Episode 18: Don Burtis

We’re back, with an episode that was three months in the making. Mike and Paul talk (in November 2016) about the state of things in our Apple /// worlds, and then speak at some length with Don Burtis (in December 2016), who designed (among many other things) the Microsoft SoftCard III.

Don Burtis, who is probably most prominently associated, in the eyes of the Apple II and III enthusiasts, as the designer of the Microsoft SoftCard, a Z80 coprocessor card that enabled the Apple II series computers to run CP/M software. As Paul Allen indicated in his book “Idea Man,” this was strategically important for Microsoft early on, as VisiCalc was beginning to take off on the Apple II for businesses, as it would allow Microsoft’s existing software to run on the platform without the delay and investment of porting the software to the 6502. Microsoft had a run at the project internally but was having trouble with the design, and Don Burtis (of Burtronix) was called in to design the board. And later, the SoftCard III for the Apple III, as well as several other peripheral cards for the Apple III (including the Floppycard III, Protocard III, Printercard III).

If you’re here just for the conversation with Don Burtis, it starts at minute 52.

But before we talked with Don, we talked about several of the following things:

Apple III ProFile Sales Kit

Apple Orchard

Apple National Account Program brochure (April 1982)

Universal PSU from ReactiveMicro

Apple /// (to /// plus) upgrade

Axlon RAMDISK 320

Gibson Light Pen system, manual scans

Apple /// SAM

Chris Zuhars’ homebrew Apple ///

Quinn Dunki’s Veronica

Hantarex CT 2000 monitor

Charles Mangin (Retroconnector) news:

A few Apple III images from Ian

ADTPro 2.02

Taylor Pohlman interviewed by Computer History Museum

And here, finally, are links to many of the things that came up in our conversation with Don Burtis:



One thought on “Episode 18: Don Burtis”

  1. Very interesting to hear about Don Burtis! I got the SoftCard /// but would like to hear and see (picture) more about the design Floppycard III, Protocard III, Printercard III.
    Are there still cards out there?

    Was the Printercard III an improved Apple /// Universal Parallel Interface Board Card 670-0017, or just a new design?

    Recently I got the Apple /// Pascal package and want to write some driver stuff for my hardware in it´s Assembler.

    I´m desperate looking for the fallowing Apple /// books (to buy, to borrow):

    Apple /// SOS Reference Manual 1 and 2
    Apple /// SOS Device Driver Writer’s Guide

    Those Books are online but in a very poor quality so it is hard/unimpossible to read the Assembler source of the Sample Block Driver Skeleton and the Sample Character Driver Skeleton.

    Any help welcome!

    Looking forward to hear more about the Apple ///!


    PS: it would be nice to have the shown Apple /// driver available for download…

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