November 22, 2011

Apple ][ Clone Impressions

I know that the Apple I was first manufactured in 1976, but we didn't get any personal computers in Israel till 1982, or maybe late 1981. At least no one I knew got them before that.
I got my first personal computer when I was nearly 14, in the summer of 1984. It was a ZX Spectrum. The story of my personal computer is interesting, and maybe I'll tell it some other time, but today I want to talk about the computer my Friend Eldar Fischer got in early 1983. That was an Apple ][ clone.
If you followed the link above, there is quite a list of these clones, not sure which one he had, or even if it is on this list, but it did say 'Pasania' whenever you turned it on.
Eldar, who is now a professor of Computer Science at the Technion, was really into computer programming even when we were both in grade 7. He sat with another kid from our class for nights on end programming their own versions of games such as Moon Landing.
The Apple ][ (and all of its clones) had a Graphics Mode (actually it had two Graphics modes), and it had, somewhere in the recesses of its RAM memory, something called the 'Shape Table'. The only way to access that Shape Table was through direct changing of memory addresses (the POKE command in BASIC, not related to Facebook).
Eldar and that other kid made their own Shape Table BASIC program that took graphic instructions and made them into something that really created the shapes they drew!
Sure it was a little buggy, but we had our Lunar Lander!
What am I trying to say with all this?
That the first and most lasting effect that Steven Jobs had on my life, and I guess on the life of many other Israelis, had to do with a buggy program written on a buggy clone.
Man that was powerful, but no way was it as well designed as say the Mac!
PS I also tried programming with Eldar. We worked on something called Three Dimensional Monopoly. Nothing came of it, but I'm still interested in the project, any takers?

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