The really really ridiculously good looking Apple //e Technical Reference Manual

Monitor ROM porn
Monitor ROM porn

Sorry for the long delay between posts. With weddings and honeymoons to plan, there’s not a lot of time left for writing about this hobby, let alone the hobby itself.

Earlier this year I picked up a swag of Apple //e manuals from eBay for an absolute steal. Previously I had been looking at buying a model correct Apple //e Owner’s Manual, namely what I think was the second edition, the manual that likely would have come with the //e Enhanced model.

I ended up purchasing three manuals altogether from a local eBay seller, reducing shipping costs and giving me more paper for my paper. The //e Owners Manual was great to finally have, as was A Touch of Applesoft BASIC, a small primer that I’ve actually been using as a programming reference.

But what I wasn’t counting on getting was the Apple //e Technical Reference Manual, a 400 page behemoth that laid out the entire //e system with ink and paper. This was the most expensive book of the lot, but it was still well below what many sellers were asking at the time. I had mostly written off owning this due to online extortion.

This version is copyright 1985 and describes features of the 65C02 microprocessor, meaning it was printed for use with the //e Enhanced.
This version is copyright 1985 and describes features of the 65C02 microprocessor, meaning it was printed for use with the //e Enhanced.

Despite the cover being a little beat up and stained, the inside pages are like-new, and I’m very pleased to have this as part of my tiny computer collection.

If you want to know anything about the //e hardware, this is your first stop.

Contents page
Contents page

While I’ll admit much of the data goes right over my head, I can appreciate the detail that this manual goes into. From IOU pinouts to moving data in the RAM, this manual will tell you how to do it all. When I want to learn it all, it’s all here.

It’s not for beginners, and it does gloss over some of the more basic points brought up in the //e Owners Manual. It’s unlikely that the home user in the 1980s would ever need this manual, but for anyone wanting to squeeze the most out their 65C02, it was an essential book – for lack of a better word, it’s a bible.

Apple’s simple red and black colour scheme for this manual is adequate – actually having any printed colour on the pages was a welcome surprise, especially across 400 pages from the 1980s. Information is clearly indexed and the page layouts are easy to read.

While I can’t understand a line of it, the included Monitor ROM Listing may as well be its own work of art.

Could frame this
Could frame this page

The listing reminds me of the pages and pages of handwritten notes that Mr Wozniak would have compiled for the original Apple I and perhaps the Apple II, I can’t remember offhand whether the original II Monitor was handwritten or not. But in any case, it’s all here, the most basic set of instructions to make the computer ‘compute’.

Owning this manual is no longer prerequisite to getting the most out of your //e. This, and many other manuals are now available online and free to download (at your own risk – copyright still applies). But why stop there, why not just emulate the //e on your Windows desktop machine, and be done with it? Just like owning the original hardware and software, owning these computer manuals is part of a complete authentic experience. Not essential, but for the right price, most welcome.

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The really really ridiculously good looking Apple //e Technical Reference Manual

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