Olimex's Neo6502 Goes Portable as the Neo6502PC, a Compact Open-Hardware Tablet Throwback

Available in a choice of colors, this true all-in-one is said to be 30 times faster than the 6502 microcomputers of the 1980s.

Gareth Halfacree
23 days agoRetro Tech / HW101

Olimex has launched an all-in-one tablet PC with a difference: this is powered by the MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor — or a modern equivalent, at least — courtesy of an internal Neo6502 single-board computer.

"The world fastest 6502 computer, Neo6502, [which is] open source hardware, is now is available as [an] all-in-one PC," Olimex founder Tsvetan Usunov explains, "with plastic box, LCD display, USB hub, four UEXT [expansion] connectors, 12 GPIO [General-Purpose Input/Output] extension connector, LiPo battery allowing three hours of operation without external power supply."

Olimex unveiled the Neo6502 back in June last year, promising a device combining the modern incarnation of a MOS Technology 6502 eight-bit microprocessor with a Raspberry Pi RP2040 for peripherals and glue logic to keep the cost down. By July a "Developer Edition" of the device had been launched — functionally complete in hardware but with work-in-progress firmware and software.

The company's latest version, though, takes a different direction, and turns the Neo6502 into something truly plug-and-play: an all-in-one. The Neo6502 itself is housed in a custom-built chassis with an integrated color touchscreen display, while three external USB Type-A ports provide connectivity for external devices including flash drives, keyboards, mice, or game pads.

To truly make the device, which Usunov has termed the Neo6502PC, an all-in-one, the build also includes an integrated lithium-polymer battery and charger — allowing it to be used on-the-go, either hand-held as a 6502-powered tablet or at a desk with the case's built-in kickstand.

"This small device works three times faster than any of the other recent 6502 competitors," Usunov claims of his design, :"and 30 times faster than 1980s 6502 machines. Neo6502 can emulate Apple II, Apple IIe, Oric [Atmos] and [has] its own NeoBasic [programming language]."

The Neo6502PC is available to order now on the Olimex web store for €128 (around $137); KiCad design files have been uploaded to GitHub under the reciprocal GNU General Public License 3.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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