Apple II, Vintage

Apple IIgs – Part Two

April 21, 2018

Back in part one, I shared my experience learning the differences between the revisions of the Apple IIgs. I bought a ROM01, the second revision of the computer, and I made some floppy disks to use on it. Then I bought a 4mb RAM card to make it more usable, as most apps and games for the IIgs require 1mb or more to run. Finally, I decided I needed to get a mass storage device because some things written for the IIgs were made to run from a hard drive.
The timing was just right for this problem as Rich Dreyer was just getting ready to build and sell the next run of his amazing Apple II accessory – the CFFA3000. This is an interface card that provides your Apple II with both Compact Flash mass storage as well as USB mass storage! I had to have one!
Rich sold the cards for $179US and he usually sold out of them very fast. I got on the waiting list and was waiting to see if I would be able to get one in February when he released them. Then I heard about a BBS contest called “Ready Player ][” where you could win a CFFA3000, amongst other prizes, by finding the secret password on three telnet BBS sites. It started on the first of January 2018. I’ll save the details of the contest for another post, but to get down to the nitty-gritty, I won! Around the beginning of March, I received my prize in the mail.

The CFFA3000 is absolutely amazing. It installs in any slot, and once detected by the computer, installs a Control Panel menu item for configuring it. You can emulate both an Apple Disk ][ controller and dual drives as well as up to 12 smart port volumes – all at the same time.
Here is where we get back to the comment I made in my “Apple IIgs – Part One” post… I installed the card in my IIgs and it would not detect and load in any configuration. There is a dip switch that you need to change to support a IIgs, and I had already changed that. I double, then triple checked and it was right. I changed it back and put the card in my IIe and it worked as advertised in the IIe. After trying several other interface cards in the gs, I determined that the IIgs motherboard slots were not working – none of them would communicate with any card I put in any slot.
Ed Hanson to the rescue
I posted a few time online during this troubleshooting and once I discovered that my board was bad, I received an email from Ed Hanson. Ed said he has a stack of IIgs computers and he would really like to give me one! He would not even let me pay for shipping. I simply could not believe it! I thanked him again and again and he said it was given to him at a previous Kansasfest and that he was happy to see it go to someone passionate about the IIgs. A few days later, Ed’s IIgs arrived. It was not just a motherboard but also a case and a power supply. The case was a bit more yellowed than mine so I decided to swap the logic boards and keep using my case. The IIgs was designed with great access to the board, no screws, just plastic clips. In about five minutes, I had the boards swapped and the CFFA3000 installed. I opened up the control panel and my CFFA3000 was now showing up as an option! I configured the Disk ][ emulation for slot 5 and the smart port stayed in slot 7 because I have a real 3.5″ floppy plugged into the real smart port.
I had already created the installation disks for GS/OS 6.0.4 with ADTPro while I was waiting for the package to come in from Ed, so I booted up from Disk 1 and installed it to my blank 32mb ProDos virtual drive. I pulled my floppy’s and rebooted. It was so fast booting from the CF card!

I then was able to load up and play with all of the great software I had been finding on the net for the IIgs – Wolfenstein 3d and LemminGS were some of the first I checked out. Then I found Alex Lee’s collection images at These are some 32mb ProDos images full of games and applications that are all organized and grouped together by genre – Action Games, Adventure Games, RPGs, Productivity Apps, Communication Apps, etc. I downloaded them all and checked out each one. I settled on the following images for my IIgs CF card, my boot drive, and the rest from Alex Lee:

  1.  Action Games (A whole 32meg volume dedicated to the action and arcade genre ~17meg)
  2.  Adventure and Simulation Games (All hard drive installable adventure and simulation games ~20.2meg)
  3.  Board Games and RPGs (All hard drive installable Board and Role Playing Games ~15.8meg)
  4.  Sports & Unreleased Games (A volume of Sports and Unreleased games with more shareware, freeware and game demos ~13.9 meg)
  5.  Games with Path Modifications (Specially hacked to enable more games to run from a large ProDOS volume ~8.8 meg)
  6.  Productivity & Visual Creative (both commercial software, shareware and freeware ~14.3meg)
  7.  Communication Apps (A collection of comms apps that you can telnet to BBSs on the net with KEGS/GSPort or a WiFi232 ~9.6meg)

With this drive configuration, I have all of the best games and apps for everything I have wanted to do on my IIgs. Wolfe stein 3d does not run with the best frame rate, but it does work. I really enjoyed playing the IIgs remake of Ultima I. I played it all the way through and finished it, defeating the dark lord Monadain! Over 20 hours of gameplay, and that was with a walkthrough guide.

My IIgs is now my main retro computer. I use it almost every day. I log into three telnet BBS sites using Spectrum and a serial connection to my Raspberry Pi. The Pi is running TCPSER. I’ll make a separate blog post about that soon.

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