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Wozniak's Original System Description of the Apple ][

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-you-don't-eat-it-listen-to-me dept.

Software 170

CowboyRobot writes "Opening with the line, 'To me, a personal computer should be small, reliable, convenient to use and inexpensive,' Steve Wozniak gave his system description of the Apple-II in the May, 1977 issue of BYTE. It's instructive to read what was worth bragging about back then (PDF), such as integral graphics: 'A key part of the Apple-II design is an integral video display generator which directly accesses the system's programmable memory. Screen formatting and cursor controls are realized in my design in the form of about 200 bytes of read only memory.' And it shows what the limitations were in those days, 'While writing Apple BASIC, I ran into the problem of manipulating the 16 bit pointer data and its arithmetic in an 8 bit machine. My solution to this problem of handling 16 bit data, notably pointers, with an 8 bit microprocessor was to implement a nonexistent 16 bit processor in software, interpreter fashion.'"

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WOZ CAN DANZE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40045967)

But not very well !!

Woz invented Java! (0, Offtopic)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 2 years ago | (#40045975)

Take that Oracle!

  (I kid)

Re:Woz invented Java! (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047839)

You kid, but in all seriousness, SWEET-16 probably does qualify as prior art for a few dozen currently litigated patent claims. Except you couldn't really call the Apple II "mobile". You could fairly call it a "limited resource computing device", though (a phrase found in one of Apple's iPod patents)

Mistake (4, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046007)

Spot the mistake on page 40: the timer used was a 558, not a 553.

I re-implemented this system for a project to connect old game controllers to USB. It is low cost and works remarkably well for basic gaming.

Re:Mistake (-1)

samwire (138557) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046137)

Don't be shy ... this guy's stuff rocks!

http://denki.world3.net/

And the Retro Adapter works great under Linux too ... :)

Getting back on topic, has anyone started a petition to get the other Steve back as head honcho at Apple? Where do I sign?

Sam.

Re:Mistake (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046167)

Getting back on topic, has anyone started a petition to get the other Steve back as head honcho at Apple?

Shit, that happens, let me know.

With Woz at the helm, I may just be forced to reconsider my Apple boycott, walled garden or not...

Re:Mistake (1, Funny)

samkass (174571) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046603)

Getting back on topic, has anyone started a petition to get the other Steve back as head honcho at Apple?

Shit, that happens, let me know.

With Woz at the helm, I may just be forced to reconsider my Apple boycott, walled garden or not...

And you'll probably be able to augment your iPhone via 6 PCI slots or one of 20 ports...

Re:Mistake (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046611)

Getting back on topic, has anyone started a petition to get the other Steve back as head honcho at Apple?

Shit, that happens, let me know.

With Woz at the helm, I may just be forced to reconsider my Apple boycott, walled garden or not...

And you'll probably be able to augment your iPhone via 6 PCI slots or one of 20 ports...

You say that as if it's a bad thing....

Re:Mistake (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046989)

As much as I think of Woz as one the all-time heckuvva outsanding engineering types and hacker extraordinaire (in the good sense), making him head of Apple would be one of the worst things that could happen to it. He had/has no real business sense or skill whatsoever- something he himself has admitted to. The man's approach it that he hacks; he doesn't design.

But to keep it simple and give a nice hypothetical: if Woz had been in charge and Apple managed to live that long under his leadership, the iPod would have had more storage than a Nomad and been wireless (and had a much different name), but it would have gone on to have been an utter failure.

Re:Mistake (3, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047579)

Let me know too, I'll want to short Apple stock. Woz is a pretty good tech head but as a businessman he's a disaster.

Re:Mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048129)

Let me know too, I'll want to short Apple stock. Woz is a pretty good tech head but as a businessman he's a disaster.

I suspect he'd do better and be happier in a position over technical decisions rather than CEO.

Re:Mistake (2)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046173)

Well spotted. I recently learned how the paddle interface worked when reverse-engineering an old Apple II game. Even though I cut my teeth on an Apple II, I never knew how the circuit actually worked. When I saw the 6502 paddle code in the game it made no sense to me until I examined the Apple II's schematics. Then my mind was slightly blown. Just another one of those brilliantly simple hacks that riddle the Apple II's design and make it an almost magical device to me.

