When was the Apple II computer introduced?

Apple II series - Apple II series

Apple Computer Series, 1977–1993
This article is about the line of home computers that started with the Apple II in 1977. The original model can be found under Apple II.
The Apple II shown in 1977, shown here with two Disk II floppy disk drives and an Apple Monitor II from the 1980s.

The Apple II series (with square brackets as " Apple] [ "marked and on later models as" Apple // "rendered) is a family of home computers, one of the first very successful mass-produced microcomputer products, developed primarily by Steve Wozniak, manufactured by Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and launched in 1977 with the original Apple II."

In terms of usability, features, and expandability, the Apple II was a huge step up from its predecessor, the Apple I, a bare circuit board computer for electronics hobbyists with limited production. A number of models were introduced by 1988, with the most popular, the Apple IIe, remaining relatively unchanged until the 1990s.

A 16-bit model with much more advanced graphics and sound, the Apple II GS , was added in 1986. Although the II GS was compatible with earlier Apple II systems, it had significantly different hardware that was more in line with the Atari ST and the Amiga.

The Apple II was first sold on June 10, 1977. By the end of production in 1993, between five and six million Apple II-series computers (including approximately 1.25 million Apple II GS- Models). The Apple II was one of the longest running series of home computers with models that have been in production for almost 17 years.

The Apple II became one of several recognizable and successful computers in the 1980s and early 1990s, though this was mostly limited to the United States. It was aggressively marketed to educational institutions through volume discounts and manufacturing agreements, making it the first computer to be widely used in American secondary schools, supplanting the early market leader, the Commodore PET. Efforts to develop educational and business software for the Apple II, including the release of the popular VisiCalc table in 1979, made the computer particularly popular with business users and families.

An Apple IIe with hard drives and monitor

Despite the introduction of the Motorola 68000-based Macintosh in 1984, the Apple II series reportedly still accounted for 85% of the company's hardware sales for the first quarter of fiscal 1985. Apple continued to sell Apple II systems alongside the Macintosh until the II was terminated GS in December 1992 and IIe in November 1993. The last Apple II series in production, the IIe card for Macintosh devices, was discontinued on October 15, 1993. Total sales of all models of Apple II during its 16 year production run were approximately 6 million units, with the peak occurring in 1983 when 1 million were sold.


All machines in the series except // c had similar general design elements. The plastic case looked more like a home appliance than an electronic device, and the machine could be opened without the use of tools so that the internal parts of the computer could be accessed.

An Apple IIc with a monitor

The motherboard contained eight expansion slots and a number of random access memory (RAM) sockets that could hold up to 48 kilobytes. Over the life of the Apple II-series, a tremendous amount of first-party and third-party hardware has been made available to expand the capabilities of the machine.

The // c was designed as a compact, portable unit that should not be disassembled and could not use most of the expansion hardware sold for the other machines in the series.

All Apple II-series machines had a built-in keyboard, with the exception of the IIgs, which had a separate keyboard.

Apple IIs had color and high-resolution graphics modes, sound functions and an integrated BASIC programming language. The Apple II was intended for the masses rather than just hobbyists and engineers, and influenced many of the microcomputers that followed. Unlike previous home microcomputers, it was sold as a finished consumer device rather than a kit (not assembled or preassembled). The Apple II series eventually supported over 1,500 software programs.

Apple marketed the machine as a long-lasting product, including a 1981 ad showing an Apple II surviving a fire that began when an early user's cat knocked over a lamp.


The original Apple II provided an operating system in ROM along with a BASIC variant called Integer BASIC. The only form of storage available was cassette.

When the Disk II floppy disk drive was released in 1978, a new operating system, Apple DOS, was introduced by Shepardson Microsystems and developed by Paul Laughton to support the floppy disk drive. The final and most popular version of this software was Apple DOS 3.3.

Apple DOS was superseded by ProDOS, which supported a hierarchical file system and larger storage devices. With an optional third-party Z80-based expansion card, Apple II can start the CP / M operating system and run WordStar, dBase II and other CP / M software. With the release of MousePaint in 1984 and Apple II GS in 1986 the platform looked like a Macintosh user interface, including a mouse.

