Episode 17: PSUs, KPIs, RPS, and more!

In this episode, Mike and Paul chat about various things that were newsworthy when the recording was made. Replacement power supplies, insights from the last Apple /// product manager, Apple ///-themed iPhone cases, drivers, Record Processing Services, and more.

For those following along in real time, this episode was recorded a long time after the one that preceded it, but even longer before it was actually released. There were some technical issues with the recording that required a fairly laborious amount of reconstruction, and, well, life kept happening as well. But, we’re still here.

So, here are the linky links.


Episode 16: Taylor Pohlman

In this episode, we interview Taylor Pohlman, who joined Apple in 1979 and became the Apple /// Product Marketing Manager in 1981, managing the “Reintroduction” of the Apple ///. He is also well known for the series of columns in Softalk magazine (“The Third BASIC”) introducing concepts in Business BASIC programming. Later, he left Apple to found Forethought (the company responsible for FileMaker and PowerPoint), co-founded Regent Systems, managed the development of GS-BASIC for the Apple IIGS, and then returned to Apple from 1986 to 1992, and is currently principal at Rohner & Associates, having worked with Sybase and Autodesk along the way.

We talked with Taylor about the innovations the Apple /// and SOS brought to the computing landscape, the launch at Disneyland, frustrations and missed opportunities with the Apple ///. We also heard about several other things, not specific to the Apple ///, such as the early days at Apple, interactions with Steve Jobs, launching the black Bell & Howell Apple II, using an Apple II to rock a baby cradle triggered by sound, Apple employees storming the Lisa building in Halloween costumes, the short-lived Apple IV, and lots more.


Episode 15: Baseball and Business BASIC

Mike came across a reference to “The greatest baseball game never played”, a well-hyped simulated baseball game broadcast in July 1982, pitting National League and American League stars of diverse eras against each other in an ultimate fictitious game—simulated using a custom-written program on an Apple ///. The game was later pressed as an LP, and contains not only the game but a description of the mechanics and technology as well.

Other various topics of interest are touched on as well. Chris on the Apple /// enthusiasts group uploaded an Apple /// parts list sourced from the Level 2 service manual, for help in repairs, replacing capacitors, etc. ReActive Micro is contemplating adding Apple /// support to its universal power supply, designed to replace the innards of our aging Apple ones. We talk a bit about the Wico trackball and locating the drivers for it, inspired by Robert’s post on Facebook, and about Apple magazine volume 3 number 1 from May 1982, and about On Three pulling the 65802 replacement kits after discovering matching individual 65802s to individual Apple ///s to be extremely hit-and-miss.

And, we close with Taylor Pohlman’s talk from the Phase /// conference about the history and development of Business BASIC, including a challenge he posed to the community for developing a method for using menus and window overlays, taken up by On Three magazine as a programming contest (announced in volume 5 number 7, entries due by December 1, 1988).

The audio on this talk is not great, but it is possible to hear it. The section of the talk that was incorporated into the On Three contest was quoted in the magazine as well.



Episode 14: Daniel Kottke, Diving into SOS.DRIVER, Misc., and Etc.

We begin 2016 discussing the “Driv3rs” python script with its author, Mike Whalen, some miscellaneous topics, and a phone interview with Daniel Kottke, from some years ago.

Mike Whalen’s Driv3rs script will take an SOS.DRIVER file and extract information about all of the drivers contained within, and we talk about using the script, finding drivers, the format of drivers within the SOS.DRIVER file, and other related things. Other miscellaneous topics include recapping power supplies, Apple /// prototyping boards, being foiled by copy protection, Monitor /// designs, the TRS-80 Models II and 4P, and probably other things.

Daniel Kottke is surely well known to anyone listening to this podcast, but he was an Apple technician in the very early days, working on the Apple /// project up until about when it shipped (then moving over to the Mac team). Daniel speaks with Mike in a phone interview from several years ago about various interesting features of the Apple /// and its development, and the general atmosphere within Apple before its launch.

Within the episode, various links were promised for the show notes, and they are as follows:


Dr. Sander on the Clock chip and Applelogic.org

Here are the relevant sections of the email from Dr. Sander, as mentioned in show #13. First, on the infamous clock chip:

“The Clock chip chosen was state of the art for the time and worked pretty well for the timeframe, the problem was that National notified us just as shipment started that their QA labs had determined that their production line had contamination problems and the parts were not reliable. Since there was no second source we were stuck.”

On this Applelogic.org article, “What Really Killed the Apple III“:

“I had not seen the page you referenced but a real problem with his analysis is that the boards he evaluated were not the original fine-line boards that shipped. In fact it would be very hard to find the original boards since Apple replaced them all about 6 to 9 mos. after the original shipping. My recollection is that the number of boards replaced at that time was a few thousand, the old boards were recycled and the parts reused. He clearly looked at the improved memory connector as the original had a single wipe connection and his description fit the replacement main board. Both boards were 2 layer boards but the original used finer lines and had a large number (about 25 as I recall) wires on the back to complete the wiring. Both the original and replacement boards were 2 layer boards, the replacement design was simply the result of applying more time to the layout to use looser design rules and fewer wires (I think a couple were still there). There were also a few functional changes on the second board such as the ability to add a switch to provide an interlaced display. The replacement program was quite thorough so by the end of the first year there almost no unreliable Apple III’s in the field. An original board probably exists somewhere but I don’t know of any. Apple III’s were widely used inside Apple and replaced most of the Apple II’s fairly quickly and there were no problems observed with reliability after the early boards were replaced.”

