In The Driver’s Seat

II Alive Volume 1 Number 1
March/April 1993

In April 1993, the Apple II turns sixteen years old (counting from its official 1977 introduction at the West Coast Computer Faire). Talk about your “mature platforms.”

But at sixteen, the Apple II is far from dead. In fact, the Apple II is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, made possible, in part, by IIGS System 6. The latest trend seems to be bringing Macintosh-like functionality to the IIGs via software.

High resolution printers? Try an affordable Hewlett-Packard DeskJet (or Laser Jet) and driver software like Harmonie or Independence. Scaleable fonts? Pointless fills the bill. Background printing? Give Express a try. Screen blanking? Look at Twilight II or Signature. “Transparent” data compression so you can store more on your hard drive? You’ve got not one but two choices: AutoArk and HardPressed. Optical Character Recognition? The answer is a hand-held scanner and In Words software. Want to run more than one program at a time? Again, you ‘ve got two programs to choose from: Switchlt and The Manager. Programs like Kangaroo and TransProg III duplicate the functionality of Mac programs like Boomerang and On Cue.

Taking their cue from Apple (who, with the release of HyperCard GS and System 6, signaled their intentions), companies like Seven Hills Software and WestCode are leading the way in bringing popular formerly-Macintosh-only features to the IIGS. Since these products seem to be selling well, that is evidently something a lot of IIGS owners are interested in. Is it just a case of “Mac envy”? Are IIGS users merely trying to “delay the inevitable,” as some would put it, pushing back the day when they’ll finally buy a Macintosh? Hardly. The Macintosh’ s graphical user interface isn’t called “the Macintosh Desktop.” It’s called “the Apple Desktop,” and the IIGS does it just as well as the Mac. These new programs really don’ t make the IIGS “more Mac-like” any more than it already is. They just make it more useful. If you want to see Mac envy, take a look at the PC users who bought Microsoft Windows.

This flood of new and useful programs looks great for IIGS users. He and lie users aren’t seeing as many new products-the only one in the list above that will work on these machines is InWards; but there are still exciting new 8-bit programs coming out. Randy Brandt’s JEM Software is one of the leaders in this area, releasing Ultra 4, a completely revamped version of Brandt’s TimeOut UltraMacros, late in 1992. Apple Works continues to be a thriving environment for personal problem-solving and programming.

Even Apple’s most recent Apple II-related action, the dropping of the IIGS from its dealer price list last December, can’t spoil the mood. Apple II owners know that the fate of the Apple II was in their hands, not Apple’s. Apple’s decision about the IIGS (they still sell the IIe, by the way) has little or no impact on the self-supporting Apple II community, which has depended on third-party companies and user groups for years.

The Apple II is the first microcomputer in history to be of legal driving age, thanks largely to its loyal user base, which keeps demanding- and discovering- more from their machines. If any computer can be said to be “in the driver’s seat” of the industry, well, the Apple II certainly is uniquely qualified for the position-or it will be, as soon as it gets its license.

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About the Author

Jerry Kindall

Jerry Kindall was Quality Computers' technical writer and served as II Alive's Editor in Chief from its inception through mid-1995. He is currently a contract programmer writer at a certain Large Software Company in the Seattle area. He and his wife breed and show Glen of Imaal Terriers.