Re:Mistake (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046317)

Your mind is easily blown. How is a single slope A/D that's been standard practice since before Woz was even born a "brilliantly simple hack"? Jesus, I've got computer and electronics books from 1962 that are yellow and brittle that describe these circuits. Woz has a bit of an overinflated reputation IMO. Every single hardware engineer of the era worked the same way. Yes, even at Atari and Commodore.

Re:Mistake (-1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046363)

Feel better?

Re:Mistake (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046505)

Yes. There are so many people that labored in obscurity that are far more deserving of praise. You want "brilliant"? Try the MIT Rad Lab series. Or Englebart, or Sutherland.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Sutherland [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Engelbart [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mother_of_All_Demos [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_Laboratory [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._C._R._Licklider [wikipedia.org]

Somehow, some guy plugging a resistor to a 555, as described in the 555 datasheet, fails to amaze in comparison.

I'm just sick and tired of the continuous hype for Woz when the people who actually invented computing are forgotten.

Your mind should be blown by people who invent entire concepts from thin air.

Re:Mistake (-1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046579)

That's gratifying. I'm glad I was able to brighten your day.

Re:Mistake (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046671)

Excellent. I hope I was to inform you and generate some interest in the history of technology. You want your mind blown? Try the history of the proximity fuze invented in WWII. You know, back when you had vacuum tubes. They managed to cram an entire doppler radar into the nose cone of artillery shells that had to survive 20,000G acceleration and 100,000RPM rotation when fired. Not only that, but be safe to handle and store, and come up to power within milliseconds after being fired. You'd find that hard to do with today's technology.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/MK53_fuze.jpg

Re:Mistake (5, Insightful)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047755)

The 555 stuff isn't really that amazing, but Woz did some fairly amazing things. For example...

Integrating the dram refresh with the video display on the original Apple ][ was pretty clever as with the 1/2 phase pixel shift to get cheap color w/o fancy sub-carrier modulation.

The original Apple ][ floppy drive subsystem using "raw" drive mechanims from Shugart and implementing the controller mechanism in 5 chips and some software (soft sectored avoiding the punch hole detector, no track0 detector, no head load solinoid, 5/3 software group-coder allowing 13-16 sectors/track instead of 10 when others were using MFM, etc.). This when other vendors at the time had quite inferior, yet more expensive floppy disk drives.

Sure it isn't rocket science, but it is still good engineering wizardry, not just "plugging resistors".

Re:Mistake (3, Funny)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40048269)

I'm just sick and tired of the continuous hype for technologists when the people who actually invented math are forgotten. :D

Re:Mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048293)

Every single hardware engineer of the era worked the same way

Except that, for some reason, they didn't.

Re:Mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048599)

Wait until you figure out the disk interface. _That_ was a truly brilliant piece of hackery.

Re:Mistake (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046257)

There are quite a few typos in the article, it seems to have been created by OCR. My guess is the OCR got the 3 and 8 mixed up.

It was quite interesting to read, but a simple pass by an editor would have fixed most of the little errors (usually extra spaces in words).

Re:Mistake (5, Interesting)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046875)

Here's the very strange thing about that error. I have a scan of that issue of Byte and it does indeed say 553 there. The article also has a circuit diagram, again showing a 553. If you look at the original Redbook schematics, it also shows a 553 quad timer. There is even advert for 553 quad timers on page 174 of that issue of Byte. I've also seen a post online from someone with a 553 chip in an apparent timer circuit asking about it's identity. All that and no datasheet or cross reference for a 553 quad timer can seem to be found. My best guess is 553 comes from an imprinting error on actual 558 chips.

Almost, Apple... (4, Funny)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046033)

To me, a personal computer should be small, reliable, convenient to use and inexpensive,

Small, check.
Reliable, check.
Convenient to use, check.
Inexpensive... whoops.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046079)

They where inexpensive, for a computer.

Re:Almost, Apple... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046193)

He's referring to modern Apple hardware, which some might call "overpriced."

While others might call it "rape."

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046275)

Can we stop overdramatizing Apple's prices, please? That is nothing like choosing of your own free will to buy an Apple product for large sums of money (worth it or not).

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046297)

Can we stop overdramatizing Apple's prices, please? That is nothing like choosing of your own free will to buy an Apple product for large sums of money (worth it or not).

Free... what now? I don't recall that phrase in the indoctrination .MOV file.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048263)

> I don't recall that phrase in the indoctrination .MOV file.

Apple products: prepare to give up all your wages.

