Adventures in Retrocomputing: The Apple IIGS

When I was a kid, the Apple IIGS was the computer to have. It was the cream of the Apple ][ line, with a great library of games and software. Unfortunately, I didn’t get one as a kid. Instead, I got a Macintosh LCII, which was definitely the right decision in 1992. The Apple ][ line was just about dead, and the Macintosh was the future. I got many good years out of that computer, and last time that I checked, it still works.

However, one of the nice things about growing up, (and the invention of eBay), is that you can now afford to get the “toys” that you really wanted as kid, usually for a reasonable price. The same principle applies to those who collect classic cars.

So, starting last February, I did a bit of research, then took to eBay and started collecting parts. By consulting various sources, I came up with the following list of must haves to assemble a capable “modern” IIGS system:

  • A IIGS CPU (ROM 01 or ROM 03)
  • A color monitor (either an AppleColor Composite Monitor or the preferred AppleColor RGB monitor)
  • A monitor cable (harder to come by than you’d think)
  • A Keyboard, Mouse and Joystick
  • A printer (Probably an Imagewriter II – a Laserwriter if I’m really lucky)
  • Disk drives (At 1, preferably 2 each of the 5.25” and 3.5” floppys)
  • A Memory Expansion card (Min 4MB, 8MB preferred)
  • A SCSI card (Apple Fast SCSI preferred)
  • A hard drive
  • A CD-ROM drive
  • An uthernet Ethernet card (
  • An accelerator card (a Transwarp GS or ZipGS)

Long list, eh? I also needed media, and a way to get software from a modern computer to the IIGS. The community has long had a solution for in the form of ADTPro.

I’ve been making good progress down the list, acquiring a ROM 03 IIGS, an AppleColor RGB monitor, (although it took me another 6 months to get the cable for it) and a disk drive. I even wound up acquiring a complete ROM 01 IIGS system with composite monitor, keyboard, mouse, joystick, 2 disk drives, and printer (and bonus Kensington SystemSaver IIGS) because it was cheaper to buy the whole system and only use what I needed, rather than to buy individual parts. Unfortunately, the printer got destroyed in shipping, but insurance covered it.

By the beginning of the summer I had all of the components together, but the ROM 03 system that I had was fairly barebones – I think that it may have originally come from a school – so it had no expansion cards, and even with the ADTPro software, it was rather tedious to copy floppy images over. Pickings were slim on eBay, so I put the project on hold. I was not too keen on investing in a 30 year old hard drive anyways, especially when much more modern technology was available.

Back in February, I had put myself on the waiting list for the next run of CFFA3000 cards. These let you plug in a CF Card or USB flash drive and load disk images (both hard drive and floppy images) from it, allowing you to use modern solid-state technology to replace old magnetic media entirely. In September, Rich Dreher announced that he would be starting the new run of cards, so I put in my order, and received it early in November.  This let me put the system properly through its paces, installing GS/OS 6.0.1 and trying out a few games. Everything worked great!

Now I just need to source some more software, and a Memory upgrade, SCSI card, and a CD-ROM drive to bring the system to it’s full potential. An accelerator would be nice, but not necessary, and I have some good news on the uthernet front – a new production run should see the light of day before too long. No hard dates of course, but the project is still alive.

It’s nice to see that the community is still alive and active, and I look forward to getting deeper into this project, as soon as I can scrape up the last few parts that I need.

2 thoughts on “Adventures in Retrocomputing: The Apple IIGS

  1. With a CFFA 3000, you don’t even need a SCSI Card or CDROM drive either -just create disk images of CDROM partitions on your Mac or PC, then mount them with the CFFA 3000. Look forward to what your explorations of the IIGS will reveal!

    • I feel honoured to have you comment on my little blog, Alex. Your site is a fantastic resource!

      Have you had success mounting ISOs using the CFFA3000? I mounted the GoldenOrchard ISO to one of the smartport slots through the CFFA3000 CDA, but when I boot into GS/OS 6.0.1, I get an error that GS/OS does not recognize the disk and asks if I would like to initialize it.

      I cracked open the ISO on my Mac, and it shows two partitions, a ProDOS one and a Mac OS Standard/HFS one, so GS/OS should be able to make sense of it.

      I figured that it may be an issue with ISOs, so I used Ciderpress to copy everything to an HFS-formatted .po image, which kind of worked, but a lot of things are missing, and the file structure is wrong. I had not troubleshot further than that.

      Also, I have an Apple CD 300 from my LCII, so if I can find a SCSI card (preferably a RamFAST Rev. D – which I learned was the better card after writing the post), I should be able to work with that – just for kicks 🙂

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