Apple eventually released Applesoft BASIC, a more advanced variant of the language that users could run instead of Integer BASIC to get more functionality.

Some commercial Apple II software started right out of the box and did not use standard DOS hard drive formats. This discouraged copying or changing the software on the disks and improved the loading speed.


Apple II

An Apple II computer with an internal modem and an external DAA

The first Apple II Computers were built into the ROMs on June 10, 1977 with a microprocessor MOS Technology 6502 (later Synertek) with 1.023 MHz, 4 KB RAM, an audio cassette interface for loading programs and storing data and the programming language Integer BASIC. The video controller displayed 40 columns of 24 lines of monochrome, uppercase-only text (the original character set corresponds to the ASCII characters 0x20 to 0x5F) on the screen. The NTSC composite video output is suitable for display on a television screen or on a normal television via a separate RF modulator. The original retail price of the computer was $ 1,298 (with 4 KB of RAM) and $ 2,638 (with a maximum of 48 KB of RAM). To reflect the color graphics of the computer, the Apple logo was depicted on the case with rainbow stripes, which were part of the Apple company logo until early 1998. The earliest Apple IIs were assembled in Silicon Valley and later Texas. Circuit boards were made in Ireland and Singapore.

An external 5 1⁄4 inch floppy disk drive, the Disk II, connected through a controller card plugged into one of the computer's expansion slots (usually slot 6), was used to store and retrieve data to replace cartridges . The Disk II interface developed by Steve Wozniak was seen as a technical masterpiece for the economy of electronic components.

Instead of having a dedicated sound synthesis chip, the Apple II had a toggle switch that could trigger just one click via a built-in speaker or line-out jack. All other sounds (including two-, three- and finally four-part music and playback of audio samples and speech synthesis) were generated entirely by software that clicked on the loudspeaker at exactly the right time.

The Apple II's multiple expansion slots enabled a wide variety of third-party devices, including Apple II peripheral cards such as serial controllers, display controllers, memory cards, hard drives, network components, and real-time clocks. There were plug-in expansion cards such as the Z-80 SoftCard that enabled Apple to use the Z80 processor and run a variety of programs developed under the CP / M operating system, including the dBase II database and WordStar - word processing program. There was also a third party 6809 card that could run OS-9 Level One. Third-party sound cards have greatly improved the audio capabilities, allowing for easy music synthesis and text-to-speech capabilities. Eventually, Apple II accelerator cards were designed to double or quadruple the speed of your computer.

Rod Holt designed the power supply for the Apple II. He used a switching power supply that was far smaller and generated less unwanted heat than the linear power supply that some other home computers used.

The original Apple II was discontinued in early 1981 after it was superseded by the Apple II +. By 1984 over six million machines had been sold.

Apple II Plus

The one introduced in June 1979 Apple II Plus contained the programming language Applesoft BASIC in the ROM. This Microsoft-authorized dialect of BASIC, which was previously available as an upgrade, supported floating-point arithmetic and became the standard BASIC dialect of the Apple II series (although it ran at a noticeably slower speed than Steve Wozniak's Integer BASIC).

Aside from improved support for graphics and hard drive booting in ROM and removing the 2k 6502 assembler / disassembler to make room for the floating point BASIC, the II + was otherwise identical to the original II. The RAM prices fell between 1980 and 1981, and all II + machines were shipped from the factory with 48,000 memory units already installed.

Apple II Europlus and J-Plus

After the success of the first Apple II in the USA, Apple expanded its market to include Europe, Australia and the Far East with the in 1979 Apple II Europlus (Europe, Australia) and the Apple II J-Plus (Japan). Apple has made the necessary hardware, software, and firmware changes for these models to comply with standards outside of the United States.

Apple IIe

An Apple IIe with DuoDisk and monitor //

The Apple II Plus was followed in 1983 by the Apple IIe , a reduced-cost, yet more powerful computer that used newer chips to reduce the number of components and add new functions, e.g. B. the display of upper and lower case letters and a standard size of 64 KB RAM.

