Ask Mr Tech

Ask Mr. Tech # 2
II Alive Volume 1 Number 1
March / April 1993

QUESTION: I have a functional Apple II (not II+). I would like to upgrade it to a II+ or a IIe so that it will be more compatible with today’s add-ons. Is this technically feasible? If it isn’t feasible, can you suggest an upgrade path?

ANSWER: Many of us here at II Alive remember our first experiences with the Apple II fondly as our introduction to computing. I still have my Apple ll+, along with many great memories of late nights trying to figure out how something worked or trying to better my score on a new game. Nothing beats these machines for accessibility of both hardware and software.

I also remember buying my first calculator. It cost me $40 for a 4 function machine with no memory and a bright red LED readout. After I had owned it for four months, it broke. The price of similar calculators had dropped radically (to the $12-$18 range). I remember my surprise when a service rep told me it would be cheaper to buy a new calculator than it would be to get the broken one fixed.

I’m afraid this is the case with the original Apple II computer as well. There is no direct upgrade path to lie compatibility. You can get pretty close by adding an Applesoft firmware card, a 16k memory expansion card, an 80 column card, and a patch program to let AppleWorks run on a II+. However, doing so will cost you far more than the machine is currently worth, and probably almost as much as it would cost to purchase a IIe. You can currently purchase an entire II+ CPU for $49 from Sun Remarketing, or a lie CPU for $349 (including a floppy drive). An Apple IIe can be had for $245.

Despite that, those older IIs can be quite useful for other projects. I’d love to build mine into the dashboard of my car and make an excellent trip computer out of it. Or perhaps use the motherboard to build a robot dog (or housekeeper!) that could navigate through my apartment. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to make these projects happen.

Note: All Tech Questions are answered either by Editor Jerry Kindall or by Bill Carver, the Quality Computers Technician

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About the Author

Jerry Kindall

Jerry Kindall was Quality Computers' technical writer and served as II Alive's Editor in Chief from its inception through mid-1995. He is currently a contract programmer writer at a certain Large Software Company in the Seattle area. He and his wife breed and show Glen of Imaal Terriers.