Anyone know what these cards are? What function do they have exactly?
Anyone know what these cards are? What function do they have exactly?
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II+ 80 column cards.
Correct. Specifically they look like clones of the Videx VideoTerm. Put them in Slot # 3 and then "PR#3" should get you 80 columns. The moniotor needs to be plugged into the output. If there is an input, the 40 column NTSC signal needs to go in from either the 4 pin connector near the 16 pin DIP game port or from the RCA jack on the back panel. The 16 pin connector on one of those cards goes to I think it is a 9334 chip on the motherboard, but I'd chave to check for sure. That's the equivalent of Videx's "Soft Switch". Check the docs for that you can find online.
I got the same card as the one in the second picture for my Apple II+ clone and I have written extensively about it here: C80 CPL-3: 80-column card for the Apple II
So these cards are only for Apple II +? Can they be installed on Apple IIe?
By the the time the IIe rolled around, they redesigned the 80col interface to be built in, meaning no external video connector was needed. You installed a much smaller 80col (or more likely, an extended 64k 80col card) in the aux slot.
So these cards are not used on the Apple IIe because it uses the aux slot for video cards? So these cards wouldn't work if plugged into an Apple IIe exp slot?
They won't work in slot 3 of a //e because they would conflict with the built in 80 column ROM. They will work in another slot like 2 ot 4. However, there is little reason to do that since the //e has it's own 80 column through the AUX slot and most software expects to use that 80 column. A Videx style 80 column isn't that useful in another slot either because most software that supports those cards expect it to be in slot 3.
There is one exception to the above... Videx made a card called the "UltraTern". It supported more modes like 132 columns and some modes with more lines, I think up to 48. There was software to make some applications like Visicalc work with the UltraTerm, including I believe support for it in another slot on a //e.
But in general... If you've got a //e, you have no need for these cards. On the other hand if you have a ][+ or clone, they greatly improve the machine's capabilities for business applications. Also nicer for text adventures like Zork or Hitchhiker's Guide, etc.
The top card looks like a driect copy of the Videx VideoTerm 80 col. card.
The middle one looks like a modified Videx Videoterm with the "soft switch" built in as evidenced by a pair of transistors on the top right and the "dongle" which connects to the 9334 chip on the II+ motherboard.
The lower coard looks like a clone of the ALS 80 column card, I think it was called the "Smart Term" card and has a soft-switch built in.
The Soft Switch was to automatically switch the screen modem from 40 to 80 columns and back. The Original Videoterm lacked a soft switch and you physically had to swap video cables when you changed from 40 columns to up columns.
Now that you mention it, the bottom one could be an ALS SmartTerm clone. That's unusual if it is true, because almost all of the clone 80 column cards copied the far more popular and widely supported Videx card, even though in my opinion the ALS card was actually a better card in a lot of ways, particularly as you mention it had the "Soft Switch" functionality internal and didn't need to have a chip on the motherboard pulled, etc. It's unfortunate that so many software developers back in the day mainly only supported the Videx cards. The ALS used similar chips (6845/6545 or the Hitachi versions of those) so it shouldn't have been hard to support both. I think because Videx was around first is why it became dominant. It wasn't the first 80 column card though, the M&R Sup'R'Term was. The Videx card had some advantages over that one, primarily in how its ROM worked.
I've actually chatted with the founder of ALS who also designed most of their cards including the SmartTerm. Super nice guy.
You wrote that Apple IIe has a built-in ROM for 80 column display management. I knew instead that an additional card was needed in the Aux slot, right?
The //e has the ROM for the 80 column functionality built in, but it still needs a card in the AUX slot to display 80 columns to provide a couple logic functions and the RAM for the other 40 columns worth of data. That card however does not have a ROM on it.
So not 'instead' really.
So, in this case, Apple has done incomplete work on the Apple IIe. What are (if any) versions of Apple II that don't need any tab added to display the 80 columns?
Apple IIc + IIgs.
