The Softalk Apple Project announcement

softalk project

Jim Salmons has announced The Softalk Apple Project, a site dedicated to preserving one of the most iconic (and ironically short-lived) Apple II magazines ever published.

Softalk magazine was published in four full volumes between September 1980 and August 1984. In total, over 9,100 information-rich pages chronicle a pivotal period in the history of Apple microcomputing. Currently this on-line archive contains only a brief profile of each issue available to the project. A Kickstarter funding campaign is coming soon.

WITA2GS Website Returns


After an extended downtime due to a server issue, the “What is The Apple IIgs” website has returned.  Alex Lee, the website’s curator posted a note in CSA2 announcing the return. 

WITA2GS is an Apple IIgs related website that contains information, programs, photos and documentation from nearly every software package produced for the Apple IIgs computer.

For more information, check the What is the Apple IIgs website at:

AppleIIWorks Envoy for Mac OS X Announced


By Hugh Hood (CSA2)

AppleIIWorks Envoy is a ‘faceless’ application for Mac OS X (10.4.x Tiger
through 10.8.x Mountain Lion) with a two-fold purpose.

First, it provides for Mac OS X Finder recognition of Apple II AppleWorks
Files, presenting both a custom Mac Finder icon as well as a custom ‘Kind’
description for AppleWorks Word Processor (AWP), Database (ADB) and
Spreadsheet (ASP) files.

Second, the application implements a Spotlight metadata importer for
AppleWorks Word Processor (ProDOS type ‘AWP/$1A’) files that not only
indexes the text content of these files, but also sets (2) ProDOS-related
custom metadata attributes that display in the ‘More Info’ portion of the
Mac Finder ‘Get Info’ window.

For more information on AppleIIWorks Envoy, including some screen shots, and
to download, visit:


AppleIIWorks Envoy is compiled as a 4-way Universal Binary for both PPC and
Intel, 32-bit and 64-bit, and runs under Mac OS X 10.4.x (Tiger) through Mac
OS X 10.8.x (Mountain Lion).

Brutal Deluxe Software Introduces Apple IIgs Bechmark Tool


Paris, September 1st, 2013 – Brutal Deluxe Software is proud to introduce BenchmarkeD to the Apple II community.
BenchmarkeD is a benchmark utility for the Apple IIgs. It allows you to calculate the average throughput in reading and writing files and sequential disk blocks of your ProDOS volumes. BenchmarkeD uses standard GS/OS routines to perform its tests.

Until now, there were no such utilities for the Apple IIgs. Nowadays, disk devices are USB sticks or Compact Flash cards, physical devices such as hard disk drives or 3.5″ drives are no longer used. It is time to determine the fastest device to get the best experience with modern storage devices.

Download BenchmarkeD at and share your results with us!

Antoine Vignau & Olivier Zardini
Brutal Deluxe Software

The Northern Spy — Communication and the New Renaissance

September 2013

A very long time ago
even by non-Internet standards, the Spy advised people owning stock in typewriter companies to sell. In that same era he opined “collect postage stamps young woman, for soon they won’t make them any more”.
To the former, anyone under thirty-five might today say “what’s a typewriter?” The Spy was right. But to the latter, he was only half so. True, anyone under ten today is likely to say the same thing about stamps in just a few more years, as post offices around the world slowly go insolvent. Mind, they have no one to blame but themselves, for several reasons, not all due to the Internet. The result is there aren’t many collectors after all.

First because too many postal authorities, beginning in the former Soviet block (demise also predicted back then) debased the product by contracting with American stamp companies selling by approvals to unsuspecting  children for the manufacture of “stamps” that were never intended for postage and indeed were often pre-cancelled and could not be so employed. In the case of “countries” like Maluku Seletan which never really got going or even had a post office, several dozen stamps exist, all mint, none ever having been used or having any value. The company and the relevant government each got a cut, and the business was for a time lucrative enough to represent the major source of foreign (read “real”) money for some penurious nations. The disease spread to Africa, South America, the far east, and to a lesser extent even the industrialized world. Colourful but still bad, these fake stamps overwhelmed the good, and philatelists noticed. Why, even in the sixties, the Spy called most Eastern European stamps “wallpaper”.

