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A History of Gaming Platforms: The Apple II
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A History of Gaming Platforms: The Apple II

January 31, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 7 of 8 Next

Not only is Marc Goodman's The Bilestoad (1982) a unique overhead hack-and-slash, one-on-one fighting game that shows off the typical early Apple II color palette, it was also the author's last game for the system due to heavy piracy.

Modern Activity

One of the major problems facing a modern would-be Apple enthusiast is the compatibility (or lack thereof) among all the various models. Many of these models have different ROM variations and other differences ranging from keyboard layout and configuration to standard RAM and expansion options.

Furthermore, despite aggressive legal action by Apple against unauthorized manufacturers, dozens of clone systems were produced, with varying degrees of compatibility with the original Apple II. The Apple IIgs, which is a separate topic, offers some intriguing pluses, but might not be as much fun for those that like older system styling or have no interest in IIgs-specific software. An Apple IIe Card was even released for the Macintosh LC in 1990, but that hardware configuration is a difficult mix to pull together and has its own set of disadvantages.

Luckily, the popularity of Apple II systems in both homes and schools makes it easy to find genuine Apple hardware at reasonable prices today. It's possible to find complete, working systems for less than $100.

Nostalgic users may prefer standard Apple II systems for their highly collectible status, but the most popular choice for casual users is the Apple IIe. The popular IIe offers the best mix of compatibility and expandability, regardless of variation. Likewise, the "Enhanced" and "Platinum" were the last models based on the Apple IIe and make excellent choices. The former is closer in design to the original IIe, whereas the latter features a keyboard and styling more consistent with early Macintosh systems and the Apple IIgs.

Apple II clones came in all sizes and configurations, including VTech's sophisticated Laser 128 EX/2 with expanded memory and 3.5" disk drive, shown here on top of Franklin's dual 5.25" disk drive Ace 1200, which was compatible with both Apple II and CP/M software.

Today, because of their unique designs and small size, Apple IIc's are also popular choices for collectors, but also require more knowledge. Configuring an optimal system can be difficult, particularly if the user wants to explore expansions.

As far as clones are concerned, VTech made the best with their Laser models. These systems are the general size of an Apple IIc, but have many of the Apple IIe's standard expansion options and are overall highly compatible.

Article Start Previous Page 7 of 8 Next

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