In a way it is incomplete, although Apple as far as I know always included an 80 column card with the //e, albeit not all of them had 64K, some only had 2K. Apple could have done it like it is on the IIgs, have all the 80 column hardware on the motherboard and then just provide a memory expansion slot w/o the video signals -- they could do that with the IIgs since it provided more than 128K of RAM standard. However I think they didn't do it on the //e because RAM was still expensive enough in 1982 when the //e was being designed that they wanted options for how much RAM to add, since the 64k on the motherboard is not enough to do 80 columns. In the early days of the //e the 80 column card that was standard only included 2K of memory on it, the amount necessary to do 80 columns, but not enough for the double res graphics modes. The first version of the //e (Rev A motherboard) doesn't support the double-res graphics modes at all anyway. Apparently Apple wasn't sure how/if they could make it work, however the Rev B came out fairly soon and Apple offered a free exchange to people to upgrade (rare instance they've done something like that). The other reason they may have left off the full 80 column functionality on the //e was because unlike the IIgs where RGB output is built in on the motherboard, for the //e the signals to do it are on the AUX slot, and to generate RGB output you need either one of Apple's cards that supplies that or something 3rd party like the RAMWorks add-on. In a way the //e is actually more flexible than the IIgs because it is possible to create video output to more different formats directly such as digital RGB (IIgs is always analog RGB). It probably would be possible to build a card that did things like PAL/SECAM output (Apple didn't because they had specific //e models for Europe that did native composite video out the RCA jack on the back panel, unlike the ][+ which required a PAL card to do color). It would probably even be possible to create a card for the AUX slot that directly generated HDMI output. Right now the only way to do HDMI out of an Apple II that I know of is VidHD which goes in a regular slot, or adapters which convert NTSC to HDMI (which are less than optimal). Something like VidHD which provided HDMI out but went in the AUX slot would be interesting, especially if it also offered 8GB of RAM and maybe even a co-processor like the Premium Softcard... But that's a deam at this point.
I'm not sure what you mean. What is a problem about the //e 80 column cards not having a ROM on them? I don't think I implied there was any problem. I don't see any problem. They didn't need to put one on there because it is in the motherboard ROM.
Do you mean why is there no card like the VidHD which provides HDMI output from the AUX slots? Mainly because it would be a lot of work to design such a card. The VidHD works in a regular slot I suppose so that it can work in both the //e and IIgs since the IIgs does not have an AUX slot.
If anything I'd think that making an HDMI card for the AUX slot might be easier than the way the VidHD card does it because all the video signals are right there.
Ok your speech is very clear.So the Microsoft Premium Softcard card you mentioned in a previous post works on Apple IIe inserted in an expansion slot because it doesn't have a built-in ROM, but it uses the one built into the motherboard, right?
The Softcards are Z80 computers for running CP/M (which was at the time the predominant way to run business software on microcomputers).
The Premium Softcard //e has its own memory (64K) and can use 80-column text and high-resolution graphics from CP/M. It occupies the AUX slot, so it was provided with the ability to act as a 64K 80-column card when the Z80 is disabled.
In that mode, the mainboard ROM support for 80 columns is the same as with an Apple 64K 80-column card. When running CP/M on the Z80 it uses software loaded from a CP/M boot disk.
Here's a good collection of info for Z80 cards: http://apple2.guidero.us/doku.php/mg_notes/cpm/cpm_combos
One got to admit, the fact that there is an 80-column card (RAM expansion), and also a Z80 card (coprocessor for CP/M) - which have nothing to do with each other - and to make matters worse, even cards combining the two, makes it a quite confusing.
I remember it took me a while to really understand that these were two separate cards when I was young (and we did have both cards). Even worse, the "80 column card" in German was called the "80 Zeichen Karte", which even has the "Z" in there. I'm sure I was not the only one struggling to understand the difference between the "Z80"- and "80 Z."-cards...
The documentation I found on the internet explains the differences between the SoftCard and the Premium SoftCard. The SoftCard is designed for Apple II and installs on normal slots, while the Premium SoftCard is specially designed for Apple IIe and installs on Aux Slot.Now I ask you, could I mount the SoftCard (no Premium) on an Apple IIe in the normal slot while keeping the existing 80Col / 64K card in the Aux slot?
