Bit Eclectic Boots Your Apple II From an Unusual Source: A Website Pretending to Be a Disk Drive

If your browser of choice supports the Web Serial API, it can be an Apple II's floppy drive replacement.

Gareth Halfacree
5 months ago β€’ Retro Tech / Games

An anonymous vintage computing enthusiast has set up "Bit Eclectic," offering a novel way to boot popular packages on an Apple II: by connecting it to a website and using the Web Serial application programming interface (API) to pretend it's a disk drive.

"Bit Eclectic uses your World Wide Web Browser as a disk drive for your Apple II," the project's documentation explains. "Set up the serial connection between the two and you'll only have to click a button to play. It's probably safe to assume this is being read in a World Wide Web Browser on a Computer that's Connected to the Internet. That's half of the ingredients already put together!"

The project offers a user-friendly approach to the software side of things: simply opening the site in a web browser which supports the Web Serial API β€” which includes Chromium, Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Opera β€” is enough. A physical connection is then made from the desktop or laptop to an Apple II via a Super Serial Card add-in board.

Once the Super Serial Card is properly configured, and the relevant browser settings tweaked if Web Serial isn't on by default, Bit Eclectic offers possibly the easiest way to boot software on an Apple II β€” even if its disk drive is dead: just power up the Apple II, type IN#2, and pick a game from the list.

Bit Eclectic is live now on BitEclectic.com, with four games at the time of writing: Apple Adventure!, Castle Wolfenstein, Lemonade Stand, and Sabotage. Instructions for making the connection between the machines is available on a dedicated page.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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