Apple II - Rumors, Facts and Fables

By Charles T. Turley

Copyright (c) 1996 by Charles T. Turley

It's often been said that rumors, facts and fables are closely related, if not
interwoven with each other at times. The following contents are not clarified as
being either; rumors, facts or fables. Each item discussed does fall into one of
those categories. The interpretation of this articles content are left entirely up
to the reader!

With an emphasis on the enhanced abilities of the Apple IIGS, for its graphic and
sound potentials, consider the following tidbits of information I've gathered
from a multitude of reliable and well informed sources, over the past year. In
many cases this information was obtained by me directly from the programmers in
tel-con or email interviews.

An update of Prism by Ron Mercer, is nearing (if not already) close to release state,
with support for jpeg color conversions and lots more new options. And, another
little known 3200 color IIGS graphic program from Ron, that's been under
progressive development off and on for the past few years is Emerald Vision v2.0.
Even the very early beta I saw 2 years back was more impressive and an lot more
user friendly than our current 3200 IIGS program, DreanGrafix!

Need more info on these? Then send Ron an email: (Ron Mercer)
The more request and feedback he gets from the Apple IIGS community, the sooner
he's inclined to finish these up for release.

On the topic of graphics and games, Geraldine Wright just informed me: "I have recently
released a color graphics editor for the New Print Shop. This is something that New Print
Shop users had not previously had, since Broderbund never put out a New Print Shop
Companion. Currently it is available on Genie as a SHRINKIT archive, and on the ground
ftp site as a SHRINKIT archive and as a BINSCII'ed SHRINKIT archive. The program is
freeware, so no one has to worry about the cost preventing their using it. BTW, on the
ground ftp site there is also a New Print Shop font editor program, written by Cyrus Roton."

I just got the IIGS version of Wolfenstein 3D IIGS from Vitesse, Inc. (an early alpha
version) for my review and comments. Here's what I've got to say about it in brief.
Using it on a IIGS ROM 01, with a TransWarp card, I found it to be fast, responsive
easy to control with either keyboard and/or mouse. The graphics were displayed in
320 mode (16 colors) - I conclude to allow for fast and smooth animation. It had very nice
stereo sound, seven game modes, with 30 levels, fasinating 3D graphics animation.
The fate of its release is up to Bill Heineman. I tried to reach Bill by telephone today
at his work, to find out what the status of its release was! Like everybody else in the
hardware and software development, he was at the 3E show in LA. Last I heard on its
release status follows from a post from Bill to CSA2 - before Christmas, as noted below.

From: (Burger Bill Heineman)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.apple2
Subject: Re: Info. On Bard's Tale 1,2&3(?)
Date: 10 Dec 1995 01:27:40 GMT
Organization: Logicware
Message-ID: <4add2c$>
References: <49pf3n$>

Wolf 3D will probably be released as shareware due to the fact of some
sticky legal leftovers from my leaving Interplay.

I just need to wrap up the sound driver.


P.S. I just finished Doom for the 3DO and this is what took all my time
recently. It's just a shame I can't make a living on IIgs products
anymore and have to do these other products to feed my family.

Ah well, at least we still have such great commercial IIGS game releases as;
Ultima I (The First Age of Darkness) from Vitesse and the freeware game -
PuyoPuyo and the commercial program - Opening Line v1.2 (The premier
GS/OS splash screen enhancer) from Bret Victor.

Many great IIGS programs are still undated and/or nearing updates for release
from Seven Hills Software, the near ready for release of GNO v2.0.6, with the
support of the new IIGS - TCP/PPP bundle, will give all GNO users the ability
to have a new method of Internet access.

I've recently arranged with the author of the programming utility LISA 816, to
have it reclassified as freeware and released. The same is pending with Merlin.
The Orca programming utilities have just been updated and commercially offered

This could open up an entire new option for a new generation of programmers
to have the tools and utilities needed to produce some great new programs for
the Apple II's and IIGS'. And, after you read the rest of this article, you'll see
just how much of a possibility the future holds for the Apple II and IIGS.

