Apple IIgs Specifications
The IIGS is an amazing machine given its age. It can run a free
of Wolfenstein 3D, has its own UNIX, and even its own TCP/IP capable of 32
simultaneous sockets! Email is due to be released soon and as is ftp.
A web browser of sorts is already here as is telnet!
Here are some information and specs for the IIGS:
There are two things you need to do to get the IIGS usable. First, get
hard drive for it. http://www.allelec.com/ Alltech Electronics sells an
internal hard drive for the IIGS that is a hard drive on a card. No extra
controller needed. It is an IDE controller plus notebook mechanism. It
costs $59. For that price, you also get the most modern Apple IIGS System
Software, GS/OS (System 6.0.1), which is normally on six separate floppy
disks (a hard drive is needed to get the most out of it). You also get
tons of freewares and sharewares. The hard drive is called the Focus hard
drive card. Look for it on the Alltech site.
The other thing is memory. Alltech (see above for web site) also
the Sirius RAM card. They are revising their web site, so this product
may not yet be on there, but just call them and ask. It is a 0-8MB memory
card that can be expanded in 1MB increments using 1MB 30 pin SIMMs. I'm
sure you have an old 386 lying around that you can gut.
The IIGS' minimum recommended standard is 4MB.
Here are the specs for the IIGS:
1. Make and Model:
1986 (256K model) and 1989 (1.125MB model)
4. Followed by:
Apple IIc Plus
Western Design Center (not to be confused with Western
Digital, the hard drive maker) 65C816 running at 2.8Mhz.
Processor has 24-bit addressing (16MB memory space).
Speed can be dropped down to 1Mhz for compatibility
with emulation of IIe applications. Speed can be
increased to 15Mhz with an add-on CPU card.
128K in the 1986 "ROM 1" model
256K in the 1989 "ROM 3" model (Apple skipped ROM 2
so as not to confuse "Apple II" with "ROM 2")
ROM is expandable to 8MB (some cards use ROM
space as non-volatile battery backed virtual disk
storage for instant on applications [RamKeeper]).
The ROM contains much of the GS Toolbox routines.
These routines are patched by disk loaded code in
later system software revisions.
The 1986 model has 256K built-in to the motherboard.
The 1989 "ROM 3" revision has 1.125MB built into
memory. The Apple IIGS is expandable to 8MB of RAM
with the right memory card. Many applications, such
as Apple Computer's HyperCard program for the GS (GS
version of the famous Macintosh program) need at
least 2MB. Extra RAM goes into a special memory
expansion slot on the motherboard. Both Alltech
Electronic (http://www.allelec.com ) and Sequential Systems
(http://www.sequential.com ) are selling 8MB memory cards
as of October 1998.
Attractive platinum ABS impact resistant plastic. The
keyboard and mouse are separate from the unit, as are
all disk drives.
Full layout keyboard with numeric keypad. The keys
have good tactile feel and click slightly with each
keypress. They have rollover for fast typist. The
Apple IIGS uses Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) standard
keyboards and mice. This means it can use many such
input devices designed with the Macintosh in mind.
Any Mac made after 1986 has an ADB port, but the IIGS
was the first computer with one.
The Video Graphics Chip (VGC) is a custom video chip
that provides all of the GS' graphics modes. All modes
use a 12-bit palette for 4096 colors.
--320x200 with 16 colors
--320x200 with 256 colors: in this mode, the VGC
is taking advantage of the fact that it has memory
for 16 separate palettes. Each scan line can be
assigned any one of these 16 palettes for a total
of 256 possible colors. This mode requires no CPU
assistance and is often used in games.
--320x200 with 3200 colors: in this mode, the CPU
is used to swap palettes into and out of video
memory such that a separate 16 color palette can
be used on each of the 200 scan lines for 3200
possible colors. This mode is often used for
--640x200 with 4 pure colors: this mode is bland
and is not often used.
--640x200 with 16 dithered colors: in this mode, the
pixels in the graphic screen are grouped into
even and odd columns. The even columns can have a
palette of 4 pure colors out of a of 4096 possible.
The odd columns can have a second palette of 4
pure colors. The GS dithers the adjacent colors
for 4x4=16 dithered colors. This mode is widely
used in productivity programs and also in Apple's
Finder for the GS.
--Fill mode: for faster rendering of graphics, the
fill mode is a hardware mode in which an outline
of a graphic can be drawn and the outline filled
by a solid color without needing to draw in all the
--Combinations and variations: the Apple IIGS has
scan line interrupts. Part of the screen can
be in 640x200 mode and part of it can be in 320x200
resolution. Such split modes are sometimes used
in paint programs, where the menu bar is in 640x200
while the graphic is in 320x200.
SVGA modes with 24-bit color can be added with an additional
video card (see the Second Sight SVGA card at Sequential
Systems http://www.sequential.com/ ). The card is capable
1024x768 resolutions with an SVGA monitor.
The Apple IIGS also has all the graphics modes
the Apple IIc.
--Text mode: 40x24 and 80x24. Characters are formed
by a 7x8 pixel matrix. Text mode is monochrome but
can be set to a specific color. The background
and boarder can each be set to different colors.
Text mode is rarely used in GS programs since the
OS, GS/OS, has a graphic desktop.