WIndows products: prepare to give up your sanity.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046303)

Having used some, I must admit it is good-quality hardware. Just not such good quality that it's worth twice the cost of a similar-spec PC. I've only got a macbook because they were the only manufacturer left that use a decently high-resolution screen. A few others used to (Dell, I recall) but they no longer offer WUXGA+, and I wanted the vertical pixels.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046453)

I guess it depends on what you look at. How many Dell, HP, Sony, etc. Laptops are there with a 17" 1920x1080 screen with 2.4GHz i7? I haven't seen too many. And the ones that they did have were in the $2k range, just like the 17" MacBook Pro.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046757)

they no longer offer WUXGA+

I don't know about you, but who on earth remembers what all those resolution acronyms [wikipedia.org] actually mean off the top of their head?

Scrolling down the list I come across QSXGA, FWVGA, WHUXGA..... I mean, WHUXGA sounds like a province in China or something. There's probably a systematic set of rules, but it doesn't make the names any more helpful-looking for non-autistic people :-/

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047591)

I mean, WHUXGA sounds like a province in China or something.

Or the sound you make when somebody kicks you in the solar plexus.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048531)

You got the macbook because there is no similarly spec'd hardware?

Re:Almost, Apple... (3, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046799)

He's referring to modern Apple hardware, which some might call "overpriced."

While others might call it "rape."

Come on now, be fair. How could you "rape" someone with Apple hardware? Let's compare an iPhone to, say, a vibrator.

A vibrator is sleek, metallic, vibrates, and can be shoved up your ass. That's completely different from an iPhone which is sleek, metallic, vibrates, and can be-

Mother of god.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40047179)

Meanwhile, in ER rooms all around the world:

Doctor: "So let me get this straight: You're telling me that you were getting ready to take a shower, and you had your iPhone propped up vertically next to your scales. The floor was wet, and you slipped. It just so happens that you landed on your iPhone and it managed to insert itself into your rectum. Ok... And it just so happens that there are no significant cuts or scratches in the area of your anus, which also just so happens to be covered in vaseline. Are you sure you've told me the whole story?"

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

readandburn (825014) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046087)

How expensive were other personal computers when the Apple ][ was released?

Re:Almost, Apple... (4, Interesting)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046145)

I was in high school working in a retail computer store in 1978 when the Apple ][ and its competitors were taking hold in the market. The Apple was the only computer with high-resolution color graphics for under $5000. I could tell just by looking at its motherboard that its design was something special - having built a video display board from scratch with my brother, I knew how much circuitry is usually required.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046195)

The right question to ask would be how expensive were other *computers* when the Apple II was announced? The II came out in 1977, when the only real options on the nascent PC market were the II, the Commodore PET, and the TRS-80. (I won't start any religious wars here over the relative price/value ratios of each) I think Woz's point wasn't that the II needed to be the cheapest product in this category (the II was the most expensive of the three), but that this type of product needed to be in a range that most families could afford.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046263)

Roughly the same price, because the only other alternative was from IBM. The PC clones had not arrived yet.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046343)

You're a little ahead of yourself, there... The IBM PC didn't come out until 4 years later.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047119)

It was a long time ago that's for sure. I was a teenager. I remember we first got an Apple IIe. Then we went IBM, and have stayed that way ever since. You're probably right on the dates though. Still, back then the PC you wanted always cost around $5000, regardless of brand.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046897)

You need to look at a bunch of single board computers that lacked many features the Apple ][ included on thier bare board system (KIM-1, SYM-1, various 8080 and 6800-based trainers, etc.), then there were SS50 and S-100 bus systems that were really more business systems than "personal" computers.

An IMSAI kit, when completed to the point of including a tape recorder interface (mass storage), memory, serial port (to attach your $500-750 terminal), chassis, etc. were all included the price easily exceeded that of the Apple ][...

Re:Almost, Apple... (5, Informative)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046279)

At the time the Apple II was released, there were only two other non-kit microcomputer systems available--the Radio Shack TRS-80 and the Commodore PET. Both models were well $1000, while the Apple II was about twice as much for equivalent memory. Of course, the Apple II could do a lot more than the other two systems, especially in regards to graphics. However, as the technology improved, and competitors offered more powerful systems at lower prices, Apple never reduced their prices. At the peak of the microcomputer golden age, an Apple II system cost nearly 10 times as much as an equivalent Commodore 64 system.

When Apple released their floppy disk drive, they priced it at $550. People asked why they priced it so high. Apple responded, "Because we can."