It's really amazing, when you stop to think about all of this just how much is still
being developed, updated and released for the Apple II and IIGS, even if they are
not produced any longer! The users needs, devotion and desires keep it ALIVE!

It's ashamed that Apple discontinued production of the IIGS. Who knows where it
would be or what it could be doing right now, had Apple continued production and
developments with the IIGS. Word has it, that the reason for it's being
discontinued from production, results from an out of court settlement and
agreement, between Apple and a certain record company with the same word in it,
not to produce any media sound presentation or recording computer systems with
the name Apple attached to it. Who knows what the real reason and motivation was
that resulted in the end of IIGS production and development. Even though the IIGS
is no longer produced by Apple, many software and hardware developers still
continue to push the computer to new levels of performance. The Second Sight
video card, Sirius RAM card, (using 4 to 8 MB's of SIMM chips), SoundMeister
stereo & digitizer card, (perhaps even with a Pro model under development again)

By this time next year, you won't even need an Apple IIGS to run your Apple II
and IIGS software. There are IIGS emulators under development now for; Mac (68k)
and PowerMac, BeBox, PC operating systems - such as; Win-95, Win/NT and

There's the GS-X under secret development also. Apple when are you going to
spring your Hydra computer release on the hungry Apple II community? From what
I've seen of it, it looks like an astounding combination of a computer. Watch
out all you devoted Apple II users. A RISC based Mac/IIGS hybrid may just jump out
and bite you soon! After all Christmas is not that far off!

How about a IIGS reduced to a single chip for commercial use as a time code sync.
audio processing system? Well after some intensive research and investigative
efforts, I've learned that DTS, with a WWW site and system specifications URL
ref. ( a manufacturer of surround
sound systems for theater and home audio, actually uses Apple IIGS's on their
manufacturing line. I'm not sure which part, but has something to do with
time codes on theater audio discs. According to my sources, they needed Apple
IIGS's during mid-1995 and posted in comp.sys.apple2.marketplace. After checking
this newsgroup for such postings, I did find several such IIGS CPU's wanted
notices posted during June thru Nov. of 1995, all of which were related to or
directly from agents for DTS. I've learned that DTS has licensed the IIGS
sound technology from Apple Computer, Inc.

Another interesting related newsgroup post, concerning DTS technology follows in
its entirety.


Newsgroups:,rec.arts.movies (Mark Vita)

GE Simulation & Control Systems Wed, 30 Jun 1993 00:59:26 GMT

Some info about Digital Theater Sound (DTS)

I recently spent some time on the job with my brother, who installs theater sound
systems for a living. He's been pretty busy lately installing DTS systems for
Jurassic Park. Anyway, I had an opportunity to look over some of the DTS
literature and installation procedures. I see there's been a lot of curiosity on
here about DTS, so I thought I'd pass on some of the info I picked up.

DTS, or Digital Theater Sound, is a motion picture sound system format that
stores a digital soundtrack on separate CD-ROM discs. There are two variants:
DTS-S (often erroneously referred to as "DTS-4"), which offers four
matrix-encoded channels (left, center, right, surround), similar to standard 35mm
optical Dolby Stereo; and DTS-6, which offers six discrete channels, similar to
70mm six-track magnetic sound (typically: left, center, right, left surround,
right surround, subwoofer). The DTS-S system utilizes a single CD-ROM, while
DTS-6 utilizes two CD-ROMs. (I'm not sure how the DTS-6 tracks are broken down
onto the two discs.)

The DTS unit itself is basically a rack-mountable PC clone, containing either one
or two Chinon CD-ROM drives (depending on whether the system is setup for DTS-S
or DTS-6). The cost of the system is about $4000 list for DTS-S, and $6000 for
DTS-6. The DTS-S system is upgradeable to DTS-6. For Jurassic Park, Universal
was offering exhibitors a special promotional deal which allowed them to purchase
the DTS system at reduced prices (approximately $2.5K for a DTS-S system).

