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Brett B.

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I picked up this thing from an estate sale.  It was sitting in a corner on top of a bunch of car batteries and electronics trash but it looked special so I had to have it!

 

I know virtually nothing about Apple II hardware but it appears to have a legit ][ motherboard, power supply, and bottom case.  Is the top half and keyboard some 3rd party replacement or is this a clone with Apple parts in it?  Anything else special about it?  It seems to be in working order except the floppy drive spins indefinitely when the system is powered on if it's connected.

 

What's it worth?  I have no intention of keeping it, Apple II stuff has never really interested me - I just picked it up as a curiosity more than anything.

 

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Weird,

 

Looks like an Apple II in a clone casing (logic board, Disk drive and PSU are original as well as bottom plate) top is not.

 

Quote

It seems to be in working order except the floppy drive spins indefinitely when the system is powered on if it's connected.

Usual behavior.

 

Probably original owner was seeking for a keyboard with a numeric pad, and change the casing for that purpose.

 

Interesting unit, probably will worth more with the original casing.

Edited by bibilit

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59 minutes ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Is that a stock Apple II board in there? Aren't they much sought after?

It looks to me like a mid-production ][+ board. (I don't think it's one of the *really* late ones; my memory may be faulty but I think they have "SINGAPORE" printed above the expansion slots.) It lacks the memory size configuration jumpers of an original II board (and the very earliest II+'s) so no, not really anything special there.

 

4 hours ago, Brett B. said:

Is the top half and keyboard some 3rd party replacement or is this a clone with Apple parts in it?

I suspect the latter, white-box Apple clones were actually pretty common. (Usually sold grey-market out of the back of Apple magazines for about half the price of the real thing.) My "Apple II+" is actually a "Syscom II" clone case and keyboard with a real Apple II motherboard in it. The Syscom case doesn't have the numeric keypad, obviously.

 

(The whole story behind mine is actually that it's on its third motherboard. When the person I got it from picked it up at a junk sale it had an older motherboard, probably about the same vintage as yours, soldered to the original power supply. That board wasn't working right so it got fitted with a newer "SINGAPORE" motherboard and an Apple PS. I have the original board and PS in my junk pile, with vague plans try to repair it, interface it to an ASCII keyboard, and create a plywood knockoff of what someone who took Apple's trade-in offer on the Apple I for an Apple II motherboard might have created. I do with I had the original cloneboard for the Syscom. I don't know why the original owner swapped it, maybe it had compatibility issues. That might explain your system as well.)

The other possibility *could* be that it's not an actual Apple motherboard but a knockoff that's silkscreened to look like the Apple board. It would be kind of hard to definitively prove that without pulling it and comparing it very carefully to whatever pictures you can find of Apple ][plus motherboard revisions.
 

4 hours ago, Brett B. said:

What's it worth?  I have no intention of keeping it, Apple II stuff has never really interested me - I just picked it up as a curiosity more than anything.

I paid $50 for mine a couple years ago. I'd give you $50 for yours if you really don't want it. ;)

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4 hours ago, bibilit said:

Probably original owner was seeking for a keyboard with a numeric pad, and change the casing for that purpose.

 

I agree with this conclusion. Looks like a legitimate Apple II Plus motherboard, with lowercase display modification (the small board with ICs under the keyboard, you showed in photo) but put in a clone case in order to get a fan and better keyboard.

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4 hours ago, Brett B. said:

It seems to be in working order except the floppy drive spins indefinitely when the system is powered on if it's connected.

 

Not a concern; that's correct behavior as designed.

Edited by Dog Cow

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From what limited information I have found, it's definitely not an early model (black expansion slots and '78 copyright date) although the Language Card indicates that it's not a late production unit either, right?  The fan is pretty interesting - it actually has its own power cord and a lamp style roller switch.  I also got a pair of knob style game controllers (not pictured.)

