Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A New Era for an Old Machine

In 1984 during my freshman year of college, I drew a computer in my English Comp class in about 10 minutes. The Disktran/W1 computer was a total redesign of the Apple //e computer, however, The design of that computer seemed to me to be more of a boom box than a computer and being as it was inspired by the Kaypro series of computers, it would have taken a miracle to build the thing and actually have it work. However, my design incorporated an Apple //e motherboard and Disk II floppy drives. The design never was built but was stored in my college papers.

As you know, the laptop computers began to appear not long after that with the Mac series and ancient looking 386 machines being the norm. There were still the portables such as those built by Compaq, Commodore and the IIgs portable produced by Tony Diaz, however, none of them were of much consequence in the overall computer world.

Then in 2001, I began to look at the possibility of building and Apple IIgs into a laptop form factor that would not only operate as a laptop but would have the capabilities of the desktop, including allowing external components, expandability, and ease of use. But the display had to be of the sort that would not only impress those people who were involved in the original Apple IIgs era but also a new era of hobbyists. In other words, according to Jim Maricondo, "It has to have Graphics and Sound!". Thus was born the A2GS-L01. While the plan incorporated many technologies that existed, many did not and the project was shelved.

Then in 2007, a hack named Ben Heckendorn produced an Apple IIgs laptop complete with specialty case. It was a sight for sore eyes and proved that the concept was not far fetched. However, even with as many obstacles that had been overcome with Ben's project, there were still many things missing.

Jim Maricondo and I talked about the project once again and we decided that the time was right to pull the project out. James Littlejohn, a well known hardware engineer also began his own laptop project about the same time and we began sharing notes. By November 2009, we all began to pull the resources together and place all the efforts into one house rather than several.

We had purchased the domain several years ago in preparation for the project but it seemed like it was never going to happen. But since we were suddenly presented with the opportunity early this year, the domain was pulled out of the mothball state that it had been in and it is now the live update site for the A2GS-L01 project. The team now has reached a total of 7 people, with the three of us in Tokyo and 4 vendors around the world. The prototype of our machine will be available by New Years with full production beginning in February or March of 2010. Orders for the machine will be taken starting 15 February 2010 and all machines will be available in one of two flavors. Fully stacked and Bare Bones.

For those people who still own a IIgs and have cards for the machine, those cards will work in the new laptops as well as long as they run on a ROM01 machine. There is a movement towards the ROM03 at some point within the year but the initial run will run ROM01's due to the availability of certain technology for it.

If you would like to find out more, then I suggest you follow along on the blog at If you would like to see the machine in action, be sure to see our demo and sales booth at KFest 2010.