There's no doubt the Apple 1 is an iconic computer. We decided to re-create this classic machine with the help of an unassembled kit. Find out how we got on.

There's no doubt the Apple 1, the machine Steve Wozniak invented and first demonstrated at the Palo Alto Homebrew Computer Club in 1976, is an iconic computer.

However, if you missed you chance at owning this piece of kit the first time round, fear not. American Vince Briel has created an authorised reproduction of this classic machine. Briel's Replica 1 sells for $149 (£90) and comes as an unassembled kit. So we decided to give it a go and see just how easy it is to build your own Apple 1. Photos by Emily Kahm.

The Replica 1 includes 88 component parts. There's also a packing list and instruction manual to help you unpack and assemble the machine. The first step in the Replica 1 assembly is to insert all the resistors into the circuit board, solder them, and snip the extra lead.

Having never soldered before, I need to be shown how to use the soldering iron to melt the alloy and fuse different parts together.

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NEXT PAGE: Soldering the reset and clear buttons

  1. We build the iconic apple computer from scratch
  2. Soldering the reset and clear buttons
  3. Exceptions to installing sockets in any position
  4. The lack of casing
  5. New components
  6. Inspecting my work
  7. Inserting chips
  8. Booting up
  9. It works!

There's no doubt the Apple 1 is an iconic computer. We decided to re-create this classic machine with the help of an unassembled kit. Find out how we got on.

After the reset and clear screen buttons (the two black squares with tiny white buttons) are soldered to the board, the 5MHz crystal comes next.


Top photo
Several sockets, ranging in size from 8 pins to 40, need to be installed to house the chips that will come later. Most of the sockets can be soldered in any position, as long as they are the right size and the notches on the sockets align with the diagram on the board.

Bottom photo
The socket on the left is properly aligned; it just needs to be pushed into the board and soldered in.

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NEXT PAGE: Exceptions to installing sockets in any position

  1. We build the iconic apple computer from scratch
  2. Soldering the reset and clear buttons
  3. Exceptions to installing sockets in any position
  4. The lack of casing
  5. New components
  6. Inspecting my work
  7. Inserting chips
  8. Booting up
  9. It works!

There's no doubt the Apple 1 is an iconic computer. We decided to re-create this classic machine with the help of an unassembled kit. Find out how we got on.

The exceptions to the "install sockets in any position" rule are the two 16-pin sockets: one is specifically for an ASCII keyboard.

I've just started to solder my ASCII socket when I realise I have it in the wrong position. Briel and I are able to remove it but then have to 'punch' the correct socket through the solder left over on the back of the board from my previous soldering job.

After soldering in a 1MHz oscillator, I next install the .1uF and .01uF capacitors in a fashion similar to the resistors.

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NEXT PAGE: The lack of casing

  1. We build the iconic apple computer from scratch
  2. Soldering the reset and clear buttons
  3. Exceptions to installing sockets in any position
  4. The lack of casing
  5. New components
  6. Inspecting my work
  7. Inserting chips
  8. Booting up
  9. It works!

There's no doubt the Apple 1 is an iconic computer. We decided to re-create this classic machine with the help of an unassembled kit. Find out how we got on.


Early computers were designed for functionality, not aesthetics. The Apple 1 did not come with a case; hobbyists instead designed their own, including carving wooden cases or retrofitting briefcases.

The Replica 1 is similarly utilitarian, so there's a power LED right on the board to indicate the on/off state. Here I'm holding the LED, which has two leads that slide into the appropriate holes, in my left hand; the longer lead is the positive end and is inserted where the + symbol indicates.

Top photo
Here, some of the interface components are being inserted and soldered.

Bottom photo
From left to right are a composite video output, a serial port, a DC power input, and the on/off switch. Not all of these parts were included in the original Apple 1; the RS232 serial port, for example, allows the Replica 1 to interface with and download data from modern computers.

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NEXT PAGE: New components

  1. We build the iconic apple computer from scratch
  2. Soldering the reset and clear buttons
  3. Exceptions to installing sockets in any position
  4. The lack of casing
  5. New components
  6. Inspecting my work
  7. Inserting chips
  8. Booting up
  9. It works!

There's no doubt the Apple 1 is an iconic computer. We decided to re-create this classic machine with the help of an unassembled kit. Find out how we got on.

A 40-pin expansion connector (far right) was used by earlier models of the Replica 1, but with the addition of a 44-pin, Apple-1-compatible expansion port in this, the third edition, the connector is no longer necessary for expansion.

