Episode 9: Phase III: The Future of the Apple III Hardware and SOS

Back from a long hiatus, Mike and Paul discuss the newly-available cornucopia of games for the Apple ///, and then introduce the next bit of audio from the 1987 Phase III conference. The conference presentation was a panel discussion of the future of Apple III hardware and SOS, with Bob Consorti of On Three and Rob Turner of Apple (but formerly of On Three) as the panelists. Discussion topics include the meaning of “obsolete,” the feasibility of a SCSI card, the problems with creating a slot expander, the availability and support of the /// vs. the IIGS and marketing. There is a fair amount of audience participation in the panel, and the questions and monologues from the audience are not always very easy to hear. There also seemed to be a dance party going on next door.

Games discussed:

Mr. Sandman (Dr. Mel Astrahan, On Three)
Tic-Tac-Toe (John Lomartire)
Apple Chomp (Dan A. Kunesh)
Atomic Defense (Andy Hertzfeld)

Disk images: a3games.zip

Three-part column in Softalk: Hot Rod III (George Oetzel, July-September 1983). Part two is about how to use an Apple III joystick in Apple II emulation mode, which isn’t quite what we claimed it was about in the episode.

We also claimed there would be a link about Woz’s tic-tac-toe algorithm, it might appear here in a little while.

Episode 8: Bob Consorti

In this episode, we talk with Bob Consorti, who was president of On Three. Among the notable achievements of On Three were the long-running On Three magazine, Desktop Manager, BOS (Bob’s Operating System), a 512K RAM expansion card, device drivers, and many other things. Topics include the founding of On Three, the development of the 512K card, On Three’s internal development environment, emulation, and much more!

The Best of Ottalini #7

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-07a and -07b. They are available on the WAP Apple /// DVD, or at your favorite file repository. Or you can grab them below.

These are Dave Ottalini’s best Apple /// newsletters and articles from the 1992 issues of the WAP Journal. Here’s the table of contents:



  • SARA and the GS
  • Why SOS?
  • Orphan Software
  • Paul Campbell News
  • How Do I: Get a volume ID using AppleWriter
  • How Do I: Deal with thermal intermittents.


  • New Members
  • Paul Campbell News
  • French and AppleWriter
  • Great Deals
  • Converting /// files to the Mac


  • /// SIG Meting
  • Titan Sale Continues
  • Graphics
  • Annie’s Craft in Japan
  • ATUNC News
  • Appreciation


  • Sources for A3 Repairs
  • ATUNC Disks
  • Price Watch


  • Titan Information on Disk
  • Titan Card Problems
  • Menu.Maker Upgrade


  • SARA lives in Cupertino
  • On Three update
  • Detroit Update
  • Japan Update
  • 24 Pin Printers and the ///
  • A3 Repairs


  • Apple Book Review and the ///
  • Desktop Manager Tip
  • Parallel Cable Problems
  • Download Problems
  • Titan Report
  • More Repair Sources
  • AppleWriter Tip
  • Modem Eliminators on the ///


  • On Three News
  • Test Your ///
  • Dr. Bloom Upgrades SIGN
  • Disk Notes


  • Lisa Shop Update
  • On Three’s New Products: Backup /// and GoBack
  • New Font from Paul Campbell
  • Parallel Cables
  • ATUNC News
  • Networking on the ///


  • SuperDrive Project
  • GoBack News
  • On Three’s Universal 800K Driver and the CPS drive
  • New SIGN program
  • /// Users


  • PD Disks Update
  • Transferring Files
  • Superdrive Project Update
  • Steve Truax Hits the Jackpot
  • 512K Upgrades
  • Paul Campbell and SARA Upgrades


  • Apple /// Systems
  • PD Rumblings
  • Communications Manager and 14,400 BPS Modems
  • Seth Mize in Boston
  • Apple /// Benchmarks
  • Macs, Apple ///s and Imagewriters
  • TCS Musings

Also this issue, Dave announced a major update to the popular MENU.MAKER program:

MENU.MAKER 6.0: A major upgrade to our /// SIG’s Menu.Maker program

Download the PDF and disk images here:

The Best of Ottalini #7



Episode 7: Colette Askeland

This episode consists of a telephone interview with Colette Askeland, the board layout designer who did all of the layout work on the Apple /// motherboard. We learn about the incredible challenges and accomplishments that went into creating this layout, and about the process, the community, and the environment at Apple at the time. Lots of things have been said about the Apple /// board, but mostly those things have been the same couple of critiques repeated over and over again. This interview leaves quite a different impression, one of a major accomplishment and no shortage of innovation and hard work, with a result that was truly impressive. If only. If only.

