View Full Version : Odd Microsoft Card for an Apple IIe?

February 2nd, 2008, 07:05 PM
When I got an early Apple IIe, I opened it up to clean it a bit inside, and found along with the standards cards, one that says 1983 by Microsoft. It also says "CATS SOFTCARD, REV A 143/84" on it. I took it out before I gave the IIe away, but don't know anything else. Does anybody know what this card is for, what slot it is supposed to go in, and if it's useful for anything?

February 2nd, 2008, 07:15 PM
Sounds like the Z80 processor card that enabled the Apple to run CP/M.
Often if you find a Z80 Softcard, you'll also find an 80-column display card as well.

February 2nd, 2008, 07:21 PM
All right, er... but what does that mean? What's CP/M, and what does it do with an 80-column card? Is this supposed to replace a card that's already installed in my IIe? Or does it work in tandem in another slot? What's it used for? Sorry my ignorance is so complete here.

February 3rd, 2008, 12:44 AM
CP/M is an early Disk Operating System, which was common in Z-80, business oriented 8-bit microcomputers. Wikipedia or a google search will give you all the info you'll need and more.

That card may hold a Z-80 processor. One of Microsoft's few (or only?) hardware products.

February 3rd, 2008, 04:14 AM
One of Microsoft's few (or only?) hardware products.
MS had a 16k language card, then there's their mice, the Natural Keyboard, and don't forget the XBox...

February 3rd, 2008, 11:39 AM
I have a CP/M card for one of my Apple II's, but it didn't come with any software so I never got it to work right. It's OK, though, as I have a Franklin Ace that has dual Apple II and CP/M compatibility, so I have an Apple II CP/M system anyway (not that that's that important frankly since it uses a very different disk format from typical CP/M systems, but it's nice for completeness purposes). If you've never used CP/M or don't know much about it (as you professed), you're not missing out on much. It's essentially an 80-column centric disk operating system that was able to run on a wide range of 8-bit systems. The trade-off was that it was almost always purely text-based and obviously concessions had to be made for the best compatiblity across disparate technologies. Still, it was converted to run on a variety of 40-column and portable systems, proving its value. With the rise of the PC and DOS, CP/M fell to the wayside, though there was a version made for that era's systems and hardware.

Great Hierophant
February 4th, 2008, 06:13 AM
MS had a 16k language card, then there's their mice, the Natural Keyboard, and don't forget the XBox...

They also introduced the Microsoft Sound System sound card for Windows (and could sometimes work in DOS) in the early 1990s.

February 4th, 2008, 09:01 AM
So basically I've got a useless piece of Microsoft Hardware? I don't think I'll ever use CP/M, and if this thing took some special disk to run, I don't have it. Thanks for all the input everybody!

Micom 2000
February 4th, 2008, 02:00 PM
Actually I have a slim Vol.2 manual of that card. Unfortunately it only covers CPM A-II Basic which the card could also use as well as CPM which was covered along with connectivity, etc. in Vol.1. While the card may be useless to you, some A-II user may be thirsting for it so whatever you do, don't throw it away.

Rubywand who rewrote the A-II newsgroup FAQ has posted occasionally to the forum and his A-II FAQ site and e-mail redirect are on the members list. He might know someone who would be interested in it.


Terry Yager
February 4th, 2008, 02:38 PM
I have the bootdisk for the M$ Softcard, but no way of copying or imaging it, so I'll be sending it along to Druid soon.


February 6th, 2008, 09:25 AM
IIe: don't give up on CP/M yet. It ran a lot of important early productivity software and programming stuff. If you're mainly in retrocomputing for gaming, then CP/M may well be useless (though even there, the CP/M Z80 version of the Infocom interpreter/VM is probably somewhat faster and more robust than than the 6502 version for Apple II) but if you want to play with old programming languages or dbaseII or something, then keep the softcard and get yourself a bootdisk.