|APPLE ][ History in Hong Kong|
|Please remind me if anything wrong, it's been a long time|
Approximately 1985, I become a secondary school student of
La Salle College. Since primary school I've learned the power of Apple ][ and amazed by it's huge
collection of software. I beg my father to buy me one but failed. At that time my family was rather
poor (same as most of the Hong Kong people). Even there're Apple ][ clone from Taiwan or Hong Kong
local manufacturer, the Apple ][ was still regards as "expensive" toys. I have no choice but to try
other manufacturer's personal computer, to have fun and gaming.
I've own quite a lot of personal computers before I can bought the Apple //e, they're: Vtech Creativision, Texas Instruments TI-99/4A, EACA Colour Genie EG2000 and Sharp MZ-80A. Finally Sharp MZ-80A was swapped to Apple. I've force to accept cheap selling the MZ-80A. It's definitely not a square deal but I must do it. The reason is the software support of MZ-80A was rather poor, MZ-80A have no bitmap graphic mode become it's main obstacle for gaming and coding software (I can code simple Microsoft BASIC at that time).
Maybe I'm lucky (or because of my 'faith'?). I never miss a chance to learn and put my hands on the Apple ][. When I'm Form 2, Freddy Tse, a friend of mine (and he's my kindergarten-mate), tell me that his brother bought a Apple ][ clone, and he have no idea how to operate it other than play game. So I got a chance to help him to manage the floppy disks and bring him more games. We used to have great time as a teenager ... no need to work for life, just stick to the Apple ][ games all the time, sometimes go out for a swim, or have a walk somewhere, I really really miss those good old days.
At that time the most shocking experience of Apple ][ is the joystick. I dare to say I own the best joystick in the world of Apple ][ history. The 'UFO Joystick ][' was the best product of Hong Kong. It's made by CONDOR ELECTRONICS (A Hong Kong company). It's custom designed for extreme gaming experience and maximum durability. It's rather large and heavy, made of nearly 2mm thick steel and large microswitch. The other brand such as CROWN try to mimic UFO but they fail, those cheap clone was not rigid enough to stand for the tortures. Their surface was made from think metal sheets, inside was small microswitches and rotary variable resistor. Also the red ball on the stick will drop off (it's annoying!).
In my opinion, those lame manufacturers only target the short term market, like the nowadays famous Hong Kong brand 'Filand', they want to make 'fast' money only, NOT making a good product, but blame to nowadays users! They're NOT asking for a QUALITY product, cheap is all they want ... sigh!!.
UFO joystick have a special function that others don't have - that is an analog simulation mode. When this mode was turn on, the joystick will work like an analog joystick, left and right microswitch no more give '0' or '255' reading. But instead it give an increasing or decreasing value, excellent for drawing applications such as KOALA PAD. Despite powerful functions, it's friendly control such as a bar shape variable resistor (for tuning center position) and autofire ability, surely it's the best I've even seen (until 2006). I've 'destroyed' countless joysticks during violent gaming, surely more than 10 pcs! I'm sorry for my violence but it's uncontrollable during an exciting game such as Evolution, Minit Man, Archon, Lode Runner, Captain Goodnight, Air Heart, Prince of Persia ... too many good games!
Here's some photos of the joystick, sadly this is not the original one I own. I've lost it during relocation (painfully). At that time my classmates, friends and also many Hong Kong people do have Apple ][. I strongly recommened them to buy it. They all happy gaming with this strong and tough joystick. When the microswitch was broken. I can help them to change a new one easily, it's a pleasure that I can use the joystick for so many years and I'm able to repair it myself! The joystick mechanism never fail even for games like 'Summer Games' that need to violently torture the joystick. The only reason for stop using it is ... one day my Apple //e suddenly fail to detect the 64K RAM + 80 Column card, and also other device such as floppy drive also reach the end of life, this force me to stop the real thing and turn to Apple emulator such as ApplePC and AppleWin.
The size of the joystick is really big and heavy, most of the people will put it on a table. I got a large hands so I can hold it when gaming. You can see the photo comparing it with a Microsoft SideWinder Gamepad.
If you remember anything about Apple ][, you're welcome to share your experience, press the 'Email Me' on the top page's toolbar and fill-in your comments. Or if you can help me to contact the maker of UFO Joystick (CONDOR Electronics), please leave me a message. Thank you very much!