Apple's troubled times, amazing II products, contest winners, color Mac coming? (Apple Cart) Owen W. Linzmayer.
On May 31, citing declining sales and the need to cut costs, Apple president John Sculley announced a company-wide reorganization that cost the jobs of 1200 employees and forced charismatic co-founder Steve Jobs to relinquish most of his responsibility for day-to-day operations. While it is far too early to tell if the reorganization will prove successful, my belief is that it can only help.
The time has come for Apple to be run by professional, not entrepreneurial, managers. If Apple really wants to compete with IBM, undeniably the best managed company on this planet, it must accept its role as a legitimate business. The trick will be for Apple to retain the freewheeling, innovative spirit upon which it was built as it makes the transition to beig business. His ego and idiosyncrasies aside, Jobs did a tremendous job of bringing the Mac to market and is well suited to his new role as "the creator of powerful ideas and the champion of Apple's spirit." Let's hope that his position is more than that of an impotent figurehead.
Apple needs the credibility the new management reorganization brings with it. Preceding the power politics, we saw Apple all but abandon the venerable II line in favor of the more stylish Mac. Owners and dealers alike began questioning Apple's commitment to the Apple II product line. Wozniak's leaving Apple in the spring only served to confirm everyone's worst suspicions.
Amidst the doom and gloom prophecy of a hostile corporate takeover, I am encouraged by the reunion of the Macintosh and Apple II divisions. According to Sculley, Apple is being reorganized along the functional lines of marketing and manufacturing.
Whenever you take a product-based company and restructure it functionally, there is bound to be a great deal of job overlap. It is this overlap that was trimmed by the staff cuts.
When I last wrote the Apple Cart column back in June, I told you about an internal CP/M card for the IIc from Applied Engineering. Not content to rest on their laurels, the folks from Carrollton, TX have scored another hit--not only can you have a Z80 coprocessor inside your IIc, you can add an additional 512K of RAM. Let's take a closer look at Z-Ram.
Z-Ram is 100% compatible with all IIc hardware and software. Available with either 256K or 512K of memory, Z-Ram is a printed circuit board about the size of the IIc keyboard under which it resides. Installation of the Z-Ram requires you to take the case off your IIc and remove the 65C02 and MMU chips from the motherboard. After placing them in their designed sockets on the Z-Ram card, you must insert the entire board into the two vacant sockets of the IIc. A short wire with a small plastic "grabber" on the end is then attached to pin 2 of the TMG chip to pick up necessary timing signals. If all goes well, this installation takes less than 10 minutes.
Unfortunately, the 65C02 socket on my IIc was too large which prevented the Z-Ram board from fitting snuggly into place. Although they assure me that I am an exceptional case (my mother has known that for years), I recommend that you have Applied Engineering install your Z-Ram if you are the least bit apprehensive and can afford to be without your computer while they install and test the product.
Once the board is installed, there is no visible indication of the raw computing power contained under the hood of your IIc. Z-Ram comes with three disks that unleash the tempest in your machine. The most useful disk is the Super Apple Works Expander, which modifies Apple's popular integrated package so that it recognizes the extra memory in the Z-Ram card. Owners of the 256K version of Z-Ram can look forward to AppleWorks desktops of 229K (compared to the standard 55K), and those with a 512K Z-Ram get an enormous 413K desktop on which to create a monster spreadsheet too large to be stored on one disk. You can even opt to modify your AppleWorks copy so that the entire program loads into memory. This adds two minutes to the initial boot time, but greatly reduces disk access during use. Just as VisiCalc once helped sell Apple IIs, AppleWorks should now help sell IIc computers equipped with Z-Ram.
The extra memory of the Z-Ram can also be used as a blindingly fast ramdrive. Applied Engineering includes a program disk for creating DOS 3.3, ProDOS, and Pascal ramdrives. Additionally, the CP/AM 4.0A system disk for use with the Z80 coprocessor on the Z-Ram has the appropriate software to utilize a ramdrive, although most IIc users will admittedly never use CP/M programs. It is entirely possible that Applied Engineering will soon offer a similar card wtih a real-time clock instead of a Z80 coprocessor. Now that is something to look forward to!