The IIe RAM was configured as if it were a 48K Apple II Plus with a voice card. The device did not have slot 0, but an additional slot that could accommodate a 1 KB memory card to enable the 80-column display. This card only contained RAM; The hardware and firmware for the 80-column display has been integrated into the Apple IIe. An "extended 80-column card" with more memory increased the computer's memory to 128 KB.

The Apple IIe was the most popular device in the Apple II series. It has the distinction of being the most durable Apple computer ever - it was made and sold for almost 11 years with only minor modifications. The IIe was the last Apple II model sold and was discontinued in November 1993.

Two variants were introduced during its lifetime: the Apple IIe Enhanced (four replacement chips to maintain some of the functionality of the later Apple IIc) and the Apple IIe Platinum (a modernized case color to match other Apple products of the time) with the addition of a numeric keypad).

Some of the IIe's functions were dated from the less successful Apple III taken over , including the ProDOS operating system.

Apple IIc

The Apple IIc was Apple's first compact and portable computer.

The Apple IIc was launched in April 1984 and billed as the portable Apple II because its size and handle make it easy to carry and fold down to bring the machine into a typing position. In contrast to modern portable devices, there was no built-in display or battery. It was the first of three Apple II models made in the Snow White design language and the only one to use its unique creamy white color.

The Apple IIc was the first Apple II to use the low-power 65C02 variant of the 6502 processor. It had a built-in 5.25-inch floppy disk drive and 128 KB of RAM, as well as an integrated hard drive controller that could control external drives. Composite video (NTSC or PAL), serial interfaces for modem and printer, and a connector that can be used with either a joystick or a mouse. Unlike previous Apple II models, the IIc had no internal expansion slots at all.

Two different monochrome LCD displays were sold for use with the IIc's video expansion port, although both were short lived due to their high cost and poor readability. The IIc had an external power supply that converted AC power to 12 V DC so that third parties could offer battery packs and car adapters that were plugged in in place of the included power supply.

Apple II GS

The Apple IIGS, the most powerful Apple II, has a true 16-bit CPU, 4096 colors, an Ensoniq synthesizer, a Mac-like user interface and a mouse.
The Apple IIGS setup with keyboard and mouse

Published on September 15, 1986 Apple II GS was the final model in the Apple II series and a radical departure from the earlier computers in the line. It was equipped with a real 16-bit microprocessor, the 65C816, which works at 2.8 MHz and 24-bit addressing and allows expansion up to 8 MB RAM. A palette of 4096 colors and new graphics modes with resolutions of 320 × 200 and 640 × 400 have been introduced.

The Apple II GS has the platform further developed and further developed, whereby the almost complete downward compatibility was retained. Its Mega II chip contained the functional equivalent of an entire Apple IIe computer (without a processor). Combined with the 65816's ability to directly execute 65C02 code, this provided full support for legacy software and 16-bit software running on a new operating system.

The new operating system eventually included a Macintosh-like graphical finder for managing disks and files, as well as opening documents and applications, and desk accessories. Finally, the II GS the ability to read and write Macintosh hard drives and even support multitasking (in the form of a Unix shell) and TrueType fonts via third-party software.

The GS contains a 32-voice Ensoniq 5503 DOC sound synthesizer chip on a sample basis with 64 KB dedicated RAM, 256 KB (or higher 1.125 MB) standard RAM, integrated peripheral ports (switchable between IIe-style card slots and IIc -). integrated onboard controller for hard drives, mouse, RGB video and serial devices as well as an integrated AppleTalk network.

Apple IIc Plus

The Apple IIc Plus, an extension of the original portable device with a faster CPU, 3.5-inch floppy disk and integrated power supply. It was the last model in the Apple II range.

The last Apple II model was the one introduced in 1988 Apple IIc Plus . It was the same size and shape as the IIc that shipped earlier, but the 5.25-inch floppy disk drive had been replaced with a 3 1 ⁄ 2-inch drive, the power supply was relocated into the case, and the processor was a fast 4 MHz 65C02 processor on which actually 8-bit Apple II software is faster than on the II GS was executed .