Re:Almost, Apple... (2)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046331)

Whoops... should have said, "Well under $1000." Sorry for the typo.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046659)

> At the peak of the microcomputer golden age, an Apple II system cost nearly 10 times as much as an equivalent Commodore 64 system.

In 1984, an Apple //c was $800, while a C64 and 1541 drive was about $400. So only twice as much.

(The //c had 128KB and 80 col support, while the Commie had better graphics & sound. )

Re:Almost, Apple... (3, Interesting)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047043)

Apple pricing at the dawn of the PC era (Fall 1981), when fresh out of graduate school, the university that hired me offered me $10K in start-up funds for my research lab. I knew I wanted a microcomputer system, but didn't know if the newly-introduced IBM PC was going to be anywhere nearly as well-supported as the Apple ][. So I took that $10K and bought an Apple ][+ with 64K RAM, a Z80 card, CP/M, 3 floppy drives, a monochrome (green) monitor, a color monitor, an Epson MX80 dot matrix printer, a Diablo daisy-wheel printer, Apple Pascal, Microsoft Fortran, and Wordstar. I think there were even a few dollars left over. The next spring, I decided I wanted system for myself so I spent $2200 on a Basis 108 (a German-made Apple ][ clone with a built-in Z80 card and a monstrously heavy case) with 2 floppy drives and a monochrome monitor.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047327)

"At the time the Apple II was released, there were only two other non-kit microcomputer systems available"

That is, if you don't count the other ones which were available. Like the MITS Altair, IMSAI 8080, SOL-20, CompuColor, Cromemco Z2, Poly 88, etc.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

rs79 (71822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047505)

"How expensive were other personal computers when the Apple ][ was released?"

What other personal computers? There really wern't any.

There were hobby kits like S-1000 systems and for $2500 more you could get something like color graphics, 256x256x8 or somehting and a command line based CP/M. Some guys had LSI PDP's thathad been cast off, with RT-11 or something. There were other kits, products, but nothing else really looked and felt like a consumer product, that's sorta the point.

And I say that as somebody loathed them, but you can't deny their impact.

Re:Almost, Apple... (4, Informative)

CityZen (464761) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047681)

You should look at oldcomputers.net for this info.

Radio Shack TRS-80:
basic unit with 4K RAM and B/W video monitor: $600
basic unit with 16K RAM and Level II basic, monitor: $1000
($300 Expansion Interface required to add more than 16K memory)
basic unit with 16K RAM, Level II, Expansion Interface, monitor: $1300
5.25" disk drive (requires 16K, Level II, Expansion Interface): $500

Commodore PET:
PET 2001 (4K RAM, built-in B/W monitor): $800
(not especially upgradeable memory-wise)
PET 4032 (in 1980; 32K RAM, built-in B/W monitor): $1300
CBM 8050 dual floppy drive (in 1980): $1700

Apple II: (in 1977)
Basic unit with 4K: $1300
Basic unit with 16K: $1700
Disk II floppy drive with controller card (1978): $600

Atari 800: (in 1979)
Basic unit with 8K: $1000
(includes slots for 3 optional 16K RAM cartridges)
810 floppy drive: $600

Exidy Sorcerer: (1980)
basic unit with 8K RAM: $900
basic unit with 16K RAM: $1150
S100 Expansion Unit: $420
Video Disk unit (B/W monitor + 2 floppy drives): $3000

Note that prices came down over time, especially due to decreases in RAM prices.

So, I'd say that there was something of an "Apple tax" even back then, but it wasn't really so much. When you considered how much expansion capability you got with the basic unit (which for other systems was either an add-on or simply not possible), it was actually a good deal.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046103)

Do Apple critics still use that old canard? For the most part, Apple devices have been pretty price competitive for many years now, even the Macs. I remember when the iPad was rumored to cost $1000. It's like trolls ran out of every other schtick, so they remain stuck on the most recent one they had, which was price.

Re:Almost, Apple... (2, Funny)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046247)

Macs price competitive for the hardware?

Dude, what planet are you on? Let me guess, one with a bite taken out of it?

Re:Almost, Apple... (5, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046435)

Macs price competitive for the hardware?

Dude, what planet are you on? Let me guess, one with a bite taken out of it?

Depends how you compare. If you're trying to compare say, a Macbook Pro with a netbook, then yeah, Macs are more expensive. Or even a Macbook Air against a netbook. Ignoring stuff like an Atom is no way competitive to a Core2Duo, nevermind the i5, the SSD, memory, etc.

