Feature Interview - Tony 'Hexman' Morales
What was your first experience programming with the IIGS and
I actually started writing IIgs software before I owned a IIgs
to test the software on. The software was little more than very simple demos
using the IIgs built-in toolbox. The demos served as a learning point for
entering machine language code into the IIgs, (actually //e at the time),
using the computer's built-in Monitor program.
What was the first program you wrote or were involved with for
Let's see. Probably the first thing I ever wrote, short of simple
demo programs, was a pair of Inits which replaced the standard IIgs bell
tone with either the Apple //e beep or the ProDOS 8 buzz, or blat, sound,
common to many older 8-bit programs. I originally wrote these Inits in the
Summer of 1993.
What other programs have you written and released for the IIGS?
I've written NT MOD Player, PATCH, TRACTOR, Sonobox, MacBinary-GS,
and Nexus. I'm sure I've left something out, but those are the most obvious
NT MOD Player is a GS/OS application which plays Noise Tracker GS modules.
PATCH and TRACTOR are two BASIC programs that perform various modifications
to the data stored in Amiga MOD files. PATCH allows you to increase or decrease
the key of the music, and TRACTOR lets you reassign any of the musical tracks.
Sonobox is a New Desk Accessory that lets you play Amiga MODs.
MacBinary-GS is a handy utility for decoding and encoding MacBinary files.
Nexus is a suite of external commands for NiftyList, a programmer's "must
What (if any) updates are planned for your programs?
If I find any bugs in the software I've written, I will fix those
at the first opportunity. The only major update which is in progress is
an update to Sonobox.
When and how did you first meet, team up with, develop and program
I've used Apple IIs on a regular basis since late 1986. I taught
myself how to program in BASIC in mid 1989. In 1991, I learned assembly
language. I purchased my IIgs in early 1993 and started writing software
What is your background with respect to your educational progress
in computer science, programming skills, languages, any hardware designing
interest, IIGS programs, that you've written, released or unreleased and
any hardware ideals, concepts or wishes that might be useful for the IIGS?
I hope to one day earn a degree in Computer Science. I am currently
in my third year of college. I know BASIC, C, C++, Pascal, and several dialects
of assembly language including 6502, 65816, and 68000. If I could oversee
the design of any hardware product, I'd like to see a 16-bit sound board
for the IIgs.
What precisely would you say, concerning the future of the IIGS
as a computer?
I'm uncertain as to the future of the IIgs. As long as Apple
Computer made software updates to GS/OS, the IIgs was able to keep up with
the evolving operating systems on the Mac and PC machines. Now that an update
to GS/OS seems highly unlikely, it will be a much greater challenge to keep
the IIgs competitive with other machines.
As long as companies continue to market software and hardware for the IIgs,
and as long as there exist users to purchase that software and hardware,
the IIgs will have a future which extends well into the next century.
What are it's strong points over say, a Mac or PC?
The IIgs has many strong points over any other machine, too numerous
to mention. A few that come immediately to mind are:
1. The machine is very easy to set up and use. The user is offered access
to the internals of the machine simply by removing the cover. All that user
has to do to add new capability to their IIgs is plug in an expantion card,
and off they go.
2. The IIgs operating system, GS/OS, offers many features not found in any
other operating system. From the very beginning, GS/OS has implemented the
concept of File System Translators, (FSTs), adding the ability for GS/OS
to read disks formatted in a wide variety of disk formats. This ability
has not been implemented as cleanly on the Mac or PCs.
3. The support a new user often receives from fellow IIgs users is of higher
quality than that same user would get if he or she had purchased another
machine. The IIgs community is lucky to have countless numbers of talented
users who are happy to assist new users.
Do you think the different models of computers that Apple has
sold, past and present, II's, IIGS', Mac's and PPC's, can enhance and share
their efforts with each others users, on a productive cross-platform basis?
If so, could you please give some in depth feelings on such?
Well, at home, I exchange files between my IIgs and PowerBook
via LocalTalk. I can take my PowerBook into the computer lab at college,
plug into the networked PowerMac I work on, and print on anyone of three
different printers set up in the lab. I feel one of the most exciting abilities
the IIgs has to offer is that it can be networked with today's powerful
machines and printers.
Do you still develop software for the IIGS?
Yes, I still write IIgs software, whenever I have the time. The
IIgs is by far the most exciting machine I've ever programmed on, and I
have lots of ideas for programs I'd like to try writing.
What exactly motivated you to design and develop the IIGS Emulator
for the Mac (68k) and Power PC?
Ah, the Hindenburg Project. One day whilst working on my PowerBook,
I thought to myself, "Gee, what I wouldn't give for a portable IIgs."
I started dreaming of what a wonderful machine this PowerBook IIgs could
be. Alas, the possibility of a real PowerBook IIgs was extremely unlikely.
So one day, I began fooling around with the idea of writing an IIgs emulator
which would run on my PowerBook, thereby making my dream of a portable IIgs
a reality. Time went by, and I began writing some code. Before I knew it,
I had a very primitive emulator written.
What was the reason for naming it the 'Hindenburg Project'?
OK, I admit it! I could not come up with a better name for the
thing. I guess I hoped the project would be more successful than my attempt
at naming it. I didn't want it to go down in flames like a certain dirigible.
Please tell me all that you can about it (in detail), that you
haven't already released to the public within the FAQ file?
Upon completion, the Hindenburg Project will allow a user to
take any piece of IIgs software, load it into the emulator, and execute
it as though a real IIgs was running the software. The emulator will require
a Mac with a 68030 running at 33MHz or better. A PowerMac will be strongly
encouraged, though not absolutely necessary. More details will be made available
as the release date draws closer.
