Apple ][ Resurrection

Apple ][ Resurrection

Apple ][ A weekend project.

This is not my childhood Apple ][, but it’s got a good lineage: this one is owned by my hacker friend Jonathan, who bought it back in 1978. It’s been in his basement for quite some time; I’d said something on Facebook that reminded him of it, and he offered to loan it to me to have a look at it. SCORE!

Inside This is an Apple ][, the first production Apple machine with a molded plastic case that I still love today. The original Apple ][ was later supplanted by the Apple ][ Plus, which came with more memory and added two colors to the graphic display for a total of 6 distinct hues: black, white, orange, blue, purple, and green. This particular ][, I’m told, is also upgraded with a lower-case character ROM (a popular hack at the time) and a breakpoint ROM for debugging machine language code.

Setup After removing a dead spider from the interior, I connected a green-screen Monitor /// that I keep around for just such uses, and with breath held toggled the power switch. ZILCH. There is supposed to be a BEEP followed by the display “Apple ][” at the top of the screen, but there was no beep. After reseating the RAM, checking card connections, and a few toggle-wait-toggle again, I did eventually see this:

Life! Sort of. That’s not a good sign.The Apple ][ text DID appear at the top of the screen and immediately crashed into the machine language monitor. The screen then slowly degraded and filled with garbage characters. From what I remember of the Apple ][ boot sequence, this type of error is indicative of a hardware problem where the memory system is unstable; the beep code never even gets to the point where it runs. When I was a kid, I had no idea how to fix this kind of problem, and as an adult I still don’t. However, the difference is that today I can probably understand what those manuals are talking about.

While this is a bit of a setback, I’m nevertheless pretty excited to have this 30+ year piece of computer history in the house. I am starting to reconnect with a lost part of my childhood self, and that seems like a good thing to me.


  1. be chappell 9 years ago

    Dave, I understand how you feel! I have had similar feelings of nostalgia for my first Commodore 64!

  2. Richard Tubb 9 years ago

    Good luck repairing your Apple David! For me, the childhood computer was an Atari 800XL. Beware though… Once I bought one I started buying lots of other retro bits and ended up having my own mini computer Museum! :-)

  3. Vic 9 years ago

    I still keep my dad’s (later mine) Apple II next to me. Hardest part to get working is finding an old monitor! Good luck :)

  4. Author
    Dave Seah 9 years ago

    Vic: There IS something nice about having an Apple II nearby! It’s just lying on its side to my right, but every time I see it I feel happy. It’s like a favorite teddy bear.

  5. Dennis 9 years ago

    It does look like you are having RAM problems — and since it appears you have a language card installed, I would probably start checking there. You should check the connection from the language card back to the motherboard — it’s possible it came out at one point and someone didn’t connect it back in correctly.

    If you decide to remove the card, you will need a RAM chip to put back into the motherboard — there are 9 of them on the language card on the left side, so you could pull one of those off and put it into the now empty socket on the motherboard where the card connected in.