When I set out to build my Apple 1 Replica I wanted to recreate the one from the first advertisement. How do you think I did?
Recently I was bringing up an Apple 1 and I did the first thing I always do to do an initial checkout, which is run the Test Program from the Apple-1 Operation Manual. This is a very simple program that runs a loop that counts from 0x00 to 0xFF and prints each byte as an ASCII character. Here is the program:
0000 LDA #0
0003 JSR ECHO
0008 JMP $0002
This time when I brought up the Apple 1 I saw the following output:
The last time I had run this program, I had run it on an emulator and seen the following:
Remembering how the output looked I thought there was a problem with my Apple 1. After further investigation I found the answer in the Apple 1 schematics.
It turns out that character output is tied to RD6 or RD7. This was overlooked in every Apple 1 emulator that I have looked at.
Recently I wrote an Application for iOS devices that can be used to load Apple 1 software through the cassette interface. One key benefit to this application is that is shows load and verify instructions for each program. I’m currently in the process of getting this added to the App Store.
Today I built up Mike Willegal‘s Apple Cassette Interface for the Apple 1. Previously I was using the Obtronix interface, however Mike’s board is a more accure reproduction.
Here is a video demoing Mike Willegal‘s Brain Board. In the demo I load Blackjack for the Apple 1 from cassette.
The most distinct chip on an original Apple 1 is definitely the MOS 6502. This chip originally came in a white ceramic package, and that is what shipped with the original Apple 1 computers. When I decided to build my replica using original parts, I set out to find this chip. As it turns out, this is a relatively sought after chip. They rarely come up for sale, and when they do they can claim hundreds of dollars. After a few months of searching I finally found one. What I did not know when I started searching was that this chip actually came in three different variations of the white ceramic packaging. The Apple 1 computer used a package with no external ground strap. This was the very first package used on the MOS 6502. Later MOS shipped two white 6502’s with an external ground strap. One had a centered strap, the other ran along the edge. The original packaging is the most rare, and took me almost a year to acquire.
Today I received a bunch of Interface Age magazines in the mail. This magazine carried the very first Apple 1 advertisement in July of 1976 as well as an article about the new company. In September the magazine printed a 6502 Disassembler by Woz and Allen Baum, and in October an article by Steve Jobs about connecting the SWTPC PR-40.
I realized that I have never posted a photo of my complete Apple 1 setup. My setup includes my Apple 1 motherboard, my custom Apple 1 keyboard, a Panasonic RQ-2102 cassette player, and an Apple IIe monitor. The monitor isn’t shown here in the photo, but it is shown in the video below:
After building my cassette interface and loading programs successfully from an iMac, I wanted to try loading programs from a cassette player. Thanks to Wendell Sander, we now know that the Steve’s used a Panasonic RQ-2102 cassette player. Luckily these exact players are still made today and I was able to get a new one very easily.
After finding the right cassette player, I wanted to create some authentic-looking tapes. A few tapes were included in a recent eBay auction so I have something to model after. I still have some work to do on the cassette labels, but here is what I have right now.
When I needed a keyboard for my Apple 1, I did what many others did. I got a standard Apple II keyboard, created an adapter, and hooked it up. This comes along with several challenges and considerations. First, it is very easy to hook up backwards and blow a 7404. Second, you will still have to hook up separate clear switch. You could do what I did and build a clear and reset on power on circuit, but you won’t have a manual clear switch.
This is where Wendell Sander came in with a couple of fantastic add-ons that turn an Apple II keyboard, into a real custom Apple 1 keyboard. The first step was to replace the the encoder board on the Apple II keyboard with one that is wired directly for the Apple 1. On top of that, it uses a keyed header on the ribbon so you do not risk plugging it in backwards. This made perfect sense, so instead of having an Apple II encoder card with an Apple 1 adapter, you would have a single Apple 1 encoder card.
Now that I have an Apple II keyboard properly wired for an Apple 1, Wendell took it a step further and created custom key caps for the Apple 1. These key caps are double-shot injection molded black plastic, with a custom layout for the Apple 1. The repeat key was replaced with a Clear Screen key, the left arrow was replaced with a Rub Out key, and the right arrow was replaced with a blank key. These keys look fantastic, and have a great retro feel to them.
With these two additions I now have a great keyboard, that is custom designed for the Apple 1.