It’s possible to tweet, email and even control smart devices using an Apple II


Apple II tweet gmail 1
This is what working from home could have looked like in 1983.
Photo: @ReEstInv

The Apple IIe was introduced 37 years ago in 1983. But don’t think it’s not up to performing the latest productivity tasks, circa 2020. Well, kind of.

Twitter user @ReEstInv and Oliver Schmidt, a.k.a. @dangerfreak, recently showcased how it’s possible to get an Apple IIe to run modern, up-to-date apps like writing in Slack and Evernote, sending emails, or even controlling smart home gadgets.

So long as you’re not necessarily expecting the latest UI elements, that is.

Teaching the Apple II to tweet and more

“The central idea was to bring the IFTTT (If This, Then That) service to the Apple II  — and thus to connect the Apple II with modern, up-to-date tasks for a computer,” @ReEstInv, who asked not to share their real name, told Cult of Mac. “With the great help from Oliver Schmidt, it was possible to do this via cross-compiling the program onto the Apple II platform where it works in machine language.”

The Apple IIe is able to access the services using a special IFTTT applet. This can be loaded up from the Apple II menu, allowing the user to select the task they want to carry out.

“For example, if you want to write a note in Evernote, choose Evernote,” @ReEstInv said. “The program then asks for the desired book and title for the note. After input, you can then write the text of the note. It works similarly with Slack. The smart home applications usually also work this way — except that they mostly only send a signal to the respective device.”

Giving your Apple II a 2020 overhaul

“The program allows the user to select an IFTTT capability previously configured,” said Schmidt, a maintainer of both CC65, a C cross-compiler for 6502-based computers, and IP65, a TCP/IP library written in 6502 assembly language. “Depending on the selection, the program has the user enter additional data, [such as] the text to be tweeted. Finally, the program uses the Ethernet interface to connect to the Internet and send an HTTP request to IFTTT triggering a predefined web hook.”

To have a go at this yourself, you’ll need an Ethernet device with an Ethernet controller chip that’s supported by a special IP65 library. Fortunately, such devices are available for the Apple II. You’ll also need to get hold of (or dig out of your attic) an Apple IIe, monitor, Apple II Disk Drive, Uthernet Card and IFTTT65 disk.

Geeky? You bet. Unnecessary to have to plug in your old Apple II just to send a Slack message to your colleagues? Sure. But nonetheless awesome to hear how enthusiasts are still keeping the Apple II alive decades after most people relegated it to the metaphorical scrap heap? For certain.

If only tweets sent using it would read “Tweeted from an Apple IIe.” That would be great for racking up retro Apple fan points online!


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