You can put a normal 50 pin Apple II slot Z80 card in a //e and still use 80 columns from the AUX slot. However, I would still not recommend trying a Z80 card in Slot # 3. It is normally put in Slot # 4. Not every card, even ones without a ROM on them will work properly in Slot # 3 on a //e and there are also software conventions which expect cards to be in certain slots. There are a handful of cards which normally are put in Slot # 3 on a //e, most often people put things like Accellerator cards... Transwarp, Accellerator //e, FastChip //e, etc. Those not only don't need the CX00 ROM space, they also don't interfere with any of the I/O locations for the slot. Cards like that will usually work fine in Slot # 3.
Things get messy if you have a lot of cards because you start running out or running into conflicts of what works where and what software expects where. That's what led to things like the SCRG Switch-A-Slot and the Mountain Hardware Expansion Chassis... Which just makes things even more confusing sometimes...
I would have found a clone of the Microsoft SoftCard for Apple II (so not the Premium version for Apple IIe), I wish I could use this card on slot 4 of my Apple IIe while keeping the 80col / 64K card on the auxiliary slot. Is it possibile?
There is no issue using a Z80 card in Slot # 4 on a //e. Slot # 4 does not interfere at all with Slot #3 or the AUX slot. You just have to be careful what you put in Slot # 3 on a //e. As I said before, a fairly limited selection of cards will work properly in Slot # 3 on a //e.
Ok thanks for the clarification. Will I also be able to use the 80-column mode with CP / M without any problems?
80 columns should work in CP/M on a //e if you've got the right software disks for CP/M.
OK, you were very clear. I'll do some tests and let you know ..
I managed to get a compatible Microsoft SoftCard and mounted it in slot 4 of my Apple IIe. Then I got the CP / M floppy disk. It all works without any problems. I noticed that the CP / M starts automatically in 80 Col mode. Is this normal or can it be started in 40col mode too?
It's normal if 80 columns is present for CP/M to start up that way. I don't know about starting up in 40 column mode, or why you'd want to. Almost all CP/M software expects 80 columns. Same thing is true of Apple's UCSD Pascal environment and a lot of other alternative OSes.
Really, I noticed that the screen display area where the 80 column mode is displayed is actually the same screen display area as the 40 column mode. That is, the 80 columns appear to derive from the 40 columns, split in half, visible in the same viewing area.
That is true of the //e. 1/2 the columns come from the motherboard DRAM, the other 1/2 come from the DRAM (or SRAM for some non-extended cards) in the AUX slot. That weird mapping was inherited by the //e from the Apple ///. Most of the Videx, SmartTerm and other ][+ 80 column cards don't work that way. They usually have a 2K SRAM that the 6845, 6545 or Hitachi equivalent chip has direct access to that is used for all 80 columns. On a ][+ running with an 80 column card like that a program could actually use the 2K text buffer memory for itself. I don't know how many programs actually did that, but they could. I do know that some games used that memory when they are running in HIRES graphics modes. It adds to the copy protection in a way because if someone re-sets or interrupts the code and they type anything on the display it corrupts that memory and then the program won't be complete anymore. Ask me how I know that... :-)
> That weird mapping was inherited by the //e from the Apple ///.
...and the Basis 108, a Apple II clone from West-Germany.
> On a ][+ running with an 80 column card like that a program could actually use the 2K text buffer memory for itself. I don't know how many programs actually did that, but they could.
My own p-System BIOS did this, too. That was possible because I didn't used the screen holes. On my IIe.
Running firmware from most slot cards the screenholes are used by this code.
In the 80 column mode, the characters appear narrow on the monitor. Practically the space occupied by one character in the 40-column mode is occupied by two characters halved in width in the 80-column mode. Is there a way or a card that allows me with Apple IIe to use an 80 column mode on the whole screen?
If you meant the 80 column mode now covered the same width that the 40 column mode covered before, and each character now has half the width as before - then yes, that's how it is supposed to be. How else would you fit twice the number of characters on the same screen width, unless the width of each character was halfed.
If you are saying that a full line in 80 column mode now only covers half the screen width, compared to a full line in 40 column mode, then no, that would not be normal and be a defect.
If you are using a "modern" 16:9 monitor, and the 40 column mode is shown in a 4:3 letter box - and you hoped the 80 column mode would spread to the entire width of the 16:9 screen - then no, that is not how it worked. We didn't have 16:9 monitors when we were young. They hadn't invented a method to make such wide screen tubes yet.
But maybe add a photo of what you're seeing in 80column mode now - to rule out any confusion...
