“Recreating 1986 in West Des Moines”

Upon attending the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest, I went on a mission to recreate my computer experiences of the late 1980s.  For me, that meant an apple ][c computer, a standard green screen monitor, a joystick, and a bunch of games.  Back then I used for trading copies of floppy discs with my friends who all had Apple computers probably thanks to the introduction of Apple ][e computers at our middle school, Stilwell Jr. High in West Des Moines Iowa.  Jeremy, Dave, Brad, and Dwight, this story is about recreating that atmosphere we had on Vine, Western Hills, and Walnut.

Remembering the past

The Apple ][c computer was released in 1984 and when we got one a year or so later, it replaced the Texas Instruments TI 99/4a with its cartridge slot and cassette tape loading software for me.  In 1985 I started making friends at Junior High and spending a lot of time in the computer lab.  In 1987 or somewhere near there I also started working at Babbages at Valley West Mall.  For those of us from the 1980s, Babbage’s was like GameStop but carried computer software and video game console games.  It eventually would be bought up / merged with GameStop and we all know the GameStop of today.  One of the coolest things about the job there is that they encouraged us to take home games overnight (as long as there were multiple copies of the software) and try them out and see what we thought.  That plus Copy II+ and lots of trips to the mall meant I had lots of games to “sample.”

The Apple ][c was a nice improvement over the ][e that had been on the market since 1983 and was a successor of the apple two series that had kicked off in 1977.  It was more of a finished-off computer that lacked the expandability internally of the ][e but was a favorite of mine.  After the ][c I would go onto the multi-media enhanced ][gs but I wasn’t far away from moving into the IBM PC-Compatible world that would take the 1990s and the 2000s for me on computing.

My Apple days consisted of playing games, starting out with basics like Bruce Lee, Karateka, Oregon Trail, Choplifter, Castle Wolfenstein and more but then moving on into RPG’s like Ultima, Bard’s Tale, Pool of Radiance and a ton of the different Sierra Point and Click Adventures.  Friends like Dave Curtis were into Maniac Mansion and I just loved to watch him play the twisted humor of that game.

Recreating the past

At the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest in Chicago in September I purchased an Apple ][c with monitor from Bonus Life Computers.  Onsite the only testing done before purchase was seeing it boot up ProDos and an Akalabeth disc.  Once I saw those running and the keyboard accepting input the sale was made for around $250.  Upon getting back I needed to work to recreate things even further.  

I purchased the ADTPro software boot disc and cabling to interface with the ][c.  This software will allow me to send disc images downloaded from various sources down to the computer from another computer attached from USB cabling to the serial port of the apple.  The cables and software can be purchased from RetroFloppy.Com and will cost you $60-$80 depending on what all you need.  Thanks to retro computing friend Jarrod Kailef for reminding me of this software that I had played with 10 years earlier.  

Next on my list was getting a joystick wired for the ][c and a harddrive that I can use so keep software handy.  I found the joystick on ebay with some help from a facebook group.and getting some level of a hard-drive.  Big Mess O Wires (https://www.bigmessowires.com/) had Floppy EMU Disk Emulator for $139 + shipping so I jumped at it.

Investment total $250 ][c with monitor, $70 ADTPro, $70 Joystick, $160 = $550 and I have all the pieces to recreate the past and rock some retro computers!

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