Recently, and approaching possible retirement age–someday, maybe–he decided to take his own advice and revive his old collection–not that he hadn’t been accumulating post office releases, album supplements, and shoeboxes full of stamps on paper over the years, but he hadn’t “put them away”. Sadly, he discovered that the proliferation of stamps with no philatelic value had accelerated. Those who are still in the hobby often only accumulate Western Europe, Canada, and the United States, whose postal services generally avoided such mistakes, but even those countries do much of their stamp business directly to collectors. So, take a look around. Not only are there now fewer collectors and stamp companies in the mail order business these days, the number of retail stores, stamp clubs, album manufacturers, and so on, is but a tiny fraction of what it once was. Too many “stamps” talking up space in albums have never been not worth collecting.

Second because many of those same post offices, though granted monopoly rights on Internet services early in the game, failed to understand the new business, mismanaged it, and lost it to others. To be fair, telephone and transportation companies did the same (Canadian Pacific Railway telecommunications division being the canonical example). This is a classic case of established business entities (as a class) failing to “get” change, and being unable to discern a new box inside which to think. It happens all the time in technology–except at Apple, where the “think different” campaign may have been intended as much to define the culture among their own employees than aimed at mindmolding the general public.

Third because at the same time as the old snail mail business was slipping away to bits and bytes, post offices around the world also failed to devise new tasks and new lines of business for their employees to keep working. Junk mail (flyer distribution) could have worked, but in Canada at least, it can be handled more efficiently at lower cost by targeted contractors than by a large delivery service like the post office. So, soon there will be little or nothing left, even the ephemeral memories evoked by postage stamps will be forgotten. The Spy will keep his collection, maintain Canada and possibly the United States pages, and put away what else comes his way, but as stamps will mean little to the new generation, they are increasingly unlikely to become collectors in the first place, and the little pieces of paper will gradually have no collectible value to anyone. Bad stamps and better technology drove out the industry, hobby and all.

The parable can be applied to print
whose technology of the sixties is unrecognizable today, and which industry is in an equally steep decline.

For instance, back in the day, magazine stories were typed in the editorial office, set in lead type slugs on a linotype machine (look it up–a monster of a Rube Goldberg contraption whose brass “fonts” massed about fifty kilograms and took several minutes to hoist out and change) and proof galleys were run off on a letterpress. These, along with graphical elements, were pasted up in four-up (or more) fashion, and photographed at full size. The enormous negative was touched up to remove imperfections, then “burned” to an aluminum plate (one per colour) and this was mounted on an offset press to print the magazine pages (books too). Newspapers were done a different way, on large roll-fed presses.) The sheets were folded, assembled and stitched or stapled into the finished product, then cut to size to release pages from the top folds, covered (where appropriate) and sent out for sale or in the mails.

As an aside, the old lead slugs were recycled by melting them down and casting them into new ingots for the Linotype machine. Those fond of social analogies should note that in a real melting pot, it is the sludge that rises to the top. The Spy, besides running a press, folder, binder, and cutting machine, and helping to change font cases on the lino, used to skim it off and discard it.

Even in shops that still do printing, most of this technology would be little more than a vague rumour to graphics arts specialists today, who compose everything on a computer and send it directly to the press.

But surely this too is obsolete. Smaller screens today have a better print resolution than print, and larger ones are gaining the same capabilities. There is no reason beyond the inertia of the traditional, the resistance of copyright holders, and (so far) the inability of software producers to generate something as good as or better than the turn-the-page reading experience–particularly for textbooks.

As the Spy has noted here several times, the advent of an acceptable (even if not great) electronic textbook reader software will wipe out the entire hopelessly broken paper textbook industry almost overnight. The first to achieve a better paradigm in electronic textbooks will own the industry. Publishers may still buy rights, edit, and market, but they won’t print, or distribute to the long chain of middlemen that today keep prices at ridiculous levels for the end user. It will be nice when my students can walk into the university bookstore and put down, say, fifty bucks to get downloads of the whole semester’s texts, instead of forking over a grand for a fifty kilos of dead tree versions. It can’t come any time soon.