 

I have no reason to suspect that it's a knockoff - it was very dirty and the price I paid for it would indicate that the previous owner just thought it was old computer junk.

 

1 hour ago, Dog Cow said:

Not a concern; that's correct behavior as designed.

Isn't it supposed to time out and eventually end up with the AppleSoft prompt?  Or whatever it's called.  It would literally sit there and spin and do nothing else for hours if I let it.  I read on some other site that this happens when one of the chips on the Disk II controller fails?  I don't remember my old IIe doing this, the drives would self test and then I'd get a command prompt.

 

Apologies for my lack of proper terminology knowledge here, like I said my Apple II knowledge is incredibly limited.

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1 minute ago, Brett B. said:

although the Language Card indicates that it's not a late production unit either, right?

All ][pluses have a language card, right up to the end of the run. (A major basic design criteria of the IIe was eliminating it.) There were a lot of different revisions of the Apple II motherboard over its run from 1977 up to... 1984?, but the differences are all really minor. Here's a .txt file that has a listing of the different part numbers the board carried over the years. Yours is at least a "Rev 7" because it lacks the RAM jumpers; very, very few IIpluses shipped with boards before this, the first major redesign. The really late boards (820-0044-x, the "Singapore" board falls in this category) have some changes in component placement intended to reduce RFI emissions (the FCC cracked down on personal computers hard in 1980, it's why the original TRS-80 Model I was discontinued) but, again, is still basically functionally identical to the earliest units.

Again, so far as I know the only boards really of interest to collectors are the ones with RAM jumpers.
 

12 minutes ago, Brett B. said:

I have no reason to suspect that it's a knockoff

I tossed that out there because I would swear I once saw a picture of a bona-fide clone board that had fake Apple silkscreening on it. I do doubt that's what's going on here.
 

15 minutes ago, Brett B. said:

Isn't it supposed to time out and eventually end up with the AppleSoft prompt? 

No, I think on a IIplus it will literally go forever, while A IIe or IIc will eventually dump out and ask you to check the disk drive.

If you have any 5.25" floppies and an audio cable you can go here and try to make a disk for it:

http://asciiexpress.net/diskserver/

 

As it notes in the instructions a CONTROL-RESET will drop you out of the endless disk loop and give you a prompt.

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Gotcha.  This thread has at least tripled my Apple II knowledge so far, lol.

 

So this thing is for sure a ][ Plus, then, and not a ][ (no plus)?

 

I do have a bunch of Apple II software that I kept - will have to sort through and try some of it.

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Brett B. said:

So this thing is for sure a ][ Plus, then, and not a ][ (no plus)?

It's remotely possible that the motherboard could have come from a very late plain ][ (they actually kept churning them out until... gee, I forget exactly, but it was astoundingly late; I think they were still in the catalog in... 1981?) but the only difference between a ][plus sans Language Card and a regular ][ is a ][plus has Applesoft ROMs on the motherboard while a ][ has the old Integer BASIC. Strictly speaking I *think* it might be possible to have a Language Card with Integer ROMs on the motherboard(?), but that would be a really unusual configuration.

So... TL;DR, unless you find the machine boots into Integer BASIC instead of Applesoft when you start it without a disk chances are the board was never in a machine sold as a ][.

(Although plenty of ][s were subsequently upgraded to Applesoft and language cards, effectively transforming them into ][pluses, so I suppose if the board has a *really* convoluted history... but, again, as a naked board it wouldn't matter. To have any real claim on pure ][-ness you either need the original ][ case or an indisputably pre-Plus motherboard.)

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2 hours ago, Brett B. said:

I do have a bunch of Apple II software that I kept - will have to sort through and try some of it.

