Looking for Apple I Replica kit

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Joined: Oct 28 2020 - 04:45
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Looking for Apple I Replica kit

Hi everyone,

I'm looking for an Apple I Replica kit to ask Santa.

I would like the closest replica to the original, no modern microcontrollers on it, that assembles with a PCB (no breadboard).

I'm good enough at soldering so no big issues.

Do you know where I can find such a replica ? (In EU if it's not too much to ask )

(I did see the Replica 1 and Replica 1 Plus kits but I would like something closer to the original if it exists)

Thanks a lot !

Last seen: 55 min 25 sec ago
Joined: Nov 29 2020 - 19:48
Posts: 74
Apple I replica

For starters, Tom Owad, who runs this site has a cheap pdf ebook he sells from the home page of this site.  It is very useful. In general, you are at the right place because there are many experienced Apple I folks here who are very willing to help newcomoers.


There are several ebay vendors selling bare board reproductions of the original Apple I where you can solder all you own parts.  Search "Replica apple i"  and you will several options, Prices and quality vary.  Some people here also sell direct. Some parts are hard to find and others are not reliable or even working at all so expect a lot of troubleshooting during construction.  Many of the answers you need will already be on applefritter if you search.  Parts are also available on ebay.  The user UncleBernie  frequents this site sells tested parts kits direct and on ebay also.   You will probably want an ACI Apple Cassette Interface as well.


There are several options for various levels of authenticity as related to date codes on chips or more reliable modern replacements for some components.  You will find this site to super useful and filled with  very knowledgable users as you explore your options.


It will be an adventure.

Last seen: 9 hours 43 min ago
Joined: Apr 1 2020 - 16:46
Posts: 474
Beware confusion about the Apple-1 "replica" PCB and the kit !

The starter of this thread - "jameslebolanger" - obviously knows the difference because he wrote:


"I would like the closest replica to the original, no modern microcontrollers on it, that assembles with a PCB (no breadboard)."


But, alas, he uses the word "replica" all the time but what he actually means is a "clone".  And then 8bitheaven chimes in and talks about Tom Owad's book.

Gentlemen, this only leads to great confusion about which is which and what is in the book. Especially confusing for newbies in the Apple-1 world. So please let me clarify by posting a snippet from my "Tips & Tricks" pdf every buyer of my famous kits gets from me:


"Tip #1: "Replicas are not Clones !"


Some builders I coach have bought Tom Owad's "Apple 1 Replica Creation" ebook as featured on Applefritter, because they thought its 310 pages would give more detailed building instructions for Apple-1 clones. Although this book contains a wealth of information on the Apple-1, including photos of original Apple-1 and the stories told by their owners, and is definitely worth having just for these gems, it does not have any building instructions for Apple-1 clones, but for the "Apple 1 Replica" which is a smaller PCB based on more modern components that emulates the Apple-1. It is much cheaper and quicker to build and much more likely to work. And if you hide it in a case or enclosure, nobody can tell it's a replica, and not a clone. 


Be aware of the difference between replicas and clones:


We will build a clone based on the original schematics and using the period correct IC technology. Only clones have the correct "look & feel".  Replicas  look different and try to emulate the real thing using a different technology, typically much more modern ICs, so there are less parts, less solder joints, and less risks."


So far the citation from my "Tips & Tricks".


Just to make this point clearer: everybody knows the famous Lamborghini Countach and as far as I know every man of means who is a car aficionado wants to have one, except for those select few who actually have an original (and hate it for various reasons I don't want to explain here, except for this one: keeping one roadworthy, especially the early ones, is a nightmare). But there is a better alternative which found its market niche: a Countach replica. The cheaper replicas are based on the VW Beetle chassis and engine (about 1/10th of the horsepower of the original) but it actually works, moves under its own power (a feat you can't expect from the original unless you employ a star mechanic to keep it running) and looks much the same, the perfect illusion as long as you don't hear the pathetically asthmatic VW engine or see a real one near it to compare. This is the general idea of a "replica": an illusion for cheap money that is trouble free and pretends to be the real thing for the casual observer.


The real Apple-1 (and the clones based on the real, historic IC set) is quirky and finicky and temperamental. I think I have exorcised most of its demons (see my "Reliability Mods" as published here on Applefritter) but it still is far from being perfect: plugging in any extender card can push it over the cliff of unreliability. The ACI almost never works with a typical cassette recorder, but if you are lucky to have found a "good" one and have applied Mike Willegal's reliability mod for the ACI, and / or use a digital media player (aka iPod or PC soundcard) in lieu of the cassette recorder, it will work, at least after some patient fiddling with the volume settings.


