The pride and joy of my collection is my original Rev 0 Apple II. The serial number on the case is 5394, 5558 on the power supply, and the number on the motherboard reads 5681 (as this is a very early machine, Apple were still using serial numbers on the motherboard as opposed to date codes). It is estimated that only about 6000 Rev 0 Apple ii’s were ever made, before they were superseded by the Rev 1 version. The serial numbers on my machine make it one of the last Rev 0 machines ever made.

The Apple II may look nice and pretty now, but it wasn't always that way. This particular machine was was found rotting away in a garage, with spiders living inside and in non working condition.


The first think that became immediately apparent was the computer just didn’t work. Mostly the screen was just blank, but occasionally I could get some weird blocky characters on the screen, or if I was lucky some question marks. I removed the motherboard from the case, and the next think that became apparent was that the machine had been hacked up, and not in a nice way at all. there were three extra chips installed on the prototyping area, with a maze of wires leading from them to various parts of the circuit board...that would all have to go, and so it did.


Far more shocking was the fact that someone had removed the 74257 at position A8. Who ever had removed this IC had also ripped up a total of 22 pads and 7 short traces. The area around A8 looked like a small bomb had hit it. I decided that this area was well beyond my skill level to fix and needed some professional help. after some research I contacted a company in the US who specialized in board level repair work. They agreed to fix the board, but for a price. The total turn around from when the motherboard left my home in Tokyo to when I got it back was about 5 weeks. Upon inspection I was very please with the job they had done, especially considering that all the repaired pads and traces had to be made by hand as there was no modern pad replacement that matched the shape and size of the Rev 0 boards pads. I decided I would install in a nice machine socket. It’s not as original, but it would ensure a trouble free future for this area, and I figured that If at sometime in the future I wanted to replace the machine socket with something more original, then that should an easy operation...but for the time being I was very happy.


Now I had to get the machine working. As I had a spare working Apple II+ motherboard, I used the tried and true method of replacing each IC one at a time, powering the computer on, and checking if there was any change or improvement. If there was, then the chip stayed. If nothing changed then the original chip went back in. I ultimately found 5 dead chips, and finally the machine jumped to life...hooray!


PROJECTS AND ARTICLES

Restoring an early Rev 0 Apple II

But wait, as I suspected, the keyboard was pretty flakey. Only about half the keys worked at all. SOme displayed multiple characters with only one keystroke, other keys were just sticky and had difficulty popping back up after being pressed. I’ve fixed keyboards before for other various other machine including Apple II’s and I never really enjoy the process. It’s very time consuming and you are dealing with the possibility of multiple failed parts. However if I was to get this machine up and running it had to be done.


Some keys I was able to get working again by rapidly pressing on them multiple times. By ‘multiple’’ I mean hundreds, if not thousands. Other keys needed a little more help and some contact cleaner dripped down the key switch shaft, and then, again, pressing the key over and over again brought them back to life. There were a couple ok keys that I just couldn’t get working and I knew I needed to find a source for new key switches. These older Apple II’s came with the keyboard that had the raised power light and key switches made by a company called Alps. Later Apple II’s and Apple II pluses used more reliable keyboards that had the flush power light. Unfortunately the keyboard I needed to find was the much rarer one. As luck may have it, I found an eBay auction that was selling one of these old ‘raised power light’ keyboard that had been partially destroyed in an accident. I grabbed if for a good price. Once it arrive it was just a simple case of testing for a working key switch, desoldering it and replacing the non working one on the original keyboard. Finally all they keys were now fixed.


Although I had given the computer a preliminary clean, the last thing to do was give the machine a thorough scrub and get it looking like new again.


Conclusion


Finally, the machine was up and running 100%. It had been a very long process had taken over 6 months but I think the time and effort was worth it. This machine is irreplaceable and is probably only second to the Apple 1 in collect-ability and rarity. I had a lot of fun restoring it, and learnt a lot of things in the process. This machine now takes pride of place in my collection.


Yep, it’s not working.

My Rev 0 Apple II after complete restoration