... and yeah, by all means do that. Maybe you'll decide you want to keep it. I love my "Syscom II"; there's something special about a truly "antique" machine with 70's roots. Hopefully you have a suitably low-res monitor lying around to pair with it. Like this:

syscom2-running.jpg

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4 hours ago, Gorgonops said:

It looks to me like a mid-production ][+ board. (I don't think it's one of the *really* late ones; my memory may be faulty but I think they have "SINGAPORE" printed above the expansion slots.) It lacks the memory size configuration jumpers of an original II board (and the very earliest II+'s) so no, not really anything special there.

DOH!

 

I'm apparently blind today. I was just looking at the larger picture of the motherboard, the one where you have the language card pulled out. The cable for the card is perfectly covering up the the "16k" jumper block for that row of chips! The jumper blocks *are* visible in the other picture.

So I stand completely corrected. This unit was originally an Apple ][, not a plus. That's also confirmed by the serial number sticker; Citation Here. The serial number and the date code on the motherboard (which says it was manufactured the 19th week of 1979) make it a "Rev 3". Rev 3's may also have appeared in some very early ][pluses and Apple was really confusing about their model numbers verses date numbers (A2S1 means different things on the chassis model number verses the serial number prefix), but it does look like your sticker is correct for a plain ][.

So, there you go, forget everything I said. You have the bottom half of an original ][. It's not a super valuable one (IE, A Rev. 0) and it surely loses a lot of points for the odd case, but the motherboard itself would fall into the collector's category. (This might be one of those awkward cases where you potentially could get more money listing the motherboard on eBay separately from the rest of it.) I'm also assuming it's been upgraded to Applesoft BASIC; an Integer ROM set is worth a bit all by itself but, yeah, that's almost certainly lost to history.

I'll double my offer to hundred bucks if you still don't want it. ;)

 

(Really I'd be buying it for the dial controllers, though...)

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21 hours ago, Brett B. said:

Isn't it supposed to time out and eventually end up with the AppleSoft prompt?  Or whatever it's called.  It would literally sit there and spin and do nothing else for hours if I let it. 

No, that is correct behavior. It will spin forever.

 

Only on the Apple IIc, IIc Plus, and IIgs will the disk eventually timeout and stop spinning.

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18 hours ago, Gorgonops said:

I'm also assuming it's been upgraded to Applesoft BASIC; an Integer ROM set is worth a bit all by itself but, yeah, that's almost certainly lost to history.

Those are Applesoft ROMs installed on the motherboard; you can see the MICROSOFT copyright on them.

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49 minutes ago, Dog Cow said:

you can see the MICROSOFT copyright on them

So, there you go.

It's still certainly an interesting piece of hardware. It's a shame the original owner isn't around to explain why it was recased like that.

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Could just be that they were having keyboard problems and swapped in this one.

One of my acquisitions was a clone with an Apple II power supply and on the lid was an apple II badge.

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Well this has been very enlightening, and an interesting discussion.  

 

Unfortunately I do not have much in the way of peripherals or a monitor for this thing.  I have it hooked up to my LC630's video input at the moment.  It works but the image rolls slowly - didn't work on my CRT TV either, I just got jagged diagonal lines and static.  I'm sure it's an issue with the TV itself and not the computer.

 

I guess it's up to our imagination as to why the keyboard and upper half were replaced.  Maybe they just wanted the numpad, or there was damage - who knows.  

 

I am probably going to clean it up and throw it on eBay.  I don't usually flip old computers but these are out of my realm of interest... and I have multiple IIe LCPDS cards if I ever find the urge to delve into them.

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23 hours ago, Brett B. said:

 

I am probably going to clean it up and throw it on eBay.  I don't usually flip old computers but these are out of my realm of interest... and I have multiple IIe LCPDS cards if I ever find the urge to delve into them.

Before you do, there is one little component in that computer that I might like to have. I'll send you a message.

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On 6/18/2018 at 11:02 AM, Brett B. said:

I am probably going to clean it up and throw it on eBay.

I'm afraid I just can't justify upping my offer to compare with what it'll probably fetch on eBay, given that other than the age of the motherboard and the serial number sticker on the pan there's nothing about it that's much more interesting than the system I already have, so... good luck.

