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Apple IIc

Published in Personal Computer News #063

Bryan Skinner 's first impressions of Apple's new transportable.

Apple Super C

Bryan Skinner's first impressions of Apple's new transportable

Apple has another winner waiting in the wings to share some of the Macintosh's limelight. The attractions of the IIc, the first Apple micro to approach genuine portability, include immediate software availability, built-in disk drive and memory capacity.


The IIc is based around the CMOS version of the 6502. Going CMOS primarily means lower power consumption. In fact, a manufacturer is already producing battery packs for the IIc. Couple this with the 80 x 24 LCD screen due to be available in the Autumn, and the IIc will be truly portable, rather than merely transportable. The CMOS aspect also means you can lose power for up to seven seconds without losing memory contents.

The IIc comes as a take home, plug-in and run product. It weighs only seven and a half pounds; has an integral 5.25" disk drive (with many grills in the casing to dissipate heat); 128K RAM; hardware switchable 40/80-column display modes and a modulator, so you can plug it into your TV. The twelve volt power input and internal transformer mean you should be able to run it from a cigar lighter adaptor.


The keyboard is good; it has 63 keys, of which four are cursor arrows and two are programmable function keys; one open and one filled Apple symbol. These serve as 'control' keys to effect commands within packages like Apple Works, the integrated wordprocessor/spreadsheet/filing system. The cursor keys are badly placed at the bottom right of the keyboard - a cluster would have been preferable. The Return key is elongated, but not enough: it's too easy to hit the end of the over-wide right shift key when you want Return. The keys are marked in an attractive font and the keyboard is the same size as the IIe's. Transfer from the IIe to the IIc will be easy for touch typists.

You can switch character sets i.e. swap from pound signs to hashes with a hardware switch to the right of the 80/40-column display switch. Acurious feature of the latter is that it's viable only when the machine is switched off.


Apple has bought in the disk system rather than use its own. This is quiet and doesn't whirr and click like other Apples. Disk capacity is only 143K, which may deter some - a single disk can be very frustrating - but it does mean you can use IIe disks and make use of the existing large Apple software base.


You can use Apple's new Unix-like ProDOS Operating System and the Mac's Mousepaint, Most IIe software, besides that requiring extra boards, will run on the IIc, and Apple is providing buyers with a comprehensive software compatibility list. This indicates whether you'll need to run a package in 80-40 column mode, whether you need to use the Pascal Disk Formatter (provided with the IIc utilities disk), whether the package can be made to print text but not graphics, if a program will cope with inverse upper case characters and so on. The IIc has been designed to be as compatible as possible with the IIe, and many software houses have had the specifications for some time.


Usually, Apple users expect to be able to add a wide variety of bits and pieces to their machine, but the IIc is an exception. You can't open it up without invalidating the warranty, but with the various ports at the back, you shouldn't need to. There's a 9-pin DIN socket for a joystick, Apple's hand controllers and the Apple mouse, which you need for MacPaint. Serial input/output is handled via two 5-pin DIN sockets. One of these will take the modem (coming soon) and a printer or plotter. There's no parallel output, so Centronics printers are out, at least until a third party brings out a suitable interface. For display output there are the 15-pin D socket and one RCA-type jack socket for a monitor. A second disk is catered for via a 19-pin D connector and the half/height disk drive in IIc styling is already available.


The IIc monitor is an optional extra but the IIc itself has a maximum 'double' resolution of 560 x 192 pixels in 16 colours. Also available are the 40/80-column mode, a low-resolution graphics display of 40 x 48, and a normal, high-resolution graphics 192 x 80, 16 colour mode.


The Apple IIc is a professional product; it looks good, has a small imprint and behaves well. Its compatibility with the IIe gives it a great advantage over the competition. Its portability aspect, together with the variety of add-ons bound to arrive in the coming months, should make other manufacturers tremble.


Price: £1,064
Supplier: Apple Computer UK 0442 60244
Processor: 65C02 at 1.02 MHz, 16 bit data bus
Display: 560 x 192, 16 colours
Disk Drive: 143K
Memory: 128K RAM, 16K ROM
External Drive: £264.50
Monitor: £161 (stand £31)
Mouse: £80.50 (with Mousepaint)
Carrying Case: £31
Appleworks: £201.25

Bryan Skinner