The Apple ][ Ethernet Card.

][ be or Not ][ Be was it's question

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The information being presented here has been compiled from various sources and from "interpolation" on my part, putting 2 and 1.5 together to come up with 4 via the obvious routes, seeking clarification from those able on a "Yes or No" level to what I have to say. In some cases, information on specific facts could be a bit twisted to say the least, but I do belive this to be a pretty accurate account of the Apple II Ethernet story.

Most of this document is information supplied to User Groups by Apple in late Summer of 1991. This is a good example of "Specifications Subject to Change Without Notice" because that is exactly what happened. Not soon after, this project would be scrapped and started over. The result would be the card that made it to Final, went 'Golden' and was then cancelled within 2 hours.

Apple Ethernet Apple II Card (1991 Release Description)

The Apple Ethernet Apple II Card is an interface card for the Apple IIe enhanced and Apple IIgs computer systems. The card offers Ethernet bandwidth and performance at an affordable price. The card is aimed at the K-12 network market to improve the performance of educational network configurations. The card uses the FriendlyNet cable system and will ship with either a ThinNet or 10-base-T transceiver. Apple has made a commitment to Ethernet products for the Macintosh family and this card provides the additional network speed to Apple II educational customers.

The Ethernet Apple II Card will allow the schools to extend their investment in the Apple II technology and still work in larger "building level" networks. The card shows the commitment to provide solutions for Apple II customers and the continuing support of the Apple II product line. The card provides the following main features:

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Software Support / Compatibility as planned

The card will allow most ProDOS network applications to function transparently and unchanged over Ethernet. Running programs, saving data, booting, and everything else that would normally occur when using the LocalTalk® Workstation Card, or built in LocalTalk, will work with the Ethernet Apple II Card. The card will not use any additional main memory on the Apple IIe and will reduce the amount of memory needed on an Apple IIgs. Because AppleTalk protocols are located on the card, less memory will be used by the Apple IIgs.

Spring of 1993 Finally brought us Apple IIgs System Disk Release 6.0.1, in a very quiet rollout indeed. System 6.0.1 had infact been done and ready to go much prior to it's release but was waiting for the Ethernet card to be finished so that the two could be released together or nearly together. With the Ethernet card being canned, that meant removing all references to EtherTalk, Ethernet, Installer Scripts and Drivers from the System 6.0.1 Golden Master Build. Thus, no fanfare marked this occasion. The Apple II Team at the time 'busted ass' on this project and were not happy, to say the least. Management felt they wouldn't sell more than '5,000' peices, felt they wouldn't recoup thier costs, etc. I guess for Apple, 5,000 is a piddly amount and they would most definatly place a larger order for production and were afraid to be sitting on inventory sitting unsold. Around KansasFest of 1993 it really became evident that the Ethernet card was not going to see the light of day. Several companies sought interest in the card, producing it themselves, convincing Apple to reconsider or even an outright purchase of the technology. There was talk of Apple Austrialia marketing it there, atleast. Meaning some would have found their way 'back home'. But a heavy pricetag would follow the Ethernet card. Allready purchased inventory by one of Apple's PCB Fabrication / Assembly vendors would have to come along in the purchase meaning a heavier price than sourcing out in the surplus component market. Something that meant as much as 50-75% savings in building hardware. Particularly those small runs that Apple II hardware was becomming. No more 50,000 runs for the Apple II. Remember, the card was 'done', the last things being done were Firmware changes and some component value changes on the PCB, but the PCB layout was done. There was a pre-poduction run of the board to be release of approximatly 250 or so Ethernet cards months before. Some of these were used in the second seeding to developers of the card, there had been some smaller number of the same version of the cards built a few months earlier as well. With the purchase of the Ethernet card would have also come these cards, also at a pretty good price. It seemed like Apple wanted the card to get out there, after all, they promised it. But Apple has promised lots of things. Economicaly it just wasn't going to happen unless some lottery winner, for the love of the machine paid Apple for everything they put into it. No such luck has come our way.

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ProDOS file system calls and GS/OS calls are translated by the card into AFP 2.0 (AppleTalk Filing Protocol) calls for the file servers on the network. Printed characters are handled by the card because the slot firmware will change to look like a serial card after the operating system installs the card as a "disk" device. The card translates the characters into PAP (Printer Access Protocol) calls which can be understood by printers attached to the network. There are three types of network services provided by the card:

Local network booting will occur when the card is first started and is scanned by the Apple II hardware looking for a card that can boot. The firmware of the card has the ID bytes of a drive at this point. The card will then issue a request to get the boot information from the network. A server that can respond to the boot request must be located in the same zone as the card. After the boot process has started, the card will change the firmware to emulate a serial card to allow printing services to network devices. The card can be used to access network servers or network printers without booting from the card.

To boot the card when the Apple IIe or Apple IIgs is running, enter PR#1 (if the card is in slot 1) and hold down the Option key when the Return key is pressed. PR#1 without the Option key will start the printer software just like when printing to a super serial card.

The package will include two disks: an Installer Disk for the IIe and a disk for the Apple IIgs. Not included in the package is a new AppleShare Server Setup Disk . This disk will update the existing AppleShare File Server. The disk contains the boot blocks and disk image for Apple IIe and Apple IIgs users. It will be distributed through the AESC channel and be placed on the Information Source.

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The Apple IIe disk will contain the following: (From 1991 Info Release)

Note: ProDOS 1.9, the last version of ProDOS 8 not requiring an Enhanced Apple //e and BASIC.SYSTEM 1.4. The minor version updates of the current versions of the time.

