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This Emulator Turns an Arduino Uno into an Apple II

The Apple II holds a special place, not just as a piece of computing history, but also in the hearts of lots of the people that used it back in the day. Alongside machines like the TRS-80 and, at least over here in Britain, the BBC Model B — which was one of the inspirations behind the Raspberry Pi — it’s one of the machines we grew up with, and for a lot of us, it’s the machine we cut our teeth on when we were kids.

However some people are more nostalgic about the old 8-bit computers more than others — and Damian Peckett is obviously one of those people, because he’s gone ahead and written an Apple II emulator that runs on an Arduino Uno.

The completed Apple II emulator running on an Arduino Uno
The completed Apple II emulator running on an Arduino

Building on top of a previous project where he designed a video interface for the Arduino Uno that uses the secondary USB interface chip to store and generate video, he’s managed to squeeze his emulator onto the Arduino. Considering that the ATmega328P on the Uno comes with just 2KB of RAM, half the 4KB of the original Apple II, that he’s managed to provides 1.5KB of general purpose memory, and just under 1KB for BASIC programs is impressive — and surely 1KB should be enough memory for anybody?

His next project? He doesn’t think the Apple II watch is quite good enough — after all it’s not actually an Apple II in there — so he’s set out to design an emulator board so that you can run real Apple II programs on your Apple II watch. Watch this space…

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Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.

View more articles by Alasdair Allan