The documentation provided with Z-Ram is disappointing--at $449 for the basic 256K Z-Ram ($549 for the 512K model), Applied Engineering should provide a professionally typeset manual with thorough instructions on installation, troubleshooting, CP/M, and operation of the ramdrives. Instead, purchasers receive a poorly reproduced 30-page booklet filled with cursory explanations and references to other manuals and books that the average user may not own. Even so, I give Z-Ram a thumbs up recommendation. If you are addicted to AppleWorks, you'll love Z-Ram.
For you Apple IIe owners salivating at the very thought of the power of a Z-Ram, there is Ramworks, also from Applied Engineering. Ramworks plugs into the auxiliary slot of the IIe and provides from 64K to 1Mb (1000K) of on-board memory in addition to 80-column text capability. The basic card can be upgraded to a maximum of 512K, and with the help of piggyback cards you can add more memory and an RGB video interface.
Like Z-Ram, Ramworks comes complete with ramdrive and AppleWorks expanding software. Ramworks does not have a Z80 coprocessor, but Applied Engineering sells ramdrive software for use with other CP/M cards. Also available is a VisiCalc preboot program ($29). Without a doubt, AppleWorks running on a IIe with Ramworks and a Sider hard disk (see review August 1985) will be one of the most popular Apple II configurations for power users.
The Time of Day
Apple's newest disk operating system, ProDOS, was designed to let the II family grow beyond those severely limited 143K disk drives. Among its many improvements over DOS 3.3, ProDOS can accommodate time and date stamping of files, yet ironically, Apple did not build a real-time clock inside the ProDOS-based IIc. It has taken a long time for a third-party manufacturer to come up with a IIc clock, but I think you will agree it was worth the wait.
The IIc System Clock from Creative Peripherals Unlimited (CPU) comes in an attractive white box that stands 2" high, 2-3/4" wide and 5" long. Styled along the same lines as the IIc, the system clock plugs into either of the serial ports on the back of the computer but does not restrict access to that port. Printers and modems can be plugged into the back of the IIc system clock and will operate just as if the clock didn't exist. In the unlikely case that the system clock interferes with the normal operation of a serial device, you can simply bypass it by flipping a switch on the outside of the unit.
The IIc system clock is set via software. The clock may be purchased for $119.95 with Time-Trax, a menu-driven time management program that I reviewed in October of 1984. Briefly, Time-Trax is a calendar program that keeps track of appointments, birthdays, errands, and reminders. While it is a well-polished program, I am more interested in using the clock for time and date stamping of ProDOS files.
If you decided to buy the IIc system clock without Time-Trax you will pay only $79.95 and get a clock utilities program with which you can install the clock driver on any non-protected ProDOS volume that is bootable and has fewer than 51 files in the root directory and a minimum of five free blocks. This includes ramdrives and hard disks. When you boot a ProdDOS volume on which you have installed the clock driver, a message to that effect appears, and from that point on the system recognizes the clock. This means that when you boot AppleWorks, for example, it will default to the correct date. Any files you copy using the IIc system utilities disk will automatically have the time and date stamped onto the directory of the destination disk.
CPU sells the IIc system clock for $79.95 with clock utilities software, a phillips head screw driver, two data disk labels, and a manual that describes how to use the clock from within your own programs. For $119.95, you get all that and the Time-Trax program. As always, three AA batteries are not included.
The Envelope Please
The deadline for the great Apple programming contest has long since passed. The entries have been evaluated and the prizes awarded. While space restrictions keep us from printing the listings of the winning programs, I would like to acknowledge the winners and thank everyone who took the time to submit programs. The names of the winners and their programs are shown in the
Most of the programs submitted are currently available for easy downloading on the Creative Computing SIG on CompuServe (type go pcs22 at any function prompt).
Color Mac: Second Sighting
John Anderson reported in May that a very reliable source had actually seen a color Macintosh computer. Now comes confirmation of the existence of such a beast, from none other than Steve Wozniak himself.
When an observant user noticed Woz poking around CompuServe's CB simulator early one Saturday morning, he struck up a conversation during the course of which Steve admitted that Apple does have plans to release a color version of the Mac.
While specifics were not disclosed, this report dovetails nicely with rumors that Apple will beging discounting the Mac line in time for the back-to-school buying season. Certainly Apple feels pressure from the Amiga (see story elsewhere in this issue) and the AtariST, and a color Mac with its installed base of software is just the thing to keep Apple a step ahead of the rest.