Who says technology doesn’t last? The Apple II platform will be 35 years old in April, yet it’s still going strong. It even gets a brand-new drum machine software, launched this month, complete with eight wavetable-based drum sounds, and a clever sequencer. The surprise: the whole combination, delivered on a 5 1/4″ floppy disk, can be stunningly usable, as in something you’d actually want to make music with. Not bad for a computer you can typically pick up for a few bills at a flea market. (Emulators can also run the software, so you don’t even need hardware. Of course, that’s not nearly as much fun.)

Creators MJ Mahon and 8-bit Weapon released the software last week, but I wanted to wait for a full video demo and tutorial so you could see it in action. See also screen shots.

And even if you don’t want to shell up the cash, there’s a demo version.

We’ve got a sound sample of what the results sound like, via the artists:
DMS Drummer Demo by cdm

Full details:

Apple II DMS Drummer Software
by MJ Mahon & 8 Bit Weapon

Introducing the amazing DMS Drummer for Apple II personal computers! The DMS Drummer is the only wavetable based Drum Sequencer for the Apple //e, IIc, IIc+, and IIGS computers. It comes complete with 8 drum sounds: Bass, Snare, Rim Shot, Hand Clap, Tom, Hat Open, Hat Closed, and Lazer. DMS Drummer also has a massive sequencer built-in for song writing or just some creative noodling. The DMS Drummer monophonic sequencer patterns have 16 spaces. You can create up to 16 unique drum patterns and arrange them into 256 available arrangement slots. Each drum sound can also be re-pitched or “tuned” to the users preference inside the “Tone” section of any pattern. For example, you can take the single tom sound and create a rich sequence of multiple toms in various pitches like in our demo song. Each song sequence can be saved on disk as well for safe keeping.

Features: 8 Drum Sounds (tune-able)
16 Programmable Patterns
256 Arrangement Slots for Patterns Programmable Tempo
Saves your work
3 Demo Sequences by 8 Bit Weapon & ComputeHer

Requirements: Apple //e, IIc, IIc+, or IIgs computer with 80-column capability
5.25″ floppy disk drive
Monitor. [Ed.: remember, you can use a TV…]

The artists:

Buy the software:
http://8bitweapon.com/store.htm [not available in the Apple App Store 😉 ]

US$14.95 on a floppy, US$9.95 for a .dsk file you can use with an emulator

One (free) emulator option on Windows, for instance, these two recommend:

This is atop their DMS 8-voice synthesizer, with chippy-sounding Acoustic Piano, Vibraphone, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Bass, Trumpet, Clarinet, square wave, sawtooth wave, sine wave, and banjo

By the way, I have to note: lately, there’s been less value given Steve Wozniak’s original, more “open” design for the Apple II. Because it allowed for massive expansion, the platform had one of the longest life cycles of any computer platform, ever, made from 1977 through 1993 and driving much of Apple Computer’s early success, without which products like the Mac and everything since would never have happened. I only wish we could find a way for modern computers to retain this kind of longevity, both in usability and hardware life, rather than have their toxic, precious guts find their way to landfills.