" Apple é° " showing-up on boot of an Italian version of un-enhanced Apple IIe

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" Apple é° " showing-up on boot of an Italian version of un-enhanced Apple IIe

Hi everybody,

I recently got on the local Italian eBay a used Apple IIe (with an Apple Monitor III monitor and 2 floppy drives) because I want to enter for the first time in the magic world of this fascinating machine (the first computer my father gave me was a Commodore 64 in 1983: I was a boy, and I still remember I was looking with envy my richer friend's Apple II - it was too expensive for my family).

It's an Italian-keyboard PAL-video un-enhanched Apple IIe (plain 6502 CPU), with a Rev.A motherboard (820-0073-A) having a black "1983" printed in the left upper corner (which I don't know if it reads just as manufacturing date "year 1983" or "week 19 of year '83").

Since I have no DOS nor other software yet (I'm going to use ADTPro to that purpose) I just did very minimal test so far, limited to switch it on and running tiny, manually-entered BASIC programs. But that's ennough to get the first "strange" behaviours, which seem to be somehow linked to the Italian version of the keyboard and non-standard ASCII character set. In summary:

   1. on start-up, my Apple IIe shows "Apple é°" instead of "Apple ][" 

  2. when I press CTRL-RESET to boot to BASIC, the prompt character shows as "é" instead of "]"

  3. using the BASIC CHR$() function to print the printable character set (codes 32-127 and 160-255) , it's evident that my Apple IIe does not have at all the [ ] characters in its default char set (not even in the upper range 128-255), and other standard US characters are missing as well, in particular:

     CHR$( 35) prints  £  instead of  #

     CHR$( 64) prints  §  instead of  @

     CHR$( 91) prints  °  instead of  [

     CHR$( 92) prints  ç  instead of  \

     CHR$( 93) prints  é  instead of  ]

     CHR$( 96) prints  ù  instead of  `

     CHR$(123) prints  à  instead of  {

     CHR$(124) prints  ò  instead of  |

     CHR$(125) prints  è  instead of  } 

     CHR$(126) prints  ì  instead of  ~

     CHR$(127) prints <a checkboard-like char> instead of <DEL>

4. I didn't find any key combination (CTRL, SHIFT, APPLE keys) to output those missing characters on the screen from the BASIC prompt !Note that, apart from that, the BASIC interpreter seems to work without any particular issue.

I have attached a number of pictures of my Apple IIe, showing the serial no., the keyboard, the motherboard revision, the 6502 CPU, the ROM's versions, hoping this can help you better identifying the machine model. Also in another series of pictures I show the output of the BASIC program testing charset with CHR$() function.

So, considering that I'd like to use my Apple IIe mainly for programming (Pascal, C, Logo, Fortran), where those missing US characters  characters are essential, here are my questions:

     A.  Are such "modfied charset" problems specific of my machine or is it the normal behaviour for all European versions of Apple IIe ?   It's hard for me to believe that Apple was selling machines that, when turned on for the first time out of the box, showed an ugly " Apple é° " ... people would believe Apple produced  faulty machines ...

     B. I read somewhere that some (all?) international-version Apple IIe have a switch beneath the keyboard that allows to toggle btw the international and the US charset

             https://groups.google.com/g/comp.sys.apple2/c/0XJQ0bAJo-s?pli=1

          Where exactly should I find that switch (assuming my machine has it) ?  Do I have to detach the keyboard from the case? How do I do that

    C. assuming the ROM's contain is there any software-only way to switch from the Italian to the standard US ASCII charset?

    D. would upgrading with an Enhancement kit (kit with 65C02 CPU + 3 new ROM's: CD, EF, US-Italian Video ROM) such as the following

               https://www.ebay.com/itm/203091216983 

           solve this problem?

     E. if none of the above, any suggestion to solve this issue (without having to replace the entire motherboard) ?

     F. How do I backspace/delete a character  with my Italian Keyboard ?? Any attempt to use the DEL key only outputs a checkboard-like character (the one corresponding to CHR$(127) ) ...

 

Another couple of questions I have as an Apple II beginner - sorry to be so verbous - are related to the limitations due to my Rev.A motherboard and the un-enhanced version of the ROM's and 6502 CPU:

    G. I read that Rev.A motherboards don't support double hi-res. However, I found a forum post where they say that, on European PAL Apple IIe motherboards like mine, double hi-res should work even on Rev.A motherboards, due to different electronic circuitery:

               https://groups.google.com/g/comp.sys.apple2/c/LXB6HJTbA2k 

     - can anyone confirm this is true?

      - I also read that running Double Hi-Res requires an 80-col expansion card, is that right? (I also bought one Apple 80-col/64K expansion card, ref. 607-0103, but haven't installed it yet)

      - is there a simple software way (possibly in BASIC) to test if Double Hi-Res works on one's machine?       H. Enhancement Kit : I'm wondering if this it's really worth buying it, but I don't fully understand the benefits it brings, especially considering I want to use my Apple IIe more for retro-programming rather than playing games.

