Apple IIc

The Apple IIc (stylized as //c) was an early attempt at a portable Apple II computer, and actually overlaps the Macintosh, as both were launched in 1984. An incredibly concise design, accessories from first or third parties provided battery power and portable LCD displays, so you could carry the whole thing with you. The IIc is compatible with the huge library of Apple II software, but had a port for a Mac-like mouse.

This is a really elegant machine and had a bit of nostalgia for me. In 1994, my dad was an 8th grade teacher at a missionary school in Germany where we lived for a year, and his classroom had a IIc. It was my first experience with a non-Macintosh Apple computer, and I found it fascinating. I got this unit in exchange for an original Mac I restored as a commission, complete with the cute monochrome green display. It was missing the power supply, and was heavily yellowed, but in functional condition.

I re-capped the motherboard, and found a compatible laptop adapter from an Apple enthusiast on eBay for $20. While disassembling the main unit for cleaning and retro-brighting, I broke a key cap at the stem on the “7” key. This proved to be a disaster — I tried plastic cement, but it ended up jammed in the switch. I searched for months to find a replacement, learning that two different style switches were used in the IIc, depending on when it was built. Finally I found Apple Rescue of Denver who supplied the necessary replacement parts at a not-unreasonable price. De-soldering the old switch and replacing it and the key cap took only a few minutes, leaving the unit complete again. Retro-brighting in a tub of 40v liquid peroxide and hot water left in the sun quickly restored the original color to a crisp “Snow White“.

As part of the trade, I got the official Apple II mouse (only cosmetically different from the Mac mouse I traded). Minor internal adjustments were made to the display, fixing the geometry and brightness, but I did not attempt to change more than a couple capacitors, as the internal design of the CRT was quite tightly packed. I cleaned the heads on the old 5.25″ floppy drive, and added a BMOW A/B Switch to allow the machine to boot from an external drive such as the FloppyEmu. The kids and I played a few hours of Oregon Trail, Carmen San Diego and Moon Patrol, before I listed the completed system for sale. I found a couple boot disks and a relevant manual, and sold the whole thing to an eBay buyer who didn’t respond to any communication, despite getting an amazing deal: $160 plus $40 shipping — which likely got me within a stones-throw of breaking-even on the project.

A video of this unit can be seen here. I remain quite enamored with the svelt little IIc, and have since replaced it with a IIc+ that refined the design.

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