Before you sell it, though, I feel obligated to toss in one more word in favor of keeping it: These original Apple IIs (and IIplus-es) fall into a special category of vintage computers. Most computers made since the very early 1980's incorporate custom chips and are therefore, by design, perishable. This machine, on the other hand, is built entirely from discrete components, and therefore completely repairable. (Sure, some of those components might be getting a little thin on the ground, like 16k RAM chips, but worst case they can be cannibalized from "any" machine that has them, not just other Apple ][s.) They're also completely *accessible*, IE, the schematics are out there, there's lots of good books that explain the theory of how their circuits work, etc. If you think you might ever have *any* interest in really diving in and wrapping your head around how a simple computer works from CPU to keyboard to video output this is a far better machine than even an Apple IIe. (Because it uses some custom chips there are places on a IIe where you simply can't clip your logic analyzer or oscilloscope, while on this machine it's all out there.)

Anyway, that would be my case for holding onto it. It being a weird mongrel actually makes that case stronger because unlike a minty-fresh preserved-in-carbonite collectable Apple ][ this machine isn't going to lose value from you actually playing with it, and, well, it's not like you're particularly likely to stumble across another one for (what I assume) was a giveaway price. It's kind of a "seize the moment" situation you're in here, choose wisely.

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Just happened to be searching eBay for parts for my MousePee//e machine and ran across this - it appears to be my ]['s older brother.

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-ii-monitor-iii-lots-of-software-disk-drive-a-few-manuals-maybe-clone/223329552882?hash=item33ff7a89f2:g:K4EAAOSw-ghcGMaN

 

In other news I have been messing with mine while I've got my new //e on the bench next to it, and have verified that it works finally now that I have a proper monitor to use with it.  I still need to spend a few hours cleaning and really testing everything, but I did play "Sneakers" for a while on it the other night.  Pretty cool.  Still have not decided on whether or not to keep these things... they are slowly growing on me.

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I’d also recommend keeping that machine. I think the Apple IIs will grow on you. They are a lot of fun :) 

 

Now this is just me, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that machine the way it is, but I’d hunt for an original II top case to put back on it. 

 

But again, that’s just me and If you like it the way it is, by all means leave it :) 

 

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I'm pretty set on keeping it the way it is...it's part of its history now.  Besides I'm sure an original ][ top would be pretty hard to find these days, and probably expensive... and then I'd have an extra top with no home.

 

Kinda glad I kept all my Apple II software years ago when I sold my old //e - it's been sitting on a shelf since probably 2003 or so.  

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On 1/21/2019 at 12:14 AM, Brett B. said:

I'm pretty set on keeping it the way it is...it's part of its history now.

Yea, for me the upgrades are the things that bring an old Mac to life, especially something like that Numeric Keypad top deck. How much memory does it have? Is it possible to tell what its original configuration was? Model number? You may have a real piece of Apple history there. VisiCalc running on the high end 32KB Apple II is what put Apple on the map.

 

https://qz.com/1103867/visicalc-and-apple-aapl-steve-jobs-said-that-the-spreadsheet-was-key-to-apples-early-success/

 

In a nutshell, from LEM's article:

Quote

The program went on sale in November 1979 and was a big hit. It retailed for US$100 and sold so well that many dealers started bundling the Apple II with VisiCalc. The success of VisiCalc turned Apple into a successful company, selling tens of thousands of the pricey 32 KB Apple IIs to businesses that wanted them only for the spreadsheet.

 

Bundling VisiCalc with an upgraded NumPad top plate would have been killer in the day. Is there a date code fro the injection molding run on the part? Is the Keypad an Apple part or a custom design?

 

 

edit: oopsie! http://lowendmac.com/2006/visicalc-and-the-rise-of-the-apple-ii/

Edited by Trash80toHP_Mini

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