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About a year ago I came across an interesting article in Make Magazine about a guy who took his Fossil Wrist PDA and installed an Apple II emulator on it. He was able to load many of the Apple II software titles and run them at regular speed. The thought of having a fully functioning Apple computer on my wrist excited me enough to give it a try.
People that are attempting to do this should be familiar with the Palm OS as well as using jot or Graffiti 2 as an input method. The Fossil Wrist PDA (now discontinued) features a tiny gray 160×160 pixel screen, the same number of pixels as most palm devices up to Palm III, with 16 shades of gray. The watch runs Palm OS 4.1 with its 66MHz processor and has a tiny stylus hidden in the watch clasp. It is able to carry out most PDA functions, and run any normal Palm OS-compatible application (up to 4.1). It features 8 Mb of RAM (about 7.7 Mb available to user) and 4 Mb of flash memory. Like other Palm OS devices, it can synchronize or exchange information with PC or Mac, has, a virtual keyboard, and a touch screen with indiglo. The device also has a watch mode, with several “watch faces” to display the time. These things were only out for a couple of years and were available in 2 different models. You can usually find the first model on ebay going for about 50 bucks. I was able to find a second gen one (FX2008) which is much more eye appealing for about $80 dollars brand new. This isn’t a bad price considering they were $199 when they were first released.
The first thing you will need to make this work (besides the watch) is an Apple II emulator called Appalm, which can be downloaded here. Next you will need some Apple software disk images. You can do a web search for “apple II roms” and should come across some sites which have software already in the *.dsk format. Of course it is only legal to use these images if you own the original software disks. The emulator requires you to convert the dsk files in to a file that the watch can actually read called pdb files. The emulator’s zip file comes with an MS DOS executable to do this for you. The emulator comes with easy to understand readme file, that will tell you how to set everything up. One note before choosing which software to run, the watch display is incredibly small and sometimes text can be unreadable, unless you’re using a microscope. Also the game controls are not optimal. The emulator has a button mapping feature, but there are only 3 buttons and an up and down rocker switch that can be assigned a function. If you want to load some games I recommend playing text based games like Zork or games that only require an up and down or a left and right movement like Galaxian or Zaxxon. The watch lets you enter text by drawing in either jot or graffiti right on the screen and responds pretty well. Installation of the emulator is pretty easy. Just sync all the included palm files as well as some software on to the watch, and after the unit resets you should see the emulator icon.
After the program boots you should see the Apple IIe boot screen. Tap the tab at the top and select load disk image 1.
Then choose the disk image you want to load, and check the box reset after load. After 7 seconds or so your original apple program should now load, tap the tab at the top again to customize your other options, like input and emulation output (which I like to speed up). I reassigned the right top and bottom buttons to be used as joystick one and two buttons (this is good for a game like Karateka).
So there you have it an Apple II wrist watch, definitely cooler then that old Casio calculator watch you use to sport. You probably won’t want to play around for too long though, being your controls are really limited and you can get a headache from squinting at the screen for too long. Battery life is also an issue but it is good for bringing back those old nostalgic memories of playing on an Apple II. One side note, I also found a commodore 64 emulator that should work as well, just something else for you to try after your Apple project.
I have a zip file below which you can download that includes a few games already converted to work with the watch for you to mess around with. Leave any questions or comments.
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