A couple of notes on what she talks about (spoilers!):

The Apple /// motherboard was the last at Apple to be designed by hand, rather than with computer layout tools. The computer layout tools were at the time unable to do a board as dense as the Apple /// without adding layers.

Wendell Sander, Colette Askeland, and Daniel Kottke worked as a team in the design and prototyping phase of the Apple ///, with Wendell getting all the communication from outside on specifications and doing the design work, then working with Daniel to breadboard it, and then passing it on to Colette to lay out the traces and components. Colette was the only one at Apple doing printed circuit board layout, and quite early in her career as well.

The process first involved creating a layout and routing traces on a drafting vellum, which involved a great deal of pencil work with component templates and electric erasing. By the time the project was done, the vellum for the Apple /// was in fairly sorry shape. After that, mylar versions were created by laying the mylar over the vellum and running miles of tape for traces and stickers for components. Then the mylar is sent to photography, and the photographs sent to the board producers. The vellum and mylar stages are all at double scale, so quite large.

Colette had the vellum framed and donated it to the Computer History Museum. She has photographs from when it was appraised, which we will post here when we get them.

Colette reinforced what we’ve heard before: the Apple /// board was incredibly dense for the time, with everything so crowded together that they had to use new experimental components and do a fair amount of “thinking outside the box” to get the thing to fit inside the box, at the expense of some fairly tricky manufacturing processes.

And plenty of stories about working there at Apple back in the very early days.

Episode 6: Don Williams at Phase III

The Phase III conference was organized by the Third Apple User Group in Chicago, held October 2-4, 1987. Dave Ottalini located and digitized his audio recordings of some of the sessions at that conference, and provided them to us. We have been cleaning them up as best we can, and will release them here on the podcast feed.

Don Williams had a long history at Apple, which he describes a bit in this talk. He is the author of Desktop/Plan, later sold on to VisiCorp, and was the founder of the APDA (Apple Program Developers Association). He worked at Apple doing software design from about September 1979 until early 1982, and then returned in early 1983 for another year, as National Accounts Sales Manager. The talk here is actually the second talk he gave, a more impromptu reminiscing about the marketing and sales of the Apple ///. Earlier in the conference, Don had a scheduled talk, also about the history of the Apple ///. The audio of that talk will require more work, so it will be posted to the feed later on. As it turned out, Don was not aware of the Phase III conference until he ran into his neighbor, Rupert (Robert) Lissner (author of 3 E-Z Pieces), who was very concerned about what he was going to talk about at the conference. In the end, Lissner did not attend the conference, and Williams went instead, with about two days’ notice. But we are all glad he did, even if it would have also have been nice to have heard from Lissner.

Episode 5: Dave Ottalini

In this episode, Mike and Paul had the opportunity to speak with Dave Ottalini, co-founder of the Apple /// Special Interest Group of the Washington Apple Pi user group. The entire episode is devoted to this conversation. And stay to the very end for an extremely interesting announcement!

A couple of related links:

The Best of Ottalini Bonus!

In 1992, Dave Ottalini published so much great /// content in the WAP Journal, they needed an extra disk to hold it all!

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-08a and -08b. They are available on the WAP Apple /// DVD, or at your favorite file repository.  Or you can grab them below.

Note: These disks also include a couple of programs for the Apple ///, so you’ll want to grab the disk images too!

Here’s the table of contents:

Articles (1992)

  • Mainframe Batch Printing on the Apple ///
  • LaserJets and legal terms: The Apple /// at work
  • IBM: Should You Make the Switch?
  • Updating the Pascal MENU.MAKER Program
  • Apple /// Systems
  • On Disk Drives and Apples
  • Dealing with Driver Space Limitations
  • An Open Letter to John C. Dvorak
  • Apple Hardware Lubrication
  • Designer Disks for the Apple ///
  • Some Tricks of the Trade
  • New SARA Adventures
  • SOS vs. MS DOS
  • A Brief Review of StemWriter
  • The Apple StyleWriter and the ///
  • The Apple /// System Configuration Program (SCP)
  • Little-Known Utilities for the System Utilities
  • Apple // Family Used Computer Guide (May Prices)
  • Apple // Family Used Computer Guide (July Prices)


  • /// SIG PD Library additions by various months in 1992

Download the PDF and disk images here:

The Best of Ottalini Bonus!