--Low Resolution: 40x48 pixels in 16 colors.
--Double Low Resolution: 80x48 pixels in 16 colors.
--High Resolution: 280x192 pixels in 6 colors
--Double High Resolution: 560x192 pixels in 16 colors.
--Combinations/Variations: 4 lines of text mode can
be mixed with a truncated Low Resolution or High
Resolution mode graphic. The text in mixed mode can
be either 40 column or 80 column.
The Apple IIGS uses the 32 channel Ensoniq 5503 DOC
wavetable sound chip used in Ensoniq's Mirage and ESQ-1
synthesizers. Although classics today, the Mirage and
the ESQ-1 were professional synthesizers into the late
1980s. The 32 channels are commonly paired by the OS
tools of the GS into 16 stereo voices, with one voice
being reserved by the system for timing and the system
beep. The GS is commonly called a 15 voice unit.
Programs that don't use the OS and hit the hardware
directly (games and demos) can use the 32 channels as
32 separate voices.
See this link for more information:
The "SmartPort" external drive port supports both Apple
IIe/IIc UniDisks (3.5" and 5.25" models) and Apple IIGS
daisy-chain 3.5" drives and Apple 5.25" disks. It is
also designed to support the Chinook CT-series 20MB to
100MB SmartPort hard drives, but Apple IIGS users
usually add an SCSI card to the system for faster hard
The difference between a UniDisk and a IIGS
is that the IIGS drive is controlled directly by the
computer while the UniDisk has a separate processor.
The UniDisk is thus much slower (up to 4x slower) than
a IIGS 3.5" drive.
The SmartPort can support two 800K 3.5" drives,
140K 5.25" drives, and one 100MB CT100 hard drive
simultaneously daisy-chained to each other.
The Apple IIGS often shipped with the Apple
(DMA) SCSI controller in an expansion slot for
controlling SCSI devices. Even 100MB Zip Drives and
1GB Jazz Drives work on this SCSI port.
A SuperDrive can controller can be added for
1.44MB high density floppy drives.
The Apple IIGS' operating system, GS/OS, is
Like the Macintosh OS, INIT, extension, Desk Accessory
and Control Panel files can be added. These appear
under the Apple menu in GS/OS programs such as Finder.
GS/OS also supports the installable file system concept.
Apple made several file system translators (FST)
available: ProDOS, DOS 3.3, Pascal (UCSD), MS-DOS,
ISO9660 (CD-ROM), and HFS (Mac). Using the HFS file
system, the GS can access a single storage partition
of up to 2GB. It also supports multiple partitions,
some ProDOS (32MB per partition) and some HFS.
Two RS-423 ports (uses Zilog chip, same as Mac, for
Appletalk and 56.7k serial port max)
Composite display output (NTSC or PAL depending on the
ADB port (for keyboard and mice)
RGB monitor output (Drives an analog RGB monitor.
Besides Apple's, Amiga and Atari ST
monitors work with the right cable)
External Drive "SmartPort" (IIGS daisy chain 3.5" or
UniDisks 3.5" drives, Apple 5.25"
drives, and CT-series 20MB to 100MB
Seven Apple Bus expansion slots (inherited from IIe)
One Ensoniq sound connector (for input to the ADC for
recording samples and access to the raw synthesizer
One special memory expansion slot (supports up to 8MB
of RAM expansion and 8MB of ROM expansion).
The Apple IIGS was designed in response to
the Amiga 1000 and Atari
520ST computers. It was and is a quantum leap for the Apple II line. Sales
were strong initially and the IIGS even outsold the black and white
Macintosh units that were its contemporary. Sadly, Apple wanted Macintosh
to be its future. The total number of advertisements and commercials can
probably be counted on one hand. If the computer had been introduced a
year or two earlier, things might have been different. As things stood,
the Apple IIGS disappeared from the market in 1992.
In one final gasp, the Apple II supporters
at Apple designed the
Apple IIGS Plus, code named "Mark Twain." It had an 8Mhz 65C816, a built
in SuperDrive, 2MB on the motherboard, and a hard drive. Prototypes were
leaked and one user group has one and wrote a series of articles about it.
Apple management vetoed this unit.
The Ensoniq chip in the Apple IIGS was a brilliant
move by Apple, but
it drew a lawsuit by Apple Records, the Beatles' company. Apple never
again put a synth chip in any computer. Even today, Macintosh does not
have hardware synthesizers. Macintosh needs to go around this with
software based synthesis.
In a twist of irony, you can currently do preemptive
(like Amiga) on the Apple IIGS with the addition of a free product called
GNO/ME, providing a UNIX like multitasking kernal under the GUI, much like
AmigaDOS...while Macintosh lacks such a capability until Rhapsody is
released (well, there was a UNIX variant for Macintosh, but it was
discontinued by Apple). The Apple IIGS also has the ability to do
cooperative multitasking (Macintosh style) with a product called The
Manager...works to turn the GS Finder into a Macintosh type Finder
(allows more than one program open and overlapping on the GUI and
cooperative time slicing).
Small business, Home, Education, Gaming, Programming
16. Net Resources:
http://ground.ecn.uiowa.edu/ (1.7GB A2 knowledge and
http://www.sequential.con/ (Video cards and storage)
http://www.allelec.com/ (Various hardware and software)