Home Page



Post Database

PDB Helpdesk: Transferring Apple II Files
By Thiravudh Khoman

Re: Harold Stephens' request for help in transferring files from an Apple DOS 3.3 format to a PC or Mac (Post Database, November 3, 1999), here are a few facts and possibilities:

  1. There is no way to read an Apple DOS 3.3 diskette on a PC using software only. The reason for this is that the Apple II used low-cost circuitry to read/write to the disk instead of relying on more traditional disk controllers. With the help of special hardware, though, it is possible, and while certain companies did make boards which emulated an Apple II inside of a PC, these products and the companies themselves may or may no longer exist.
  2. In light of the above, the accepted way of transferring files from an Apple II to a PC is via a serial link. While PC's come with serial ports built-in, Apples of that day and age didn't. Thus, a serial interface card such as Apple's Super Serial Card (or a clone thereof) is needed. Also needed are a null modem cable and communications software on both the Apple and PC sides. Another solution is to connect a modem to the Apple II (you'll still need a serial card) and to dial into another computer and perform a file transfer. While Apple II serial cards can still be obtained, Apple communications programs may be a bit more difficult to find - especially on DOS 3.3 diskettes.
  3. A long shot involves trying to convert the Apple diskette into a "disk image" and then to read it on a PC using an Apple II software emulator. There are a handful of Apple II emulators on the internet that read such disk images (essentially entire Apple II diskettes saved as a single image file). Old Apple II games are saved this way to be run on PC's. Presumably, once the disk is saved in such a format, it may be possible to view the desired file(s) on-screen and then: a) transcribe the files by hand, b) cut and paste, or c) save via screen dumps. The problem with this approach is that I haven't been able to track down a company which provides such a service. Nonetheless, it is surely being done considering all the old Apple games available at ftp sites.

My specific recommendations are:

  1. First, find an Apple II+ or //e in working order. Presumably this shouldn't be too difficult, even in Thailand.
  2. If the Apple has a serial card, then great. If not, one will have to be obtained, borrowed or purchased. I don't know if such things still exist in Thailand, but Sequential Systems in the U.S. (https://www.sequential.com) sells one for about US$80, complete with an Apple II terminal program (and hopefully with file transfer capabilities).
  3. Buy a null modem cable from Panthip Plaza. Probably a few hundred Baht.
  4. Borrow a PC. Download a communications program from the DOS library at SimTel (https://www.simtel.net). I'm partial to Telix, but Procomm or Telemate should be fine. Connect the two computers and perform the file transfer(s) using Xmodem. Most of us oldies have done this sort of thing before, at least between CP/M and/or PC's, but perhaps it's a lost art.

An alternative to 3) and 4) is to get a package called "Cross-Works", also from Sequential Systems (cost: US$90) which provides the cables and file transfer software, including file format conversion programs.

Some interesting URL's dealing with the Apple II are:


Copyright © 1998-2000, Thiravudh Khoman