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 page 33 of "The Mac Bathroom Reader" dated 1994:

As a solution, Apple actually recommended lifting the front of the computer six inches off the desktop, then letting go with the hopes that the chips would reseat themselves.[3]

Other people around the Internet remember getting the technical advisory/bulletin and making copies of it,[4][5] suggesting that it really exists. Can anyone locate the document to confirm?


[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] Linzmayer, O. (1994). The Mac Bathroom Reader (ISBN: 0-7821-1531-4). Alameda, CA: SYBEX Inc. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/mac_The_Mac_Bathroom_Reader_1994/page/n43

[4] "Apple issued a tech bulletin that in the case of a malfunctioning Apple III the first thing to do was to pick the unit up 6 inches AND DROP IT! ... I took to carrying a copy of the bulletin with me and showing it to the customer before I started dropping their system." https://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php/669766-Tell-us-your-greatest-story-about-fixing-computers?s=4b3e638d88057292eaf1f7f57562e1f7&p=6790582&viewfull=1#post6790582

[5] "I worked at ComputerLand in the Silicon Valley at that time and I remember getting the technical advisory from Apple about this, and how the “approved” method of reseating the chips was to lift the system box about 6″ above a solid desk or table, and let it drop flat to the surface...we made copies of the official Apple notice and gave it to all our customers who brought the units in for service." https://www.technologizer.com/2009/06/14/fifteen-classic-pc-design-mistakes/#comment-14525

  • 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)
    – cjs
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 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
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 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.
    – cjs
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 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
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 14:18
  • 2
    Answers to this question remind me of the old joke about a doctor getting a bill from an auto mechanic: "Hitting it with hammer: $5. Knowing where to hit it: $495."
    – davidbak
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 21:42

4 Answers 4


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):


(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:


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. :)


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.
    – cjs
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 6:03
  • 9
    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
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 7:45

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
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 17:01
  • I don't recall where I heard about it, but lifting the machine an inch off the desk and dropping it was certainly a known maintenance method for the ST range.  (I remember using it a few times with my STE; it worked, so I never needed anything more drastic.)
    – gidds
    Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 19:41

I remember that was a fix advised for the Amiga 500, I can only find this (not very good) reference from 1996:

[Amiga Tech Secret: One of Commodore's authorized "checks" for a "mis-seated A500 agnus" was to power off a green screen machine, lift it 6-8 inches above the bench, and drop it FLAT onto the bench top, (thus using inertia) partially reseating/jostling the agnus, powering it back on and seeing if the symptom changes! THAT'S the kind of trouble shooting that goes on out of the customers sight... why do you think most tech centers do all their work in a back room behind a closed door? Scaaaary stuff eh?!?! hehehe... You should see the stuff AUDIO techs do! ;v) ]

I am not sure if Commodore recommended it...

  • 2
    While not directly an answer for the Apple ///, this is relevant. I remember doing the same sort of "percussive maintenance" on recalcitrant HPs and BBCs. The technique was fairly widespread.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 18:04
  • @Chenmunka: and was there any analysis done on other effects of this percussive maintenance fix? Like cracking board traces or dislodging solder :-)
    – paxdiablo
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 2:35

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