OTOH, if you try to compare like with like (as much as possible), they're quite competitive. The usual explainations for deviations is use of cheaper bigger heavier laptops in place of svelte ones (e.g., trying to compare a MBP against some much heavier, much larger Dell model instead of using Dell's more expensive smaller and more portable ones).

And displays as well - some fail to account for upgrading a 15" laptop from a 1366x768 display to I think the 1440x900+ that Apple puts in the 15" (nevermind the 1920x1200 on the 17")

Heck, even the Air is standing on its own compared to the Ultrabooks Intel's trying to bring out (hint: they're all a joke. First pass - no manufacturer wanted to make an ultrabook because they couldn't be competitive. Second pass - with Intel subsidies, they got the price to be the same as the Air, but with specs that were iffier (i3 vs. i5, slower, heavier, etc). Third pass (current) - intel relaxed the specs even more to be far more generous - so you can find 14" ultrabooks that are 1" thick or so - basically "small laptop').

Of course, this holds true pretty much for the first couple of months of Apple's refresh cycle. After that, it's not competitive anymore. Given the current Macbooks are all needing refresh, they are uncompetitive. Once Apple releases their Ivy Bridge laptops (WWDC?) they'll be competitive again. It's because Apple doesn't drop their price as time goes on nor do they have sales.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046883)

How much does 16GB of flash memory for an iPhone cost again? And a 16GB SD card?

Re:Almost, Apple... (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40048333)

Who says the $100 price difference is solely down to the extra cost of the higher density NAND? They cost more because a) that's what the market will bear and b) making different models of a similar device on a mass scale does not always enable the economics of said devices to merely come down to the raw delta in the cost of the pieces.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

BlueStraggler (765543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046511)

Cool, you're in 1996. Buy Yahoo stock, then sell it in 2000. In fact, start giving up all your tired opinions in 2000, as they will start to become invalid around then. By 2012, the entire industry will struggle for years to compete with Apple on price, and fail.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047849)

It really depends - the consumer ones are pretty competitive for what you get. They're a little underpowered right now, but that's because Apple doesn't incrementally update them, so they're better value when they've just been refreshed.

They can't compete with el cheapo plastic boxes or whitebox self assembled machines, but they are not meant to.

Where they really fall down is the Mac Pro, which is simply woefully overpriced for what it is, since it hasn't been updated for 2 years and still costs the same, and even back then it was more expensive then equivalent competitors.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046305)

Macs price competitive? Since when? When I was looking for a laptop, an equivalent MacBook with the same hardware would have cost me FIVE times more than a windows machine. MacOS is great, but it's not worth over $1000 price difference on a non-Mac machine.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046449)

links to the mythical pc that is *equivelent* to a macbook that only costs $200

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046885)

The laptop I purchased was around $400. For the equivalent processor power, memory, display size, etc., I would have needed a $2,000 Mac Book Pro. I did my research. I really did want the Macbook, but I just couldn't justify to myself the massive price difference.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

NSash (711724) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047039)

Whether an Apple laptop is price competitive depends on how long after release you look at it. Apple generally updates their laptops every 250-350 days, and AFAIK the price stays the same during that period.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046405)

Let me see. The mac pro isn't a fair one to look at, being a high-end professional workstation, so how about something consumer. Say, the Mac Mini. that's £529 for an i5 dual-core 2.3GHz, 2GB ram, 500GB HD and Intel HD graphics. That's their entry-level desktop computer. Now, if I go to ebuyer... they don't actually have anything with only 2GB ram, so I'll have to get a 4GB system. But for £512 - slightly *less* than a mac mini - I can get an HP with 4GB ram, 500GB HD and a *quad* core 3.0GHz processor. It's twice the ram, more than twice the processor performance, and lower-cost. I could do even better, but then I'd have to go for a machine without a well-known brand, which wouldn't be fair. The only downside is that it's a bit larger, midi-tower, but the slightly larger size doesn't outweigh that the Mac Mini is more expensive than a PC with twice the processing speed and memory. So, whatever you may say about the quality of Apple hardware in their defense, it still remains substantially more expensive than the competition.

I'd compare the iMac, but not many PCs come built into the monitor.

Re:Almost, Apple... (2)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046859)

Size matters, and it costs. The mini is comparatively expensive because it has to use notebook components to fit that form factor. It also has the lowest idle power of any mainstream computer, so it's lower cost to operate.

