The Novation AppleCat ][
Ahh, a cooler modem there never was. This puppy, er, kitty, could do everything.
Yes, the AppleCat was truly a magnificent modem in its time, and it
still offers many features todays "best" modems lack. If you've got
one, and if it still works, check out this list of
AppleCat programs I've collected over the years. If there's
anything you think I've missed, drop me a line at
firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know
what you think should be added.
I've also put up a cheesy image gallery containing
some screenshots of these fabled programs, as well as pictures of the
- The 300 baud models could do the Bell 202 protocol (1200 baud half duplex)
-- meaning any cat talking to any other cat could chat at 1200 baud, for the
price of a 300 baud modem! This was exploited the most in the use of
lines -- Apple ]['s set up with software enabling the 202 protocol, and with
nifty menuing routines to allow 80's-era warez puppies to select multiple files
for downloading or uploading (don't laugh-- Ascii Express, the reigning
standard for all online Apple ][s, required the user to type out
full filenames.. no wildcard globbing, no cursor-key selection).
What's more, you could chat with the sysop
while you were leeching his warez-- the chat packets would go between the
data packets! Heady stuff for 1985 :-)
- All of the Cats could detect all sorts of call progress tones, but they
left it up to the software to determine what the progress tone actually was.
(Compare this with today's Hayes modems, who decided long ago what a busy signal
sounded like, what the "proper" cadence of a ring was, and so on. Bah.)
This allowed many enterprising young hackers to code
wardialers that could operate
with frightening speed and accuracy, and to collect more "interesting" numbers
than any Hayes-modem equipped lamer could even hope for! Busy, Reorder,
Steady tone, Pulsing tone, Ring, Click, Voice, Short beep, Long beep -- if
it made noise, the cat would hear it!
- Every Cat had the potential to control home appliances via BSR. This
meant that one could write a program to
enable users to selectively shutdown or power up assorted appliances,
either through a typical online interface, or via the touch-tone decoder.
- For about 10 bucks, you could get a chip that would decode touch tone
data streams. This allowed for incredible amounts of flexibility in
using this modem as an answering machine, or in remote-control applications
(as mentioned above.)
- Since this beastie had a relay to control on/off status of a tape recorder,
and a tape-out jack, this gave the cat true answering-machine ability.
Couple this with the touch-tone decoder and you could get the contents
of your messages remotely! krad.
- Some enterprising individual discovered he could the Cat to keep
time -- and thus was born
an application that would keep track of the time "in the background."
(In those days, Apple ]['s shipped without a clock card, so this was
a godsend for many who ran BBS's, but were never able to properly determine
the date. Unfortunately, the clock did lose ticks when the disk was accessed..)
- The Cat had a built in serial port that one could easily access-- I
used this to my advantage, owning both a 300 baud Cat and a 1200 baud Hayes
clone. Since the Cat had such superior dialing prowess, I configured
(a popular Cat-esized terminal program) to dial BBS's with the
Cat, and use the Hayes to communicate with the machine at the other end.
One could argue, cruelly, that I had no life-- but the sheer joy of using
the Cat far outweighs social scrutiny.
- A telephone handset (part of the standard K500 phone) could be plugged
into the Cat allowing it to act as a telephone. Firmware allowed the user
to dial directly from his keyboard, and even mute the microphone. This
led people to experimenting with the Cat as a voice distorter, and in fact
a few programs were designed to
ones voice whilst speaking to
someone else. Perhaps my favourite effect was "Robot" -- giving my voice
a similar characteristic displayed by Princess Leia as she rescues Han
Solo in "The Return of the Jedi." Yikes.
- This thing had a built in tone-generator (a four voice synthesizer.)
Many applications popped up sporting such names as
Apple Cat Voice Synthesizer,
and, my personal favourite,
The Cat's Meow.
CatMusic and MaestroCAT both had tunes cunningly recorded by their
authors stored on disk, eagerly awaiting playback-- and with such astounding quality,
it oftimes beat the quality of the existing market of soundcards. Alas,
no manufacturer ever had Cat support for their games, so the sheer genius
of it all went unnoticed by the corporate world. The Cat's Meow used this
tone generating ability to a slightly different end; it faithfully recreated
the signalling tones of the telephone company, enabling curious individuals
to phreak out and touch someone, either via it's trunk-seizing 2600hz,
Keypulse, Multifrequency dial, and Start tones, or through what many see
today as the downfall of public telephones, the so-called Redbox tones.
Nickels, dimes, and quarters-- all generated
by The Cat's Meow. It was an immediate hit in the underground.
new! Mark Robbins,
author of Com-Ware ][,
and Novation employee #282-460, has provided the following:
www.apple2.org also has a handful of
of the Cat, along with alot of other cool Apple ][ stuff.