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The making of an Apple II holiday ornament


Subscribers to Juiced.GS are now receiving the December 2011 issue, which features a back-cover photo of a unique holiday creation: an original, miniature Apple IIe ornament. My quarterly editorial details how it came into my possession — but there’s much more to know about this gift than can be found in that issue.

For one, this ornament is exquisitely detailed. The monitor features a single stitch of a different color, representing the on/off button. What appears to be a loose thread on the back is in fact the power cord. And the keyboard has a larger stitch for the spacebar (even if the correct number of rows couldn’t fit, this feature did!). Some of these details are more visible in these additional photos — take a look, then keep reading for more info.

The ornament’s creator, Sarah, has allowed Juiced.GS to debut the ornament’s design document under Creative Commons. She writes:

I chose to make this in plastic canvas because my mom always made projects out of it when I was growing up, it’s relatively easy to make almost any shape you want, and the grid-like nature of it was perfect for old-style graphics. I used to map out my graphics programs on graph paper (like the tree) and mapped out this pattern as well before I put it into the pattern program. I found out that plastic canvas started being used in the ’70s as well, so it seems like a very appropriate medium.

This same artist was mentioned in the December episode of the Open Apple podcast as once having experimented with programming an Apple II. Podcast guest Rob Kenyon asked for some of those efforts to be released. Fulfilling his wish and in keeping with the theme of the above ornament, Juiced.GS is now also publishing a disk image with two of Sarah’s Applesoft BASIC programs: one each for Christmas and New Year’s.

I wrote these programs in junior high when I was learning about graphics. I used to map out drawings on graph paper. I believe I found the technique for using a variable to change colors from a book of programs. My computer teacher used to let me run these as “screen savers” before computer class.

It was really fun to view my old programs again. I was happy to see that they still worked, and it was fun to see them in color on an emulator. We only had a green monochrome monitor at home; I had to rely on books for color codes and tested them at school.

It might be a fun “reader challenge” to update the new year program since it’s now 20 years old! (YIKES)

These programs may be fairly typical of a nascent Apple II user, but they are also wonderful reminders of the possibilities that early computing awakened in many of us. Our thanks to Sarah for opening this part of her childhood to us — and for keeping the spirit alive through her embroidery work and sharing it with the world!