Two new parts not found in the Apple-1 will be installed nearby: a connector for an ATX power supply and the aforementioned 44-pin expansion port, similar to those found in the Apple II.

The Replica 1 uses two distinct power regulators that are not interchangeable and must be installed with the correct orientation.

I identify the two unique regulators correctly and put them in the right spots - but rotated 180 degrees from their proper orientation. Thus the parts need to be de-soldered from the board. This is beyond me, so Replica 1 creator Vince Briel and Paul Zaleski grab a soldering iron and a 'solder sucker' to fix my mistake while I watch helplessly.

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NEXT PAGE: Inspecting my work

  1. We build the iconic apple computer from scratch
  2. Soldering the reset and clear buttons
  3. Exceptions to installing sockets in any position
  4. The lack of casing
  5. New components
  6. Inspecting my work
  7. Inserting chips
  8. Booting up
  9. It works!

There's no doubt the Apple 1 is an iconic computer. We decided to re-create this classic machine with the help of an unassembled kit. Find out how we got on.

Now that I've finished installing all the components that need to be soldered, Briel inspects my work before I proceed to the next step.

A couple of spots have extra solder that needs snipping, but otherwise, Briel finds my work admirable for a first-timer.

I feed the board DC power and flip the on switch, and the LED lights up. Then I insert two chips into the sockets and connect a monitor, which displays a monochrome @ symbol.

Both tests confirm that everything thus far has been installed correctly.

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NEXT PAGE: Inserting chips

  1. We build the iconic apple computer from scratch
  2. Soldering the reset and clear buttons
  3. Exceptions to installing sockets in any position
  4. The lack of casing
  5. New components
  6. Inspecting my work
  7. Inserting chips
  8. Booting up
  9. It works!

There's no doubt the Apple 1 is an iconic computer. We decided to re-create this classic machine with the help of an unassembled kit. Find out how we got on.

Top photo
Next I insert several chips into the sockets. The pins on each spread out a bit wider than the sockets, so that once inserted, the tension keeps them in place.

Bottom photo
Note that one chip - the one to the right of the empty socket along the bottom - has not yet been properly seated. That will need to be corrected.

Top photo
The final chip to install is the main processor, the 65C02, a slightly upgraded version of the 6502 used in the Apple 1.

Bottom photo
The 65C02 goes in the bottom-left socket on the circuit board.

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NEXT PAGE: Booting up

  1. We build the iconic apple computer from scratch
  2. Soldering the reset and clear buttons
  3. Exceptions to installing sockets in any position
  4. The lack of casing
  5. New components
  6. Inspecting my work
  7. Inserting chips
  8. Booting up
  9. It works!

There's no doubt the Apple 1 is an iconic computer. We decided to re-create this classic machine with the help of an unassembled kit. Find out how we got on.

Everything's installed, so I plug in the keyboard and monitor and see if it boots up.

It doesn't! What could possibly be wrong?

Look closely at the bottom photo on the previous page and you'll see the 65C02 is installed backwards compared to the other chips, and that the notch on the 65C02 doesn't line up with the diagram of a notch on the board. This mistake could've fried the CPU.

I carefully unseat it, rotate it 180 degrees, reinsert it, and hope for the best.

With the 65C02 properly aligned, the Replica 1 now boots perfectly and displays the bytes currently stored at various memory addresses, indicating that the computer is ready to accept programming.

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NEXT PAGE: It works!

  1. We build the iconic apple computer from scratch
  2. Soldering the reset and clear buttons
  3. Exceptions to installing sockets in any position
  4. The lack of casing
  5. New components
  6. Inspecting my work
  7. Inserting chips
  8. Booting up
  9. It works!

There's no doubt the Apple 1 is an iconic computer. We decided to re-create this classic machine with the help of an unassembled kit. Find out how we got on.

Now that the reproduction of a 33-year-old computer is functional, what does one do with it? For starters, any BASIC or assembly code that runs on a 6502 chip (such as the software on the Replica 1's included CD) will run on an Apple 1, after being manually typed in from the keyboard or sent from a modern computer to the Replica 1's RS232 port.

If you run out of space in which to store all this code, or you want an easier way to get code onto your Replica, you can install a CompactFlash reader. And Tom Owad's book Apple I Replica Creation: Back to the Garage gives additional suggestions for ways to enjoy your new retrocomputer.

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See also: How to build your dream PC for less than £200

  1. We build the iconic apple computer from scratch
  2. Soldering the reset and clear buttons
  3. Exceptions to installing sockets in any position
  4. The lack of casing
  5. New components
  6. Inspecting my work
  7. Inserting chips
  8. Booting up
  9. It works!