Today, Apple is known for iPhones, iPads, and a commitment to graphical user interfaces. But that wasn’t how it all started. The original Apple was a single board computer built around a 6502. In 1976, you could snag one for $666.66, but you needed to supply your own TV, power supply, and keyboard. [Alangarf] didn’t have an Apple 1, but he did have a 6502 CPU core for FPGAs from [Andrew Holme] that he fleshed out to an Apple I clone with a VGA output and PS/2 keyboard port. The project works with either an iCE40 board or a Terasic DE0 board. You could probably port it to other similar FPGAs.
This is much more practical than trying to find an original, as Apple bought a lot of the old boards back and destroyed them. According to the Apple-1 Registry there are only about 71 of the boards still in existence, and that’s with the annotation that 4 of those may be lost and 8 might be duplicates. We’ve heard that of those there are only six that actually still work.
The project also allows you to work with a serial terminal, and you can run Woz Mon or integer BASIC. There’s 8K of system RAM, along with emulated 4K and 512 byte ROMs for the system software.
The original Apple was cool for 1976, but doesn’t have much by today’s standards. The CPU ran at 1 MHz and the standard memory was 4K, while the TV display was character only. It’s hard to believe that this simple computer launched a major player in the personal computer industry.
The old Apple wasn’t that powerful, so another route to experiencing it lies through its easy emulation with a modern CPU. We’ve seen the ESP8266 do that duty. If you’d prefer the newer Apple ][, you can emulate one on a DE2 FPGA board.