The IIc Plus also has a new keyboard layout similar to the Platinum IIe and II GS corresponds . In contrast to IIe IIc and II GS the IIc Plus was only available in one version (American) and was not officially sold outside the USA. The Apple IIc Plus ceased production in 1990, with its two-year production period being the shortest of any Apple II computer.

Apple IIe card

Although not an expansion of the Apple II range, the Apple IIe Card released , an expansion card for the LC series of Macintosh computers. Essentially a miniaturized Apple IIe computer on a card (using the Apple II's Mega II chip GS ), which enabled the Macintosh to run 8-bit Apple IIe software through hardware emulation (although video was emulated in software and was at times slower than) a IIe).

Many of the Macintosh peripheral devices integrated in the LC can be "borrowed" from the card in Apple II mode (e.g. additional RAM, 3.5-inch floppy disk, AppleTalk network, hard disk). However, none of the 16-bit Apple II GS intended software can be executed.

Advertising, marketing and packaging

A page from a 1977 Byte- Magazine ad for the original Apple II

Mike Markkula, a retired Intel marketing manager, provided the first critical funding for Apple Computers. From 1977 to 1981 Apple used the Regis McKenna agency for advertising and marketing. 1981 Chiat-Day took over the promotional activities from Regis McKenna and Apple used Chiat-Day. At Regis McKenna Advertising, the team tasked with rolling out the Apple II consisted of Rob Janoff, Art Director, Chip Schafer, Copywriter, and Bill Kelley, Account Executive. Janoff came up with the Apple logo. The design was originally olive green with a matching company logo in lower case letters. Steve Jobs insisted on promoting the Apple II's color ability by putting rainbow stripes on the Apple logo. In the implementation of the letterhead and business card, the rounded "a" of the logo reflected the "bite" in the logo. This logo was developed at the same time as an advertisement and a brochure; The latter will initially be produced for distribution at the first West Coast Computer Faire.

Since the original Apple II, Apple has paid close attention to the quality of the packaging, also based on Steve Jobs' personal preferences and opinions about the packaging and appearance of the final product. All of Apple's packaging for the Apple II series looked similar, with plenty of clean white space and the Apple Rainbow logo clearly visible. Until the late 1980s, Apple used the Motter Tektura font for packaging for several years before switching to the Apple Garamond font.

Apple launched in July 1977 BYTE The first advertisement for Apple II ran, a two-page ad titled "Introducing Apple II". The first booklet was titled "Simplicity," and the copy in both the ad and the booklet pioneered the "demystifying" "language designed to make the new idea of ​​a home computer" more personal. "The Apple II introductory ad became later in the September 1977 issue of Scientific American switched .

Apple later aired eight television commercials for the Apple II GS off highlighting the educational and student benefits as well as some print advertising.


The Jiama (嘉馬) SPS-109, a Taiwanese clone of the Apple II, looks almost identical to the Apple II and II +, including an identical case, color, and keyboard layout. The only noticeable physical difference is the lettering above the keyboard.

The Apple II was often cloned in a similar way to the IBM PC, both in the US and abroad. According to some sources (see below), more than 190 different models of Apple II clones have been made. Most could not be legally imported into the United States. Apple sued and filed criminal charges against clone makers in more than a dozen countries.

Without explicitly specifying that they were Apple II clones, many had names that had something to do with fruits. Examples were the pineapple and ACT apricot. For example, Apple successfully forced the "pineapple" to change its name to "Pinecom".

Agat was a line of Apple II compatible computers manufactured in the Soviet Union between 1984 and 1993 and widely used in schools in the 1980s. The first production models, Agat 4 and Agat 7, had different storage layouts and video modes than Apple II, making them only partially compatible with Apple II software.

Agats were not direct clones of Apple II, but rather uniquely designed computers based on 6502 CPU and emulated Apple II architecture. This helped developers port Apple II software titles to Agat. A later model, the Agat 9, immediately had an Apple II compatibility mode. Soviet engineers and enthusiasts developed thousands of software titles for Agat, including systems software, business applications, and educational software.

The Bulgarian Pravetz series 8 was an Apple II clone with Cyrillic support.