When you look at notebooks, size, weight, battery life, display quality and resolution, and durability all matter. Where are the non-Apple notebooks that are competitive with the MacBook or MBP in these factors. There are several, from HP, Dell, Sony, Asus, etc., and they're all in the same price range as Apple's offerings.

If you don't care about size, or weight, or battery life, or display quality, or durability, there are plenty of cheaper options, but don't try to claim they're comparable. They may suit your needs just as well, maybe even better, but that's not the same thing as being comparable hardware.

Then, there is the difference in included software. Again, that may or not matter to you, but it's still a notable difference that you haven't accounted for.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046949)

The people who say that Apple is no more expensive for "comparable" hardware ignore that most people don't need anything directly comparable. The people who want some super high end Dell laptop represent a small fraction of the market. For everyone else, "Apple is expensive" is a fair comment - all those extra features aren't worth the extra cost for most people, which is why they don't buy the equivalent PC products either.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40048503)

I think that the PC industry is one of the very few market segments where "you get what you pay for" is ignored. Sure, you can buy a cheap Dell laptop (as opposed to an expensive Dell laptop - they do make higher end ones) and then you spend the rest of the machine's life cursing the poor build quality with the creaky plastic case and the poor cooling solution that is barely adequate for it, so that it spins up that tiny, noisy fan every 30 seconds, then eventually breaks due to the case flexing slightly so the heatsink comes away from the CPU... then someone says "you could buy a Macbook Pro, which has a case machined out of a block of aluminium, but otherwise very similar internal components".... "oh no, that's just *way* too expensive... I'll just buy another cheap Dell.

People don't seem to be capable of understanding that not everything costs the same amount of money, and that just because a computer has the same hardware specs (eg, 2GHz CPU, 4GB RAM) that it should cost exactly the same as another computer with those specs.

We don't do this for cars, or clothes, or power tools, or almost anything else with variable quality products, yet we always seem to race to the bottom with computers.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40048449)

You won't compare an all-in-one like the iMac yet you will compare Apple's "entry level" (your description) Mac Mini with a Midi Tower.

Right. Legit.

The Mac Mini is not sold as an entry level machine designed to compare to small towers, it's designed to be an extremely small HTPC-type computer. You're not comparing like with like at all. Now, if you *do* compare the Mac Mini you'll find it is still more expensive than other machines in the same form factor, but that is mainly down to component choice (eg, the i5 vs Atom or Core 2 Duo) etc.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046175)

Inexpensive... whoops.

So one third of the price of your nearest competitor is not inexpensive in your mind?

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046227)

This comment was made from my MBP. Truthful comments about Apple products are not the position you think (anti-fanboyism), and your rabid responses are predictable. Have a nice day.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40047399)

You must be part of a different group of Apple apologists than the ones who brag about them being the most profitable smartphone manufacturer.

I'll let that sink in a bit.

Re:Almost, Apple... (1)

geogob (569250) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047001)

FFS, when will "you" people understand the basic concept that follows: At equal component level a PC is not less expensive than an the equivalent Apple. I mean, you can't blame a company for not wanting to sell low end computers, do you?

I recently bough a high end PC laptop... a mac book pro would have even been less expensive with pretty much the same internal components.

Re:Almost, Apple... (0)

petteyg359 (1847514) | more than 2 years ago | (#40048439)

Oh, really? Apple wants $2500 for a 15" MacBook Pro with a 1680x1050 screen and 4GB RAM and a "2.4GHz CPU". They don't specify what actual model that is, and I'm not going to bother to look it up elsewhere. If somebody wants me to buy from them, not only do they have to have decent prices, but they need to actually define what I'm buying. I paid less than $1300 for a 15" laptop with a i7 2760 for the extra virtualization features, 1920x1080 screen, 8GB RAM, Blu-Ray drive, DisplayPort, powered eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, USB 3.0 ports, Intel 6250 wireless+bluetooth, etc. Tell me again how they're not less expensive at equal or even greater component value?

ADB (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046253)

From Wikipedia, [wikipedia.org]

ADB was created by Steve Wozniak, who had been looking for a project to work on in the mid-1980s. Someone suggested that he should create a new connection system for devices like mice and keyboards, one that would require only a single daisy-chained cable, and be inexpensive to implement. As the story goes, he went away for a month and came back with ADB.

Four wires and a ground. Brilliant. And almost typically Woz, was it too brilliant? Please understand this is the most respectful of fawning minor criticisms, but geeze, I never was able to find an adapter to use an AT keyboard with my old Mac.

