The Apple 1
I must confess something: History never was my favourite subject at school.
And yet I dive right back into history in this corner of my web site, back to the very beginning of modern computers.
It's like riding a time machine, going back to when the Apple company was born, a little more than 30 years ago as of this writing.
Well, that is what you can read on almost all the web sites referring to the Apple 1.
Those sites even tell you that it originally sold for $666.66 with only 4k of memory!
And that one of the approximately 50 remaining Apple 1's was sold in an auction for about $50.000 a few years ago!
A Little Introduction To The Apple 1
Computers and humans do not speak the same language.
Fortunately computers have come a long way to learn to understand what we humans want them to do, thanks to graphical user interfaces.
On the Apple 1 this human interface was controlled by the monitor program, better known as the Woz Monitor, named after its creator.
A total of 256 bytes of ROM memory were responsible for holding the Woz Monitor and allowing the computer to do something sensible when the RESET switch was pressed.
Doesn't sound much, only 256 bytes, but keep in mind that memory was extremely expensive in those days.
And hey, it's always 256 bytes more than Apple's main competitor at that time, the Altair 8800, which had no ROM at all and no terminal screen or keyboard!
Why Apple 1?
You may wonder why I'm interested in the Apple 1.
Many people consider it to be the first true home computer because it had a built in terminal.
Of course it is also the first true product of the Apple Computer Company.
But I think the main reason is that I think the story behind Steve Woziniak and his Apple 1 sounds very familiar to me.
Do You Want To Own An Apple 1?
Who wouldn't? Only 200 were built and about 50 are thought to have survived. Therefore an original Apple 1 is practically un affordable. I can't help you with that. But all hope is not lost yet, there are several alternatives.
Undoubtedly the cheapest Apple 1 you could have is an emulator.
This is simply a program which runs on a modern PC and behaves exactly like a real Apple 1 (with much more memory).
I recommend Ken Wessen's version of the POM1 emulator.
Ken has fixed some bugs and added some extra features to the original POM1 emulator.
I never got the original POM1 to work, but Ken's version is perfect.
I know, an emulator is nice to speed up development of your Apple 1 killer application, but it is not the real thing.
The next best thing is to buy one of available Apple 1 replica's.
Original components are hard to come by these days.
Therefore the replica's use modern chips to replace the "difficult" parts.
However the computer part of the replicas is exactly the same as in a real Apple 1, which makes them behave exactly the same as the real thing.
At the moment of this writing there are two alternative sources to get an Apple 1 replica:
A Reward From Circuit Cellar
By the way, Franz and I received a "Distinctive Excellence" reward from those nice people at Circuit Cellar back in 2006.