Apple IIe

A couple of years after upgrading my IIe to the Stealth IIGS, I passed by a garage sale on the way into work and saw a IIe available that wasn’t too different from what I had at the beginning. I figured it’d be nice to have one again as a relatively “unmolested” model, and at $35 for the complete system, it was a steal. (My parents forked out over $2200 for a comparable system back in ’85…it’s amazing how cheap this stuff has become!) That $35 bought the following:

  • The computer itself.
  • Two Disk II 5.25″ floppy drives, with controller.
  • A 128K standard-slot memory expansion card of unknown manufacture…I have no idea how (or even if) it works, or what supports it
  • Star NX-20 9-pin dot-matrix printer, with a no-name parallel card driving it.
  • Apple Super Serial Card, probably to drive a modem that wasn’t sold with the computer.
  • Zenith 13″ composite amber monitor.

I’ve since added these items to bring it a bit more up to spec:

  • Applied Engineering RamWorks II memory expansion card with 1MB
  • ALS Z-Card Z-80 coprocessor card, for running CP/M software (snagged this as a freebie years ago, but have never really done much with it)

Sometime I might get around to adding a hard drive to it; I have some SCSI cards and drives sitting idle. I might even have a SCSI drive enclosure sitting idle, so all it’d be is a matter of putting it all together.

I also wouldn’t mind getting hold of some of the other add-ons I had before upgrading my first IIe to the Stealth GS:

  • Applied Engineering 65816 option for the RamWorks, which got you the same processor as in the IIGS.
  • RocketChip 10-MHz accelerator…the fastest ever made for 8-bit Apple IIs, but exceedingly rare as Zip Technology put its manufacturer out of business over a patent violation.
  • Applied Engineering Timemaster H.O. real-time clock card (a Thunderclock would also be acceptable…but since the Timemaster kept track of the year, using its ProDOS 8 driver instead of the built-in Thunderclock driver means you don’t have to patch the year table in ProDOS 8 every six or seven years to keep the date accurate).
  • Applied Engineering DataLink 2400 internal modem…not much use for a modem today, especially at 2400 bps, but it was the shiznit when I got mine back in 1990. :-) Fully Apple SSC-compatible, and with a simple built-in comm program to get you dialed out. ProTERM also works great with it, and I ran the Skunk Works BBS (1990-1994) with it for the first year or so, until I built a 286-12 clone box so I could have my Apple back. :-)

Here’s the out-of-the-box configuration for a IIe:


  • 1.0-MHz 6502 or 65C02 processor, depending on age (the 65C02 was used beginning in 1985 and included some additional instructions).
  • 64K RAM, which was expandable by several methods into the multi-megabyte range.
  • Seven standard Apple II expansion slots, plus an auxiliary slot to enable 80-column text and double Hi-Res graphics. (The most common card to find in this slot is an Apple IIe Extended 80-Column Card, which added 64K. Other cards, such as Applied Engineering’s RamWorks series, could add 3MB or more, plus RGB video (analog or digital) and other goodies. At one time, Microsoft (I’m not kidding) produced a card with 64K and a Z-80 processor that worked in this slot; I’ve never had one, but I think it was supposed to be significantly faster than the cards that went in the regular expansion slots.)
  • Integrated graphics that supported the following modes:
    • text: 40×24
    • Lo-Res: 40×48, 16 colors
    • Hi-Res: 280×192, 2 colors or 140×192, 6 colors
    • mixed mode: four lines of text at the bottom with a reduced amount of Lo-Res or Hi-Res graphics above

    With an Extended 80-Column Card (or equivalent), these extra modes were also available:

    • double Lo-Res: 80×48, 16 colors
    • double Hi-Res: 560×192, 2 colors or 140×192, 16 colors

    Colors were generated by taking advantage of quirks in the way NTSC video works. Some color monitors, such as the AppleColor Monitor IIe, had a switch to enable Hi-Res and double Hi-Res graphics to be displayed as either monochrome (for higher resolution) or color. This wasn’t software-selectable. The IIGS dealt with this in its RGB video generator by providing a soft-switch to enable or disable color for older Apple II video modes.

  • Integrated keyboard capable of generating all 128 ASCII characters. Models produced after 1987 or 1988 also included an integrated numeric keypad. For older models, an external keypad was available as an option.
  • Integrated DB-9 and DIP-16 joystick ports.
  • Input and output jacks for an audio-cassette recorder for data storage, though this was mostly an anachonism by the time the IIe was introduced in 1983. I did include support for the cassette-output jack in SoftDAC, a digital-audio player I wrote in 1990 for the II. I rigged the circuit board from a busted cassette recorder with a plug, a speaker, and a fairly aggressive low-pass filter so that my computer would play a randomly-selected sound file every time it started up. Try getting your computer to do that! (Playing a sound file is no biggie, but I’m not aware of any add-on for Win9x/NT/2K that selects a startup sound at random.)

It’s worth noting that the Apple IIe holds the record for longest production lifetime of any personal computer. It went on the market in January 1983 and remained in production until November or December 1993—nearly eleven years! Scores of ’em found their way into schools; I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they’re still in use here and there, as a huge library of educational software was built up over the years that can still get the job done, and the computers are nearly indestructible (as opposed to your average modern PC, which will sometimes let out its “magic smoke” if you just look at it funny, let alone pound on it as kids are sometimes wont to do). It was the first computer I was able to fairly thoroughly understand in terms of how it works (both hardware and software). If I had to pick a favorite 8-bit computer, it would have to be the IIe.

Most of the links at the bottom of my Stealth GS page are also of value to IIe users, so there’s no sense duplicating them here.

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