I meant to say just that, but I would also like to say that the character display area on the screen in both 40-column and 80-column modes is not as large as full screen. How come this?
I am using a Philips CRT 14 "monitor similar to the Commodore 1084S
As soon as possible I add a photo.
Depends on how wide the borders around the display area are. A certain frame around the display area is just normal with CRTs. Some CRTs have adjustment knobs, so you can manually adjust the screen width/height and offsets. But for some CRTs those adjustments are only possible through internal trimmers on the mainboard of the monitor. Indeed, ageing components and weak power-supplies (inside the monitor) can sometimes cause the screen area to "collapse" - so readjustments (or replacements) are necessary.
(And since I don't know your background: opening a monitor, even just to service the internal trimmers, is dangerous...).
There is a good reason why the character display does not fill the screen. The biggest culprit is that TVs and monitors were meant to show video and you would not want to see any black borders around the picture. So the screen was purposely "over-scanned" to eliminate this. And since there was quite a bit of variablity in TV/monitor design, a computer video signal had to be configured to make sure it would be completely seen in all cases. Thus it was purposely designed to NOT fill the screen. In fact even in the TV broadcasting world, there is a "safe title" area where any text shown on the screen should be placed. And that is within 80% of the full height and width.
Another issue with CRTs is that the focus, linearity, (and in the case of color sets, convergence) was also much worse towards the edges of the screen. So again, it was important to keep the computer text and/or graphics within a much smaller window than the full CRT area. That is why you see such a large border around the Apple display. Yes, you can use horizontal width and vertical size controls on many monitors to enlarge the actual display. Unfortunately, while fixed pixel (e.g. LCD) and widescreen (16:9) displays do not suffer these problems, they only seem to exaggerate the issue. If your monitor has size controls or a "zoom" mode to show 4:3 content, then you can probably achieve the result you're looking for.
I have 2 Apple II Plus machines and Zero 80 column cards, but, without them I still can say the Microsoft Z80 softcard will boot CP/M in 40 columns; I have done so recently with the GGLabs clone of it.
The display area of the characters (including images) is defined by the computer and not by the monitor, therefore by acting on the monitor trimmers the resulting image would still be distorted both in length and in width.I think it is therefore a limitation of the Apple IIe and all 8-bit computers. In fact, for example, even the Commodore 128 when using the 80 column mode allows you to write in a window smaller than the entire screen area.Also, an 80-column composite video signal is poorer than an 80-column RGB signal (by sharpness and image quality I mean), right?
Well not exactly. If you adjust the height and width proportionally, you can get a full screen image that is not distorted. And yes, the composite signal will always be less sharp than RGB (except that a monochromatic display will usually be sharper than a color display).
It will boot CP/M in 40 columns, but most CP/M software is next to unusable without 80 columns.
So better to get an RGB video card in order to get better video output?
The large margins are there, because TVs are adjusted to overscan. I always adjust my CRT monitors to underscan in order to reduce the size of the margins, which is not always easy with the horizontal size and sometimes it involves changing some capacitor values.
GianDO wrote:I meant to say
The large margins are there, because TVs are adjusted to overscan. I always adjust my CRT monitors to also overscan in order to reduce the size of the margins, which is not always easy with the horizontal size and sometimes it involves changing some capacitor values.
RGB will generally give you a good picture, but it has it's own issues. Mostly that finding the right combination of video card and monitor that supports the output isn't always straight forward or cheap. Not all RGB is the same... there's digital RGB, analog RGB, different sync frequencies... etc... Once you get something that all works it can be great. Getting there can be a challenge, especially these days.
Could you suggest me a good combination of video (graphics) card and monitor?
Unfortunately no, not really. Everything these days is pretty much going to be used market and it is going to be hit or miss. Vintage stuff obviously would be designed to work with the Apple II... but has the issues of being 30+ years old. Most new stuff is adapted or cobbled together or was small production runs of recent production for classic computers and isn't easy to find.
Everything has it's own plusses and minuses.
Do you know this card? Can you give me some info?
Why not also provide the link to the eBay item: https://www.ebay.ie/itm/295124280932
I posted this photo to see if I can get better information than I got from the seller. I didn't think about putting the link.
I found this about it: