Tinker Different is having another of its high score competitions including Mouse Stampede.

The game is apparently the first third party commercial game for the Mac. I was published originally by Mark of the Unicorn, better know for Midi software.

The versions on MacintoshGarden and MacintoshRepository are both of version 2, even those that say version 1.

My 128k came with an original copy of Mouse Stampede 1.0 that works — on my Mac Plus.

The disk won’t read on the 128k (I need to repair/replace its floppy drive) and won’t read at all on my IIfx with its known good FDHD 1.44meg superdrive.

The game file itself won’t copy:


The disk won’t image in either DiskCopy 4.2 or DiskDup+.

I’d like to get this onto the internet if I can.

A bit more information from a website I hadn't come across before called The Cutting Room Floor:

Copy Protection Strings The game's theme song riffs on “Three Blind Mice”, and so does its copy protection.

The disk check compares two otherwise unused strings in the application — FarmersWifeCarvingKnife at 70DF and 1.0.0 at 70B3 — with their counterparts at the beginning of the file Stampede Stuff. If either fails to match, the game is “cut off” by a spontaneous reboot. (And you'll never, ever manage to copy that file, because it's locked behind the impregnable bozo bit.)

The only other legible text in Stampede Stuff is the phrase “Stampede Protector”.

Version 2.0 no longer includes the file, the strings, or any copy protection.

The “bozo bit” is apparently “copy protection so weak that only a bozo would think of it, and only a bozo would be deterred by it.”

Colour me a bozo, I guess.

To be continued. I’m determined to unflip my bozo bit.

Look at that floppy! Original curvy window — that’s why the icons on the early Mac look the way they do:


Aha — https://mastodon.social/@a2_4am/109803187717210348

One of the perils of my sort of nerdery is that you end up with a lot of stuff to plug into your not-very-expandable Mac. Equipment includes:

  • an Imagewriter (1, with no interCapped W)

  • a Thunderscan scanner which has its own switch box for the Imagewriter
  • a modem
  • MacTablet
  • KoalaVision video input device (~0.2 FPS)
  • A serial hard disk if I can ever get it working, which I doubt.

I don’t want to constantly fiddle with cables, so a switch is the best option.

There are various options on eBay and in electronics stores. They mostly seem to have male DB-9 connectors, which is the opposite of what I’m after, as the Mac has female connectors on the back and I don’t want to have to replace cables.

I found one which was pictured and stated to have female connectors, but having received it and found male connectors, the seller tells me it seems the supplier has changed their process and it now comes with male connectors. I suspect these all come from the same factory, so adaptors it is.

(That said, I do have an older switch in the garage which I should have remembered. Bulkier than I want as it also does VGA and various other connections (PS2? Very old keyboards?), but it’ll do in a pinch.

Happily the little bolts on the adapters come off...

...as do one side of the metal shields, which buys me a valuable ⅓mm for the bolts to bind.

Unfortunately this makes all the ports upside down, but whatever.

I need to be fairly careful here because I obviously don’t want to pump signals into pins that might damage something. Continuity mode on my multimeter should help here:

Bing. All the pins seem to come out in the right place, and have continuity consistent with the switches on the front.

Most DB9 to DB9 cables are “null modem cables” which I gather means they’re like the old crossover Ethernet cables we needed before auto sensing Ethernet ports — they mirror the data. I got a straight-through one, but with the wrong gender for this switch, so another adaptor ahoy.

I starting testing with the Imagewriter because I have spares. Unless and until I can get the hard disk working the Imagewriter will live on the modem port anyway, but it’s a good test bed.

Everything plugged in and ready to go. It’s not true hot-swapping of course. While the old world was sometimes overly cautious about unplugging and replugging devices while the computer is powered on, with hardware this old I don’t want to take any chances, and it avoids confusing software.

Aaaaand....horrible crash, sad Mac, awful noise coming out of the speaker. Oh dear.

[slightly panicked rearranging of cables]

Sad Mac again. Oh no, have I fried the serial port?

Tried printing with MacPaint with ImageWriter hooked up directly: works. Haven’t fried the serial port. Good. Tentative conclusion: buggy printer driver on my WriteNow disk. A problem for another day.

Tried printing from MacPaint disk via switch: nothing, but no crash.

(NB I actually conducted all these tests twice because like (or as) a fool I had it plugged into “D” not “A”. Why would “A” be in the bottom right and not the top left? I also tried them with the little shields back on the adaptors in case that was an issue. )

After a couple of days of futzing (not whole days, just the few spare minutes between the kids falling asleep and me doing the same), it seems that despite the signals apparently working via a multimeter, the new switch box simply doesn’t work. Time to try the old one.

And, after once again having to repeat the experiment after failing to check which letter I had plugged in to, we have success. Good to know it’s possible, and good to know that cheap electronics are as high quality as ever.

I really need to give all this kit a good scrub.

As I said in the previous post, I got onto the MacTablet via Pinot Ichwandardi (whose GoFundMe I again recommend after his recent misfortune, and whose Instagram I again recommend for his wonderful art). He used one for at least some of his retro art including the “This is America” animation.

A tablet which connects via serial port, it can be used from the earliest Macs as it doesn’t connect with ADB.

Version 3 of the driver software is copyright 1984 and 1985, so it’s pretty early. MacUser (more on that below) says it was released in 1985. Summagraphics seems to have made lots of tablets for lots of different computing platforms.

The MacTablet I originally bought didn’t come with a power adapter. The eBay seller said it worked, but obviously hadn’t really tested it. It connects with an obscure four-pin connecter which plugs in alongside the serial plug:

I bought an entire giant tablet just to get the power adapter — I don’t know if the tablet hardware itself is compatible across systems. It also came with a spare pen and some square 3M feet which keep the tablet off the desk.

There’s a simple stylus which connects with a phone-style jack, oddly in the bottom of the tablet, meaning the cable gets bent out of shape (or did, until I found the 3M rubber feet). The stylus moves the cursor on screen as you drag the point across the tablet (or even up to about 5cm/2in above the surface), and the single button acts as a mouse button. There’s a springiness to the nib of the stylus, which (I didn’t realise until I read a review in MacUser) also acts as a mouse button, so you can just push down to draw. I think on balance I prefer the button, if only to minimise wear and tear on my nearly 40-year-old tablet.

It works for selecting menus and tools and so on — it’s a full, albeit probably undesirable, mouse replacement.

The review in the January 1986 MacUser (USA version — were there MacUsers in other countries by then?) is by Ame Choate Flynn.

Noting at the outset that drawing with a mouse has been likened to “drawing with a wet brick”, the review appreciates the ease of tracing with the MacTablet — the distance the nib of the stylus can be is useful for that. Apparently other accessories are available, like a crosshair mouse (I have no idea what the correct name for that). The article is accompanied by artwork produced especially, all drawn with a stylus.

Macpaint, object-orientated graphics, and editing ThunderScan input are all said to be potential use cases.

The driver software is interesting. I love the list of supported hard disks.

It installs a desk accessory which has to be launched each boot before you can use the tablet.

I assume this is for very early versions of the system software which didn’t include the capability of extensions/inits which load at startup. (My 128k runs a screensaver and menubar clock which install by directly installing resources (and, I guess, code) into the System File, and my smart quotes utility is a desk accessory. More on all that another time.)

As a drawing tool it takes some getting used to. I’m not an artist of any note whatsoever, but I do have vague hopes to do some drawing on this machine. I think I quite like it, but I need to spend some more time with it. It got the 5-year-old daughter seal of approval:

A fun little adventure in retro hardware, and I like having three pointing devices connected at once.

(Told you I wasn’t an artist!)

Not sure how many people have come across the wonderful version of the film clip for “This is America” by Childish Gambino animated on a 128k Mac by Pinot W. Ichwandardi, an Indonesian-American artist living in New York. There are many versions, but this one shows off some of the kit. A lot of the drawing was done on a 128k Mac:

Super nice guy — I exchanged tweets with him a few times about vintage Mac things. He did some amazing work on all sorts of vintage platforms. Check out his Instagram. Even a Newton!

Pinot suffered a serious stroke in 2022 from which he has made an unexpectedly substantial but still only partial recovery. His family has set up a GoFundMe to which I have donated. From his Twitter updates it appears he’s getting back into art and even back using his Mac SE.

You can see some of his vintage machines including his 128k in this tweet.

I recommend browsing through his twitter (although I try not to use the bird site any more) and Instagram. The melding of vintage tech, analogue techniques, and fun with his family is really wonderful.

Pinot also got me onto the Summagraphics MacTablet, an early tablet that works on the earliest pre-ADB Macs, which will be the subject of the next update to the site.

Okay, so the “doing uni on a 128k Mac” thing didn’t work out so well. Not because of the 128k Mac, but because doing uni while dealing with five-year-old twins, the whole family getting covid and a series of horrible colds and working full time in a hateful job was…ambitious. Anyway, feelings of guilt associated with ditching the urban planning course were associated with this blog and I’m evidently weak minded, so it’s languished.

Until now. New job, kids older, covid over (ha!) — blog ahoy.

I’ve also migrated it from WordPress, which I found frustrating to use, to Write.as, which is part of the Fediverse and more attuned interface- and theme-wise with what I want to do here. We’ll see how that goes. This is a bit of a test, so on the off chance that anyone finds it sitting here like an island, there is a modest handful of predecessor posts from a website called 128k.site that I need to point to Write.as.

So, an update: I have a new desk setup. Out of the covid-work-from-home dungeon in my garage, which I think was poisoning me with a combination of agricultural chemicals, mechanical lubricants, and capacitor leakage. I’ve set up the little 128k in the actual house with its (fake) external disk, its ImageWriter and ThunderScan, its KoalaVision, its MacTablet, and a shiny new FloppyEmu Model C, which is a huge improvement over its predecessor:

Also some pretty over-dramatic lighting

I’ll go over some of this in the coming weeks, including the fun processes of getting things up and running and working out how to install software in the weird world of system 1 and 2.

It’s been a long time between drinks. Sorry about that, I’ve been busy and tired. Some things came in the post today.

MacLion box with Matisse logo-style lion The first is a relational database for the Mac 128k from 1984 called MacLion, which appears not to have been archived before. I’ve uploaded it to Macintosh Garden.

Sealed floppy disk with sticker over disk door Licence sticker still on the floppy!

Very non-standard MacLion interface with Lion Command and Special menus and no Apple Menu The interface is not standard.

I have all the manuals — I’m going to try to scan them, but that will depend on making them feed on my work’s printer. See how we go.

Battered Tecmar hard disk The other is this Tecmar serial hard disk, which I bet you a thousand dollars won’t work. But it was $40, so it’s worth a try. Hard disks are meant to rattle, right?

I have a review of Word 1.05, written in Word 1.05, coming up soon. I also have an assignment due…

Happy Marchintosh, everyone. Merry Marchintosh? Should we call it MacInMarch? Probably too late for that. Anyway, thanks to Joe and Ron for running the thing and for the shout-out. I’m enjoying all the content so far, but mostly I just hope lots of people are using it as an excuse to muck around with old Macs.

WriteNow is one of the earliest Mac word processors (Macintosh Garden link). Said to have been a shadow project in case MacWrite fell through, it was later published by T/Maker and owned by, of all places, Steve Jobs’ post-Apple company NeXT. The WriteNow wikipedia page refers to it being released in 1985, but the earliest references I’ve been able to find in magazines are from late 1986.

WriteNow 1 on a 128k Mac with a MacDraw image posted in. Taking notes from a uni lecture. WriteNow 1 on a 128k Mac with a MacDraw image posted in. Taking notes from a uni lecture.

I don’t remember if WriteNow was the first Mac word processor I used — I think that might have been MacWrite. But it’s the one I remember the best: I remember my dad using it to prepare material for his teaching job and book reviews for the local paper, and I used it for the very limited writing I did in the early years of primary school (a.k.a. elementary school). I think that was version 2.2. I’m using version 1.07 here. Off the top of my head (I’ll work it out before I finish!) the only difference I can think of between versions 1 and 2 is that version 2 has built-in curly quotes.

Famously fast because it’s written in assembly language (although that led to its downfall with the transition to PowerPC chips), WriteNow seems to me to be amazingly powerful for something that runs on a 128k machine. It doesn’t do everything I want, but it comes pretty close. It doesn’t use WriteNow’s seems-weird-now-but-kinda-makes-sense multiple rulers in a document formatting method — it feels entirely modern from that point of view. It has useful things like “keep on same page” and showing invisible characters (I’ve never understood how people can write with “show invisibles” turned on, but it’s useful sometimes).

In “Writing Your Own Ticket: Ten word processors for the Macintosh” in MacWorld December 1986, WriteNow is compared to MacWrite 4.5, MindWrite 1.0, Word Handler 1.6, MS Word 1.05 and 3.0, HabaWord 1.0, Laser Quill 1.2, and the word processor modules in Jazz 1A and MS Works 1.0. (Amazing diversity in the market.) “More than any other program considered here, WriteNow upholds the utilitarian virtues of MacWrite while adding advanced features to the formula.” This review does note that WriteNow lacks cursor key support — something I hadn’t noticed, writing on my 128k keyboard, from which Steve Jobs prohibited arrow keys. This roundup article has one of those giant tables of features (MindWrite can do a 14 7/8 inch margin width, but Word can do 21 ¾ inches!). On the basis of this table Word 3.0 wins the day easily with 36 feature points, Word 1.05 comes second with 27, HabaWord and LaserQuill (both of which seem to have vanished without a trace — if you have a copy, upload it!) come third on 25 points, but WriteNow comes fourth with 24. Poor MacwWrite 4.5, decidedly languishing by now, has only 12 points. It should be noted that WriteNow cost a notional $175 (although ads in the same magazine quote $109) but Word 3 cost $395 (and was presumably also discounted somewhat).

I think the best review of WriteNow is by Mick O’Neil in the March 1987 edition of Byte. “The first thing that struck me” O’Neil writes “is that its authors must have taken a hard look at the shortcomings of MacWrite and set out to rectify them.” He notes that all of WriteNow’s features are available from drop-down menus — no dialogue boxes à la Word. He also noted the “revert to saved” and “revert to backup” functions in the File menu. Revert to saved is obvious, but the program apparently stores a version of the previously saved version of your file on disk. To save space on 400k disks it only stores the differences. Pretty cool. O’Neil also notes the well-written manual, an assessment with which I agree. It’s great. His two criticisms are that WriteNow lacks mail merge and a glossary.

NeXTWorld vol. 1 no 4 [Northern] Winter 1991 has a potted history of WriteNow:

  • 1983 MacWrite for as-yet unannounced Macintosh is late. Steve Jobs contracts with Solaster of Seattle to write another word processor as backup.
  • 1984 Apple finishes MacWrite and announces Macintosh. Apple has right to bundle WriteNow as possibel advanced MacWrite.
  • 1985 Apple decides it doesn’t want WriteNow. Solaster continues to develop it as independent product.
  • 1985 Steve Jobs leaves Apple and founds NeXT.
  • 1985 Jobs buys Solaster and hires programmers to finish WriteNow for Macintosh and NeXT.
  • 1986 NeXT sells marketing rights for Mac and PC versions to T/Maker.
  • 1986 T/Maker releases WriteNow 1.0 for Mac.
  • 1988 NeXTcube announced with WriteNow 1.0 bundled.
  • 1988 T/Maker releases WriteNow 2.0.
  • 1989 T/Maker acquired development rights to Mac version.
  • 1989 NeXT ships NeXTstep 2.0 with WriteNow 2.0 bundled.
  • 1990 T/Maker releases WriteNow 2.2
  • 1991 (October) WriteNow unbundled from NeXT system, shipped as shrink-wrapped product.

The original MacWrite couldn’t go beyond about eight pages of text in a document because it stored the whole document in memory. WriteNow has no such limitation, although the wait to load another screen of text from disk when scrolling is significant. (In fairness, MacWrite overcame that limitation in early-mid 1985.) It would be fascinating to know how complete WriteNow was in 1984, because it runs rings around the early versions of MacWrite in so many ways.

The subtitle on the WriteNow box is “performance word processing and spell checking”. Looking at the features called out specifically on the back of the box is an interesting way to determine what was important to consumers at the time. Speed is the first item — “The program is fast. Very fast. Especially with large documents.” [Emphasis in original.] It also highlights automatic repagination, which was (hell, it still is!) a bugbear in Microsoft Word.

There are no stylesheets. You can copy and paste a ruler, which gets you the equivalent of paragraph styles to some extent, but not character styles. There’s also a nice feature I didn’t know about until looking at the back of the box: hold down the shift key while making ruler changes and they happen to all identically-formatted paragraphs. The manual even gives a hack-like tip:

To take full advantage of this feature, set up the formats of the different components in your document to be unique. One way to guarantee uniqueness is to place a tab marker in a unique position outside the left or right margin; it won’t affect the format but will associate the ruler with a particular type of component.

Surely once they’d gone this far, naming the paragraph styles wasn’t a huge conceptual leap? Anyway, it’s quite powerful compared to MacWrite.

For my purposes, WriteNow’s crucial addition to the MacWrite feature set is footnotes. I’m using the 128k for academic (ish) writing, so footnotes are pretty important. (None of that Chicago-style referencing nonsense in Australian universities.) You can have the program number them automatically, or turn numbering off so that there is no visible marker in the text, but an invisible character that you can view with the command View:Show Markers. I guess in that case you can manually insert text to act as a footnote marker, but I must admit I’m not sure why you’d choose this. Perhaps if you wanted symbols (*, † , ° etc.). The option is a document-wide setting, too, so you can’t have more than one stream of footnotes.

The other significant addition over MacWrite is built-in spell checking. The 50,000-word dictionary is over 100k in size, so this would have been unworkable on a sytem with only a single 400k disk drive. The box says “Macintosh 512k or larger recommended for spell checking”, but it seems to work so far. I might well run into a problem with longer documents, but so far so good.

Last year when using Word 5.1 to write fairly long and complex documents for uni I didn’t come across any features I wanted that Word didn’t have. A few things like consistent formatting will be a bit harder in WriteNow version 1, but I can’t think of anything that I’ll definitely miss. See how we go.

I read somewhere about a nice-sounding database program from 1984 called FactFinder. I can’t remember where I read about it originally, but I thought it might be useful for collating my reading and information for assignments on the 128k. It wasn’t on any of the regular vintage Mac software websites MacintoshGarden.org; MacintoshRepository.org. I eventually found a copy on Macgui.com (which is also host to the amazing Mac512k Blog, which is one of the big inspirations for this blog — not that I could ever hope to live up to it). A French system file, but that was easily enough remedied.

Unfortunately, copying it onto a hard drive meant that it became a demo version:

Note “*DEMO”. That’s not there in the original disk. Hmm. This smells like copy protection. Hopefully it’s typically cunning 1980s copy protection.

I opened my trusty copy of ResEdit 0.8, and sure enough — a weirdly-named file on the original disk that doesn’t show up in the Finder:

Why hello, Bryan-Rudi, if that is your real name Unchecked the “Invisible” box, copied it to the other disk image, made it invisible again (after it didn’t work while the file was visible, of course) and Robert’s your mother’s brother:

No “*DEMO” here! I’ve uploaded this to Macintosh Garden now.

Interestingly, the developers seem to have been around at least as late as 2011. They have a blog post at diezmann.com talking about rewriting the software for a more modern audience. One of the authors is Rudi Diezmann — it seems like we’ve found half of Bryan-Rudi. Turns out it was his real name! I wonder who Bryan was…

Quoting extensively from that post:

Fact Finder Software was established in 1979 as a software development and consulting firm with offices in Santa Monica, California and Seattle, Washington.

The initial focus of the company was to provide consulting services for mainframe database users, but Fact Finder shifted its attention to the embryonic microcomputer market in 1980.

The company initially developed a number of programmers’ tools and end user applications which were released for the Apple II, Apple /// and IBM PC. These included a disk-based word processor and one of the first PC communications programs to support 1200 baud operation.

Fact Finder Software also provided consulting services to a variety of clients, including Ashton-Tate, Borland, Software Publishing, Apple Computer, CalFed, and State Farm Insurance as well as a number of law firms in southern California.

Returning to the founders’ interest in information management, Fact Finder developed its first “text storage and retrieval” product, sold as “DataFax” in 1982.

In 1983 the company began the development of FactFinder™ for the Macintosh, a text storage and retrieval application which was introduced in September 1984 and which continues in use today. This application was received very favorably by the market, with many thousands of satisfied customers. It was heralded by Byte Magazine as being of sufficient technical novelty that it warranted a separate preview article.

Although the application continued to be well reviewed and was popular among its user community, the developers moved to other things.

