Apple II disks are nominally fairly sensible 40-track, single-sided, 256 bytes-per-sector jobs. However, they come in two varieties: DOS 3.3 and above, and pre-DOS 3.3. They use different GCR encoding systems, dubbed 6-and-2 and 5-and-3, and are mutually incompatible (although in some rare cases you can mix 6-and-2 and 5-and-3 sectors on the same disk).

The difference is in the drive controller; the 6-and-2 controller is capable of a more efficient encoding, and can fit 16 sectors on a track, storing 140kB on a disk. The 5-and-3 controller can only fit 13, with a mere 114kB.

Both formats use GCR (in different varieties) in a nice, simple grid of sectors, unlike the Macintosh. Like the Macintosh, there’s a crazy encoding scheme applied to the data before it goes down on disk to speed up checksumming.

Macintosh disks come in two varieties: the newer 1440kB ones, which are perfectly ordinary PC disks you should use fe-readibm to read, and the older 800kB disks (and 400kB for the single sides ones). They have 80 tracks and up to 12 sectors per track.

In addition, a lot of the behaviour of the drive was handled in software. This means that Apple II disks can do all kinds of weird things, including having spiral tracks! Copy protection for the Apple II was even madder than on other systems.

FluxEngine can only read well-behaved, DOS 3.3 6-and-2 disks. It doesn’t even try to handle the weird stuff.

Sadly, DOS 3.3 also applies logical sector remapping on top of the physical sector numbering on the disk, and this varies depending on what the disk is for. FluxEngine doesn’t attempt to remap sectors, instead giving you an exact copy of what’s on the disk, so you may need to do some work before the images are usable in emulators.

Reading discs

Just do:


You should end up with an apple2.img which is 143360 bytes long.

Big warning! The image may not work in an emulator, due to the logical sector mapping issue described above.

Useful references

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