This simple introduction to AppleSoft Basic is demonstrated on my working Apple IIe from 1983. It’s meant for beginners, so it doesn’t dive deeply into any one topic.
This 30 minute video lightly covers the following topics:
numeric and string variables
moving around the text screen
common error codes
procedural programming in RAM
editing and debugging
low resolution graphics
high resolution graphics
beeps and audio
If you want to try AppleSort Basic for yourself on a Windows PC, the best Apple IIe emulator I’ve found is called AppleWin and it is located here: https://github.com/AppleWin/AppleWin
Scroll down to the bottom of the GitHub page to click on the release link to download the zip file. Admin rights are not necessary. Just unzip the file and run the executable. Then click the Disk 1 button and choose the default (master) file. Then click the Apple button to boot up!
If we type this simple 8 line Applesoft Basic program into my working Apple IIe computer, we will end up with a cool little text based arcade game! Watch the video below to see the game in action!
This small Applesoft Basic program was published in one of my Beagle Bros Apple Software Catalogs from 1987 (volume 0, number 10). This little program was credited as being submitted by Beagle Bros customer Tim Boehme, who received a box of Beagle Bros magnetic write protect tabs for his efforts!
Wow! Write protect tabs! Amazing! 🙂
Applesoft Basic is the programming language of all the early Apple computers and was provided in ROM (memory) to make it available to the user without the need for a startup disk or the need to load it into memory from a cassette tape.
Applesoft Basic was actually created by Microsoft for Apple. Hence the name. It is interpreted and not compiled, so it is not very fast. And it can throw syntax errors at runtime if it’s unable to interpret a line of code.
One sort of funny feature of Applesoft Basic is that variable names are only significant to 2 letters, although it allows more. So if you initialize a variable named “KURT” to a value of 10, you can PRINT the variable “KU” and also the variable “KURT” and also the variable “KUPP” and they will all three show a value of 10. They are all three pointing to the exact same memory location.
Here’s the source code:
10 REM "MUNCH THE SNAILS!"
20 TEXT: HOME: H = 20: PRINT CHR$ (21): POKE 35,22
30 K = PEEK (49152): ON K < 128 GOTO 40: H = H + (K = 149) - (K = 136)
40 POKE 49168,0: IF RND (1) * 10 < 1 THEN VTAB 20: HTAB RND (1) * 20 + 10: PRINT "@": GOTO 70
50 VTAB 22: HTAB RND (1) * 39 + 1: PRINT CHR$ (46)
60 IF PEEK (1535 + H) = 192 THEN S = S + 1: VTAB 5: HTAB H: PRINT "#"; CHR$ (7): VTAB 23: PRINT "MUNCHED: ";S: GOTO 80
70 VTAB 5: HTAB H: PRINT "V"
80 T = T + 1: IF S < 10 THEN 30
90 TEXT: VTAB 23: PRINT S;" SNAILS MUNCHED IN ";T;" SNAIL SECONDS.": END
Once it starts, just click on the floppy disk 1 icon and choose the master disk file that comes installed with the emulator. Then reboot with the Apple button and it will boot to Applesoft Basic. Or, you can download ROMs for various Apple games and programs from the Internet and boot those instead. It emulates the speed of the processor, so it’s a very realistic emulation of the Apple IIe. Including several monitor types to choose from.
I hope you found this post informative and/or entertaining! Thanks for your interest! And feel free to leave comments or questions below!
Wow. I don’t recall actually watching this 2 hour television spectacle when I was 8 years old. But maybe my subconscious blocked it from my memory. It had good reason. This was probably the worst television variety show that was ever made.
And that’s saying a lot because there were a lot of really bad variety shows made in the 70’s.
It’s like watching a train wreck. It’s so horrible. And yet you cannot look away.
George Lucas isn’t really to blame for this travesty. He did not produce it. He did not direct it. He did not write it. He didn’t even consult on it. He was starting to work on his follow-on to Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back. He did greenlight the Holiday Special, though. And that started this big ugly snowball rolling downhill.
The special was broadcast only once on Friday November 17, 1978 which was the week before Thanksgiving. It aired on the CBS television network from 8pm to 10pm, which pre-empted both Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk.
And then everyone promptly tried to forget it ever happened.
In case you don’t have the stomach to watch a recording of the entire special, I’ll summarize. The main characters from the Star Wars film were in the television special. Reluctantly. In several scenes it appears their hearts were not really in it, though.
Most variety shows had been filmed in front of a live studio audience or at least had a post-production laugh track added. This special had neither. So every time an actor tried to say or do something funny, the viewer got an uncomfortable feeling like something odd just happened. It’s like when you tell a joke to a room full of people and all you hear are crickets chirping.
The plot, if you can call it that, is very very boring and pointless and only serves to tie together several musical numbers and some attempts at humorous skits. I’m not even going to try to summarize the plot here because it is so long and boring. It centers around Chewbacca’s family on his home planet, though. The main characters in the show are Chewie’s wife, son, and father.
The best part of the show is an animated cartoon that features the debut of a new character named Boba Fett. You may have heard of him.
If you suffer through all the way to the end, you will get a special treat. The final musical number sung by Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. She’s not a terrible singer. But the whole scene is just as uncomfortable as the rest of the show. And the finale isn’t at all inspiring, as it intends to be.