Make no mistake, though. Generating a smooth, cool reader experience even for novels is not easy. For technical material where there’s much page turning back and forth, the difficulties are daunting. But the prize is worth it for the boys and girls who labour along the secret hallways at One Infinite Loop.

But it can also be applied to the current generation of computers
which no more represent the maturity of such technology than the original Apple computer did (make your own current loop interface to a Teletype, store programs on punch paper tape, and later on magnetic cassettes, program in Integer BASIC and assembler, no lower case letters, hi-res screens eighty columns of text only, and total–not the useable–memory even on the Apple ][ series maxed out at 16K.)

The Spy still wanst his PIEA (Personal Intelligence Enhancement Appliance–think an iPad with a neural interface and everywhere connectivity) and/or my foldable, rollable MT (Metalibrary Terminal) that is, on a single sheet of durable plasti-paper, a combination better-than-retina screen, touch type and voice input device, and distributed, networked computer–all described by him decades ago.

Between the two, and depending on the size, you experience (sight, hearing, smell, etc) newspapers, magazines, fiction and non-fiction books, display digitized art on your walls (rented from the owner), watch sporting events, attend concerts and plays, communicate, contribute to metaperson composition of new creative works (for microshare royalties), handle all aspects of finances, and telecommute to work (as needed). Gone (and as forgotten as the typewriter) will be telephone, standalone computer, monitors, print anything (including money), and television. Hey–its all been in the Spy’s novels for years, but we’re only partway there. It’s all about how we communicate information, and time for Apple and others to pick up the pace beyond the epsilons and deltas of incremental upgrades and move along to the next generation.

Oh, and one more thing–that hasn’t become obsolete
(and speaking of generations) is the pleasure the Lord of Heaven gives in the first breath taken by a young life. Yesterday 2013 08 30 just before 1900 Gregory Jonathan Sutcliffe was born to Nathan and Charlene. Between those two and Joel and Jen, they’ve made five little Sutcliffe’s, all aged five and under. If we had known grandchildren were this much fun we’d have had them first. Gotta go get a new battery for the car, then visit the hospital again with two little girls who are overflowing with excitement about their new brother.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and six+ novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to Participate and you could win free web hosting from the subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe’s fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon’s Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page:
opundo :
Sheaves Christian Resources :
WebNameHost :
WebNameSource :
nameman :
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site:
Publisher’s Site:

Easily download from comp.binaries.apple2

The Usenet newsgroup comp.binaries.apple2 contains about 2-3 thousand Apple II programs, but they’re tricky to download to an emulator or a real Apple II, owing to the fact that they’re all encoded with ASCII armor.

Well thanks to Format Converter, technology that will decode all the Apple II and Macintosh file formats, these files from comp.binaries.apple2 can be easily downloaded to your computer as a ShrinkIt file. BinSCII files will be decoded (usually to ShrinkIt archives) and so will Executioner format.

The ONLY limitation so far is that multi-part archives are not joined. I will have this last bit going ASAP. Something else I found wrong, but that is beyond my control, is that some of the ShrinkIt files have a bad CRC. They will probably still extract OK if you’ve got a program that will ignore a mismatched CRC.

Here is an example file, Anix2.2. Click the bold Download Binary link.

This should also work when using a web browser on the 8-bit Apple such as Contiki, or the Spectrum browser for IIgs. Let me know how it works.

DOS 3.3 Directory List Builders DIR33 and LS33 Announced

The curator of the Aztec C Museum, Bill Buckels, has announce the immediate availability of two new directory builders for Dos 3.3.  The new Directory Builders Dir33 and LS33 are available from the Aztec C Museum as a free download.  Complete source code and documentation is included as part of the download.

According to the note on CSA2 posted by Bill, “ The Aztec C65 DIR33 Project for Apple II DOS 3.3 – RWTS revealed with structures and everything…

Download it here:

Well I have run out of time so no more pdf’s tonight.

This project is documented in the source code comments. The 3 disk images LS33.DSK, DIR33.DSK, and CHTYPE.DSK are configured to display their respective sources when you run them.

