Apple II peripheral cards

Apple II peripheral cards

One of the early strengths of the Apple II line, and one of the most important factors contributing to its success, was its open architecture, epitomized by its generous number of internal expansion card slots, or simply expansion slots. These slots accommodated a host of Apple II peripheral cards (which many users simply called "cards"), which added to and extended the functionality of the base system. All Apple II models, with the exception of the portable, slot-less Apple IIc series, had at least seven 50-pin expansion slots, labeled Slots 1 though 7. These slots could hold printed circuit board cards with double-sided edge connectors, 25 "fingers" on each side, with 100-mil (0.1-inch) spacing between centers.

In addition to the seven standard expansion slots, the following computers contained additional, largely special-purpose expansion slots:

  • Apple II and Apple II Plus: 50-pin "Slot 0" (e. g., for the 16-kB Apple II Language Card)
  • Apple IIe: 60-pin "Auxiliary Slot" (primarily for 80-column display and memory expansion)
  • Apple IIGS: 40-pin "Memory Expansion Slot"

Perhaps the most common cards found on early Apple II systems were the Disk II Controller Card, which allowed users of earlier Apple II's to use the Apple Disk II, a 5¼-inch, 140-kB floppy disk drive; and the Apple 16K Language Card, which increased the base memory of late-model Apple IIs and standard Apple II Pluses from 48 kB to 64 kB. Both Apple Computer, Inc., and dozens of third-party vendors created hundreds of cards for the Apple II series of computers. These expansion slots afforded virtually limitless opportunities for expansion, far beyond what was available on other microcomputers of the time. Even today, long after the last Apple IIe came off Apple's assembly line in 1993, a handful of manufacturers continue to market peripherals and expansion cards for Apple II computers, not counting the hundreds of students, hobbyists, and other loyal Apple II users who continue to push the original machine to the limits.

Card Categories

Apple II cards can be broadly divided into the following categories:

  • Apple II serial cards (RS-232 serial interface)
  • Apple II parallel cards (Centronics/IEEE 1284 parallel interface)
  • Apple II multifunction I/O cards
  • Apple II internal modems
  • Apple II 80-column (or more columns) and RGB cards (Standard 50-pin slot type)
  • Apple II floppy disk controllers
  • Apple II hard disk controllers
  • Apple II network adapters
  • Apple II coprocessor cards
  • Apple II memory expansion cards (Standard 50-pin slot type, "Slinky" cards)
  • Apple IIe auxiliary cards (60-pin auxiliary slot; 80-column cards, RGB, memory expansion)
  • Apple IIGS memory expansion cards (40-pin IIGS slot type)
  • Apple II accelerators
  • Apple IIGS accelerators
  • Apple II realtime clock cards
  • Apple II sound cards
  • Apple II miscellaneous cards
  • Apple IIc internal expansion cards
  • Apple II cards which never made it into production

External Links about Apple II Peripheral Cards

External Links to Current Apple II Peripheral Manufacturers

  • 16Sector.com Apple II Hardware supplier & Support site for AE Hardware / Software and other Apple II hardware.
  • ReactiveMicro.com Hard Drive Controllers, GS-RAM Card, Mockingboard clone, replacement Power Supplies, No-Slot Clock, MicroDrive, TransWarp GS 32KB Cache Board and other TransWarp GS upgrades, reseller for ///SHH Systeme products (see below)
  • R & D Automation CFFA Compact Flash / IDE interface card
  • A2 Retrosystems Uther Ethernet card
  • SVD Semi Virtual Diskette: solid-state 5¼" disk drive emulator
  • ///SHH Systeme hard drive and floppy drive controllers, LANceGS Ethernet Card, TransWarp 32-kB cache board
  • 8 Bit Baby 8 Bit Baby prototyping board
  • RC Systems DoubleTalk (Echo and Slotbuster compatible) speech synthesizer card

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