We’re not in Kansas anymore: Apple II fest gets geeky online (and you’re invited)

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KansasFest soldering 1
A past KansasFest during less socially distanced times.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Being a fan of the Apple II is a lonely hobby. While being an Apple lover in 2020 is more mainstream than ever, being an enthusiast for Apple’s first mass market computer — launched way back in 1977 — is significantly less common.

Unless it’s July 24-26, that is. Kicking off today, and running through the weekend, KansasFest is a conference dedicated to all things Apple II. And like every other conference this year, in 2020 it’s gone online only.

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

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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.

Meet Jerry Manock, the father of Apple’s Industrial Design Group

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Apple’s first proper industrial designer, Jerry Manock crafted the look of the Macintosh and other memorable computers.
Apple’s first proper industrial designer, Jerry Manock crafted the look of the Macintosh and other memorable computers.
Photo courtesy Jerry Manock

Jerry Manock is one of the great unsung heroes of Apple design. As the father of Apple’s Industrial Design Group, Manock made an indelible contribution to the company’s long line of hit products.

He may not be a household name like Jony Ive, but, starting with the Apple II, Manock played a massive role in making the company what it is today. In an exclusive interview with Cult of Mac, the 76-year-old industrial designer recounts many colorful stories about Cupertino’s past — including one that shows even Steve Jobs got nostalgic.

Publisher of longtime Apple II magazine passes away

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two Nibble magazine covers
Two Nibble covers, including the first edition, left.
Photo: Brian Wiser

Mike Harvey, well known to the Apple II community as the founder and publisher of Nibble magazine, passed away recently at his North Carolina home. He was 84.

His death was announced this morning by the Apple Puget Sound Program Library Exchange, an Apple user group that started in 1978.

Apple II screenshots required a whole lot of extra hardware

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Running Apple II programs on a Mac with an Apple IIe Card was pretty darn awesome.
Kids today don't know how lucky they are.
Photo: Microwavemont/YouTube

Taking a full-screen screenshot on a modern Mac or iPhone is just a matter of tapping a couple of buttons. But things used to be a whole lot more challenging, as longstanding Apple employee Chris Espinosa recently shared on Twitter.

Kids (and “how to” article writers) today don’t know how good they’ve got it!

Contraband Apple II computers still power old Soviet museum

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entrance to the Lenin Museum
The Apple II has been a faithful comrade to the Lenin Museum.
Photo: mvstang/Flickr CC

The Soviet Union may have collapsed. But Vladimir Lenin, the country’s first leader, lives on, thanks to an audiovisual show still running on a small network of Apple II computers at a museum outside Moscow.

The Apple II is as revered by geeks as Lenin is by nostalgic Communists. Both proved revolutionary. And while the carefully edited story of Lenin might seem interesting to museum-goers, the unvarnished tale of the vintage Apple tech is more compelling.

Stunning Apple II Kickstarter case gives you a new look at a classic machine

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Apple II transparent case Kickstarter 1
What a gorgeous Apple II case.
Photo: MacEffects/Kickstarter

The Apple II may be more than 40 years old, but Apple’s first mass market personal computer still has plenty of fans. Now those fans can get hold of a brand new injection-molded case for the iconic Steve Wozniak-designed computer. All thanks to a new Kickstarter campaign.

Boasting a transparent design, the case will let you get a closer look at this legendary computer than ever!

Apple II’s original ‘Graphics Magician’ headlines KansasFest

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Mark Pelczarski
One of the most popular games published by Mark Pelczarski's company, Penguin Software
Screenshot: Penguin Software/YouTube

Mark Pelczarski’s first contribution to the personal computing revolution came in a zip-lock bag.

With no App Store in 1979, Pelczarski bagged disks and photo-copied instruction manuals for what was then one of the first digital paint programs for the Apple II.

Free Apple II papercraft makes a perfect Christmas tree ornament

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This free Apple II papercraft project will take you back to your Oregon Trail days.
This will take you back to your Oregon Trail days.
Photo: Rocky Bergen

Even amid the three-quarters of a million residents of Winnipeg, Canada, Rocky Bergen felt alone when it came to his love of vintage computers.

But thanks to his papercraft models of classic machines like the Apple II, Bergen has connected with folks in places as far away as Italy and Sweden.