The Tiger Learning Computer is, at last, on the prowl looking to win over a whole new generation to Apple II computing.
Tiger LC comes in an attractive flat-charcoal case with a footprint about equal to a standard sheet of paper (roughly 11.4" wide x 8.2" deep). Height, including the fold-up cover is around 2"; so, it's a bit thinner than the IIc. The fold-up cover is about .75" thick and has compartments for storing six plug-in ROM or RAM cartridges.
The Tiger LC keyboard occupies, roughly, the upper 2-3rds of the case. (The lower 3rd is blank except for a small slotted opening for the speaker and a black & white "Apple Technology" sticker.) The KB features flat, short-throw light-grey keys.
Layout is similar to the IIe and later Apple II's with a few notable exceptions. Tiger has an extra (top) row of Function keys (F1-F11). The Open-Apple and Closed-Apple (with outline and solid Apple symbols) are on either side of the Space bar and, besides the symbols, are labeled "Player 1" and "Player 2". The four arrow keys are in an inverted "T" formation at the lower right. There is no separate numeric keypad.
All switches, jacks, ... are on the back. These include
round mini-socket for Mouse (not IIgs-mouse compatible)
9-pin female joystick socket
9-pin male serial I/O
25-pin female parallel I/O for printer
headphone sound output jack
RCA composite video out
RCA sound out
power supply jack.
The Tiger package includes the computer, a power supply module, a two-button mouse, dual video/sound (yellow/white) RCA-type cable, a 20-page Instruction Manual, and six cartridges with info sheets. (This is what came in 'the box' as it might be pulled from a shelf in a store.)
Tiger cartridges are very compact. Each measures 2" x 2" x about .25". The plug, covered by a sliding cover, adds an extra quarter inch or so to one edge. Some cartridges have a small slide switch to allow selecting one of two products available on the cartridge. Each cartridge has a colorful label which includes official product logos, etc..
The six cartridges packaged with the computer are, chiefly, educational titles. Six are from MECC and two are from the StickyBear series. These are on four dual-title cartridges.
One, non-switchable, cartridge has Appleworks 4.3 from SQC.
The remaining cartridge is a 256-block RAM disk complete with mini-battery to assure data retention. (The battery is supposed to last a year or so; it can be replaced.) A RAM disk can be formatted for ProDOS or DOS 3.3.
You can plug in up to two cartridges at once: one into a compartment on the Right side of the computer and one into a compartment on the Left. Cartridges go all the way in-- i.e. they do not stick out.
Tiger cartridges are treated as ROM disks or RAM disks. The Right cartridge is a disk at Slot 6, Drive 1. The Left cartridge is a disk at Slot 6, Drive 2. The size of a ROM disk varies depending upon material. Evidently, ROM and RAM disks can be pretty large; the single Appleworks 4.3 "disk" is 936 blocks in size.
Tiger is designed to connect to a standard composite video monitor, a TV with monitor input, or to a VCR's video input. If the monitor, VCR, etc. has a Sound input, Tiger's Sound cable can be plugged in to get better quality sound.
When Tiger is switched ON you hear a BEEP and get a brief glance of an Apple IIe ProDOS boot screen. This is quickly replaced by a hires logo + music which is followed by display of a hires desktop and a voice saying "Hello; please choose an activity". (By the way, the disk which is booted upon power-up is an internal ProDOS ROM disk named "LTWIN".)
From the desktop, your main choices are to Run a program from any plugged-in disks-- you can, also, view disk contents and copy files to a RAM disk-- Printer, Com, BASIC, and Help. Selections are made via the mouse.
Com lets you set the Com port's speed (19200 baud is max) as well as parity/stop bits/etc.. BASIC allows programming in Applesoft.
Based upon timings of a FOR-NEXT loop, Tiger's 65C02 runs at 1MHz.
At present, the only built-in and supported I/O to the 'outside world' is via the serial Com port. (A cable and software are available as a separate package.) Via Com, a user could send and receive files via modem to/from a BBS. With a NULL modem connector, a user could send/receive files to/from another Apple II. The manual mentions a browser, email, and "internet software"; so, some of the com applications wares may be fairly sophisticated.
Tiger's Instruction Manual lists 6 display modes: Low res, Hi res, Double Hi-res, 40-col TEXT, and 80-col TEXT _plus_ something called "Non-Apple Mode" which appears to be, basically, true 16-color Hi-res.
The manual includes three pages on programming-- the user learns how to write a "Hello World"-style program and Save it. Beyond this, you a directed to a library to get books on Apple II BASIC.
The manual does not list soft switches, hardware addresses, etc.. Since Tiger LC is, at least, as complex a machine as the IIe, quite a lot is being left "for the user to discover". Perhaps, an additional manual or two will be released.
Retail price for the new Tiger LC is $149.99.