Apple II E

Made in USA by Apple in 1977
Units sold: 6000000
7779818385878991939597990103050709111315171921 324811622430
Made by Steve Jobs & Stephen Wozniak


[Apple II]
The first Apple II computers went on sale on June 10, 1977 with a MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor running at 1.023 MHz. The original Apple II was discontinued at the start of 1981, having been superseded by the Apple II Plus.
Source: Wikipedia

Graphics: Hi-Res 280×192 graphics are essentially 1-bit monochrome. However, a colorburst signal cycled every other bit and a pixel was made of two bits. This purposeful quirk designed by Steve Wozniak allows for a composite monitor to display 4 colors while using only 1 bit per pixel (00=Black, 01=First Color, 10=Second Color, 11=White). Lo-Res 40x48 had pixels made from 4 bits but limited by hardware to repeating the two bits in a single pixel (still limited to 4 colors). Hi-Res was also 4 color limited.

[Apple II Plus]
The Apple II Plus, introduced in June 1979, included the Applesoft BASIC programming language in ROM. Except for improved graphics and disk-booting support in the ROM, and the removal of the 2k 6502 assembler/disassembler to make room for the floating point BASIC, the II+ was otherwise identical to the original II.
Source: Wikipedia

Graphics: 40x40x15 Lo-Res graphics were accessible from Applesoft BASIC with the GR command. The bottom 8 rows show 4 rows of text. 40x48x15 Lo-Res graphics covered the bottom rows of text and was activated with the GR2 command switching between these modes did not erase the graphics or the text. 280×192x6 Hi-Res graphics HGR & HGR2 accessed the 280×192x6 and 280×160x2+text modes. The quirky color burst cycle was unchanged but other hardware in the system was altered to allow for 15 colors in Lo-Res and 6 colors in Hi-Res. The additional colors didn't actually exist but were the result of artifacting. The new quiry meant software was backward and forwards compatible with only color loss on older hardware rather than distorted/resized graphics. There were no functions for bitmapped shapes, such as squares, triangles, rectangles, circles, arcs, and area fill. As Tandy Coco users would say, Apple had two graphics commands, PEEK and POKE. But it wasn't quite that bad, there was HLIN, VLIN, and PLOT (horizontal line, vertical line, and pixel). BASIC commands were added to use the 6502 to draw, erase, scale, and rotate simple vector graphics. By default, these were recorded in memory as 90 angles (45 degrees could be faked) and it took clever programming and lots of resources to produce a vector graphic with non-45 degree and non-straight lines via hardware, even using assembly.

[Apple IIe]
The Apple II Plus was followed in 1983 by the Apple IIe, a cost-reduced yet more powerful machine that used newer chips to reduce the component count and add new features, such as the display of upper and lowercase letters and a standard 64 kB of RAM. The Apple IIe was the most popular machine in the Apple II series. It has the distinction of being the longest-lived Apple computer of all time—it was manufactured and sold with only minor changes for nearly 11 years.
Source: Wikipedia

Graphics: All the craziness of the previous graphics plus 80×48x15 Lo-Res and 560x192x6 Hi-Res modes. Sort of... The BASIC for Double Lo-Res was, 10 PRINT CHR$(4)"PR#3" : PRINT CHR$(0); : POKE 49246,0 : GR2". These modes weren't so much as added, as hardware barriers that prevented easy access to them were removed. This alone was not enough, the system also had to have an 80 column card installed (the "IIe enhanced", which was the standard Apple II used in schools came with a card). Much like the original Apple II, 560x192 was a monochrome mode and the colorburst hardware allowed display of 6 colors. Hardware changes did add the possibility of exploiting the colorburst and artifacting together to produce a 560x192x15 mode.

