The Apple IIGS was designed in response to the Amiga 1000 and Atari 520ST computers & could be considered a cross between the Macintosh & Apple II (naturally, it can't use Macintosh programs). It was (and still 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 for the IIGS could probably be counted on one hand. If the computer had been introduced a year or two earlier, things might have been different. 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 leaked out and a user group that 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 from Apple Records, the Beatles' record label. Apple never again put a synthesizer chip in any computer. Even today, the Macintosh does not have hardware synthesizers. The Macintosh works around this by using software-based synthesis.
It had a lot of graphic modes : All modes used 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 viewing graphics.
- 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 a possible 4096. 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, 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 pixels.
Combinations and variations: the Apple IIGS supported scan line interrupts. Part of the screen could be in 640x200 mode while another part could be in 20x200 resolution. Such split modes were sometimes used in paint programs, where the menu bar was in 640x200 while the graphic was in 320x200.
SVGA modes with 24-bit color could be added with an additional video card (see the Second Sight SVGA card at Sequential Systems at http://www.sequential.com/).
- 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 border can each be set to different colors. Text mode is rarely used in GS programs since the OS, GS/OS, had 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 could be mixed with a truncated Low Resolution or High Resolution mode graphic. The text in mixed mode could be either 40 column or 80 column. Double Low Res and Double High Res modes couldn't be mixed with text.
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 was sold with a 3.5" floppy drive which not only worked on this computer, but on the Macintosh as well. It was also designed to support the Chinook CT-series 20MB to 100MB SmartPort hard drives, but Apple IIGS users usually added an SCSI card to the system for faster hard drive access.
The difference between a UniDisk and a IIGS 3.5" drive 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, two 140K 5.25" drives, and one 100MB CT100 hard drive simultaneously daisy-chained to each other.
The Apple IIGS often shipped with the Apple High Speed (DMA) SCSI controller in an expansion slot for controlling SCSI devices. Even 100MB Zip Drives and 1 GB Jazz Drives work on this SCSI port. A SuperDrive controller could be added for using 1.44MB high density floppy drives.
Need help with GS/Imagewriter II setup: When printing a program listing, I am getting overprinting (lines more than 80 columns printing on 1 line). Must be a line feed problem? I''ve tried setting Imagewriter dipswitch SW 1-8 to both open and closed to no avail. Can anyone solve my problem? p.s. printer outputs single lines without a problem.
Monday 8th October 2012
Bob Murphy (USA)
I remember this little thing, together with the Amiga this was the other computer I wanted to buy back there. I couldn''t because my brother needed a PC compatible for college so my mother bough a PCjr instead (and even those were very expensive back then) and I still enjoyed that one but I would have probably bought an Amiga 1000 and/or a IIgs back there if we could have afforded them. :)
The IIgs was great machine too, it was backward compatible with the software for the Apple II, it had great graphics (much better than the older II), great sound, it had new tricks up it sleeve, and even a great GUI like the Mac. It was also much faster than the older IIs. Great machine and I don''t know if this was me but I always tough that the aesthetic design of the exterior of the machine was very, very nifty and very cool! As a matter of fact today I still think that!
If I had a little bit of more cash I think that maybe I would acquire a IIgs CPU and monitor chassis and maybe mod it and retrofit a newer computer inside of the CPU chassis (even if it was one of those miniitx or nano itx PC boards, I don''t care!) and retrofit an LCD display in the monitor case! Yes even if it was PC! There are many options with that, one could run it as a PC and put Windows Blind skins, new Mac like icons, cursors, Mac like wallpapers etc. that made it look like an Apple machine, and/or run an Apple II emulator in it or perhaps use the PC innards to turn it into a Hackintosh!! ja, ja, ja! Maybe put the innards of a Mac mini in it but I just don''t know at the moment if it would fit inside, I just know that it would be way cool and bring back a lot of nostalgic memories. Woohoo!! That would be so cool to do!! Ja, ja, ja.
I love computers, I have a more let''s say PC cosmopolitan attitude toward them, I am just as happy using a PC as I could be using a Mac or a Linux if it just works good enough, I''m happy with it so this would be very cool to do.
I was astounded to see that Apple withdrew this machine from the market instead of continuing to evolve it but Apple wanted to push the Mac as their main PC only so they cancelled it at a moment when the II line still had a lot of respect of the community and good penetration in the education sector, that was so sad.
I many times tough that perhaps this strategy wasn''t so good from Apple, perhaps if they had continued to advance this line they would have covered not only the Desktop Publishing market that they captured with the Mac but they would have continued to capture a great part of the education sector and maybe later on they could have somehow merged the two architectures or make them very interoperable and maybe today the Mac would have had a larger market share, perhaps.