Enhance your IIe, learn financial planning, new products. (Apple cart) Joe Desposito.
I thought there would be more time before I was forced to make the upgrade. But when a software package that I was reviewing flashed the message "needs a 65C02," I knew a decision had to be made.
The software product was one I spoke about in last month's column, Sorcim's SuperCalc3a. What surprised me about the message was that SuperCalc3a is not Macintosh-like with pulldown menus and mouse control. It seems as though Sorcim really has taken advantage of the features of the processor rather than the ROM features of the IIc.
So now the question: "Should I enhance my IIe and sacrifice IIe compatibility to gain IIc compatibility?" The enhancement, as was briefly mentioned in an earlier Apple Cart, affects four chips in the IIe. First is the 6502 (motherbord coordinate location B4). It is replaced with a 65C02, a CMOS version of the original chip. Besides requiring less power than its predecessor, the 65C02 has 27 additional instructions. Second and third are two monitor ROMs, the cd ROM and ef ROM (location E8 and E10 respectively). Last is the character generator ROM (location F4).
Most compatibility problems are caused by the new character generator ROM, which contains a nest of mouse-text characters between $40 and 5F. These characters replace flashing characters (which was a duplicate set) and uppercase inverse characters.
The upgrade costs about $70. In addition to the chip change, you receive a short manual that describes the changes and a sticker to put over the power light on the IIe keyboard. The problem with the upgrade is that your friendly dealer confiscates your original chip set. Thus, you lose forever IIe compatibility, which Apple estimates at only 5% of the total Apple II software universe, but which is in reality far greater. (When Apple speaks about compatibility, it often is referring to the latest upgraded versionu of a product, which you may not have.)
When you opt for the upgrade, you are assuring yourself of complete compatibility with all new software products. You also gain some additional benefits that IIc owners now enjoy. One is that you no longer have to keep track of the status of the CAPS LOCK key; you can type your Basic programs in upper-or lowercase. Another is that you will be able to boot ProDOS programs from a hard disk by placing the controller card in slot 7. You'll also notice that scrolling is a lot smoother after the upgrade. And for those who like to dabble in assembly language programming, a 6502 miniassembler is provided. Finally, whenever you turn on the computer, you will see Apple IIe displayed rather than Apple II.
Even greater than any of these immediate gains is the promise of a new breed of Macintosh-like software for the IIe/IIc. With an expanding universe of IIc machines, and with the converts from the IIe camp, software companies should be greatly encouraged to include pull-down menus and mouse support in their new products.
But the problem remains. Once you opt for the upgrade, you may find that some of your favorite programs, Apple writer IIe for instance, no longer function properly. Is there a way out of this dilemma? Yes there is, but it may take a little work.
If you have to give up your ROMs, you can always make backup copies of them. You'll need two 2764 EPROMs to copy the monitor ROMs, and one 2732 EPROM to copy the character generator ROM. You can either do the copying yourself or have it done by an EPROM copying service. The only hitch when you use the copying service is that you must supply the code for the EPROM on disk.
Once you have the copies made, you can create printed circuit boards that hold two EPROMs but fit into one socket. an SPDT slide switch can be inserted into the 5-volt lines of the chips to power either the IIe or the IIc EPROM/ROM.
So if you want to have a finger in both pies, you can. One last parting comment: If you bought your IIe in March, 1985 or later, don't bother to bring it back to the dealer for the upgrade--you already have an enhanced machine.
Squire Teaches Financial Planning
If you're the type of person who bought Sylvia Porter's books, but never found time to read them, you may want to try a different tack in your quest to learn more about the dollars you work so hard to earn.
Blue Chip Software has produced a fascinating financial planning simulation called Squire for Apple II and Macintosh computers (as well as other models). By playing Squire you can learn how to make your money work for you. The program teaches you how to use different investment tools, such as stocks, bonds, IRAs, money market accounts, etc. to help you reach your financial goals.
A 73-page manual accompanies the software, though you needn't read through it to play. It serves as both an introduction to the game and a reference manual when you want to brush up on those facets of the game with which you are not familiar, like the commodities market.
You may have tried Blue Chip Software's other financial simulations, Millionaire, Baron, and Tycoon. Of all the Blue Chip products, I think Squire hits closets to home. It is an interesting and entertaining way to educate yourself about personal financial planning. Suggested retail prices of the Apple II and Macintosh versions are $59.95 and $69.95 respectively.
New Product Announcements
It is nice to see that at least one company remembers that there is an Apple II +. Videx has just announced the Appleworks Modifier, which reconfigures the Appleworks startup disk so that the program can be used on an Apple 11+ with a Videoterm 80-column card and the one-wire shift modification. Retail price is $49.
A most interesting product for the Apple IIc is a plug-in 300 baud portable modem that attaches to the game port at the rear of the computer. Called the ProModem 300c, it draws its power from the port, but doesn't leave you without a place to attach your mouse--it includes another game port in its 2-1/4" x 2-3/4" x 3" IIc colored case. The modem is from Prometheus Products, Inc. and sells for $199 with communications software included.
Practical Peripherals has announced two new products: the Switchport IIc and the Switchport 232. Switchport IIc is a serial-to-parallel converter for the Apple IIc. It includes a utility disk containing graphics dump routines and Mousepaint drivers. The Switchport 232 is also a serial-to-parallel converter, but it works with any computer that has an RS-232s output. Both units have a suggested retail price of $109.