[Apple IIc]
Apple released the Apple IIc in April 1984, billing it as a portable Apple II, because it could be easily carried, though unlike modern portables it lacked a built-in display and battery. The Apple IIc was the first Apple II to use the 65C02 low-power variant of the 6502 processor, and featured a built-in 5.25-inch floppy drive and 128 kB RAM, with a built-in disk controller that could control external drives, composite video (NTSC or PAL), serial interfaces for modem and printer, and a port usable by either a joystick or mouse. Unlike previous Apple II models, the IIc had no internal expansion slots at all, this being the means by which its compact size was attained. But, hardware equivalent 2 Super Serial Cards, A Mouse Card, A floppy drive controller Card, and an Extended 80 Column Card were already built-in. IIc machines supported the 16-color double hi-resolution graphics mode without complicated hardware hacking and from a software standpoint were identical to the IIe. The lack of expansion slots did not prevent expansions from being available to IIc owners. There are RAM, CPU, CP/M, IBM-PC compatibility, and Mockingboard sound cars available.
Source: Wikipedia

Graphics: 560×192x16 built-in to ROM and Applesoft BASIC. "MouseText" added to the ROM. The IIc came standard with a mouse and the MouseText was a way to build GUIs in text mode.

[Apple IIc plus]
Rumors were that Apple was going to make a IIGS model that came in an Apple IIc style case. Instead, Apple released the Apple IIc plus on September 16, 1988. For many reasons, Apple users were disappointed by it. There were 3 major changes. The CPU was a huge change, the 65C02 could run at 4MHz. This made the IIC+ 3.3 times faster and in real world applications it could out perform the IIGS. The IIc+ is the fastest II every made by Apple. Very few real world applications were made to use it. Apple had licensed the "Zip Chip" expansion and integrated the card into the motherboard of the IIc+. This design was actually faster than a Zip Chip accelerator card. In practice, most games would not run on the IIc+ unless it was put into legacy 1MHz mode. Loading a game on the 'portable' IIc+ was problematic not only because the user had to continually enable the legacy mode, but because the IIc+ used a 3.5" high speed drive instead of the 5.25" standard speed drive. Virtually no games came on 3.5" disk. Many games could not be transferred to 3.5" due to DRM. Many games did not like being loaded from an external 5.25" drive, also related to DRM in many cases. The last of the major changes was miniaturizing the IIc's massive external power brick. But, they put the new power supply inside the case. A IIc could be used across countries with adapters, but the internalized brick meant the IIc+ was only for USA power outlets. No variants for other countries were produced. No changes were made to the ROM beyond what was needed for the new features. Every quirk and bug of the IIc is present in the IIc+.

[ITT 2020]
An authorized clone of the original Apple II by ITT introduced in Europe in June 1979. It managed to improve the idiosyncratic graphics by used 9-bit per pixel and provided and additional 360 by 192 graphics mode. No additional colors were provided but it reduced the problem of spanning color information across multiple pixels. This was not done to make the graphics look better or make them easier for developers, rather, it was a side effect of converting Apple II graphics from NTSC to PAL. Standard Apple II graphics would be displayed with blank lines (called, "railroad tracks") in the picture. It had a version of Applesoft BASIC called Palsoft BASIC that had language additions and changes for PAL displays. BASIC programs ran just fine (with graphics annoyances) but Machine Code usually had to be ported to the ITT 2020. Many users opted to use only the standard graphics modes by swapping the ROM chip for north American Apple II ROMS in favor of Apple II software compatibility. The Apple II, having no software usable hardware timers and IRQs, had differences to the timing of 2020 that meant many standard expansions cards and peripherals would not work on a 2020 without special drivers. The 202 motherboard could be altered to Apple II timing, again, compatibility was chosen over using PAL TV output by many users. The ITT 2020 was distributed by Microsense Computers. Apple later purchased Microsense Computers making the ITT 2020 an "Apple" branded product.

