Perplexed about Apple I attraction

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Joined: Jan 19 2011
Posts: 52

This is kind of a weird question to ask, but please don't label me a troll or critic for asking it.
I truly am curious and don't want to pick any fights. Good? Smile

Ok, here goes…

Why all the interest in making Apple I clones?

I mean, you're probably all honest people and wouldn't try to sell it as a real one or convince your friends it was, so the question of it being a copy is out of the way.
But now what?
Aren't we talking about a non-autostarting computer that is ideally (to be history accurate) loading and saving via a tape drive and capable of less than your standard ][+, //e, GS or emulator?
I mean, is the satisfaction in building it or operating it?

What IS the attraction? Smile
The satisfaction of copying something as accurately as possible?
Doing an interesting DIY project? (believe me, I DO understand the pleasure of this.)
To use for educational purposes or in museums?
To experience that original feeling of what it must have been like for the "pioneers" of Apple-dom?

I'm truly not criticizing or wishing to pick fights, I just sort of don't "get" it.
When it comes to the point of searching for 30+ year old electrolytics (that might well be dry or shorted now) or other components that were exactly like real Apple I's had then for incredibly high prices, it all sounds a little silly, forgive me for saying.

Is this basically a hobby / accomplishment / showpiece sort of thing for those with day jobs in other fields?
Do you actually run them or use them?

What is / was your motivation in making one?
I have seen some very nice examples of replicas and applaud the efforts.
I'm just a little perplexed what the big attraction is.
Can you tell me your story and not be too defensive… I'm truly curious, that's all. Smile

Thank you.
Kevin

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Joined: Oct 9 2011
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Re: Perplexed about Apple I attraction

Kevin,

I look at it a few ways why we love the Apple-1. Forget that it's the first real computer Woz designed and built (I'm not counting the Cream Soda Computer)... Forget that it's the computer that got the attention to Apple so that they could have investment and start the real Apple Computer we all know.... Forget that it was the first 6502 system to have a built in terminal...

So from a historical collectible perspective, it has it's reasons...

The board is beautifully designed and could be a work of art in itself... The Apple II, not as much...

For those building a clone or repairing an original with correct parts, it's a quest not unknown to the vintage car community. I once spent $500 and two years searching for a "tool kit" for a 1956 Porsche to complete the car back to factory. I count myself lucky I only spent $500, I know guys who spent more. Then I had to "restore" the tools. It was like a treasure hunt and an art project.

As for use, while I have an autostart Apple II rev 4, on my Rev 0, I bent out the pin on the disk controller that does the auto reset. I like the primitiveness of having to manually reset the machine on startup.... The Apple-1 is the perfect example for that, with such a small ROM and the limitation of using parts out of the HP "spares" closet, Woz was limited on what he could build.

I have some of my greatest joy trying to make the Apple-1 do things that wasn't part of the "plan". When I wrote lunar lander and added "sound" using the cassette interface, or when I started playing songs though the interface, I felt like I accomplished something.

To put it another way... If I was driving on a race track in a new stock Porsche Turbo against a driver of the same skill level in a Mazda Miata, I'd expect to win, it's just so easy to drive one of those fast. But if I was in the Miata and able to beat the 500+ horsepower all wheel drive Porsche, well then I'd have shown that I could accomplish something. It's not hard to do a lot of things in an emulator or on a more modern computer... but go back a generation or two and you will be challenged... Some of us love the challenge...

The next step after you master the Apple-1, is to go even further back... and learn to use something like a Scelbi or Mark 8. Even more fun. You have to manage your H and L registers separately, you start thinking of crazy ways to save memory because every byte is precious. IO ports and cables are expensive, so you figure out ways to save using them... Now that is fun...

Cheers,
Corey

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Joined: Jan 19 2011
Posts: 52
Re: Perplexed about Apple I attraction

Corey,

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.
I really appreciate you taking the time.

I think that it's amazing how Woz could cut down the number of chips to what he did.
That's some weird combination of brains and art, not to mention an obvious savings of current (and thus size and heat) for the power supply.
Sometimes when I've modded a synthesizer, I've looked for unused gates I could use in an IC and often thought of him when doing this.

Thank you for your excellent reply and respecting my query.