And about my famous kits: you can buy a set of PCBs anywhere (there are many options / choices) and then buy the parts one by one but keep in mind none of these ICs you can buy have been tested in a real Apple-1 and they are 40+ years old, so most likely, there will be defective ones in any set of ICs you have put together yourself and your Apple-1 build won't work. I estimate about 1/3 of the Apple-1 build attempts not using my kits do fail. And the end of the story is then either a nonfunctional wall hanger or the hapless builder finally buys one of my kits and then his build will work. Like this one here:




... which is only one example of many hapless builders I was able to help towards having a functional Apple-1 clone. All they had to do is to contact me here on Applefritter, to get instructions how to buy a kit from me directly, and then hand me over their soon-to-be-even-more-worthless GTP (Green Toilet Paper) against my fine and 100% tested and burned-in IC kits (which also include all the little parts, like diodes, resistors, capacitors, but no IC sockets). If you buy directly from me you get a much better deal than on Ebay with their usurious fees which I of course had to factor into the starting price and the kits on Ebay also have fewer parts (i.e. none of the three big blue Sprague capacitors, and no heatsink) despite they cost much more.


This is what I recommend to prospective Apple-1 builders:


1. Get Tom Owads ebook (available here on this site) and read about the real Apple-1 and the trouble the owners had with it.


2. Then decide if you want to build a trouble-free "Replica" (based on more modern ICs) or a "clone". 


3.  If you want to build a "Replica", the building instructions are in Tom Owad's book. Stop reading this.


4. If you want to build a "Clone", take your time to browse through all the "Uncle Bernie" posts here on Applefritter. You will find yourself in a very strange little world full of nasty surprises and things you didn't know and, to be honest, probably never wanted to know.


5. If this little journey did not frighten / discourage you enough, goto step 6, else reconsider building a "Replica".


6. Save the money in your PayPal account (you need $305-$350 depending where in the world you live) and then shoot me ("Uncle Bernie") a message via the Applefritter message system, with the title "Want to buy one of your kits". Just click on my user name and then on "Send PM". As easy as that.


7. If you don't trust me (I'm a scoundrel worse than Han Solo, really, but I don't crash the airplanes I borrow like his actor did, great actor, but lousy pilot) then go and buy one of my kits on Ebay to have money back guarantee if there is a brick inside the parcel.


Ok, this are the rules. At the time being I don't ship anything anymore (Christmas seasons means Pandemonium at the United States Post Office, no thank you, I don't need any of that and I don't need delayed / lost / misrouted or damaged parcels - so far, this happend to me only during Christmas season with the exception of two massively delayed parcels, one to Italy and one to China, these nations seem to have Pandemonium and Chaos all year around). 


Shipping of my kits will commence in the 2nd week of January, 2022. Only 50 kits left !  


Oh, and just in case you don't know why I sell these kits: these are made from the $27000 worth of ICs I bought for a business venture which intended to make 100 "perfect" Apple-1 clones using a wave soldering machine, and hence, the PCBs would have had the same solder "ripple" effect the experts use to discern originals from clones - don't think bad from me, I already told you I'm a scoundrel. But this venture failed because my first Apple-1 build did not work. And it took me weeks to make it limp. And months to make it run robustly. No way I would want to mass produce those things to sell as "nearly authentic fake Apple-1" to rich people. They would have sued the hell out of me. Not for them being a fake, this would have been disclosed in the Bill Of Sale, the key to make any such skullduggery perfectly legal, but because they would not have worked well enough to show "Apple the 30th" to impress their millionaire / billionaire friends. Heck, even back in the day the two Steves had conjured up so much trouble with angry / desperate Apple-1 customers who rang the phone at Apple (the company) off the hook, distracting Woz from being able to focus on the Apple-II, that they decided to "buy back" the hapless Apple-1 in order to destroy them. (Actually, the customers who turned them in got no money back, they only got a discount voucher towards the brand new Apple-II, at least this is how the story is being told, and it's your call who was a scoundrel in that context, or not). The "death row" of doomed Apple-1 was on a pile in Steve Job's office, and depending on who tells the story, the pile was larger or smaller. Three Apple-1 are known to have been salvaged from that pile by early Apple employees who dared to ask the "dragon" who guarded the pile.  All of these three Apple-1 are now worth high six figures close to one million US$. The rest is history. And this is the foundation of the Apple-1 myth and why there is such a small, elite, Apple-1 clone builder scene.


Now you know why you want one. You want it badly ! Go get it ! (Buy one of my kits, hint, hint --- but buy no PCB before you have read my Tips & Tricks !).


Macintosh_nik's picture
Last seen: 5 hours 8 min ago
Joined: Jan 8 2021 - 05:18
Posts: 194
Hi jamesleboulanger!

And to be perfectly honest: you can, of course, assemble all the parts yourself. But it will be more expensive: not always microchips and other components are sold in lots in the right quantity, you will be left with quite a lot of extra parts. Plus the shipping costs, you have to collect parts from different stores often from different countries. And most importantly if something goes wrong (and most likely it will) then you'll usually have a long (but insanely interesting!) process of debugging, you'll need an oscilloscope and help from a more experienced builder. Nothing is impossible. I was building it myself, I had about two months between / and /@ (the working processor part). But when it did, I felt like Yuri Gagarin, no less. So if you want a quick win Uncle Bernie's kit is the best solution. You want adventure, you need to read Mike Willegal's Apple-1 assembly instructions. It has all the information you need.