[Bell & Howell Computer]
Another authorized clone. The "apple computer inc." with logo appeared just under the "Bell & Howell" logo on the case. Bell & Howel made a few changes to the Apple II plus. It had many proper connectors on the back so users didn't have to disassemble the case and thread ribbon cables out the vents. Headphones, speaker, volume adjustment, tape in & out, disk, video, audio input, and 3 outlet A/C power strip. The keyboard was replaced. Easy of opening the case was eliminated and the computer would power-off when someone managed to open it. It was intended for a classroom environment.

[Tiger Learning Computer]
Yet another authorized clone. Tiger packaged a IIe in a laptop style case (without the screen). But they made improvements. 40 and 80 column text, 128K RAM, full 16-color HiRes mode added, 65c02 CPU, 9-volt DC powered, PS/2 mouse, serial port, printer port, joystick port, 2 cartridge ports, and GUI shell for ProDOS. The lid, which was a screen all other laptops, was instead used as a case to store up to six cartridges. Most interesting was the fact that this system was intended to be a low-cost variant of an Apple II based system. At $149, it was. It sold from Feb 1996 through April 1997 but was not discontinued due to lack of demand. This project began at a time that Apple, Inc was open to licensing their hardware, firmware, and software to 3rd parties. Well, they were intending that would be done with the Macintosh series (and it was). It was a surprise to Apple when Tiger requested to license Apple II technology. Apple had discontinued the IIc line and the IIgs many years prior. The Apple IIe platinum was months from end-of-life with less than a dozen titles (pretty much just edutainment) being released the same year. Tiger's specialized cartridge based yet Apple II compatible education computer had a market to sell to. But, when Steve Jobs came back to work for Apple, he was looking for reasons to end Apple's licensing to 3rd parties. Jobs was concerned about the Mac. There was very little he could do about preexisting contracts that companies had entered into concerning Macintosh technology. But, there was a fine-print technicality in the contract with Tiger that Jobs used to sabotage Tiger's efforts. The fact that it was Apple II and not Mac was not important. Jobs seems to have been crafting a political message to Mac clone manufacturers that all Apple clones were persona non grata.

[Apple IIc Europlus]
Apple did not authorize a clone for their second dive into the European market. The created a highly compatible version of the Apple II plus and used an optional Slot 7 video card to provide PAL output.

[Apple II j-plus]
An Apple II plus with Katakana characters. The software switching between the Roman and Katakana character sets relied on some hardware addresses that included the memory mapped to the game port. Joysticks, Paddles, Koala pads worked fine?, but some rare hardware was incompatible with the j-plus.

[Apple IIe Card]
This was an add-in card for the Macintosh LC series officially. Unofficially, the card could be used in the Quadra 630 and Color Classic as well. It is a hardware emulation board that allows Apple II software to run on a Mac with System 6.0.8 to 7.5.5, and uses the Mac hardware. But the card also had a 65c02 CPU, Mega II (IIe-on-a-chip), 256K RAM (128 usable by the Apple II), and an IWM (single chip Apple II floppy controller). Most Mac hardware could be borrowed by the card and show up as Apple II devices. The mouse, keyboard, internal speaker, clock, printer, modem, networking, hard drive, and 3.5" drive of the Mac would all be seen by the Apple II software. Many Apple II softwares were highly dependent on running from a real 5.25" floppy disk (usually due to DRM) so an adapter cable could be used with the card to interface with real Apple 5.25" drives. A real Apple II 3.5" UniDrive or pretty much any device using the floppy disk interface (the Tiger Learning Computer cartridge interface for example) would work with the cable. The adapter cable also had a game port. Half of the card's 256K, as mentioned, was 128K for the Apple II's RAM (for compatibility when the Mac's RAM was not usable). The other 128K was used to 'emulate' Apple IIe firmware (AppleSoft ROM)*. This card had some interesting possibilities such as running Apple II software at 1.9MHz and using 1152K RAM. Apple avoided using the term 'emulation' due to several failed products that had been described with that word. They preferred, "Apple IIe option board". However, "Apple IIe Card" was the name that stuck. A boot disk for the Mac was used to boot the Mac in Apple II mode.