Kevin

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Joined: Nov 16 2011
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Re: Perplexed about Apple I attraction

Hello Kevin,
besides the huge bunch of reasons Corey explained there surely a lot of us are also attracted by another point:
Curiosity
We all know rather well from history that the aera of the Apple-1 was rather "short time" and it was rather
fast followed by the Apple II series..... one of the successes of the Apple II series had been in the former
days the local user communities..... within a rather short period numerous expansion cards had been developed
for the Apple II series and it´s generous expansion capabilities with its 8 slots performing all kinds of
tasks..... comparing the time the Apple 1 entered the market there had only been very small time and small
chances for local communities and this developments... a lot of us think probably about the question:

"what would have happened with the Apple 1 - if it would have remained for longer period in the market ?"

or in other expresion: "how far ist the Apple 1 able to go?"

we know that rather fast the Apple II series have recieved the ability to expand the RAM memory....
( just remember the first ones sold with only 16 kByte ! )
So some of us just probably like the challange to find out, where the boundery of the Apple 1 would have really been,
if it would have lasted longer to introduce the Apple II series....

maybe it´s a funny compare... but you surely remember Thor Heyerdahl, who tried to proove with the Contiki the
ancient routes ancient population speaded along in the oceans... ? It´s not exactly the same - but quite similar
challenge.... or even better compare: we all know that in the ocean "there is deep water" but we never knew
"how deep it really is" untill we measured it - and found out that there are spots far deeper that 11 kilometers...

we probably know more about the surface of the moon and it´s rear side than what we know about the deep areas of the ocean and it´s life down there.... all we discovered yet are only minimalistic fragments...

speedyG

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gsmcten's picture
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Re: Perplexed about Apple I attraction

Kevin,

AMC is starting a new TV Series next week called "HALT and Catch Fire".
It is supposed to be taking place starting in the mid 1970's running through the mid 1980's
and the start of the computer revolution.
The era when people were building PCB style computers in their homes and there were no corporations building home computers.

Their interpretation of events should be interesting.

Steven Smile

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"Apple ][.....It's ALIVE!!!!!"

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Joined: Jan 19 2011
Posts: 52
Re: Perplexed about Apple I attraction

Thank you again for your replies and for treating my question with respect.

The reply about being curious was one answer that I hadn't considered and is certainly valid.
Thanks.
I do remember the excitement of building things when I was a teen and perhaps forgot how that felt.

Please understand that I've been making a living at electronics for the past 35 years or so, thus I'm probably kind of jaded.

Anyway, thanks. I appreciate you guys taking the time to write some great replies.

Fwiw, I'm selling off the last of my own Apple stuff.
Some is on ebay now. Soon I'll be listing a couple //e's and the general drive controller, drives and printer card stuff that remains here.
Also some books and old magazines.
Nothing special, though will also be selling a lot of TTL chips and other old parts.
If curious, look up the Ebay account married_with_patchcords.

Take care,
Kevin

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Joined: Nov 16 2011
Posts: 2376
Re: Perplexed about Apple I attraction

Hello Kevin,
with respect i acknowledge your "retirement from electronics" and the fact of the resulting "sale off".

I´d just like to add a remark: Unfortunatly nobody knows who will succeed in bidding for the magazins....
and therefor it must also be assumed that unfortunatly it might be a bidder not familiar with the Apple community.
So in "worst case" the magazins might be "lost for the community" in the way that their content might
not be preserved.....
I don´t know in what physical health condition you are at the moment ....
but i believe, that you can judge, if there is some content in that magazins that might be worth to
become preserved by scanning and upload to asimov or alternate preservation site. Or if you can´t perform
such task, if some friend in your neighborhood might perform the task in your favor or offering the rare
magazins here in the platform, so that another member here can perform such task.....
i would be glad if you consider this proposal..... thanks a lot and enjoy the future as well as possible....
sincerely speedyG

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In early days I had a lot of money but no time - now I have no money but a lot of time....
the second part includes less friends but a lot more joy on life....

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Re: Perplexed about Apple I attraction

In my case, it started off after reading a news flash of someone paying $300,000 for one of the first Apple computer computers.
After some research, I found out quality PCBs for clones were available at a reasonable cost.