And on the issue of loose chips on the PCB:

“I believe the source of the chips coming out of the sockets is based on the following. The system would freeze and not run so the user would remove the board and push down on the chips and it would start working again. The chip might even have not been fully seated from production and the user would feel a slight motion and think that is what fixed it. What really happened was the the board flexure from pushing on the board caused enough motion in the memory connector to clear the open. This type of failure is caused by oxidation at the contact point due to insufficient force and the slightest motion will clear the oxidation. Lifting the computer and dropping it usually also cleared the oxidation. As indicated in the article the replacement connector had multiple high force contact points and provided a very reliable connection.”

Episode 13: Wendell Sander

This month, Paul’s Apple /// has trouble connecting with the world outside, so he speculates on possibilities for WiFi connectivity, and Mike’s Apple /// has trouble connecting with any worlds at all. So, we turn our attention to literature, including the full Apple /// patent, a survey of Apple II users, an early interview with Trip Hawkins, and books on the Apple ///. Paul’s gotten himself a Cursor /// and some late-era PFS software, and unexpectedly managed to get a CMC Quick-20 drive working, Mike’s gotten an Axlon 320 RAMdrive. And Charles Mangin has created a miniature Apple ///.

The second half of the episode is an interview Mike conducted over the phone with Wendell Sander, designer of the Apple ///, from a couple of years ago, covering things like the Apple-internal interactions between departments, problems and solutions to initial reliability issues, the RAM design and peripherals. Recorded from a speaker through the air for added retro sound quality, but very interesting indeed!

Episode 12: Martin Haye has created a M0N5T3R

On this episode, we talk with Martin Haye about his experience writing an assembler/disassembler for the Apple /// as his HackFest entry at KansasFest 2015. Martin is an experienced Apple II programmer, who decided to spend KansasFest familiarizing himself with the Apple ///. After initial forays into SOS didn’t go well, and realizing that in order to write assembly language programs on the Apple /// it would be useful to have a system monitor more like the one familiar from the Apple II, and a mini-assembler for 6502 code as well, Martin dug into the ROM code and wrote M0N5T3R, a small mini-assembler and disassembler for the Apple ///. And it boots instantly, too! Although it’s small, it was written in the space of a couple of days as part of the HackFest contest (and won second place!) at KansasFest. But he learned a lot from the experience, and we learned a lot from talking to him about it. Martin also gave us some first-hand descriptions of his trip to the Stanford archives of Apple documents (which we had discussed a bit in the previous episode). We also talk of one of the first e-books, written on an Apple /// and uploaded to The Source in real time, and an Apple /// found in the woods.

Some interesting links:

Episode 11: Fort Stanford, b/w Phase III: Dr. Melvin Astrahan

We’re back for Episode 11. This time, we talk about really very small advances in booting a /// from a flash drive, the Cursor /// joystick and the history of The Keyboard Company, and a visit to the Stanford archives of Apple materials to get the real scoop on EMI/RFI emissions and the timeline of the /// plus. After that, another talk from the 1987 Phase III conference, this one by Dr. Melvin Astrahan, author of Draw On /// and the Mr. Sandman game, talking about the graphical abilities of the Apple ///.

The trip to the Stanford archives yielded two interesting Apple ///-related documents. More about these on apple2scans.net (link will be retroactively inserted here when it’s ready over there), but here are the documents themselves:

Links of Interest:

The Best of Ottalini #2

This PDF is the extracted text of files on disks included in the Washington Apple Pi’s Apple /// public domain collection, specifically APPLE-3-WAP-wap-02a and -02b. They are available on the WAP Apple /// DVD, or at your favorite file repository.

These are Dave Ottalini’s best Apple /// newsletters and articles from the 1987 issues of the WAP Journal. Here’s the table of contents:



  • Sourceware products
  • Forth for the ///
  • SOS update


  • New Co-Chairman
  • Phase /// Update
  • Al Bloom joins WAP


  • /// EZPs upgrade
  • Business Basic on the GS


  • 3EZP Upgrade Dies
  • On Three News
  • Meeting and SIG notes


  • Troubleshooting
  • Titan Card problems


  • /// SIG Moves
  • Tip of the Month
  • Go Forth
  • ThreeWorks


  • Farewell to Richard Rowell
  • News from Sun Systems


  • Phase /// preview
  • ProFile for the office
  • New PD disks


  • Phase /// highlights and lowlights
  • New GS Basic
  • HyperCard


  • A look back at the year
  • Music on the ///

Other Articles:

A Plus: Article about the Apple ///
Taking apart the Apple /// demo program
Latest versions of Apple /// drivers
Kidword ///: A word processing program for the little folks
Latest versions of Apple /// programs
Bibliography of the /// Magazine for 1986
Bibliography of the /// Newsletter
What’s on the new member disk

Download the PDF Here:

The Best of Ottalini 2