A big part of enjoying the vintage computers in my collection is, of course, reliving fond memories of olde by using the systems as I did so long ago: playing the favorites of my gaming past and using applications that were part of my daily routine once upon a time, all while enjoying the physical presence of the machine. But, every so often, modern hardware and software efforts targeting these venerable platforms come together to deliver something today that would’ve been rather hard to believe if seen back in their long-ago heyday. Kris Kennaway’s recent effort in full-motion video playback on an unaccelerated Apple IIe is one such example.
Kris has developed a video playback system that allows full motion video, along with digitized audio, to be played back on an a 128K enhanced Apple IIe fitted with a CFFA3000 floppy image / large volume interface. This is achieved with the system’s standard 1.02MHz 65C02 processor — no CPU accelerator required. What’s more, the video is rendered in the 16-color Double High-Resolution graphics mode, 560×192 monochrome pixels rendering a 140×192 color image (with a memory layout complexity that fairly boggles the mind), offered by late-model Apple IIs.
The video above shows the famous Apple 1984 Macintosh commercial being played on my 128k enhanced Apple IIe equipped with a VidHD video interface (providing the HDMI output to the modern LCD standing on the IIe’s head) and the requisite CFFA3000 fitted with a USB stick and a Compact Flash card from which the video is being read. (The VidHD interface is not required by Kris’ player.)
For this full motion video playback system Kris was able to partially reuse the core of his previous work, the ][-Vision ethernet video streamer from 2019 [see: demo video, KansasFest presentation] which used routines from Bill Buckels’ Bmp2DHR, to encode the video stream. He goes into great detail on the conversion process of the source video frames into Double High-Res images in his description on the GitHub page of ][-pix, the image conversion utility used in this project.Continue reading