I also found an old review which describes FactFinder as “intriguing”.

Another — rather more comprehensive — review from InfoWorld.

So, I have a fully-functioning version, it appears. I’ll try to use it and see how it goes.

The windows from a blank “stack”.

Right. Home from hospital. My advice is to avoid septic pre-patella bursitis if you can.

Something those of you in the US won’t necessarily be aware of is that vintage Macs aren’t as available elsewhere in the world. Obviously the US being a bigger market than anywhere is a factor, but there are more proportionately in the US than elsewhere in the world. At any given time there seem to be at least half a dozen in-box 128ks for sale (some, admittedly, for insane prices). They don’t come up often in Australia.

Then one did, and I happened to have some money burning a hole in my pocket. The price was mad, but it was in its original box. The price was insane, but it came with an in-box Imagewriter I (which seems not to work, but that’s okay — I have four). The price was mental, but it came with Sargon III and freakin’ Mouse Stampede!

In the course of emailing the sellers I had, of course, asked some questions;

  • Does the machine say “Macintosh” or “Macintosh 128k” on the back?
  • Does it boot?
  • Have you had it serviced?

Through this conversation I determined that the Mac was booting to a sad mac error. The sellers got its analogue board repaired by local guru Bruce Rayne and had its floppy drive cleaned and lubed. We negotiated for a while, I steeled myself and committed, and started the three hour drive from Canberra to Sydney to collect the thing. A pretty cheerful drive, listening to nerdy podcasts and Bruce Reyne’s Mac Plus recapping guide on YouTube (without watching — I was driving!). They were clearly honourable sellers — after I had paid a deposit they had received an offer for severall hundred dollars more, but refused on the basis that (a) they’d taken the deposit, and (b) I obviously really wanted it.

The packaging isn’t in perfect condition, nor is it entirely complete, but it’s pretty close. It came in the original Picasso (actually Matisse) box, with the Picsso (actually Matisse) keyboard and accessories boxes inside. Original foam. The mouse box is missing, but the original MacWrite/MacPaint box was included. The Imagewriter accessories box with a Picasso (actually Matisse) logo of a parallel (or is it some sort of wide serial?) cable on the front was included.

The machine came with some interesting software. I’ve mentioned MacPaint and MacWrite. They’re obvious, although I was pleased to find it included the “disk-based” version of MacWrite which can cope with documents longer than eight pages. The full list of software:

  • System software
  • The Guided Tour of Macintosh disk and tape(!). If you’ve never listened to that tape, do. It’s beautifully produced with a lovely classical soundtrack, and is a really interesting study in what it’s like to teach someone to use a GUI from scratch.
  • MacWrite/MacPaint, in the (original?) combined box.
  • Transylvania (complete with some 1985-era gameplay maps and notes on Imagewriter carriage paper)
  • Sargon III (chess)
  • Mouse Stampede (centipede with Mac-themes icons)
  • Mac Fun Pack
  • TOPS networking hardware and software.

All of which I’ll look into later.

Once I got the beast home, I found the machine boots beautifully. It hasn’t skipped a beat yet. The geometry of the screen could do with some adjusting — I think Bruce did some, but the geometry changes over time with heat and so on, I think. I reckon it’s about 2° rotated anti-clockwise from the user’s point of view, and has a noticable inward barrel distortion (or is it pincushion if it’s inwards?).

The Imagewriter doesn’t work — it starts, the lights light up, but the carriage never moves and it doesn’t do anything when I try to print. That’s okay, because it’s my fourth (including the 15 inch wide carriage version, which is basically only useable in MacProject and a couple of spreadsheet programs).

The mouse and keyboard work very nicely, the floppy is a bit stiff but works, and the voltage out of the mouse port boots my FloppyEmu perfectly. Winner.

I have it set up with the working Imagewriter, FloppyEmu, an Apple modem (like the ones sitting under the phones in the 128k manual) which is either 300 or 1200 baud (I can’t test it because it’s 2022 — I don’t have a landline), and an external floppy case with no drive inside. The last two are obviously just for the looks (for the moment).

Whelp, its the old chestnut — start a new blog and promptly get hospitalised with an infection in your knee. “Septic pre-patella bursitis”, apparently. I’m home, and blog post no. two will be up soon.