Last seen: 1 week 2 days ago
Joined: Oct 9 2011 - 12:54
Posts: 1351
Bernie,     I agree with much



   I agree with much of your "clone" comments.  The Mimeo and Newton boards I have built are very reliable, but a properly restored Apple-1 is actually pretty good as well.  I think this is because Woz matched very specific components when the boards were populated.  What I have found is that even a simple component subsitition to a different brand or decade of manufacturer can affect the reliability.  Much of that you have mentioned in other posts.  The worst offender is the 74123 chip and the Memory ICs because of the timing issue.   Don't get me wrong, if you don't reform the caps and do a few other critical restorati0n tasks an original Apple-1 is not reliable due to the age of the components.


I have run my original Apple-1 (with a fan outside the original byteshop case) for more than 7 days without an issue.  I was trying to see how long I could run it before the Apple the 30th started scrambling the images due to memory issues.  Now this was after playing around to find a good 74123, the one 74xx chip my IC tester can't reliably test on the Apple-1 board.


Also a side note to your Lamborghini comments.  I had a Diablo back in the 90's.  Because of all the Countach replicas everyone assumed mine was a replica also.  When people asked about it, my comment was usually... "I wish it was a replica on an Toyota chassis, then it would actually run.".   I felt like I was just borrowing the car from my mechanic inbetween repairs.  Took me over 20 years after owning that car before I risked another Italian car and only bought one because it had a factory warranty.




Last seen: 9 hours 43 min ago
Joined: Apr 1 2020 - 16:46
Posts: 474
The worst offenders for Apple-1 reliability ...

In post #5, Corey986 wrote:


"The worst offender is the 74123 chip and the Memory ICs because of the timing issue". 


Uncle Bernie agrees !


One of the most important ingredients in the "secret sauce" for my famous kits is a careful selection of the 74123 and the surrounding timing resistors and capacitors. I use pre-aged resistors and screen them for soldering effects and reject those which move too much. The whole "gang" of parts including the 74123 is tested in a special test rig and measured with an oscilloscope to get the timing right (I mix and match resistors and capacitors). BTW, the 480ns value in the schematic as specified by Woz is spot on for the original chip sets. The theoretical timing window that must be hit is only 70ns wide so you would need a +/-35 ns, or +/-7.3% tolerance, which is all but impossible to hit with non-selected components. But with faster DRAMs and a faster CPU (I use 6502B fit for 3 Mhz operation) this window gets much wider so it is possible to use the relatively unstable carbon composition resistors (if pre-aged and screened for soldering drift). I also provide a metal film resistor in my kits just in case that this attempt to look authentic goes south.


If the timing is right, the DRAM issues are mostly caused by the inadequate power supply bypassing on the original Apple-1, 1st production run. I was able to find some mid 1980s Japanese made, high performance bypass capacitors based on a multilayer structure, which essentially are the same technology as the ones seen on the 2nd production run ("NTI") originals, and so far all the Apple-1 clones I have built with those have worked flawlessly without any of the "reliability mods". But with low performance ceramic disc capacitors all bets are off and the "reliability mods" may be needed. Since the capacitors I provide for the "reliability mod" are modern, high performance types and they are soldered directly to the DRAM pins (on the normally invisible solder side), so the leads are short, and the parasitic inductance is low, the "reliability modded" Apple-1 clone has the best power supply bypassing on the DRAMs you can get. It would be a sin, however, to add that mod to an original (Yikes !).


The other added capacitors of the "reliability mod" mitigate the spikes caused by the dynamic shift registers on the -5V rails. Some of these 2504/1404 produce worse spikes than others. These spikes do not affect reliability of the terminal section, but the DRAMs get upset. If you use the faster DS0026 driver in lieu of the DS0025, almost every Apple-1 does not work without the reliability mods. This is a nice test to see how good the power supply bypassing is. If it works with the DS0026 and you put the DS0025 back, you have plenty of safety margin. But don't expect perfection.


Same as with these Lamborghinis !


(To be fair, I think that most of the problems with rare Italian supercars are caused by incompetent drivers conspiring together with their incompetent mechanics against the car. It takes a long time to get all that oil in the engine up to temperature, before you can use higher RPMs, and then you need to drive these machines regularly, or they will slowly degrade from internal corrosion. Just firing up the engine from time to time without then driving for an hour or so, worst is just standing, is the spell of death to these engines. The mechanics typically have no idea about the pitfalls when working on these engines or - God forbid - working on the Weber carburetors. But these are mistakes you can avoid as an owner - the biggest mistake of course was to buy such a car that went through so many hands, same thing with women, the damage done by legions of previous lovers can't be fixed. So get a supercar from the original owner or new out of the factory. What you can't avoid however, is the rot of all these exotic alloys, the magnesium rims, and all the non isolated pairings of dissimilar metals. It's impossible to fix that, all these pairings are a shorted battery and whenever there is some humidity they will do what shorted batteries always do - consume their electrodes. It eludes me why they did not take measures to prevent this - like the company Touring did with their famous "Superleggera" bodies: they wrapped the tubular steel cage with tar soaked fabric and attached the aluminum body panels to these insulated spots. This trick must have been lost in time, and so all the later cars not using such insulation to separate aluminum from steel body parts tend to fall apart after a few decades).

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