The 35mm prints released for DTS films have a normal, conventional analog optical
soundtrack. The same prints can thus be played in DTS-equipped and
non-DTS-equipped theaters; studios and distributors only need to maintain a
single inventory of prints. The analog soundtrack also provides a fail-safe
backup for DTS-equipped systems.

The only unusual addition to a DTS print is an optical time code track, which is
squeezed in between the optical sound track and the film frame. [My brother has
observed that in some theaters with incorrect projector apertures, it is thus
possible to "see" Jurassic Park in DTS :-)] The DTS system includes an optical
time code reader which is mounted onto the projector. The film leader contains
some header information which allows the DTS processor to check that the correct
discs for the film are loaded in the CD-ROM drives. Then, for each film frame, a
time code is read off the print, and the corresponding digital soundtrack info is
retrieved off of the CD-ROM. Thus the soundtrack stays in sync if there are
missing or damaged frames (a small read-ahead buffer is utilized), or even if the
reels were spliced together out-of-order (!). If at any time the DTS processor
is unable to retrieve valid digital soundtrack data (e.g. missing disc, wrong
disc loaded, drive failure, invalid or missing time code), it immediately switches
over to the normal analog soundtrack (and switches back if and when valid digital
data can later be obtained).

The DTS literature does imply that some kind of compression scheme is used on the
digital sound data, but it does not indicate what kind of compression is used, or
even whether it is lossy or loseless. I think they were being deliberately vague
on this topic. However, they did go so far as to malign one of the competing
digital systems (presumably Dolby SR-D) for using "excessive" lossy compression.

One interesting (and somewhat disappointing) note about the four-channel DTS-S
format is that it is recorded on the disc as two tracks, left-total and
right-total, just like regular analog Dolby stereo, and is played back through
the optical projector inputs on 35mm analog Dolby-compatible sound processors.
This was done for the obvious backward compatibility reasons. What it means,
though, is that what was once probably a nice, discrete, four-channel digital
sound mix ends up getting matrix-encoded, passed through Dolby A-type analog
noise reduction, then matrix-decoded to retrieve the original four channels
(yuck). Obviously this results in less channel separation than might otherwise
have been possible. Also, most of the cheaper Dolby-compatible theater sound
processors (such as Smart and Kintec) lack the ability to easily turn off the
analog noise reduction. The bottom line is that the original digital soundtrack
ends up getting mashed through lots of analog gobbledygook circuitry, which may
account for the somewhat less-spectacular-than-expected sound at some DTS-S
equipped theaters. It would have been nice if they had been able to record DTS-S
as four discrete digital tracks, but this is unfortunately unworkable since most
35mm sound systems lack something even so seemingly basic as discrete line-level
inputs for the four channels (!). In any event, for these reasons the discrete
DTS-6 system apparently sounds much, much superior to DTS-S (much more than you
would expect from just the inclusion of two additional channels). Unfortunately
it is DTS-S that is being purchased by the vast majority of exhibitors that even
bought into DTS at all (actually not too surprising since DTS-6 really requires a
decent six-channel sound system to be worthwhile).

Apparently DTS is being regarded as fairly successful so far, achieving pretty
decent market penetration. This is probably mostly accountable to the huge
success of Jurassic Park, and the fact that Universal is practically giving the
DTS units away at cost in order to promote the film. The fact that DTS prints are
backward-compatible is also a big selling point; the necessity for maintaining a
dual inventory of prints was supposedly a major factor in the demise of the
earlier Cinema Digital Sound (CDS) process, an digital/optical sound-on-film
format. (Of course, with DTS there are those pesky CD-ROM discs to
inventory/keep track of/possibly lose.) Price is also a major advantage; even
without the JP promo pricing, the cost of the system is pretty reasonable at
$4-6K. Supposedly the forthcoming competing digital systems are much more
expensive. Dolby SR-D, a digital sound-on-film format that stores the soundtrack
data between the film's sprocket holes, requires a $20K processor. Sony/Columbia
is also coming out with a digital sound-on-film format that will likely also be
significantly more expensive than DTS.

