The big news story of this issue is obviously the arrival in town of Disk II and Applesoft II ROM. Rather than do a review, we have hidden behind the pretext of an editorial to state our feelings on the failings of Disk II and A/S ROM. I’ve got a feeling I’m failing? (Oh dear! )) Applesoft II ROM for $100 is like buying 10K of memory for less than half price, since it frees that amount of RAM for program use. Unfortunately, according to the documentation, the Applesoft ROM and disk versions are incompatible, although it is relatively easy to convert one to the other.
However, in our estimation, the nuisance factor is of prime importance, since one of the reasons for purchasing either version of Apples oft was to have it instantly accessible. One of the plans for our library was an Applesoft Pak. Now it appears we will have to make a Pak in three different versions, cassette, ROM and disk. (The documentation does not indicate whether the cassette version is compatible with either of the others.
The new Applesoft manual comes cover-less, and commences with eight pages of corrections and additions to the manual. This indicates a lack of planning by Apple Computer in rushing to get the ROM board into production without fully completing and checking the documentation. It is inexcusable for a computer system which is designed to plug in and run, and used by a pure beginner. Additionally, the HIRES color commands we found so helpful in the cassette version, DRAW, XDRAW, ROT=, SHLOAD and SCALE=, are not available in the ROM version. This means that even though one has the ROM card, one must also have the cassette version in order to use those commands.
The above shortcomings pale, however when one looks at the documentation accompanying the Disk II. While the information is all there, it is arranged in more or less haphazard manner, and concrete examples are missing. Jeff Raskin (who wrote the excellent manual on Integer Basic) where are you? No doubt the instructions can be easily understood by anyone with computer background, but how about all us newcomers, Apple?
Finally, because DOS uses the COUT and KEYIN routines at $36 and $38, it is not possible while the DOS is up, to use the printer driver routine from the red manual. We have an Integral Data IP-225 printer, which works just fine at 1200 baud from the red book routine (modified), but it is not possible to run the printer without first killing the DOS. Of course, we could always get an Apple parallel printer card for $180, and that might solve the problem …
But before you change your mind about buying, let us remind you that all of the above is relatively minor and we believe both the disk and ROM are a wise investment. We would not be without either, having once had the opportunity to use them.