Book Review: “Apple I Replica Creation: Back to the Garage”

It was with a sense of anticipation that I opened the book, “Apple I Replica Creation: Back to the Garage“, by Tom Owad. Being a recent ‘switcher’ from Windows to Mac, the idea of building a first generation Apple to go with my cutting edge machines had the engineer in me pretty jazzed. I have been fascinated with computing machinery since I was a teenager, in the mid-1970s. In an ironic twist of fate, unbeknownst to me, the Apple I came out at that very same time. It was not until 2005 that I heard of the famous Apple ][‘s younger, lesser-known sibling. “All in good time”, as the saying goes – now, in my maturity I am able to enjoy the challenge.

The book is well written and showcases the author’s knowledge of the subject matter. It is both interesting and informative. It is composed of seven chapters and six appendices. It is a melding of Macintosh history, folklore and architecture. It is also a serviceable digital logic primer and lab manual. It covers topics ranging from the history of the Apple I to radically hacking the Mac hardware.

The author’s style is conversational and light. Where another author might have been tempted to descend into pedantic lecturing, Tom has deftly avoided this trap. It is a rare gift to be able to teach complex subjects and keep it light. I, for one, am thankful!

Here is what is in the book:

The foreword is written by none other than the Apple I designer, Steve Wozniak or as he is affectionately referred to in Mac circles, “The Woz”. Steve gives the reader an insiders view of how the Apple I came into being, and it is interesting reading, indeed.

Chapter 1 – The History of the Apple I
This chapter covers the history and folklore associated with the original Apple. It relates the technical lineage of the machine and then the reader gets introduced to the Apple I Owners Club. The chapter concludes with Tom’s interviews of some Apple I pioneers – Joe Torzewski, Larry Nelson, Ray Borril, Liza Loop, Steve Fish, and Allen Baum.

Chapter 2 – Tools and Materials
Chapter 2 is a shopping list of required tools, parts and ambience required to work on the Apple I Replica. Breadboards, logic probes, multimeters, soldering irons, TTL chips, and work environment are discussed.

Chapter 3 – Digital Logic
The author does a very nice job of explaining Digital Logic in Chapter 3, both in text and hands on experiments. He discusses the standard gates – AND, OR, XOR, NOT, NAND, etc. and then he provides an LED circuit exercise or two to demonstrate that gate in action. Here is a picture of my work, from this chapter, easy and fun!


Chapter 4 – Building the Replica
This is where the author gets down to the nitty gritty of his book, the actual construction of an Apple I Replica. The author begins the chapter with an overview of soldering techniques, a must read section for newbies. The second part of chapter 4 is all about assembling the replica. Thanks to Vince Briel of Briel Computers the reader can choose not to build their own circuit boards and collect the individual parts necessary to create the Replica and can instead order a kit, from Briel Computers where it has already been done for them. However, the die-hard hobbyist will be pleased to know that schematics are included on the accompanying CDROM for building the circuit boards and the parts list is in the book. In the final part of the chapter, the author gives the reader an introduction to McCad EDS SE by VAMP Inc., which is the electronic design system included on the accompanying CDROM. Be aware that the version of McCad EDS SE that is included on the CDROM will only work on a Mac, to work in other environments visit the VAMP website.

Chapter 5 – Programming in BASIC
After the reader has built the Apple I Replica, the author talks about what to do with that masterpiece of ingenuity. He gives the reader an introduction to the Apple I Replica’s dialect of BASIC and follows that up with a dissection and complete Apple I source code of an Adventure game called Richard III – what the author calls a piece of interactive fiction. Long live King Richard!

Chapter 6 – Programming in Assembly
BASIC being, well… basic, the author provides the reader with the not-so-basic Assembly language for the Apple I. This is a somewhat advanced chapter and is not for the faint of heart. Take heed though, this is where the true power of the processor can be tapped. Tom Owad does a quite serviceable job of presenting this difficult topic. He covers all the bases – registers, memory, stacks, etc. The accompanying CDROM contains the xa65 cross assembler, originally written by Andre Fachat and now maintained by Cameron Kaiser. The xa65 is capable of compiling assembly code programs written for the Apple I Replica.

Chapter 7 – Understanding the Apple I
In this final chapter of the book, the internals of the Apple I are discussed. The bus, clock, memory, keyboard in and video out each have their own section and are covered in gory detail.

The Appendices
This book will serve as a great reference once the project of building the replica is completed:

Appendix A – ASCII Codes
Appendix B – Operation Codes and Status Register
Appendix C – OpCode Matrix
Appendix D – Instructions by Category
Appendix E – Hacking Macintosh
Appendix F – Electrical Engineering Basics

The appendices are pretty self explanatory and useful. Appendix E, though, deserves special note. In this appendix, the author provides some groovy extra curricular projects for the more industrious reader:

The Compubrick SE – a Mac made of Legos
UFO Mouse
Skinning the Power Macintosh G4 Cube

All in all a great read and highly recommended. If you are a Mac enthusiast, an electronics hobbyist or otherwise technically curious, you will enjoy it.

About the Book
Title: Apple I Replica Creation: Back to the Garage
Author: Tom Owad,
Publisher: Syngress, Inc., 2005

About the Author
Tom Owad is a freelance writer and Macintosh consultant in south-central PA and vice president of Keystone MacCentral. He serves on the board of directors of the Apple I Owners Club, where he is also webmaster and archivist. Tom is owner and Webmaster of Applefritter, a Macintosh community of artists and engineers. Applefritter provides its members with discussion boards for the exchange of ideas and hosts countless member-contributed hardware hacks and other projects. Tom holds a BA in computer science and international affairs from Lafayette College, PA.


Category Rating
Clarity 9
Accuracy 9
Organization 8
Artistic Design 9
Overall Rating 8.75

Note: Rating is on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best

Buy “Apple I Replica Creation: Back to the Garage

If you would like to see your thoughts or experiences with technology published, please consider writing an article for OSNews.


  1. 2005-03-23 9:13 pm
  2. 2005-03-23 9:16 pm
  3. 2005-03-23 9:29 pm
  4. 2005-03-23 9:36 pm
  5. 2005-03-23 10:43 pm
  6. 2005-03-24 1:53 am
  7. 2005-03-24 7:34 am
  8. 2005-03-24 11:30 am
  9. 2005-03-24 12:50 pm
  10. 2005-03-24 6:10 pm
  11. 2005-03-24 9:21 pm