    - according to your knowledge, are there relevant softwares that will ONLY run on enhanced Apple IIe ?

    - regarding CPU computing performances, does the 65C02 bring any significant advantage over the older 6502A ?

 

Thank you to anyone who had the patience to read through the whole post, and can help me start my Apple IIe journey !

Matteo 

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I cannot remember what my

I cannot remember what my Italian //e had when my mom purchased it back in 1986. But my current UK version has a small switch under the keyboard which switches between US and UK layout. The switch is real time - that is, is I type £££ and flip the switch, the screen will change all the £ to "#". That should sort out your missing "]" prompt as well!

 

Do you have such a switch?

 

To go back one carachter you'll have to use the left arrow. Anything which is at the right of the cursor when ENTER is pressed is discarded. Try "Apple presents Apple", I think it goes through that and it's very cute :D 

Most advanced word processors will work the way you expect though with DEL acting like a Backspace key on a modern computer.

 

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No need to remove the

No need to remove the keyboard, the switch, if it is there, is on the bottom of the case underneath the keyboard area.

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thanks, I should have been

thanks, I should have been clearer! :) 

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"Apple é°" - "Apple ÜÄ"

And concerning the question whether it's normal, that an Italian (European) Apple // shows strange characters in its boot message: yes, it is.

It's quite "surprising" by todays standards, but indeed Apple used an extremely simple clutch to add support for foreign character sets: the toggle switch at the bottom of the keyboard switches the keyboard layout - but also toggles the video character ROM between two alternating character sets. Various ASCII characters are mapped an alternate video symbol when toggling the switch. Unfortunately, at least for some languages, Apple decided to also map the "]" and "[" characters to foreign symbols - the very characters used in the boot message. (And since these characters are also important for the syntax in programming languages like Pascal, it was even worse for programmers who tried to include foreign language messages in their programs. I remember constantly flipping the rocker switch on my Apple // back and forth...).

So when the toggle switch is in the local character set, then a European Apple ][ starts with "funny" boot message. A German Apple II reports "Apple ÜÄ" at startup... The funny boot message issue was "fixed" with the enhanced Apple IIs, which report "Apple //" instead. The "/" character was never mapped to an alternate symbol.

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ahhhhh that's why the

ahhhhh that's why the Enhanced says "//e" instead of "][" :D 

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tony359 wrote:ahhhhh that's
tony359 wrote:

ahhhhh that's why the Enhanced says "//e" instead of "][" :D 

Haha, maybe that's how the "][" vs "//" thing started... *LOL*

Seriously, the character set thing was clearly an ugly engineering hack. I'm sure once someone at Apple marketing (or Steve himself...) noticed what the engieers had done, and saw a European machine booting with "Apple é°" or "Apple ÜÄ" , the messed up trademark / boot message must have felt pleasant like a 'punch in the face'... :-D

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Double hi-res graphics

I'm no expert but I believe it is indeed the case that the revision A PAL boards can display double hi-res. I've been playing around with some double hi-res routines today and notice no difference so far between my revision A PAL //e and my revision B PAL //e (both UK models and both with the Cirtech extended 80 col card ).

As regards your question "I also read that running Double Hi-Res requires an 80-col expansion card, is that right? ", yes, that's right, the extended 80 column card, that is the one with the additional 64k memory, is required to display double hi-res.

Good luck with your Apple //e journey, I'm just restarting mine.

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Thanks everbody! And what about the Enhancement Kit ?

Thanks everybody tony359. bond, MacFly for your help, it's a very nice community indeed!

Yes, I found the magic charset switch under the keyboard and yes it just works exactky as you said: istantaneously switches the  é  to ] , the  °  to  [  and so on with all the other characters I listed in my post, including all that were already typed and showing on the screen! 

That means that , if I understand well, the binary code of the char in memory remains the same, it's just the pixel image representation of that char code on the screen that changes. It also means that there is no way, for example to have, in the same string or same program, both Italian/European letters such as  é à ò etc.  AND  chars like  # @ [] {}  , which is a bit disappointing frankly speaking. Looks like this is (at least partly) due to the fact that Apple designed to have the foreign characters in the lower half (0-127) of the character-set, which was already full with standard US ASCII, rather than putting them in the upper half 128-255

Isn't there any "standard"  way with Apple ][e  to  have a single charset containing both US and foreign-key characters, like with the IBM PC and compatibles  ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_page_437 ) , with US-standard ASCII chars mapped to the CHR$ codes btw 0 and 127 , and  foreigh-key charactes (accented vowels, etc)  mapped to CHR$ codes in the range 128-255 ?

 

Regarding the value/advantages brought by the enhanced version of the Apple  ][e  vs. the un-enhanced one, could anyone please give me some feedback / suggestions ? (apart from "fixing" the boot message to "Apple //e" that won't change depending on the keyboad switch position)

Do the enhanched versions of the Apple ][e ROM's extend the character set to a more complete one (US + foreign-language chars) ?

Is there any important software according to you that can not run on un-enhanced Apple ][e ?

Is there any significant CPU performance improvement moving from 6502 to the "enhanced" 65C02 ?