So go ahead and run them…

What you have here is a complete Apple II DOS 3.3 native mode compiler environment for building programs for both native mode DOS 3.3 and the Aztec C65 DOS 3.3 Shell.

3 – programs are included for you to run and build if you wish:

LS33 –   A command line directory list builder and shell script writer for the Aztec C DOS 3.3 Shell. This one is really cool… it even reads a scoped list of files from the catalog then plugs them into functional DOS 3.3 shell script formats… you can redirect them to disk and run slideshows and stuff, or do some real work if there’s any left to do on the Apple II in DOS 3.3.
DIR33 –  A directory list builder for “RAW” DOS 3.3  If you don’t want to muck with a command line this is the rugged equivalent of LS33 and will follow you anywhere that a VTOC lives…
CHTYPE – A command line utility for changing DOS 3.3 filetypes. This is the source code and everything, and as a special bonus, I thrwe in a generic buildscript that will build up to 10 shell utilities for DOS 3.3 at once!

Now some additonal information on RWTS (Read Write Track Sector) routines in Aztec C65.

You may have noticed that one of the utilities in the RAT (called DLIST) creates directory lists from the DOS 3.3 catalog command by scraping the
screen. At that particular point in time I had failed miserably to master rwts() in Aztec C65 and in desperation I decided to scrape the Apple II’s
screen to build a file list to preserve what was left of my dignity.

But much has changed since then and as I get closer to putting the pieces of this strange collection of DOS 3.3 compilers together, my dignity has vanished completely…

The utilities that you have here while not of exceptional quality,  are certainly fun to play with, both in the Aztec C DOS 3.3 Shell and in “RAW” DOS 3.3… and although you see me using rwts everywhere these days (in the RAT and the RD hex viewer etc) the 3 programs you have here were the ones I cut my rwts on… this has been going on even longer than I want to think about… ok I’ll come clean. I quit programming Apple II code for a couple of years because I got so frustrated with rwts. Then I dilly-dallyed in ProDOS while I avoided the awful truth!

Honestly… so now I am going to grab a guiness and breath a sigh of relief because I got this out there before my commercial fishing season starts…barely!
But wait! There’s More!!!
Download them now and you will get absolutely free yet even more documentation in that bleary eyed now-familiar burned-out after coding and can barely see format that I have come to know and love:


In case you can’t guess from the name what it’s about here’s a link to a sneak preview:

Read Something else here:

A2Command Version 1.1 Released


A2Command, the Norton Commander style file manager for the Apple ][ series computer has been updated.  Version 1.1 was releaved by author Peyton Byrd with the following updates and changes:

  • This new release features several bugfixes and some improvements including:
  • Added support for the new cc65 functions for listing devices.
  • Fixed viewer to avoid crashing when many spaces are present in one line.
  • Corrected the single file selection when copying.
  • Lowercase and uppercase commands are now active.
  • Date and time are kept when copying files.
  • Fixed some glitches when scrolling through long file lists.

the source code for the program is available and all items related to A2Command are free downloads. For more information or to download A2Command, go to the A2Command website at:

65xx Programmers Reference for iOS updated


Dagen Brock has updated his recently released 65xx Programmers Reference for iOS.  This App is a great reference for programmers of the 65xx series CPU’s such as those found in the Apple II series computers.

The latest version of the program has complete CPU separation allowing those who are programming a specific CPU to only see the commands for that particular CPU.

According to his posting on CSA2, there are more updates to the application coming soon.

The reference is currently a free download on the Apple App Store and is available at:

What’s happening in the Apple II world

Let’s take a look at what’s going on with the Apple II:


- Bill Buckels is still hard at work with Aztec C, and he has made a number of shell utilities for this system.

- Eric Shepherd updated his Sweet16 emulator for Mac OS X to version 3.0.1.

- The Daily Apple blog is working on a mapping program and ZBASIC for an IFComp entry.

- Steven Hirsch has saved the ZVX4 8″ disk controller software from extinction.

- BluRry is going to improve his Java Apple emulator key commands for Mac users.