Apple III screen output issue.

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: Oct 10 2016
Posts: 2


I'm new to this site and relatively mew to vintage Apple computers in general. My family was a Commodore household growing up, mainly because of price. Like many other 80's households, we progressed from an "affordable" Vic-20 to a Commodore 64 to an Amiga 500, until conforming to a dreaded 286 MS-Dos-based computer in college. But I always envied a high school buddy of mine who had an Apple IIe, color monitor and two disk drives. (I can still picture him playing Ultima IV and Bard's Tale on it.) I liked my Commodore 64, but I really wanted that Apple.

These days I enjoy collecting vintage computers as a hobby. Like other enthusiasts, I do garage sales, check craigslist, etc. Anyway, a few months ago I was driving after dropping my kid off at soccer practice and I see an old computer sitting by the road next to a trash can. Score! It turns out to be an Apple /// computer, monitor, second drive and printer.

After cleaning it up and plugging everything in (while shrugging off the crazy looks my wife is giving me), the darn thing works. I get an arrow prompt.

Excited, I get a serial cable, order some DS/DD diskettes and download ADTPro, ready to start my first bootstrapping process from "bare metal."

When the diskettes finally come in, bad news. I turn everything on and get scrambled characters on the screen. The computer seems to be booting up fine. Drive still grinds. I still get the beep from the key sequence. I can even sort of see the blinking cursor, but I am getting a bunch of random characters on the screen.

At first I think it's an issue the monitor, so I plug the computer into a Commodore 1702. Same thing. It doesn't seem to be the monitor.

Anyway, still hoping for my first working Apple computer. I admittedly have very limited technical knowledge and ability but would love to try to get the thing up and running again. Any advice?

Thanks in advance!

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Joined: May 23 2013
Posts: 80
Re: Apple III screen output issue.

reseat the chips?

CWJ_Wilko's picture
Joined: Jun 3 2015
Posts: 220
Re: Apple III screen output issue.

+1 for reseating chips.

Since you don't have any disks, you could try writing and running a few simple programs to determine what kind of state the CPU is in. Since the speaker is still beeping you could write a program that beeps the speaker regularly, or changes pitch. Not really familiar with the Apple ///.

I feel like an ass, but I have a small twinge of satisfaction that your brilliant find turned out to be troublesome. I'll be lucky to find a DVD/VCR combo lying around on the street - finding an Apple /// is like winning the lottery. Why can't I be that lucky?

Joined: Dec 20 2008
Posts: 187
Re: Apple III screen output issue.

Cool find.

Don't understand the Bard's Tale and Ultima story, though. The C64 versions were far superior...



Peter Rittwage
Apple II/II+ Registry - Register yours today!

Joined: Jul 5 2016
Posts: 17
Re: Apple III screen output issue.

Well done on your find.

I would definitely check the ram chips

Joined: Oct 10 2016
Posts: 2
Re: Apple III screen output issue.

Thanks for the replies. I really appreciate it. I'll try reseating the chips and will come back with an update on any progress.

I agree that it was a completely lucky find on my part. It was the first time I have found anything like that "in the wild." I look forward to working on it and learning some things.