esapple - ESP8266 As An Apple 1
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Saturday, 30 December 2017

The ESP8266 is a marvel of modern technology a tiny $5 WiFi processor. The Apple 1 was a breakthrough design by Woz and now it is reborn as an emulation running on an ESP8266.

The esapple is a remarkable project that puts an Apple 1 on the tiny ESP. It is a available as a single binary file that has to be flashed on to the ESP. The source is also available on GitHub under an MIT open source licence so you can both find out how it all works and tinker with it. As the esapple is based on the fake6502 emulation project and the channel3 video generator project it is also an example of why open source is good. To implement all of this starting from zero would be too much for any reasonable programmer.

earlyapple-4

An Apple 1

The features of the esapple are:

  • MOS 6502 CPU emulated at native speed (1 MHz)
  • 20 kB RAM
  • PAL TV signal output
  • Original Signetics 2513 ROM characters
  • Telnet used for keyboard input
  • Built-in TFTP server for uploading software
  • Everything is wireless 

All this is remarkable in such as small chip.

Interestingly the TV signal is generated in software which is a technique that was invented around the time of the Apple 1 so it is an historical curiosity in its own right. To use it all you need to do is attach a wire to act as an aerial and tune an old-fashioned UHF TV to the correct channel - assuming you have such a thing and know how to do it.  You also have to load some software and the suggestion is that you upload the integer Basic that came with the Apple 1.

After this you essentially have an Apple 1 to play with:

 

The display is black and white 40 characters and the whole thing emulates a teletype so there is no backspace key just a "rub out" key which ignores the last character typed.

 

applescreen

 

The Apple 1 was the design that had just enough success for Woz to move on to the Apple II which did have color and graphics and this made it highly desirable - and so Apple was born.

 espple

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 30 December 2017 )