Start Emulating an Apple I on Your TV Wirelessly with a $3 ESP8266

Apple’s first product, the Apple I, is now more than 40 years old. That’s significant for a number of reasons: most younger enthusiasts…

Cameron Coward
4 years ago

Apple’s first product, the Apple I, is now more than 40 years old. That’s significant for a number of reasons: most younger enthusiasts have never used one, finding an a working original is very difficult, and emulating the OS takes very little power. That last point is where the maker-favorite ESP8266 comes in.

Compared to modern computers, and really anything made in the last 30 years, the Apple I has extremely modest specs. The processor is a MOS 6502 running at a mere 1MHz, and it only came with 4KB of memory (though that was expandable to 48KB). The ESP8266, which can be purchased for as little as $3, has a comparatively blistering 80MHz processor that can easily handle the task of emulating an Apple 1 OS.

Hrvoje Čavrak’s Espple project makes that easy by handling everything wirelessly—even RF video output to a TV. After flashing the necessary firmware and installing the software, all you need to do is connect a wire to the ESP8266’s RX pin (GPIO 3). That acts as a low-power antenna for sending a video signal to your TV.

Because Čavrak lives in Europe, this is setup for PAL by default. But, it should be easy to change that to NTSC for North America. Once Espple is running, input is handled with Teletype over your wireless network. If you want to experience the Apple I for yourself, this a very affordable way to do it.

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