My primary reason for building one was nostalgia and to experience using the first Apple. My first computer was an Apple II clone in 1983.
At first I toyed with the idea of trying to find period correct (mid-1976 to mid-1977) parts, but in the end I wanted a functional unit and not a display piece, so I settled with
predominately 1978 Signetics parts and machined IC sockets. I remembered during one of my part-time jobs, when I used to build computers as a student 30 years ago, how much problems cheap IC sockets caused.

When I powered it up, it was a real thrill to get the 6502 monitor going and typing in primitive commands.
I always had great admiration for Steve Wozniak. After studying and probing the Apple I circuit with an oscilloscope my appreciation of his work and genius increased even more.
I was very impressed with how much functionality he squeezed out a few TTL chips. For example, the 14.31818 mhz to 60 hz 74160/161 based divider chains, not only generated video synchronization (15 khz and 60 hz), but SAM (Sequential Access Memory) sequencing, the CPU clock and DRAM refresh counters. Modern programmers who use hundreds of megabytes of memory space without any thought could learn from the Woz on how much functionality can be obtained from only 256 bytes of ROM.

My conclusion after building an Apple I, was that it was a seminal and impressive piece of hardware.
At the same time, I still don't understand why some people pay hundreds of thousands for an original unit that they are afraid to plug in.

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Re: Perplexed about Apple I attraction

IEEE-802 wrote:

At the same time, I still don't understand why some people pay hundreds of thousands for an original unit that they are afraid to plug in.

Hello IEEE-802,

in fact i agree with nearly every word of your posting.....
just related to the last sentence....

in fact the guys that join in the auctions at Sothebys or Breckard are often not Apple Fans at all ....
it´s a similar phenomenon like at art..... even most collectors of art nowadays don´t buy object´s or paintings
because of beeing "a fan" of an artist... some don´t even have any kind of attitude to art at all ....
It´s just a matter of money and investment ! That guys buy items as "investment" and aim for the target of
"earning money big money" by the fact that prices are rising.... some painting that guys have bought several years ago are now double or ten times more expensive in the dealers market than few years ago and selling such objects
few years later sometimes bring up "big profit".... it´s gambling ! Some have luck and get ten times or 50 times raise and in other occasions the money only gets back or prices sometimes even drop....

that has nothing to do at all with the computer itself....

just a bunch of greedy guys chasing for more profit....
speedyG

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In early days I had a lot of money but no time - now I have no money but a lot of time....
the second part includes less friends but a lot more joy on life....

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Re: Perplexed about Apple I attraction

I have to agree with speedyG. An original Apple I is like a $200,000 banknote that is extremely hard to duplicated... Try to get an original white ceramic 6502 or all the chips with the correct date you will need a main board made with exactly the same production method as well. You have used tin with the correct mixture and so on...

Until a few years ago you could have been able to actually clone the board to almost 99% accuracy in Bulgaria or Romania. They have used 70s production methods for PCB manufacturing until the mid 90s. But thats over as the former eastern block states have begun to join the EU. The have begun or even finished to modernize almost all the pre 80s technology in record time. If you know the right person you may be able to get a 70s-style PCB manufactured in small scale for an arm and a leg.

You could actually duplicate an Apple 1 with enough 'criminal' energy. It would cost you several $1000 to do this and you would need a original board as master to begin with. But you can hardly fake a owner history. There are experts (the guys who designed and built the stuff) still alive. And some of them can verify the board and equipment and give the 'official' approval. All the newer Apple 1 that have been sold for several $100,000 were verified and are therefore originals.

Its easier to print banknotes or rob a bank than to fake an Apple 1.

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Re: Perplexed about Apple I attraction

Neon,

It's not just about the Apple I.
It's the entire Apple line up to the Mac.

The Apple I and Apple II are for the "Guy in the street" hobbyists.
The folks who like to take things apart just to see what make them tick.

I myself had a hard time understanding the 8 bit bus when I first started.
I happen to be a mechanic and at first none of the parts made sense.
A friend said "Think of the bus as a piping system, with lines and valves and such".
When I went back and started tracing the lines on the Motherboard
it started making sense.

Steven Smile

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"Apple ][.....It's ALIVE!!!!!"