-- Mark Vita Advanced Systems Martin Marietta Simulation
and Automated Systems Daytona Beach, FL


A final note of interest on this follows. DTS makes a theater sound system. They
use the IIgs sound technology and circuit design on a chip - to generate timing
information in their products. They have, it seems, reduced the IIgs to a single

And, I've just been informed by Steve Cavanaugh, from his article below (from the
most recent Apple Blossom), used with his permission, which follows (see below),
that Tiger and Apple are coming out this November with a new Apple II. I even got
a reply from Steve Wozniak that he also heard a third party company was working
with Apple to develop an Internet box device using the Apple II technology!


The Tiger Learning Computer

Tiger Electronics, normally thought of as a toy company, has licensed the Apple
IIe technology from Apple to produce a notebook-size version. The target retail
price is under $200.00, with software cartridges costing from $10.00 to $15.00.
The "catch" to the system cost is that there will not be a media drive on the
system (neither floppy or hard disk). Tiger intends to use solid-state ROM
cartridges (remember the old TRS-80 and Atari 400 computers?) and RAM cartridges
for temporary storage of work-in-progress. Tiger already has agreements with
Optimum, MECC, and Scholastic to license programs for use with the new computer.
It is also looking into license agreements with Quality Computers and online
services to provide Internet connections.

The group at Apple is also excited about the potential of the product and will be
selling the product in the school markets for Tiger.

The RAM cartridge available with the system will allow for approximately 2
Megabytes of storage. Since the system has two cartridge ports, the user can have
the RAM cartridge in one port and the application software in the other port.

The system will not contain a monitor/LCD but will hook up to the AV inputs on a
TV. A PS/2 mouse, an AC adaptor, and some number of cartridges will be included
with the system. There is no plan for an internal modem as this would drive up
the system price, but the RS-232 serial port will allow modem connection up to
9600 baud. The system will also have a parallel port for connecting parallel
printers and a joystick port. Current plans are to ship to limited markets
(approximately 10) in the U.S. in November.

Tiger is interested in speaking with Apple II game developers so that they can
also offer some cartridges purely for fun. Identifying these developers has not
been as easy as finding the educational developers so if you know of any who have
an interest in licensing their games please give them the e-mail address of Tiger
(BJ_+a+TUS%Tiger_ or write to Tiger at BJ West,
Tiger Electronics, Inc., 980 Woodlands Pkwy, Vernon Hills, IL 60061


This sounded a bit to good to be true to me. So, I contacted Tiger Electronics,
Inc. by voice at: (847) 913-8100 and was advised that such a product is under
development and confirmed for retail release as outlined in the above article
from 'The Apple Blossom'. For more information on 'The Tiger Learning Computer'
you can call the voice number noted above and ask for Mark Rosenberg or Ritz

In closing I'd like to advise all the Apple IIGS users that as Executive
Coordinator of 1WSW, I have valid confirmation from several of our 1WSW team
members, who are very skilled and devoted Apple II/IIGS programmers that the
following projects are either; completed and ready for release soon, under
development and/or under serious consideration for development and release as
shareware and/or commercial sales.

Here's some of what you can look forward to during the balance of 1996 and 1997;
a QuickTime GS converter, that supports the Second Sight video card, in color and
also a QuickTime GS converter that doesn't require the Second Sight video card,
in grey scale, a port of MPEG to the IIGS, a IIGS graphical Web Browser, a GUI
GS/OS desktop update and release of POVray GS Apple and II/IIGS emulators for the
Mac (68k), PowerMac and respectively also for the BeBox computer.

With the recent port of Python (a scripting language/system like Java) to the IIGS, for use
with the GNO program and others like; Java, C++, GhostScript, Sh, etc. under serious consideration for ports to the IIGS platform, it looks like the Apple II is still very much

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