Not being able to use the MS Ergo at the time was a problem, and the raised tabs on the Mac's D & K instead of the F & J really threw me. (Who was responsible for that, anyway?)

But great guy, and an amazing engineer. Man, thank you for so much.

Re:ADB (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046445)

I am strangely reminded of the one-wire bus used for low-power sensing.

The one-wire bus uses three wires.

Why the name? Well, one is supposed to be optional power, but in practice you won't get more than one sensor on the bus without it. And the other is ground which, I assume, doesn't count for some reason.

1977 was a seminal year (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046293)

Apple II released
Commodore PET released
TRS-80 (which became the #1 selling computer of the 70s)
Atari VCS/2600 (#1 selling console of 1977-84)

All ran on the same Commodore Semiconductor Group 6502 (or variant) processor.

Re:1977 was a seminal year (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046461)

The TRS-80 used the Zilog Z80.

Re:1977 was a seminal year (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046753)

Ooops. I should have known that (from the name).

Re:1977 was a seminal year (2)

Crag (18776) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046865)

You mean MOS Technology 6502.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6502 [wikipedia.org]

Re:1977 was a seminal year (1)

vistic (556838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40048197)

Same thing.

Re:1977 was a seminal year (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40048363)

Commodore owned MOS by that point. I don't know when they officially changed things to CSG, but the chips were stamped MOS for as long as I remember.

Who knew? (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046383)

That Shelley Long and Jude Law lived together in the 1970s and had an Apple II in their kitchen? Even one of those magical ones that doesn't even need cables to work!

Man was an F'ing Genius (3, Interesting)

Nitewing98 (308560) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046561)

Woz WAS the SH*T back then. While I still love him, he's never been the same since the plane crash. God knows what he might have come up with to save the Apple II if he hadn't had the accident.

Reversion to mean? (2)

sjbe (173966) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046787)

God knows what he might have come up with to save the Apple II if he hadn't had the accident.

Possibly nothing. Yes he is a brilliant guy. But it is entirely possible that his (hypothetical) next act would have been a failure. Woz was the right guy in the right place at the right time. Maybe he would have continued to pump out brilliant products. Maybe not. It's quite possible he was forced to quit while he was ahead. I appreciate your optimism but his first act was a pretty hard act to follow and he hasn't really pumped out much technology of note since.

Re:Reversion to mean? (2)

dbc (135354) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047425)

Woz was/is good at the 'clever hack'. Getting something for nothing. As in the Apple II, where DRAM needs to be refreshed, and Video needs to read memory in a systematic pattern, so lets just make sure the video access read pattern satisfies the refresh requirement, and never have to worry about refresh after that. Also the color video by 'color artifacts' instead of adding an honest color sub-carrier to the video. Another thing I particularly liked about the Apple II is that a certain area of ROM space was set aside for every I/O slot, so installing new hardware and the driver was trivial. No crazy jumpers and interrupt routing, and no driver software to install. It astounds me to this day that when USB was specified, that a mechanism for downloading a driver in some kind of universal byte code that could be flash-compiled for any architecture wasn't specified -- that would have made USB as good as what we had in 1974, but no.

On the other hand, Woz's software architectures were often a little bit simplistic, and that painted the Apple II into some uncomfortable corners. For instance, the I/O slot ROM software protocol was weird and limiting. Another instance is the floppy controller being squeezed down to such a small amount of hardware that the driver was full of software timing loops that forever doomed Apple II software to be locked into timing loops.

And one trick he missed that could have been done cheaply... if the video vertical sync pulse had been made available someplace in the I/O space as a bit you could test, then it would have been trivial to know when you were in the vertical blanking interval so that you could flip video buffers cleanly.

Re:Reversion to mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40047541)

I think there are no drivers in USB because they tried it with PCI. Here you can write BIOS images for different architectures including a generic fortran architecture. I think no company ever made a PCI device with that fortran option in the BIOS.

Re:Reversion to mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048389)

There were USB memory sticks that pretended to be a CD-ROM with a mirror of the data on the memory stick in order to trick Windows into autorunning the contents, to circumvent the fact that Microsoft disabled autorun on non-read-only devices. Now autorun is being disabled completely on more and more computers, there are USB memory sticks popping up that pretend to be a keyboard and try to run their contents by pretending to be the user issuing a command to do so.
This is the world we live in. Do you really want USB devices to be able to provide drivers?

