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A refined Apple desktop debuts ahead of Wednesday’s big iThing launch

It’s an eight-bit affair for the Apple II, complete with Flying Toasters and many other upgrades

Apple will on September 7th stage one of its live infomercials to launch products expected to include this year’s iPhone – complete with satellite messaging capabilities – plus wireless earbuds, an enhanced smart watch, and maybe even some new tablet computers.

But if you can’t wait until Wednesday’s event, you can have a new Apple desktop right now – for the Apple II.

As explained in the project’s GitHub repository, the “Apple II DeskTop” is a “GUI application for 8-bit Apples and clones with 128k of memory, utilizing double hi-res monochrome graphics (560x192), an optional mouse, and the ProDOS 8 operating system.”

“The application started its life as Mouse Desk by Version Soft. Apple Computer licensed the software and released it, at first as Mouse Desk 2.0, then rebranded Apple II DeskTop as the initial system software for the Apple IIgs before 16-bit GS/OS replaced it,” states the repo’s Background blurb.

Enthusiasts keep the software alive on GitHub, and state “The goal of this project is to disassemble/reverse-engineer the suite with an eye towards understanding how it functions, fixing bugs, and adding functionality.”

And add functionality they have! On September 4th version 1.2 debuted, adding support for more languages, the ability to drag any number of icons, a remote control for compact disks, and a screen saver that pays homage to the classic After Dark “flying toasters” screen saver by Jack Eastman.

The first Apple II was powered by a MOS Technology 6502 that roared along at just over one megahertz and came equipped with between four and sixty four kilobytes of RAM.

Introduced in 1977, later models in the Apple II series were sold until late in the 1980s, by which time Apple’s Mac was on the market and made GUIs popular. Which is why Apple acquired and developed an Apple II GUI through the transactions and efforts described above.

This project keeps those efforts alive on the Apple IIe, Apple IIc, Apple IIc Plus, and the Apple IIe Option Card for Macintosh. Apple clones the Laser 128 and Franklin ACE 2X00/500 can also put this ancient code to work.

Apparently it’s possible to run the project in this Apple II emulator - but sadly we can’t find a browser to run in this environment so you could use it to read The Register. ®

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