 

Finally, thanks to bond for your feedback on double hi-res working (with an ext.80-col card) on rev.A PAL  motherboards, that's good news!

 

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No, there is no 256 character support

No, there is no standard way to enable 256 character support. Remember, the original Apple II only had support for upper case letters. The support for lower case was already an extension - so foreign character support was really pushing the limitations. For word processing and business applications, it really didn't matter too much. Characters like [ ] {} are not really used much in letters etc. For programming, well, yes, it sucked... ;-) In theory you could burn your own video ROM and change the pixels of some other less used characters to display your foreign characters. That would work - but obviously cause other problems...

The enhanced upgrade indeed contains a new video ROM with a changed character set. However, the foreign language characters remain the same (be sure to obtain the correct enhanced video ROM variant (Italian)). It does add some graphical characters though ("mouse text characters") required for newer (Apple IIc) software.

The 65C02 provides the same performance for existing software. It does add a few extra instructions though, so you can run some newer software (again, mainly from the IIc) which couldn't be run otherwise. Most software was targeted to support the standard Apple IIe though - so vast majority of software does not require the 65C02.

The 65C02 has the nice side effect to consume less power - so the machine will be a tiny bit cooler.

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IIe Enhancement Kit is available

I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for, but ReActiveMicro (www.reactivemicro.com) has a IIe enahncement kit with video ROM of your choice, a 65C02 processor, and the CD and EF ROM chips as well. I purchased this set a few months ago, and it was easy to install. I had no issues. Be sure to read the Wiki link provided on the page for the chipset.

Good luck!

 

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I don't see an Italian ROM on

I don't see an Italian ROM on the list but I'm sure it can be done. It's indeed quite cheap for what it is.

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tony359 wrote:I don't see an
tony359 wrote:

I don't see an Italian ROM on the list but I'm sure it can be done. It's indeed quite cheap for what it is.

Indeed. A while ago I added support for foreign character sets to an Apple II emulator. All I could find where German, French, French-Canadian and British video ROMs. the usual sites like 'asimov' did not have any copies of any other Apple II video ROM. Apart from Italian there should have also been a Spanish and Portuguese version. Apparently these ROMs were never copied/uploaded anywhere so far. If anyone found a copy of those ROMs (or could help with making a copy), let me know!

 

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oh, really? I thought I found

oh, really? I thought I found the italian ROMs on the usual channels some time ago, when I though my ROMs were corrupted. Too bad. My old Italian Apple //e is likely metres underground by now unfortunately. I could find an Apple //c with Italian ROMs but not an Apple //e.

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341-0154       Keyboard ROM

The same used for IIe and IIc:

341-0154       Keyboard ROM Italy/USA

341-0164       Video ROM Italy/USA

 

HTH

Ralf

 

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EC enhancement kits

There is also a seller on Ebay in France and one in Ireland selling enhancement kits with a choice of the US 24 pin 4K ROM or the UK, DE, FR or IT 28 pin 8K ROMs.  Both use the Rockwell 65C02.  No 'Enhanced' sticker though unlike the Reactive kit.

Reactive say in their Wiki that they will do custom Euro ROMs as well.

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tony359 wrote:I thought I
tony359 wrote:

I thought I found the italian ROMs on the usual channels some time ago, when I though my ROMs were corrupted.

Did you obtain a chip or just download the binary? Searching for the part number indeed shows some sites selling Apple II video ROMs with the Italian part number. Still can't find any site which has the binary. Just found a copy of the Swedish-Finnish video ROM on asimov though (341-0162) - which is cool, so I can add another language to the emulator. Unenhanced Swedish Apple IIs indeed start with an "Apple ÅÄ" boot message... :-)

Still missing binary ROM dumps for Italian, Spanish/Portuguese...

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It was the binary file

It was the binary file somewhere. It was a few months ago and eventually it turned out it wasn't the ROM so I didn't go ahead.

 

I have a programmer, if I can help extracting the data so it can be shared to the community, I'd be glad to do so.

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Oh, that would be great!
tony359 wrote:

I have a programmer, if I can help extracting the data so it can be shared to the community, I'd be glad to do so.

Oh, that would be great! You could upload it to asimov - or I can do the upload, if you just sent me the binary dump. You're welcome to PM me!

And while you're at it: a photo of the Italian Apple II keyboard layout would also be helpful. My German Apple II keyboard has a subtle difference to the modern day German keyboard layout (i.e. " ^ " vs " ' " keys). It's really tricky to obtain photos showing the original mappings for the various languages...

I don't even speak Italian, but as I said before, I'm trying to get a complete list of the video ROM images (and keyboard layouts) for emulation. It doesn't matter if it's the enhanced or unenhanced version of the video ROM - the differences between enhanced/unenhanced are always the same anyway.

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Sorry I was not very clear: I

Sorry I was not very clear: I do not have an Italian Apple //e (I used to when I was a kid) but I do have a programmer! :)

 

If there is really no availability online, I could ask someone to send me their old Apple //c from which I could extract the ROMs and share them with you. 

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