- The Tandy Trackstar was an expansion card and boot disk that allowed a Tandy 1000 (A PC clone) to boot as an Apple][ to read and write Apple][ disks and run Apple][ software.
- An expansion card called The Mill allows an Apple][ to run OS-9. There was also an expansion card with a Motorola 68008 CPU.
- "La FELINE" and "EVE" were expansion cards for Apple II computers that (apparently) added 80-column text and improved high-res graphics to the original IIe and earlier systems. It also allowed a full 16 colors, not just 15.

- Franklin Computer Corporation created various Apple II clones. While they generally matched Apple model-for-model, they would include additional features. The Franklin Ace 1200, for example, was a II plus clone with a Z80 CPU added so that it could run CP/M. Franklin had a unique approach to cloning that relied on Apple's unique approach to protecting it's code. To protect its ROM code, Apple did not allow it to be recorded in written form, even internally. This was opposite of other companies that would print documentation of their ROMs, even source code, and even sell or give it to the public (so it was protected by copyright law). When Apple sued Franklin, Franklin argued that the ROM could not be copyrighted because it wasn't written. They initially won the right to continue selling Apple II clones while the case was deliberated but eventually, they lost. Despite, making 1-to-1 copies of Apple II motherboards and chips (usually), it seemed the Franklin Ace series only managed %50 software compatibility. They did not include AppleSOFT BASIC in their ROMs.

- VTech made the Laser 128 series of Apple II clones. They used proper reverse engineering and licensed AppleSOFT BASIC from Microsoft. Their efforts successfully insulating them from legal actions by Apple. Their series was 88% to %95 software compatible. That might not sound so good, but any given Apple II model by Apple was only 90% software compatible with another model (ie: Apple IIc failed to run 10% of IIe software). At roughly half the cost, one could afford to buy two different Laser 128s and together they would be more compatible than any single Apple II. VTech also included both software and hardware features that were not available with the Apple II series, such as a Centronics printer port and two additional graphics modes that were not idiosyncratic. VTech had an advantage over Franklin in that the Laser 128 sold in respectable numbers. This meant that most software manufactures would test and alter their software to be sure it also worked on a Laser 128.

- Basis Microcomputer made the BASIS 108. Basis Microcomputer distributed German versions of the Apple II series in Germany (with very minor hardware adjustment). When Apple ended their arrangement with them, they created the BASIS 108. The BASIS 108 itself was cloned and spawned "The Medfly", the Cal-400, the Lingo, and the Precision Echo Phase II. Basis Microcomputer was upset with the poor quality of The Medfly, which they felt reflected badly on them, and worked with the company to improve the product.

*As the largest firmware ever made for a Apple II was only 32K (not counting IIgs), I'm not sure what the extra 96K could be for. Some older Apple II machines could bankswitch RAM in a way to extend the system ROM. This allowed both an extended version of BASIC to reside in 'ROM' *and* the machine code monitor could simultaneously exist in 'ROM'. But that was back when the II series used an 8K ROM.

Apple II is known for the Ultima series. It began on Apple II with Akalabeth and continued on the platform until Ultima V. It is also known for the "peperony and chease" version of The Oregon Trail (Graphical versions of TOT originate on the Apple II). The Prince of Persia, Wizardry, Karateka, Might and Magic, and Wasteland series all originated on the Apple II.

tech info

resolution: 280 x 192 x 16 colors, 560 x 192 x 16 colors, 560 x 192 monochrome, 40 x 48 x 16 text OR graphics, 8
memory: 64K RAM, 16K ROM
CPU: MOS 65c02 1.02 MHz
sound: 1 channel

Related systems

Apple I1976
Apple II E1977
Apple III1980
Macintosh OS Classic1984
Apple IIGS1986
Apple Pippin1995
Mac OS X2001