Basis, a German company, has created Basis 108, a clone for Apple II that contains both a 6502 processor and the Zilog Z80 and can run the CP / M operating system and most Apple II programs. This machine was unusual in that it was housed in a heavy cast aluminum housing. The base 108 was equipped with integrated Centronics (parallel) and RS232c connections (serial) as well as the standard six Apple II-compatible slots. In contrast to the Apple II, it was delivered with a detached full keyboard (AZERTY / QWERTY) with 100 keys plus 15 function keys and separate numeric and editing keyboards.

Another European Apple II clone was the Pearcom Pear II, which was larger than the original because it had fourteen expansion slots instead of eight. It also had a numeric keypad. Pearcom initially used a pear-shaped rainbow logo but stopped after Apple threatened legal action.

A Bosnian company called IRIS Computers (subsidiary of an electricity company in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Yugoslavia ENERGOINVEST) produced Apple II clones from the early 1980s. Their official brand name was IRIS 8. They were very expensive and difficult to come by, and were manufactured primarily for use in early computerized digital telephone systems and for educational purposes. Their use in offices of state-owned companies, research and development laboratories and in the Yugoslav army has also been reported. IRIS 8 machines looked like early IBM PCs, with a separate central processing unit, cooling system, and two 5.25-inch hard drives, a monitor, and a keyboard. Compatibility with the original Apple II was complete. Elite high schools in Yugoslavia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular, were equipped with clusters of 8, 16 or 32 IRIS 8 computers connected on a local network managed by an IRIS 16 PC clone. It is believed that the number of IRIS 8 produced is of the order of 10 or 20 thousand.

A clone of the Apple II made in Australia was the Medfly, named after the Mediterranean fruit fly that attacks apples. The Medfly computer had a faster processor, more memory, a separate keyboard, lowercase and uppercase letters, and an integrated hard drive controller.

It was illegal to import microcomputers in Brazil until 1992. Because of this, the illegal cloning industry of Apple II-based computers was strong there. By the early 1980s there were around 20 different clones of Apple II Plus computers in this country, all of which used illegally copied software and hardware (since the Apple II and II Plus used widely available TTL integrated circuits). Some of the names are Elppa ("Apple" written backwards), Maxtro, Exato MC4000 (by CCE), AP II (by Unitron), and even an "Apple II Plus" (made by a company called Milmar who used it) illegally ). There were only two clones of the Apple IIe as it used custom IC chips that could not be copied and therefore had to be reverse engineered and redeveloped in the country. These clones were TK3000 IIe from Microdigital and Exato IIe from CCE. In addition, the Laser IIc was manufactured by Milmar and, despite the name, was a clone of the Apple II Plus, not the Apple IIc, although it was similar in design to the Apple IIc with an integrated floppy controller and 80 column card but no integrated floppy disk drive .

Franklin Computer Corporation's Ace clones were the best-known Apple II clones and had the most lasting impact as Franklin copied and freely admitted Apple's ROMs and software. Franklin's answer was that a computer's ROM was simply a pattern of switches locked in a fixed position, and a pattern of switches cannot be copyrighted. Apple fought Franklin in court for about five years to get its clones off the market, and ultimately succeeded when a court ruled that software stored in ROM is in fact copyrighted in the United States. (Please refer Apple Computer, Inc. v Franklin Computer Corp. ) Franklin later released non-hurtful but less compatible clones; These could run ProDOS and AppleWorks and had an AppleSoft-like BASIC, but compatibility with other software was a hit or miss.

Apple also challenged VTech's Laser 128, an improved clone of the Apple IIc first released in 1984, in court. This suit turned out to be less fruitful for Apple, as VTech reverse engineered the monitor ROM rather than copied it and had licensed Applesoft BASIC from its developer Microsoft. Apple had failed to obtain the exclusive rights to the Applesoft dialect of BASIC from Microsoft. VTech was the first cloner to license. The Laser 128 proved popular and stayed in the market for many years, both in its original form and in accelerated versions that ran faster than 1 MHz. While it wasn't fully compatible with the Apple II, it was tight and its popularity ensured that most of the major developers tested their software on both a laser and real Apple computers. Because the Laser 128 was often mass-marketed via mail order and retailers like Sears, it reduced sales from low-cost competitors like Commodore Business Machines as well as Apple.

