15

This led to the infamous technical note where Apple recommended users facing problems with the Apple III to lift the computer two inches and then drop it, as this would set the circuits back in place.[1]

I couldn't find that technical note in the Apple III Technotes page of apple3.org[2]. Was this really a recommended procedure by Apple or is it just an urban legend?

The earliest reference to this procedure that I can find is "The Apple /// FAQ File" version 1.0 dated June, 1995.[3]


References:

[1] Torres, G. (2012, May 31). Inside the Apple III. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20150406155418/http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Inside-the-Apple-III/1563

[2] http://apple3.org/iiitechnotes.html

[3] http://phandel.com/old/a2/apple3.faq

  • Computer companies do from time to time advise people to get slightly violent with their computers. IBM and Lenovo have, in several maintenance manuals told one to "[shake] the computer the computer and [listen] for rattling sounds." (p.5) – Curt J. Sampson Sep 9 at 13:12
  • Can't point to a definitive source (no time for searching right now), but it was talked about (in print - the internet of back then) being an advice back then. I think it was always tongue in check. The mass at work is too small in comparison with the forces needed. Not to mention that the wrong surface may bounce back and even complicate matters. What is true is that taking out the mainboard and force the chips back in was a standard procedure in case of unclear problems. – Raffzahn Sep 9 at 13:23
  • FWIW, there's also a claim from a post on Low End Mac that, "Dan Kottke...discovered the solution to the Apple III’s problem. One day he picked the machine up a couple of inches in frustration and slammed it down on his desk. The III jumped back to life." But no source there, and I cannot find any confirmation of this elsewhere. – Curt J. Sampson Sep 9 at 13:40
  • 3
    The "mass at work" is irrelevant, if the impact dislodges a bit of conducting gunk that was bridging two solder joints or whatever. It could certainly be a way to fix a keyboard that has ingested some food particles :) – alephzero Sep 9 at 14:18
  • I had a quick trawl of comp.sys.apple2 last night, being the most proximate thing, and it does sound the source of the advice might be apocryphal. Without any hard science to back myself up, it anecdotally appears primarily to be reported as just something people did, or possibly were told to do by their Apple distributor during the '80s and early-'90s, mutating into something Apple told you to do and/or formally put into a technote somewhere in the mid-'90s. It would make sense to approach that contention with rigour before proclaiming its truth though. – Tommy Sep 10 at 13:51
8

On Jan 7, 2012, Dave Ottalini, Washington Apple Pi Apple III SIG Chair, announced on the Facebook Apple /// Enthusiasts group that their Apple /// DVD, which formerly sold for $35, is now reclassified as public domain

This is now on archive.org: https://archive.org/details/dvdrom-wap-apple3

Notable in this collection (which you can browse) is some Q&A with the aforementioned Dan Kottke, where he interestingly does NOT mention this issue (even in 2002):

https://ia902607.us.archive.org/view_archive.php?archive=/9/items/dvdrom-wap-apple3/A3DVD.iso&file=A3%20Info%2FA3%20History%2FRe_%20A3%20FAQ%205.0%20-%20Daniel%20Kottke%20.pdf

(He does talk about a loose connection with a memory board, but that's a different thing than chips popping loose from sockets due to thermal expansion/contraction...)

Also included is a 500+ page document of tech notes, which (from what I can tell) does not include a technical note on this subject either:

https://ia802607.us.archive.org/view_archive.php?archive=/9/items/dvdrom-wap-apple3/A3DVD.iso&file=A3%20Tech%20Library%2FTechnical%20Info%20Library%2FApple%20IAC%20Tech%20Notes%201982.pdf

I realize this is trying to prove a negative, and it's a lot of manual searching of old documents scanned as images. Perhaps someone can find evidence in here and prove this post wrong. :)

4

I had an Apple III on my desk at Apple, and IIRC, Dan Kottke, who was working at a lab bench near mine, told me to try this if the III started acting flakey. Then later, he found another solution (forget what that was).

Instead, I would periodically open the case and press the chips and connectors fully back into their sockets. Sometime I would feel/hear a sound indicating that indeed they had become not fully seated.

Don’t know if this was publicized to the retail customer base.

  • Wow. This seems to help support the claim about Dan Kottke in the post from Low End Mac that I mentioned in the comments on the question. – Curt J. Sampson Sep 12 at 6:03
  • 3
    But was the advice ever published or announced by Apple, or was it something done by engineers within the company that leaked out? This story is one of the most widespread bits of retrocomputing lore out there ("Apple told customers..") and no one can produce a primary source. – Jim Nelson Sep 12 at 7:45
1

I can't speak to the original question, but similar issues/solutions are well known.

I had an Atari ST with socketed ROMs. They would periodically work their way out due to heat causing the mobo to flex. This was periodically solved by the "Atari twist", which would reset them sometimes, or simply dropping the machine. These would eventually stop working and would require you to open the machine and seat them by hand.

I've never been convinced this wasn't people getting confused about the part numbers, but there were mentions in magazines about "the Atari twist" being applied to printers and all sorts of other devices as well.

  • 1
    Again, not speaking to the original question, but the Quantum 104 disks on the Sparc 1s had striction problems. Disk would work fine as long as it was never powered off. If you ever did let the disk spin down then it would frequently not spin back up. The fix was to hit the system once hard from the side, then immediately power up the system. I got a lot of strange looks when I started banging on systems in the computer lab. – doneal24 Sep 13 at 17:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.