Apple II with Softcard


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Apple II and the "softcard", a Z80 CPU card

CP/M reaches the Apple II also.

The very successful Apple II had a MOS 6502 CPU, and, that was a great idea, was very expandable with additional cards (like the IBM PC later). Very soon after the computer was selled to the market, Microsoft (!) offered 1979 an additional hardware option - the softcard (and this card was the main income source for two years).

This card offered a Z80 2 MHz CPU paired unfortunately with the properitary floppy disk format of the Apple II (which was "software driven" GCR coded, not MFM or FM). But many had also a "super serial card", and they were able to transfer the CP/M software via the RS232 interface, for example with the Kermit-80 program.

Advertisment of this card:

Later, other vendors offered similar cards with a faster Z80 CPU (up to 8 MHz). Also, with the help of Digital Research, there was a CP/M 3.0 capable card with additional 64 KB RAM offered.

To get in touch with Apple II and CP/M 2.2, you do not need a physical Apple II computer - instead, you can test your first steps with an emulator like A2 Oasis or AppleWin. You need also an Apple 2 ROM file and a disk image of CP/M, look for it at's wonderful collection of files, (e.g. "CPM2.23(60k).dsk" and "APPLE2_.ROM").

As a result, you can see this screen:

If you think a "real" Apple II will be more interesting, think about a hardware emulation also, e.g. Alex Freed's FPGApple.

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