While the first Apple II clones were generally exact copies of their Apple counterparts, which were mainly price-competitive, many clones also had additional features. One Franklin model, the Ace 1000, featured a numeric keypad and lowercase letters long before these features were added to the Apple II range. The Laser 128 series is sometimes credited with causing Apple to release the Apple IIc Plus. The built-in 3 1 ⁄ 2 inch drive and accelerated processor were features that Laser pioneered. The Laser 128 also had an IIe-style expansion slot on the side through which peripheral cards could be added.

Bell & Howell, a manufacturer of audiovisual equipment whose products (especially film projectors) were ubiquitous in American schools, offered at first glance an Apple II Plus clone in a distinctive black plastic case. However, they were actually genuine Apple II Plus devices made by Apple for a short time by B&H. Many schools had some of these black apples in their laboratories.

ITT made the ITT 2020, a licensed Apple II Plus clone, in the UK. It has the same shape as the Apple II, but was matte silver (it was sometimes referred to as the "silver apple") and was not functionally an exact copy. The ITT2020 generated a PAL video signal for the European market, where the domestic US market used NTSC. Software that uses the BIOS worked properly on both Apple and ITT, but software that was written to bypass the BIOS to directly access Apple's display hardware and was displayed with vertical stripes on the ITT 2020. The Apple II itself was later introduced in the UK, and both Apple II and ITT 2020 were temporarily sold, ITT at a cheaper price.

Syscom 2 Inc (of Carson City, NV) created the Syscom 2 Apple II + clone. The case looked almost identical. It had 48 KB of RAM and the normal expansion options. These clones also supported lowercase letters that were toggled with a ^ O key.

An unknown company produced a clone called the RX-8800. A new feature was a numeric keypad.

The Taiwan-made SEKON had the same plastic case as an Apple] [, had 48K RAM standard, and a lowercase switch located where the power indicator would normally be on the Apple II. There was also a 5-amp power supply that provided enough power for additional cards. SEKON prevented shipments from being confiscated by U.S. Customs by shipping their computers without ROMs, and let merchants fill the boards on arrival at their private stores. Often times, these computers started with a familiar Apple II logo after dealers removed and added e-proms to original Apple ROMs. The reason for this activity was that users could get a fully Apple-compatible clone usually $ 600 as opposed to $ 2500 from Apple.

The Norwegian company West Computer AS introduced an Apple II clone West PC-800 in 1984. The computer was designed as an alarm center in which multiple CPUs (6502, Z80, 8086, 68000) and operating systems can be used.

Although Quadram is technically not a clone, it produced an additional ISA card called Quadlink that provided the hardware emulation of an Apple II + for the IBM PC. The card had its own 6502 CPU and dedicated 80 K RAM (64 K for applications plus 16 K for a reverse engineered Apple ROM image that was loaded when booting) and was installed "between" the PC and its floppy disk drive (s), Color display and loudspeaker in a walk-through configuration. This enabled the PC to dual-boot: when booting over the Quadlink, the PC could run most of the Apple II software and read and write Apple-formatted floppy disks using the standard PC floppy disk drive. Because this system had a dedicated processor and not some form of software emulation, it ran at almost the same speed as an equivalent Apple computer. Another company, Diamond Computer Systems, made a similar card called Trackstar, which had a twin pair of 6502 CPUs and ran Apple II software on an Apple-licensed ROM. The original Trackstar (and the "128" and "Plus" models) were Apple II Plus compatible while the Trackstar E was Apple IIe compatible. The original offered 64 KB of usable Apple II RAM, while the other models offered 128 KB of RAM (192 KB are on board, with the additional memory reserved for the Trackstar itself). The original Trackstar also included a Z80 CPU that could run both Apple DOS and Apple CP / M software, but the newer Trackstar models did not. This affected the CP / M compatibility. The Trackstar also had a connector that allowed the use of an actual Apple floppy disk drive, improving compatibility with software that Apple hardware used for copy protection.

Data storage


Originally used Apple II Compact cartridges for program and data storage. A special tape recorder based on the model of the Commodore Datasette was never manufactured. Apple recommended using the Panasonic RQ309 in some of its early printed documentation. Using popular consumer cassette recorders and a standard video monitor or television (with a third-party RF modulator) reduced the overall cost of owning an Apple II and contributed to the success of the Apple II.

Cassette storage, while inexpensive, was also slow and unreliable. The lack of a hard drive on the Apple II was "a blatant weakness" in what was otherwise thought of as a polished, professional product. Realizing the II required a hard drive to be taken seriously, Apple set out to design a hard drive and DOS to run it. Wozniak spent the 1977 Christmas break designing a hard drive controller that reduced the number of chips used by a factor of 10 compared to existing controllers. Jobs was still missing a DOS, and being inexperienced in operating system design, Wozniak turned to Shepardson Microsystems with the project. On April 10, 1978, Apple signed a $ 13,000 contract with Sheperdson to develop the DOS.

Even after hard drives obsolete the cartridge interfaces, they were still used by enthusiasts as simple one-bit audio input / output connectors. Amateur radio operators used the cassette input to receive slow scan TV (single image). A commercial blackjack speech recognition program was available. After a user-specific language training, it recognized simple commands (hit, stand). Bob Bishop's "Music Kaleidoscope" was a simple program that monitored the input of the cassette and created color samples on the screen based on zero crossings, a predecessor to the current audio visualization plug-ins for media players. Music kaleidoscopes were particularly popular with projection televisions in dance halls.


Apple and many third-party developers initially made software available on tape. After Disk II became available in 1978, the Apple II tape-based software essentially disappeared from the market. The initial price for the Disk II drive and controller was $ 595, although a $ 100 voucher was available through Apple's Contact newsletter. The controller can handle two drives and a second drive (without a controller), which retail for $ 495.

The Disk II single-sided floppy drive used 5.25-inch floppy disks. Double-sided disks can be used single-sided by turning them over and notching a hole for the write protection sensor. The first hard drive operating systems for Apple II were DOS 3.1 and DOS 3.2, which stored 113.75 KB on each hard drive and were organized in 35 tracks of 13 256-byte sectors each. After about two years, DOS 3.3 was introduced, which saved 140KB thanks to a minor firmware change on the hard drive controller that allowed it to store 16 sectors per track. (This upgrade could be installed by the user as two PROMs on older controllers.) After DOS 3.3 was released, the user community stopped using DOS 3.2, with the exception of running older software. Programs that required DOS 3.2 were quite rare; Since DOS 3.3 was not a major architectural change apart from the number of sectors per track, a program called MUFFIN was provided with DOS 3.3, with which users can copy files from DOS 3.2 data carriers to DOS 3.3 data carriers. Software developers could create a DOS 3.2 hard drive that could also be started on a system with DOS 3.3 firmware.

Later, double-sided drives with heads for reading both sides of the hard drive became available from third party companies. (Apple only produced 5.25-inch double-sided hard drives for the Lisa 1 computer).

On a DOS 3.x hard drive, tracks 0, 1 and most tracks 2 were reserved for storing the operating system. (With a special utility, it was possible to reclaim most of that space for data when a hard drive didn't need to be bootable.) A short ROM program on the hard drive controller had the ability to search for zero - which it did without taking into account the current position of the read / write head, resulting in the characteristic "rattle" of a Disk II boat, which is the read / write head hitting the rubber stop block at the end of the rail - and read out the code the sector and run it 0. The code in it would then pull the rest of the operating system. DOS saved the hard drive directory on track 17, right in the middle of the 35 track hard drives, in order to reduce the average search time to the frequently used directory track. The directory had a fixed size and could hold a maximum of 105 files. Subdirectories were not supported.

Most game manufacturers didn't include DOS on their floppy disks because they needed more memory than their capabilities. Instead, they often wrote their own boot loaders and read-only file systems. This was also done to prevent "crackers" from snooping around the game's copy protection code, as the data on the hard drive was not in files that could be easily accessed.

Some third-party manufacturers made floppy drives that could write 40 tracks on most 5.25-inch hard drives, resulting in 160 KB of space per hard drive. The format did not catch on, however, and no known commercial software was released on 40-track media. Most drives, even Disk IIs, can write 36 tracks. A two-byte change to DOS to format the additional track was common.

The Apple Disk II stored 140 KB on single-sided "single density" disks, but it was very common for Apple II users to expand the capacity of a single-sided disk to 280 KB by cutting out a second copy. Protect the notch on the side of the hard drive with a disk notcher or hole punch and insert the hard drive upside down. Double-sided disks with notches on either side were available at a higher price, but in practice the magnetic coating on the back of nominally single-sided disks was usually of sufficient quality to be used (both sides were coated the same way to prevent warping although only one side has been certified for use). Early on, disk manufacturers routinely warned that this technique would damage the read / write head of the drives or wear the disk faster, and these warnings were repeated many times in the daily newspapers. In practice, however, this method has been an inexpensive way to store twice as much data at no additional cost, and has also been widely used for commercially released floppy disks.

Later, Apple IIs could use 3.5-inch hard drives with a total capacity of 800 KB and hard drives. DOS 3.3 did not natively support these drives. Third-party software was required, and hard drives larger than 400 KB had to be split into multiple "virtual hard drive volumes".

The successor to DOS 3.3 was ProDOS, a 1983 descendant of Apple's SOS ///. Support has been added for subdirectories and volumes up to 32MB in size. ProDOS became the Apple II DOS of choice. AppleWorks and other newer programs required this.


Apple II Europlus computer with a Scandinavian keyboard layout in Helsinki's computer and game console museum.

Effects on the industry

The Apple II series of computers had a huge impact on the technology industry and expanded the role of microcomputers in society. The Apple II was the first personal computer many people had ever seen. The award was achievable for many middle-class families, and a partnership with MECC helped make the Apple II popular in schools. By the end of 1980, Apple had already sold over 100,000 Apple IIs. Its popularity has weighed heavily on the computer game and educational software markets and sparked the boom in the word processor and computer printer markets. The first spreadsheet application, VisiCalc, was originally released for the Apple II, and many companies bought it just to run VisiCalc. The success led IBM in part to develop the IBM PC, which many companies had bought to run spreadsheet and word processing software, which was initially ported from Apple II versions.

The Apple II's slots, allowing any peripheral card to take control of the bus and access memory directly, enabled an independent industry of card makers to work together to create a deluge of hardware products that allowed users to create systems that were far more powerful and were more useful (a lower cost) than any other competing system, most of which were nowhere near as extensible and universally proprietary. The first peripheral card was a blank prototyping card for electronics enthusiasts who wanted to design their own peripherals for the Apple II.

Specialty peripherals have used the Apple II in industrial and educational settings for many years after Apple Computer no longer supports the Apple II. Until well into the 1990s, every clean room (the super-clean facility where spacecraft are prepared for flight) at the Kennedy Space Center used an Apple II to monitor the environment and air quality. Most planetariums used Apple IIs to control their projectors and other devices.

Even the game port was unusually powerful and could be used for digital and analog inputs and outputs. The early manuals included instructions for building a circuit with only four commonly available components (a transistor and three resistors) and a software routine for driving a popular Teletype Model 33 machine. Don Lancaster used the game I / O to power a LaserWriter printer.

Modern use

Today, emulators are available for various Apple II models that can run Apple II software on MacOS, Linux, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo DS with homebrew functionality, and other operating systems. Numerous disk images of the Apple II software are available free of charge on the Internet for use with these emulators. AppleWin and MESS are some of the best emulators that are compatible with most Apple II images. The MESS emulator supports recording and playback of Apple II emulation sessions as well as the Home Action Replay Page (also known as HARP).

In addition, an active retrocomputing community of Apple II collectors and users continues to restore, maintain, and develop hardware and software for everyday use on these original computers. There's still a small annual convention, KansasFest, dedicated to the platform.

In 2017 the band 8 Bit Weapon released the world's first 100% Apple II-based music album entitled "Class Apples". The album featured dance-themed covers of classical music by Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart, recorded directly from the Apple II motherboard.

Timeline of the models in the Apple II family

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