Re:Reversion to mean? (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40048407)

Hindsight and all that.

Re:Man was an F'ing Genius (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046809)

Now he's just a fat sack of shit!

Re:Man was an F'ing Genius (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40047259)

Pfft, I considered him a fat fuckin' piece of shit who threw together some spare parts he found dumpster diving and jokingly called it a computer. I remember seeing those stupid Crapple2ez in my elementary school. Since I had a TI99/4a at home I felt really let down every time I was in the schools computer room. How about that ultra hi-def digital sound, eh? BEEEP, BLOOOP, BLOORP, BEEEZ, SIZZLE. Jesus Christ, that obese fuck must have been deaf as well as dumb. That's when I first learned about the existence of faggots, who thereafter would graciously line up to suck Steve Job's cock no matter how mundane his offerings were. What kind of GED possessing nigger makes a computer with a black and white screen prior to the introduction of color? Yes, cocksuckers like you will cry, "ooh, but it's HIGH res..." Amiga, you head-up-the-ass nostalgic Jew. Steve Jobs is dead, and no doubt Satan's loving his cancer riddled corpse all night long.

6502 was awesome! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046749)

I wrote a number of utilities for the Apple ][. One of which was a replacement garbage collection utility. The garbage collector in the Apple ROM would basically kick off when there was no more available memory and then "freeze" the machine for about 30 minutes while it dumped the garbage. I wrote one that could be run from the Ampersand &GC in Applesoft Basic. If your application used a lot of strings and reassigned those strings the heap would fill up really fast. My utility would run in seconds as opposed to the 30 minutes. I made about $1000 as a 16 year old kid selling this utility in Nibble magazine.

One other comment. Woz was a genius, but his shortcut for color graphics was based on 7 lines. Each byte in the $C000 address space used a nibble encoding scheme to display color. $C000+$200 (I think would move to the next line 7 pixels down. This 7 byte math drove us developers nuts. To draw on the screen you would either use FP math (very slow) or you would pre-populate a look up byte table to know where in memory you should poke to get the right row to show up a color.

I've not done assembly language since those days. It sure was fun and challenging though. Now everything is so bloated I rarely see tight efficient code anymore. I'm not suggesting that we go back to developing in assembly. I'm just pointing out that you were forced to be disciplined when you coded which made for more efficient code.

Re:6502 was awesome! (2)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046861)

Hey, I remember your garbage collector from Nibble magazine! Sorry, but I think pirated your utility.

Re:6502 was awesome! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046963)

You evil S.O.B. Gimme my $35.

Re:6502 was awesome! (1)

JeffElkins (977243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047437)

mod up for humor :)

(loved my Atari 800 & Franklin)

Re:6502 was awesome! (2)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 2 years ago | (#40048489)

Post your contact info :)

Re:6502 was awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048379)

And so thinks Linus... or so I understood.

Having dealt with the three chips -- 6502, 8080/85 and Z80 -- it is MHO that the Z80 is the best one. In fact I find it was so good I almost despaired when I learned about what the 8086/88 would be.

I wish Zilog had greater success, because they had an excellent processor.

implement nonexistent 16 bit processor in software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046951)

That's a rather extravagant way of saying fiddle with the carry every time you want to add two 16 bit numbers.

Re:implement nonexistent 16 bit processor in softw (1)

ejasons (205408) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047313)

I think that he was referring to a complete interpreter for a 16-bit processor called sweet16, which resided with the integer BASIC interpreter in the original ROM.

Sweet16 was pretty much never used, and its space (along with the builtin assembler) was reclaimed later when Applesoft BASIC came out.

Woz? (3, Interesting)

pbjones (315127) | more than 2 years ago | (#40047061)

So are we seeing more Woz articles because he is moving back into the computer limelight, or are we just using him to fill a gap in the news?

Re:Woz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40047843)

The other Steve died. And Nolan Bushnell isn't doing anything of interest (yet). Nolan does talk a mean game tho, his googleplex speeches are great stuff.

Re:Woz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048201)

The other Steve died. And Nolan Bushnell isn't doing anything of interest (yet). Nolan does talk a mean game tho, his googleplex speeches are great stuff.

Indeed, the reality distortion field is fading. Its influence from beyond the grave is limited.

What font is the article set in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048477)

It's remarkably similar to my choice for the desktop (Linux Biolinum). Anyone knows?

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