View Full Version : Help with unidentified Apple II + clone

March 30th, 2010, 02:26 AM
Hello, this is my first post and i wanted to say hello to everybody.

After attending a retrocomputing event in Madrid, Spain, and realizing that there were no apple representation at all, i have decided to start my own collection and be able to show them in these kind of events (sparse around here); so i can show people that aside from Spectrums and Commodores, there were other alternatives, that might have not been popular in Spain, possibly due to the higher price tags that Apple II had in Spain.

So i got my first one, which happens to be a Katson Apple II + clone, as per the original owner words. As no documentation at all has been provided, and iīm no expert, (though lately iīm reading and learning quite a lot), iīm trying to trace back the origins of this clone, something thatīs proving very difficult.

The only references i have been able to track of the machine are just plain ads (not even images) in a few magazines and newspapers, back from 1983. I even found the name of the company it sold them here, but they donīt exist anymore.

On old-computers.com i have seen a clone pictured (Lazar II) that resembles very much the one i have, so my guessing goes to a Taiwanese origin, that might have been produced for Germany, and then sent to Spain. Itīs a PAL system.


My question goes to your expertise in what should i check in the motherboard (or elsewhere) that might help me in finding where does this machine comes from.

Some pictures i took. Iīll add some more of the interior with the memory card and the Disk II controller (a clone it seems as well). The other provided peripheral is a Wico Commander Joystick (that was easy).

http://img249.imageshack.us/img249/3280/katsondetail.th.jpg (http://img249.imageshack.us/i/katsondetail.jpg/)
http://img510.imageshack.us/img510/7981/katsonpalrfmodulator.th.jpg (http://img510.imageshack.us/i/katsonpalrfmodulator.jpg/)
http://img140.imageshack.us/img140/671/katsonandfriends.th.jpg (http://img140.imageshack.us/i/katsonandfriends.jpg/)

Many thanks for any help

March 30th, 2010, 07:24 AM
Actually clones were manufactured in a variety of Asian countries, although at the time Taiwan was the source for a great majority of them.
Over time cloners made incremental evolutionary changes to the motherboard. Most common of which used 4164 instead of 4116,
possibly due to parts sourcing difficulties. I've got one one with Videx 80 column card embedded on the motherboard...

March 31st, 2010, 12:36 AM
OK, i finally got a suitable monitor to attach to the computer and have powered it up, something it did with no fuss, showing "Apple ][" on boot up.
I Didnīt have time for much more than trying a couple of Basic commands (it helps having them assigned to keystrokes) and will go over it thoroughly over the upcoming long Easter weekend; also tried to see if the disk drive was working, something iīm not sure. I can catalog the floppy inserted in it but it wonīt execute anything (well to be honest i need to print a list of Applesoft Basic commands to see if itīs just a user mistake, as itīs my first contact with this kind of computer.

Iīll inspect the motherboard and will take pictures.

March 31st, 2010, 01:10 AM
Good to know it's going at least.


March 31st, 2010, 08:53 AM
loading and executing programs off the disk is through DOS commands, so you won't find any reference to them in Applesoft BASIC. Try BRUN (for (B)inary) or RUN (for (A)pplesoft BASIC) programs. Should work under both DOS 3.x and ProDOS.

April 19th, 2010, 12:16 PM
the clone is named RATSON, right? That does not sound like a German clone / clone made for the German market, the clones for Germany were named Ananas, Plato, Laser II, and the like, it seems to be a II+ clone, the modulator for use with TV set is inside the case at the right side, it was quite common in the early years, to use a TV. Monitors with green or white letters on black ground were quite expensive. The picture shows an evolution regarding the keyboard, it is no simple 1 : 1 clone of the Apple II Europlus keyboard, but contains a numeric keypad. Look for a 6502 CPU AND Z80 CPU on the motherboard, it was popular to combine both CPUs already on the motherboard. Slot 4 or 5 is then missing, you can see that when you look at the slot counting printed beside the slots on the motherboard. If there is a slot 0 and it contains a little pcb with e.g. three ROMS that would be a hint for a clone that was sold with the motherboard and the case, the kb and the power supply without copyright infringement, and given the Applesoft ROMs on this little board extra. Without it you could not run the Apple clone. You seem to have a clone with a motherboard that was a duplicate of the Apple II Europlus, if the Applesoft and the Autostart ROM are on the motherboard ( D0, D8, E0, E8 etc. - locations of the ROMs ), This version had only 48KB RAM on the mb and needed a 16KB RAM card for slot 0 to have 64KB system. The other system without Applesoft ROMs and Autostart ROM on the motherboard should have already 64KB on the mb. Let me know if I can help with informations,
Yours Karl-Heinz

April 20th, 2010, 12:59 AM
Hi Karl-Heinz

Many thanks for you very detailed information and advices.
Iīll be checking on the MB to locate everything you mention, but the 6502 was an easy one to spot the first time i looked inside.

As in regards to my mentioning of a German origin, it was just pure guessing on my side, just because a i found over the internet another clone (from Taiwan) that looked externally very much like my KATSON, And that model was built for the German market it seems.

thanks indeed

April 20th, 2010, 12:15 PM
I think that the Taiwan and Hong Kong ( not to gorget to mention! ) clone producers did not make much difference between the European market, as far as the power supply was 220-240V. The Apple II Plus clones had a US type keyboard and made everybody here unhappy ( lack of special characters on the keyboard for the countries like germany, France, Spain etc. ), so the clone producers did not have take care for the country in Europe. The label KATSON may have been put onto the case from the importer in your country. The later on produced Apple IIe clones were either a copy of the US version ( keyboard US type again ), or they had country specific key caps with double characters printed on tehm, those were more comfortable for the user in Europe. In the times before the Apple IIe was issued the Apple II plus clones needed a 80 column card to display 80 columns with 24(25) lines. The so called video boards ( Suprterm, Videx Videoterm, Viewmaster 80, Wizard 80 and so on ) allowed two different character sets to be plugged in EPROMs on the card, you could then switch from e.g. US to german characters via a ESC command sequence if I remember correctly. DO you have a video card in slot 3 in your clone? It should have some cables with male and female cinch ends, this would be a clear proof for an Apple II plus clone. If you have a slot aside from the others near the power supply, eventually with a little pcb plugged in, and you can start the 80 column display with PR#3, then it is a IIe clone. I recommend searching through the fantastic websites with software and documentation ( Apple2online.com, Macgui, google for mirrors apple II and find asimov and lots of others with all the manuals you need to start your research ).
Yours Karl-Heinz