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TUAW Bookshelf: Apple II Reference Manual

Victor Agreda Jr
Victor Agreda Jr|April 1, 2009 12:52 PM

Apple was kind enough to include a veritable encyclopedia of information with my Apple ][. Inside the big, red manual, you'll find complete step-by-step instructions for setting up the machine, adjusting a tape recorder for optimal use, plenty of programs to get you started, and a handy reference for the hardware inside.

I found the manual easy to read, although given the constraints of typing programs by hand using a typewriter, some code was printed using a dot matrix printer. Mr. Wozniak includes excellent code to help you build your own programs, however, and code for interfacing with the likes of a teletype, should you need printed output. There are critical routines for floating point calculations, which I'm sure some will appreciate.

Apple introduces a little design philosophy in the manual, which is a welcome break from the volumes used to learn the 5100, for example. Rumors on our sister site Engadget say Tandy is working on a consumer machine with BASIC and a human-readable manual as well, but I'll believe that when I see it. Anyway, the Apple ][ manual has some sample code for making actual audio tones using the built-in speaker (a novel idea, by the way). Why use audio in a program? Here's the design philosophy I found interesting:

"Computers can perform marvelous feats of mathematical computation at well beyond the speed capable of most human minds. They are fast, cold and accurate; man on the other hand is slower, has emotion, and makes errors. These differences create problems when the two interact with one another. So to reduce this problem humanizing of the computer is needed. Humanizing means incorporating within the computer procedures that aid in a computer's usage. One such technique is the addition of a tone subroutine."
It's like they want to make the computer more *personal*, somehow.

Once you've seen how to make graphics, sounds and even interaction and I/O in code, the manual wraps up with a thorough examination of the included hardware. This is a hobbyists' machine, after all. The schematics and diagrams will have you fully understanding how the computer addresses memory and controls video, plus many other miracles I can't believe they crammed into such a small package.

This valuable red book of data comes free with your Apple ][, but I wouldn't part with it! You'll find yourself referring to it time and again. Check out the photostat gallery below for a few sample pages.