Here's one that will make a select few of our readers stand up and shout, while merely drawing a faint "hmm" from the rest. But, as Arnold and myself are among the standers and the shouters... Last night, in honor of the 20th anniversary of their founding, the Free Tools Association (or FTA) released a free bundle of their classic demoscene productions and games wrapped in their ActiveGS Apple IIgs emulator as the Universal application ActiveGS - Best of FTA [App Store].

FTA and the associated groups Apple Chemical Software (ACS) and Second Sight Software were well known in the pre-web online Apple II communities for their to-the-metal, assembly-coded demos, games, and utilities that pushed the Apple II to its limits. Among the included productions are Nucleus and Modulae, probably the most well loved and beautifully executed demos to be found on the IIgs, as well as the playable demo of the group's take on the pseudo-3D shooter Space Harrier. Those checking out this collection who have no Apple II in their past should note that the Apple IIgs, which was released in 1986, is an 8/16-bit computer that runs at 2.8MHz -- and that's in "fast" mode.

The Modulae demo, running under emulation on a Windows machine:

The group's ActiveGS emulator used in this application is a front-end for the multiplatform KEGS, which emulates the Apple IIgs and, by extension, the Apple IIe. It's available in both stand-alone applications and as a browser plug-in and is the primary emulation system behind the Virtual Apple ][ website where hundreds of Apple II programs can be run online.

In this iOS version, the emulator simply provides hard coded execution of FTA's demos, so it won't work as a general emulator.

UPDATE: Developer Olivier Goguel has chimed in on the comments thread and provided a link to a video of a version of ActiveGS running on the iPad, loaded with many more Apple II demos and games than are featured in the App Store release. But don't get too excited...

For approval reason, this version contains only FTA product! For a sneak preview of the full version, have a look at this video, but don't expect it to be live soon...

  • Kevin Tambornino

    Yes! Yes! YES!!!!

    I was a huge fan of the FTA back in the day. They were like my heroes. Downloading this right now. I hope Brutal Deluxe, Ninjaforce and the French United Crackers Klan get get their stuff on the phone too.

    Apple II Forever!

  • Scott

    Does this mean that I can drop Apple ][e games (ie: oregon trail) via iphone explorer into the app just like iDOS?

    • blakespot


      • Sean

        Hi! Fortunately blakespot is wrong. I was able to inject any disk image I want onto a non-jailbroken iPhone (use iPhone Explorer or something like that). Just edit the list.activegsxml file to create another menu item and drop the corresponding disk image file in the .app's folder. This emulator runs great on an iPhone 4!

  • Adams Immersive

    Cool—I never really knew what the IIGS’ capabilities were like. Seems to be somewhere in between Apple II and Amiga

  • Alex Lee

    I'm definitely one of the select few 🙂 It runs reasonably well on my 3GS, but does hiccup occasionally, even at only 20 fps. How does it run for you iPad and iPhone 4 folk? Hoping this will lead to more Apple II software running on iOS!

  • WhoCares


    • Mark

      Looking at the screenshots on the right margin of this page it is clear that TA loves retro games. Old Apple stuff, Shinobi...all getting prominent attention. That's fine, but I do not care for them. And yes, I am old 😉

  • OliG

    For approval reason, this version contains only FTA product! For a sneak preview of the full version, have a look at this video, but don't expect it to be live soon...

  • Anonymous

    Once I can fire up some Apple II games (which there were many great ones) I'll be interested. I worked in one of the earlier computer shops many moons ago, where we sold the Amiga, ST, PC and IIGS ; the IIGS was a giant dust collector. Slow, awful software selection and just a bad choice. Customers wouldn't go near it unless they were buying because their school recommended it for their kid's work. The Apple II however brings back some of the best memories of gaming (despite the sound chip from hell).

    • blakespot

      Sound chip? What sound chip? 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Oh right- I should have said "sound from hell as a result of not having a sound chip". They did have sound, but it was forced out of that tiny tin can internal speaker. At least they got creative with beeps and actually digitized sound through the speaker at times (sounded like static horror but back then everything new in computer gaming was a revelation).

  • Doug Davies

    I use to drool over this demo when it came out. Awesome!

  • Peter Gleeson

    Damn, hardcoded so no general emulation. I would love to play the apple ][ versions of Ultima 3 and 4 again, not to mention wizardry

    • Anonymous

      Yep, that's what I had in mind. I lost many hours of sleep with the first Wizardry and Ultima. Sorry, but not even the first Mario world had that impact on me, but it sure paved the way..

  • Dibeltran

    Ultima 3 and 4 would rule
    There is a new game for ipad coming soon "Earth Under Siege" Its bout aliens invading earth and you have to defend it with some pretty big guns!
    There will be a beta apply soon too!

  • Anonymous

    If you just "swipe to the right" on the menu bar without selecting an FTA demo, you can easily get to an Applesoft BASIC prompt.. And enter in some old programs from a COMPUTE! magazine somewhere 😉

  • sstadnicki

    So the demos are pretty damn impressive to watch, but what's the control scheme? Unfortunately I have no idea how to get back to the title menu from the demo, which makes it awfully hard to appreciate more than one!

  • Timgfoley

    Argh... Wizardry loads but hangs after hitting a key. Gotta love iPhone Explorer and list.activegsxml 🙂

    • Ed Walsh

      The Wizardry boot disk needs to be write-protected .. so if you can somehow make the image read only, it should work.  At least that's how it works in other emulators, I can't get this to even boot something other than the demos it came with, even if the images are replaced with other images!

  • Science1matthew

    I figured out how to add custom games and system 6 with iPhone explored!!
    Go to the apps directory and list.activegsxml and add this :   

        system 6



        Mac OS 6




          The Apple II (often rendered Apple ][ or Apple //) was an 8-bit home computer, one of the first highly successful mass-produced microcomputer products, designed primarily by Steve Wozniak, manufactured by Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and introduced in 1977 source : wikipedia.

          This is a system 6 emulator for iOS you cann launch all prodos files, recoded by sciencematthew .


          System 6











    After the last --->

    • Science1matthew

      Take out after the last---> In the code, I'm typing on my ipod