Sunday, September 2, 2007

10 Reasons why the Apple ][e is the Best PC Ever Made

Computer nostalgia is one of my favorite subjects. I suppose that growing up in the 80s had its effects on me. I got my first computer at age 6 - it was a hand-me-down from my uncle. And, you guessed it - the machine was a fabulous Apple ][e.

It was the best PC I have ever owned or worked on - and I have tried and typed on many different kinds of computers: from original IBMs to Mac Classics, through horrible Compaqs and wonderful ThinkPads. Still, no matter what happened, I can't forget my first ever personal computer.

Discovering the existence of emulators, some 10 years ago, was a very happy moment for me and my 80s friends. Hearing the old beeps again made us really jump for joy - and I still play the Apple ][ emulator every now and then.

So, why is the Apple ][e so grand? Trust me, it's not just because of the memories:

  1. My TV was my monitor: A computer wasn't a cheap thing in the 80s. A computer monitor was pricey. I don't remember how exactly, but my Apple ][e was connected straight to my TV set. I bet I was one of the few who enjoyed a 19" screen back then.

  2. It hardly ever crashed: I don't really recall it getting stuck, frozen or slow. It worked all the time, and it was very reliable.

  3. Instant Boot: Turn it on and it was on and ready for you. That's about it. No waiting.

  4. All in the keyboard: The entire computer was inside the keyboard! If I needed to open it, I just did - and every card and chip was right there in front of me. Easy, small, convenient. No ducking under the table and eating dust just to hook up a pair of speakers.

  5. It taught me English: There was only one language on the Apple ][e - and it was English. I needed to learn the language pretty quickly in order to operate the computer and enjoy the games. So I did. How many Hebrew-speaking 6-years-olds can spell "catalog"?

  6. Gaming was GOOD: This marvelous piece of work came with 2 floppy-disk drivers and a joystick, which made for a mean, lean, gaming machine. The games were sophisticated and cool - still, most of them were no larger than 50 KB. I remember "Summer Games" and hours of fun trying to make the perfect pool dive. The games were also cracked, which was amazing by itself.

  7. Hundreds of games: I think I had about a hundred disks (5.25" of course), each contained at least 3-4 games. All in all I had hundreds of games to play with - and I never got bored.

  8. Oh so quiet: No fan noise whatsoever. How much do you pay for that kind of stillness these days?

  9. It had a voice: There was an actual speech program for the Apple ][e, and it worked rather well. Of course, we mostly fed it curse words, but it gave us hours of fun. My personal favorite was entering "jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj". I still find it funny, for some reason.

  10. Karateka: Need I say more?


Unknown said...

Well, I can't say an Apple //e was my first computer. That was a SYM 6502 based computer followed by an Apple II. But yeah, I agree, the //e was a great machine for its time. I learned an awful lot about programming on mine and, like you said, it was very reliable and powered up ready-to-use almost immediately !

Whoa, Karateka ! The first I saw that, I could hardly believe the side scrolling screen action. That was something I was accustomed to seeing on my brother's Atari but not on an Apple. It had no dedicated hardware graphics support which meant fast, interactive games probably took a bit more cleverness on the part of the programmer. Nothing like a challenge to get the old brains cells up to speed.