Apple II Computer was released in April 1977. The Apple II was based on Wozniak’s Apple I design. Several new elements were though added to the design : the computer had plastic casing, a rarity at the time. Apple II also could display color graphics. It was more powerful. included two game paddles and a demo cassette. The computer featured an integrated keyboard, sound, a plastic case, and eight internal expansion slots. Note that this computer was trademarked with square brackets as “Apple ][” and rendered on later models as “Apple //”.
Apple II Computer (Apple ][)
The Apple II series of computers had an enormous impact on the technology industry. This device was the first personal computer many people ever saw. Its price was within the reach of many middle-class families, and a partnership with MECC helped make the Apple II popular in schools, and by the end of 1980 the company had sold over 100,000 Apple IIs. The popularity of the model bootstrapped the computer game and educational software markets and began the boom in the word processor and computer printer markets.
Introduced 16 April, 1977.
- Processor: CPU: MOS Technology 6502. CPU Speed: 1 MHz. Bus Speed: 1 MHz.
- ROM: 12 kB.
- RAM slots: 1st expansion slot can be used.
- Video: Max Resolution: 6 color at 280 x 192, 4-bit color at 40 x 48. The video controller displayed 40 columns by 24 lines of monochrome, upper-case-only (the original character set matches ASCII characters 0 x 20 to 0 x 5F) text on the screen, with NTSC composite video output suitable for display on a TV monitor, or on a regular TV set by way of a separate RF modulator.
- Storage: Floppy Drive: Optional.
- Input/Output: Serial: Optional expansion card.
- Speaker: Mono.
- Dimensions: 4.25″ high x 15.25″ wide x 17.75″ deep.
- Weight: 11.5 lbs.
Apple Orders, Discontinuation, Price
Discontinued: The first version terminated in May 1979. The last II-series Apple in production, the IIe, was discontinued on October 15, 1993.
Initial price: US$1,298 (4 kB of RAM).US$2638 (48 kB of RAM). Monitor sold separately. The initial price of the Disk II drive and controller was US$595, although a $100 off coupon was available through the Apple newsletter. The controller could handle two drives and a second drive (without controller) retailed for $495.
- Originally the Apple II used audio cassette tapes for data storage. A dedicated tape recorder along the lines of the Commodore Datasette was never produced, and Apple recommended using the Panasonic RQ309 in some of its early printed documentation. The uses of common consumer cassette recorders and a standard video monitor or television set (with a third party R-F modulator) made the total cost of owning an Apple II less expensive and helped contribute to the machine’s success .Apple and many third-party developers made software available on tape at first, but after the Disk II became available in 1978, tape-based Apple II software essentially disappeared from the market.
- The first microcomputer program for business was VisiCalc, the earliest spreadsheet, and it ran first on the Apple II. Many businesses bought Apple IIs just to run VisiCalc.
- In Europe, ITT Great-Britain manufactured the twin brother of the Apple II, the ITT 2020 under license agreement of Apple. As Apple was struggling with manufacturing capacity because of the booming demand of their device, Apple II was sold in Europe before the genuine Apple II hit the European market. Whereas Apple II worked with 8 bits, the ITT 2020 worked with 9. The ITT 2020 was designed to produce a PAL video signal for the European market, as against an NTSC for the domestic US market. This required changes to Wozniak’s video generation circuitry.
- The original Apple II (or Apple ][) came with Wozniak’s Integer BASIC in ROM. Later, Apple Computers released Applesoft BASIC and then Applesoft II. Applesoft was Microsoft Basic adapted to the Apple. Users could load it from cassette tape or use a ROM containing Applesoft on a plug-in card for slot 0.
- To reflect the Apple’s II color graphics capability, the Apple logo on the casing was represented using rainbow stripes. The rainbow stripes remained a part of Apple’s corporate logo until early 1998.
- The first Apple II computers were assembled in Silicon Valley. Later the computer was assembled in Texas. Printed circuit boards were manufactured in Ireland and Singapore.
- The Apple II was a major technological advancement that pioneered many features that made the Apple II a commercial success and add it to the very short list of the first successful personal computers. This computer launched the Apple company into a successful business.
- The Apple II was first sold on June 10, 1977. By the end of production in 1993, somewhere between five and six million Apple II series computers had been produced.
- The Apple II was one of the longest running mass-produced home computer series. Some of its versions were in production up to 17 years.
- The “II” portion of the Apple II name was rendered in a variety of creative ways using stylized characters which resembled punctuation symbols on the front lids of the computers, and most printed material followed this lead. The II and II+ were labeled ][ and ][ plus. The IIgs and IIc Plus were rendered in small caps. Later, the Apple III, IIc, and IIe models used slashes: ///, //c and //e.
- Breaking protection on software was popular in the Apple II’s heyday; even Apple itself engaged in the practice. Commercial cracking software such as the popular Copy II+ program were sold in stores with the purpose of creating legitimate back-ups of protected software. Although creating back-ups was legitimate under copyright law of the time, the use of such software today is of questionable legality in the U.S. For those who prefer to obtain their old software legally, the Lost Classics Project has the goal of convincing copyright holders of classic Apple II software to officially allow unrestricted free distribution of their software.
- The Apple II series had much more business software than the rival Atari 8-bit computers. Its success caused IBM to create the IBM PC, which many businesses purchased to run spreadsheet and word processing software, at first ported from Apple II versions; later, whole new application software dynasties would be founded on the PC.
- Today, emulators for Apple II line models are available to run Apple II software on OS X, Linux, Microsoft Windows, homebrew enabled Nintendo DS and other operating systems. Disk images of Apple II software are available free over the Internet for use with these emulators. AppleWin and MESS are among the best emulators compatible with most Apple II images. The MESS emulator supports recording and playing back of Apple II emulation sessions, as does Home Action Replay Page. However, many emulators cannot run software on copy-protected media, or can run only software employing fairly simple protection schemes, unless it is “cracked” (copy restrictions removed).
- Today, an active retrocomputing community of vintage Apple II collectors and users, continue to restore, maintain and develop hardware and software for daily use of these original computers. Numerous websites and support groups exist for these enthusiasts who maintain and use their machines. There is still a small annual convention, kansasfest.org, dedicated to the platform.
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