The Apple IIgs disk will contain the following:

Note: System Release 6.0 was current as of this release, 6.0.1 was very early in the works at this point, itself not being relased until Spring of 1993. See later for related comments.

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Apple IIgs Network Control Panel

This control panel will allow users to select the physical layer they wish to use: LocalTalk or EtherTalk® . Users can also determine how the card will boot from either ProDOS 8 or GS/OS. When running AppleWorks network, there is no reason to deal with the overhead of GS/OS when it will just switch to ProDOS 8 to run the application. Because the card has the AppleTalk protocols on the card, the protocols do not need to be loaded by the operating system either from a local or network volume. This will speed up the boot process for customers using ProDOS 8 applications over the network.

Note: When System 6.0 was released the AppleTalk related dialogs changed a bit, "The Selected Appletalk Connection can't be found" was added. What did this mean? Think about it. If the network control panel had been set for "EtherTalk" to boot, but the card was in a slot not set to "Your Card" then the selected AppleTalk Connection would not be available. This new dialog was in addition to the one you would get if the AppleShare FST loaded and found no AppleTalk loaded, due to no AppleTalk connection selected that would tell you "AppleShare FST Requires AppleTalk". If something hits the bit in BRAM that the Network Control Panel (that would have been shipped with the card) and you have AppleTalk loading, you will get the message about not finding the proper connection and wonder just what in the heck you did. Since no Ethernet aware Network Control Panel was released, yet system 6.0.1 does have support for the hardware, there is no way to set it correctly without the aid of a BRAM init or resetting system defaults from the Option key bootup.

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Hardware Description of Take 1. 1990-1991 (Dudley)

The Ethernet Apple II Card is an intelligent card with an onboard processor, ROM, and RAM. The card uses an 802.x compliant SNIC Ethernet chip to provide access to the Ethernet network. Given the raw numbers, Ethernet is 40 times faster than LocalTalk, but in actual use the card will be 4 to 8 times faster than LocalTalk without the delays seen when the number of nodes are increased on the network. The card will improve the problem currently seen with LocalTalk when 20-30 people boot and launch an application at the same time.

Apple Ethernet Apple II Card

The card uses the existing Apple Attachment Unit Interface (AAUI) to connect to the Ethernet cable system that is being used. The card will be bundled with the 10-base-T and ThinNet (10- base-2) AAUIs. Because 10-base-T requires an active hub, we expect most locations to use the ThinNet cable system.

The card contains a 2 MHz 65C02 processor with 32K of RAM on the board for packet buffering and card use. The card will also ship with 128K of ROM that is paged in four banks and will contain the firmware to handle the AppleTalk protocols. The processor runs constantly unless the SNIC (Ethernet chip) needs to burst data into card RAM. When the burst is finished, the 65C02 on the card starts to process the data in card RAM. The RAM in the card can be read by three chips:

The card is based on the main gate array that was developed for the Apple II Workstation card. This chip provides the memory mapping functions, and handles the $C800-CFFF space and bank switching of the RAM and ROM when necessary.

The card consists of three pieces and is user installable. There will also be software and installer disks.

A bi-color LED indicates the success of power on diagnostics. The power up sequence is:

RED and GREEN on Card is "dead"

red and green off begin diagnostics

RED on card fails diagnostics

GREEN on card passes diagnostics

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Hardware Description of Take 2. 1992-1993 (820-0343-02)

"A Total Re-Write"

This version was not based on the Apple II Workstation card in any regards, but rather stood on it's own and was more generic approach, using all 'off the shelf' parts, no custom Apple parts involved at all. Something that Apple had not done in a long time. Inplace of the Custom ASICs was lots and lots standard TTL (IE: LS Series) parts. 25 various 74F & 74LS series parts made up the general logic, the rest in 4 20V8 GALs. The other parts on the board consist of 2 32k x 8 SRAMs, a 65C816 and a National Semiconductor Serial Network Interface Controller. The Ethernet ID is in the ROM, so each card would have had to have an EPROM done for it. Not a big deal. The prior version used a 65C02 as did the Apple ][ Workstation Card.

Apple Ethernet Apple II Card

The card uses the existing Apple Attachment Unit Interface (AAUI) to connect to the Ethernet cable system, as did the prior version.

The card contains a 4 MHz 65C816 processor with 64K of RAM on the board for packet buffering and card use. The card will also ship with 128K of ROM that is paged in four banks and will contain the firmware to handle the AppleTalk protocols. The processor runs constantly unless the SNIC (Ethernet chip) needs to burst data into card RAM. When the burst is finished, the 65C816 on the card starts to process the data in card RAM. The RAM in the card can be read by three chips:

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This is not a functional Form, just an example

The following is from the FCC database. Further evidence that the Ethernet card was ready to go prime time. They went through with the FCC process.

FCC Banner

The On-line Equipment Authorization Database

Note: As of April 13, 1998 this data will no longer be updated. Please use the new Equipment Authorization System at

Enter a search expression:
Using database: Data last updated: Monday April 13, 1998

Records 1 to 1 of 1

Type of App: 1.00
Lines: 1.00
Class: JBP
Rule Part: 15
Frequency Range:
Notes: 16,37
Grant Date: 8/11/92 0:00:00
Grantee: Apple Computer Inc
Address Line 1: 1 Infinite Loop
Address Line 2:
City, St: Cupertino, CA
Zip: 95014-2084
Comments: Ethernet Card