Brandon Hockle's Blog

A personal blog about computers, science, and culture…

Getting The Apple ][e on the web.


Got the Apple ][e onto the web to check out the nice Hackaday Retro edition today.

It is basically working with the serial interface I mentioned in a previous post here, a knock off of the famous Apple Super Serial Card from a time when serial interfaces were an option on a computer and not a standard part.

I’m Also using the great program for the Apple ][ called Modem MGR which runs on an un-enhanced Apple ][e in Prodos 8. Once it’s booted up you can hit control escape, enter the command option ‘:’ hit return select ‘V’ for VT220 emulation and you are set on the Apple ][ side of the world.

I am basically connecting via serial null modem cable to a snow leopard Macintosh with the semi-standard serial to USB interface, the Prolific PL2303. Oddly enough getting the drivers loaded for this ‘semi-standard’ interface on the Mac was the most arcane aspect of the configuration. There are tons of tutorials out there on that subject, I might put up a clearer one myself one of these days.

Once I had it running I snagged a copy of lynx for BSD and I was off to the races.

There are numerous ways to get cross communication going between the old Apple ][ and the Mac going but the easiest way I think is using the tried and true unix utility ‘screen’ and good old fashioned ‘getty’.

Basically the steps are:
Fire up a terminal on the Mac and at the prompt run screen with the argument of the device name of the USB to serial adapter.

For instance:
$ screen /dev/tty.PL2303-000023FA

Once inside screen you invoke ‘getty’ to get your screen session to an interactive login so you can login and run stuff on your Apple ][.

You do that from the Mac terminal session too. First off you probably should size the terminal to 80×23 so you get decent pagination on the Apple. Then inside screen you type ‘ctrl-A’ then shift and ‘:’ to get to screen’s command mode. Then you type ‘exec ::: /usr/libexec/getty std.9600’ and return to initiate a remote login on the apple ][e. If you are having flakey behavior at 9600 baud change the last argument to getty to ‘std.1200’ then switch over to the Apple ][ to login and you are ready to roll.

Now you can run all kinds of unix BSD commands from the Apple ][ and see the output there too! It’s pretty fun to surf the web in text mode on lynx and also to use irc and play text games. I frequently run ‘top’ so I can see what’s happening on while I compute on the Mac from lovely green screen of the Apple ][.

However the very first thing I did was fire up lynx and hit hackaday. How nice that they have a nice retro edition that looks great on this old green screen!

Down the road I’d like to get a proper TCPIP stack running on the Apple ][ or inside a home built card for the Apple and see it run contiki. It seems like someone should have figured out a way to emulate the uthernet card from retroactive using a cheaper arduino and Ethernet or wifi shield solution. I think that might be the next big retro project for me. Cheers until next post.

Posted from Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.