Some time in 1982, after I’d been using computers at school for about two years, my father decided we should get one at home. He was interested in having something to help him keep track of the tax records for our holiday home on the Central Coast (it was also rented out as a holiday let), and he wanted to create a database of his coin collection.
He gave me the task of selecting an appropriate machine – I was, after all, the only member of the family with any experience with personal computers at this point. Initially, because of my experience with them, I looked at Tandy’s TRS-80 offerings. This was in the days of the original TRS-80 Color Computer, and I distinctly remember looking at Tandy brochures expounding the virtues of these machines.
I find it amusing that my clearest recollections of the decision-making process are of considering the computer I ultimately decided not to get!
Unfortunately, I cannot recall just what it was that made me settle on the Apple ][, but settle on it I did, and Dad duly forked over what was likely to have been a huge wad of cash (or, more likely, he put it on his Bankcard, Australia & New Zealand’s own little credit card) for a 48K Apple ][europlus with a third party 16K memory expansion/language card, third party green screen monitor, a commodity dot matrix printer, two Disk ][ drives, pfs:file and pfs:report database programs and not much else. We bought it from our “local” (30 minutes’ drive away) Apple dealer, Computer Lighthouse at Penrith (which is at the Western outskirts of Sydney at the foot of the Blue Mountains).
I of course got to play a lot of my friends’ Apple ][ games (perhaps, more correctly, Apple ][ games my friends possessed) – I particularly enjoyed Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, Lode Runner and Championship Lode Runner, FastGammon, Sabotage, Karateka and an Applesoft BASIC Star Trek clone.
Having never been a particularly enthusiastic (or good) chess player, I toyed with Sargon (or one of its successors), but the only memorable thing about any of my computerised games of chess is that immediately after a successful use of a slight variation of the “Two-Move Checkmate“, the Apple ][ blew up! Well, it was probably just a blown capacitor (it was thankfully still under warranty), but one of my brothers and I used to joke that the computer was just a sore loser!
The dot matrix printer was not a high quality one and didn’t last long – by March 1983 it had been replaced by an Apple Silentype printer. Along with the addition of a joystick at some point, that remained our computing setup at home until late 1985. I used it for school timetables, started toying with fonts and graphics as a prelude to my desktop publishing career, but mostly I just played on it.
I spent uncountable hours in front of the europlus, and it obviously holds a lot of nostalgic value to me as my IRC nickname in #a2c.chat is “europlus” (on the rare occasions I make it in there) and, as you’ve possibly already noticed by now, it is also this blog’s name. When I started collecting Apple ][s, my goal was always to get another europlus and get as close to that original setup as possible. I’m mostly there, but am still awaiting a reasonably local and reasonably-priced working Silentype and the interface card required for it to work on a ][.
I’d be interested to hear how others chose to get Apple ][s, what the setup was and whether they kept their original machines or have had to “recreate” their ][ systems.