What problems have you encountered during its development?
Mostly, the only major slowdowns I've experienced thus far are
the inability to quickly find technical info which I need at a given moment.
All the IIgs tech info I have is spread out among many books, notes, and
documents. Wading through all the literature takes a lot of time.
Another problem I've had is finding time to work on the project. There just
isn't enough time to go around.
How far along is it?
Well, the project has been in development for quite some time.
It's expected release date is mid 1996, with a beta release planned for
March or early April 1996.
To date, how many replies have you received concerning it, by
email, what exactly do they ask you or want to know, what do they think
about it and so on?
Well, out of respect to those who have inquiried about the project,
I am going to step lightly around this question. However, I believe the
majority of people are interested in the project.
Do you think your IIGS emulator is possible for use with the
actual IIGS disks within the Mac's disk drive and if so, what (if any) limitations
do you think it might have?
It will indeed be possible to place a ProDOS-formatted floppy
disk into the Mac's disk drive and have the emulator recognize it and read/write
from/to it. The only major limitation I can foresee is the process will
not be able to work with copy protected disks.
Do you think it should be made available as a freeware, shareware
Do you think such an emulator, if released, could have any positive
influence with the future develop of software for the IIGS platform?
It's hard to say. It's unlikely that a major software company
is going to start developing IIgs software with the release of a single
emulator. The main goal in writing the emulator is to keep the IIgs alive
and useable well into the next century. It would be very nice if companies
started porting some of their software to run on the IIgs, but let's be
Do you think many IIGS users would sell their IIGS and buy a
Mac, if such an emulator were available and worked well, emulating IIGS
and II software, using the actual disks within the Mac or PPC disk drives,
rather than image files?
I certainly hope users would keep their IIgs'. I plan to keep
mine. If I may borrow a phrase from a Cokacola commercial, "Can't beat
the real thing." Any well-written IIgs emulator will be a wonderful
thing to use, however it will not be a genuine Apple IIgs. Those people
who will probably be most excited about the emulator are those who have,
at one time or another, owned an IIgs, only to have sold it and migrated
to a Mac or PPC, for they can once again run all the software they know
How long will you continue to develop software for the IIGS?
As long as time permits. The IIgs is by far my favorite machine
to write software for.
It's interesting, as I see it, that different IIGS development
circles and companies can work in unity and cooperate with each other, within
such a limited, yet competative commercial market and be succesful with
their efforts. That could never happen on the PC side of the fence. What
do you have to say about that?
Well, I wouldn't say that PC companies don't operate in unity
and cooperation. If everyone followed these practices, we'd all be better
people. In the IIgs community, though, if we refuse to unite, we will fall.
It is very nice to see so many IIgs companies, and users, helping one another
out with advice, support, etc.
What was the first Apple computer you ever used?
I recall playing games on Apple II Plus machines in elementary
school, way back in 1983 or 1984. I received my //e in 1987, and my IIgs
Who are some of the people, that are still involved with the
IIGS, that impress you the most, with what they know, offer and what they
hope to provide for the IIGS, now or in the future?
What is your favorite memory of any experiences, encounters or
outstanding events concerning the IIGS, that you've ever been involved with
or a part of?
Honestly, my favorite IIgs memory is the moment I first turned
on the power switch after bringing the IIgs home from the store, and setting
it up. For months, I had read about all the nifty things the IIgs was capable
of. Being able to see for myself what I had only read about, was, how shall
I put this, exciting.
What do you think is needed the most, with respect to the future
well being and continual improvements for the IIGS, its users and its developers?
As long as there is support for new IIgs users, and companies
dedicated to the IIgs like Sequential Systems, I think the machine will
do fine. The IIgs is light-years away from being a worthless piece of scrap,
as some PC users might refer to it.
There are a lot of various programmers for the IIGS, now working
on the development of difference programs and related items such as IIGS'
ppp, tcp, gif, jpeg display and conversion programs, and an ever increasing
Web presents of Apple IIGS users, programmers, groups, Usenet postings,
etc. presenting the very real possibility of a IIGS Web Browsers need, development,
availability and release. Could you please outline whatever you think, you
know and can relate with facts and information or even rumors about such
I probably know as much about the previous list of topics as
99% of all other IIgs users, and that isn't saying much. I would be very
anxious to see a GS-TCP facility and other Internet tools. Internet is the
future of telecommunications, and not every IIgs user has access to a Mac
Well I guess that about covers everything that I can think of
to ask you about. Thanks for the interview and the valuable information
you've given. It was a pleasure hearing everything you presented. I've sure
learned a lot and I'm sure everybody that reads this would agree!
Thank you! It's always fun to chat about the IIgs. It is a great
machine with a lot of possibilities still to be discovered.
Is there anything else, that you'd care to add, before we end
this little chat and get back to our other pending efforts?
My home page on the Internet is at a NEW URL and currently under construction. When it is finished the URL will be made available. Then, you can get
the latest up-to-date information on the Hindenburg Project (still under deligent development), as well as
download the various software programs I've written. For now all of my programs with src. does and my MODfile collection can be accessed from HEXMAN on the Apple II Ground ftp site. The URL is: ftp://220.127.116.11/apple2/HEXMAN/
All pages & copy by Charles T. 'Dr. Tom' Turley. Copying source code
is OK. Do not copy the pages.
All brand and product names used are the trademarks and/or registered trademarks
of their respective holders.