David Fradin was the product manager for the Apple /// in its final days and was the person tasked with winding down the project after the decision was made to kill the line. He has written an interesting guest post over at the Aha! blog that’s worth a read if you’re interested in the history of Apple’s first business computer. Check it out here.
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.
- Q & A: Taylor Pohlman (Infoworld, Dec 10, 1984).
- NCC ’80 and the Apple III (Compute, Jul/Aug 1980).
- Apple /// Dimensions (“Let Me Reintroduce Myself”).
- Apple “Adam” contest announcement ad.
- “Adam” contest winners (Applesource 14).
- Andy Hertzfeld “Spoiled” on Bandleys 3, 4, Texaco Towers.
- Very early floorplan of Bandley 1.
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.
- Computerworld July 12, 1982 (Koufax to face Ruth at Schibe)
- Greatest Baseball Game Never Played (at Wikipedia)
- Softalk July 1982 on Apple /// (and II) in baseball.
- ReActive Micro (if you have serious interest in an Apple /// version of the universal power supply, let them know; they are assessing potential demand now in order to decide whether it is worth producing them).
- On Three magazine scans:
- March 1988, v5n3: Review of Wico trackball
- May 1988, v5n5: Trackball ///: The sequel (now sold by On Three)
- Jun 1988, v5n6: Letters section, noting reliability issues with 65802.
- July 1988, v5n7: On Three programming contest announced
- Sep/Oct 1988 v5n9/10: Bob Consorti’s screen save/restore invokable; further notes on reliability issues with 65802.
- Apple /// Dimensions
- Apple magazine v3n1 (May 1982) (or smaller 300dpi scan)
- Apple III Parts List (from Level 2 service manual)
- Exploring Business BASIC (text of Taylor Pohlman’s columns, collected together as initial steps of a book project, nearly 250 pages!)