The new blue Apple; Quadlink makes your IBM think it's an Apple. (evaluation) Stephen Arrants.
The New Blue Apple
Quadlink Makes Your IBM Think It's An Apple
In 1980, the Quadram Corporation entered the microcomputer market with a selection of add-on boards for the Apple. The Microfazer and Interfazer print buffers were well-designed and popular. When the IBM PC was introduced, Quadram came out with an add-on memory card, a dual-printer card, and a battery powered clock card. In 1982 these special cards were bundled together into one card for the IBM PC as the Quadboard. Now comes the Quadlink, a card designed to run Apple software on a PC.
At a cost of $680, the Quadlink isn't designed for the casual, home user. For businesses with a large investment in Apple software or a company using different microcomputers, the Quadlink offers software portability between the two most popular business microcomputers.
The Quadlink package consists of the Quadlink card, three cables, an instrution manual, and two disks: The circuit board has 80K of RAM. When the Apple mode is selected, 16K holds Apple instructions, leaving 64K for your programming applications. Quadram decided not to place Apple ROM on the card, thus avoiding a potential lawsuit. The card also contains disk drive controller and video display circuitry. The 6502 microprocessor is also present. What you have, then, is an Apple computer on one card--an amazing feat.
Installation is involved, but not too difficult. The Quadlink is designed to fit into one slot on the expansion bus. You don't just plug it in and run it, though.
Three cables are supplied. The first cable connects the Quadlink to the disk drive controller. You must disconnect the cable from the controller and attach it to a connector on the Quadlink. Then connect the Quadlink to the disk controller. Next, disconnect the speaker wire from the PC motherboard and attach it to the Quadlink. Take the speaker cable supplied and attach it to both the motherboard and the Quadlink. If you have game controls, connect them to the Quadlink at this time.
Check all connections again to make sure they are correct. A wrong connection could ruin both the Quadlink and the PC. Re-install and cards you may have taken out, and put the cover back on. If you are using an IBM supplied or RGB monitor, take the last cable and plug one end into the video display card and the other into the top mini-D socket of the Quadlink. That's it. Installation is complete.
To see if the installation was a success, boot PC-DOS, insert the Quadlink disk in drive A the type QUADLINK EXE. At the prompt, type in CTRL ALT A. The system then prompts you to insert the Filer disk and enter CTRL ALT DEL. If all went well with the installation, Apple DOS 3.3 takes over, and your PC now thinks it is an Apple. If you don't see the familiar Apple prompt, ], but get sent into the Apple monitor, try rebotting the Filer disk again.
If both drives start whirring, strange noises come from the speaker, or anything else out of the ordinary happens, Turn off the Power! Open the PC and recheck your connections. If everything still looks O.K., check with your dealer.
The 24 X 40 display looks like an Apple screen, down to the formation of letters and graphics blocks. Since Quadlink shares the disk drives with the PC, disk action is similar. When Quadlink is installed and running, the IBM PC is an Apple.
Quadram claims that most Apple and Apple-compatible software will run on the Quadlink. Random tests I performed proved this to be true. Table 1 lists the software that I was able to run and also the software that gave the Quadlink some problems.
I worked on a PC with Quadlink installed for a day, treating it like an Apple. I ran Apple Writer, and some products I am in the process of reviewing and then re-ran them on the Apple. Text files created with the Quadlink were completely readable on the Apple. Anything saved on the PC drives was transferable.
There are a few caveats when running Apple software, however. If the program uses any elaborate protection scheme, such as half-tracking or PEEKing, it will specific Apple memory location, it will not work with the Quadlink. Look out for programs that read from serial/ parallel, cassette, or keyboard ports.
The Quadlink will run on the PC-XT, but cannot use the hard disk. Also, don't expect to use more than one Quadlink in a PC.
Documentation and Software
The User's Guide comes in a ring binder and is enough to get you started. It briefly discusses the differences between the Apple and the IBM Pc, different operating systems, Applesoft and error messages, installation and operation. Also included is a bibliography for further reading on the Apple. If you are serious about using a Quadlink, try to get manuals on Applesoft Basic and Apple DOS.
Software consists of the Quadlink disk and The Filer from Central Point Software. The Filer is a utility disk which performs disk back-up, file utilities, a disk speed check, and a disk system check. It also acts as your system master disk, installing DOS when botted.
If you have an IBM PC but need to run Apple software, the Quadlink may be the solution you have been waiting for. Installation is relatively easy, and most Apple software will run on the Quadlink. At $680, it is considerably cheaper than an Apple IIe.
The Quadlink shouldn't hurt the Apple market. Rather, it should help to broaden and enhance it.
Table: Software For The Quadlink
Products: Quadram Quadlink (computer apparatus)