Episode 4: WAPster Diving

This month, Paul performs Pascal programming and plays games, while Mike mines the WAP DVD and finds hidden treasure.  We discuss the latest MESS emulator developments as they apply to the Apple /// core, music and sound, driver and much more. Join us, won’t you?

The (Mostly) Compleat List of Apple /// Drivers

One of the first things a hobbyist venturing into the deep, dark and still-largely uncharted waters of the Apple /// learns is that you need a driver for just about everything on (and in) the machine that isn’t the actual bits floating around.  Want to plug in a printer?  Need a driver.  Does that Apple II card work in the ///?  Probably… If someone wrote a driver.  Hey, look at that shiny rare /// card I just got on eBay!  Didn’t come with a driver though, so it just sits there.

Keyboard.  Disk drive.  Sound.  Video output.  SOS needs a driver for all of ’em.  And now we’ve moved far enough away from the ///’s “heyday” (such as it was) that we may have lost some entirely to the mists of time.  Or no one knows where to find them any more.  Witness the Great UniDisk 3.5″ Driver Hunt that took place recently.

Fortunately, there exists a list.  Less than (but still somewhat) fortunately, it lives on a disk image on the WAP DVD.  In AppleWorks database format.  So not inaccessible to hobbyists, but not exactly intuitively reachable for new ///’ers.  To alleviate some of the difficulty associated with learning about the /// (but mostly because I’m just massively lazy in a weirdly paradoxical way – my indolence comes at great personal effort), I extracted the database from the disk image (APPLE-3-WAP-shr-04a, obviously) and made a handy PDF.

The list is dated 30 May 1988, and I know Bob Consorti published at least one or two more as late as possibly 1995, so it isn’t complete but it’s pretty close. The file contains information for more than 75 known drivers: name, version, size, producer and description – it’s all there.

If I can find a later version in the WAP archive, I’ll update this file.  In the meantime, share and enjoy.

Apple III Drivers List (as of 30-May-88) drivers-thumb

Download the list (PDF | 75KB)

The Best of Ottalini #8

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-09a and -09b. They are available on the WAP Apple /// DVD, or at your favorite file repository.  Or you can grab them below.

These are Dave Ottalini’s best Apple /// newsletters and articles from the 1993 issues of the WAP Journal/  Here’s the table of contents:

On the Trail of the Apple /// Newsletters (1993)

  • JANUARY: SuperDrive Driver; Future Apple /// Projects
  • FEBRUARY: Software Development Fund; Paul Campbell; John Lormartine
  • MARCH: Software Development Fund; Printer Problems
  • APRIL: Software Development Fund; Lost Classics Project
  • MAY: Software Development Fund; Apple /// Information
  • JUNE: Software Development Fund; Video Problems; File Transfers
  • JULY: Threes Company BBS; Software Development Fund; ATUNC
  • AUGUST: Software Development Fund; Threes Company BBS; Titan Support
  • SEPTEMBER: Threes Company – WAP; Software Development Fund; ASCIDIF
  • OCTOBER: BOS3; Meeting News; Internet News
  • NOVEMBER: (Updated version of the October newsletter)
  • DECEMBER: BOS3 On Sale Now!; Honor Roll; Apple /// Forever
  • PD.LIBRARY: /// SIG PD Library additions for February through June: TICTOCK clock calibration utility; The Best of Ottalini 1992 disks; /// SIG Member List; Jeppeson Codefile Utility for changing Apple /// filetypes; Apple ///+ / 512K Memory Diagnostics disk; Dr. Al Bloom’s Pascal Utilites; boot disks for the Titan ///+II and ///+//e card sets; SOSTRAN


  • Parallel Printers and the Apple ///
  • ProFile Low Level Formats
  • Micro Courier Tips
  • Miscellaneous Apple /// Software Tips
  • My First Apple
  • File Transfer Between an Apple /// and an MS-DOS Computer
  • An Open Letter to Two Alive Magazine

Download the PDF and disk images here:

The Best of Ottalini #8