
The Apple IIc contains a 65C02 CPU operating at 1.02 MHz--essentially a low heat version of the processor used in all Apple IIs. It contains 128K of RAM and 16K of ROM, which includes Applesoft Basic. A 5-1/4" disk drive is built into the unit along with a full-function keyboard. The power transformer has been removed from the main unit and attached to the power cord. This allows the Apple IIc to run off of an AC outlet, a car cigarette lighter, or a battery pack. The unit has a slim design, is ivory in color, and weighs only 7-1/2 pounds. The little handle on the back is most useful for propping the unit up for a proper keyboard angle. It is only marginally useful for toting the unit since you also need to tote the power cord, disks, and the RF modulator in hopes of tracking down a TV set to plug into.
The rear panel contains a potpourri of sockets which lets the Apple IIc neatly communicate with the outside world. There are sockets for a display screen, a printer, a modem, a mouse, a joystick, and a second floppy disk drive. In keeping with Apple's international outlook, each socket is labelled with an icon which identifies the function of the socket. A built-in speaker allows five octaves of sound.
The Apple IIc offers three graphics modes: 16-color low resolution (40 by 48), six-color high resolution (280 by 192), and monochrome ultra-high resolution (560 by 192).
The keyboard is really nice. The keys are full-stroke and have an audible click. Upper- and lowercase are available, and there is a tiny switch at the top of the keyboard to allow you to switch from 40 columns to 80 columns. Next to that switch is another one used to change the keyboard from QWERTY to Dvorak. On the international versions of the Apple IIc the keyboard switch will allow instant flip from your country keyboard layout to American.
The Apple IIc sells for $1295. Accessories include a printer, mouse, monitor, monitor stand, carrying case, second power pack, and disk drive. The printer is called the Apple Scribe thermal-transfer printer. It costs $299 and is capable of high-quality text and graphics in black and white or color. If you get the color ribbon, you can print in cyan, magenta, and yellow. By careful control of adjacent colors you can create combinations of these colors. Clever software should permit a whole rainbow of output.
The mouse sells for $99 and is the same mouse as comes with the Macintosh. In fact, free with your purchase of the mouse is a program called Mousepaint, which bears a strong resemblance to MacPaint. The monitor is a very small, green phosphor screen which sells for $199; the stand for $39. The carrying case costs $39, and the external drive, $329. Apple's Imagewriter can also be connected to the IIc. Perhaps most interesting was the announcement of a future accessory called the flat display. This is a full 80-column by 24-row, low power LCD display is scheduled to be released in the fall and will sell for $600. With this display and the battery pack, the Apple IIc may actually achieve portability.
Enough of the facts. Now for some editorial comment and speculation: It is clear that the Apple IIc is a direct attack on the IBM PCjr. The two machines sitting side-by-side look very much alike. They both have 128K memory, one disk drive, an external power pack, and basically the same back panel of sockets. They are basically the same price, and both claim heritage of their family line of software. The keyboard on the Apple IIc is much better than the IBM PCjr. The CPU on the PCjr is much larger and faster than the one on the Apple. The Apple IIc will be able to run on a battery; the IBM PCjr was not designed to be battery driven. You can attach a mouse to either. The IBM PCjr allows bus expansion out the side and ROM cartridges in the front. This war will have no clear winner. Apple fans will buy the Apple IIc, and IBM fans will buy the PCjr.
I believe the Apple II will live forever. There is enough momentum to let it coast to the age at which it will become a museum piece. The Apple IIc has got to be the final transmutation of the Apple II for the following reasons: The Apple II requires a 5-1/4" disk drive for compatibility with its base of 10,000 programs. The Apple IIc is about as small a package one can design with a full-function keyboard and a 5-1/4" disk drive.
Apple has staked out a very bright future with its Lisa/Macintosh and will start devoting more of its energies to the 68000 chip and the 3-1/2" disk drive. The Macintosh is a revolutionary machine. The Apple IIc is evolutionary and the final (I believe) installment in the Apple II line.
Apple claims that 90 percent of the 10,000 Apple II programs will run on the Apple IIc. 10,000 programs should not be sneezed at; however, how many of them are really useful? Software becomes obsolete, just as hardware does. You can use only one word processor at a time, yet there are dozens for the Apple II. The newest wrinkle in "user-friendliness" is the mouse. How many of these 10,000 programs use the mouse?
These observations notwithstanding, Apple has made a very strong move with the Apple IIc and its marketing of it. I am convinced of the long term viability of Apple as the computer company of choice.