Saturday, March 3, 2012

Book Review: Apple 1 Replica Creation / Back to the Garage

Book Review: Apple 1 Replica Creation / Back to the Garage
Author: Tom Owad
Published 2005
ISBN 10931836-40-X
The Book
Tom Owad is the founder of the web site dedicated to vintage Apple computers. This book is intended as a companion to the Replica 1 kit or a guide for building your own Replica 1 from scratch. The book is ideal if you have a Replica 1 kit and want more detailed instructions on how to assemble it and program it in BASIC and machine code.

The book covers the Replica 1 first edition. The Replica 1 kits currently shipping are the third edition (TE) and while the design has changed in some significant ways, it is still used and programmed the same way.

Chapter one covers the History of the Apple 1. This supplements the foreword by Steve Wozniak that talks about the Apple 1 and what led to it.

Chapter two is on tools and materials for electronics projects like assembling the Replica 1.

Chapter three covers some of the basics of digital logic.

Chapter four is on building the Replica 1 kit.

Chapter five discusses programming in BASIC.

Chapter six is on programming in assembly language.

Chapter seven is a description of the hardware in the Replica 1 such as the CPU, memory, RAM, ROM, and PIA.

Appendices cover ASCII codes, 6502 machine codes, some projects for hacking the Macintosh, and electrical engineering basics.

Overall the book is well written and useful. It covers a much wider range of information than, say, the typical book on 6502 programming, without going into too much detail on any one topic.

The book implies that someone could go from zero knowledge of electronics to designing their own circuit boards with this book. While that is a lofty and inspiring goal I'm not sure it's realistic.

My copy of the book was purchased from at substantially below the list price ($39.95 USA / $57.95 Canada) but did not include the CD-ROM (that was clear from the Amazon listing and not a surprise to me). I suspect the software on the CD-ROM has become out of date (Macintosh CAD software) and is no longer included.

Some of the print quality is a little poor. The first page of the foreword has a grey background and text that is not quite black making it very hard to read. The subsequent pages are better but it makes for a bad first impression. Some of the photos lack contrast and are hard to see any detail. This may be only an issue with the recent copies - the copyright page says "Transferred to Digital Printing 2011". I'm not sure what that means.

The Macintosh Hacking section in the Appendix seems irrelevant and looks like filler material the author had at hand to make the book longer.

I like the author's writing style. It is informal, sometimes uses humour, and includes a lot of practical advice.

Overall this is a good companion book if you have a Replica 1 and puts a lot of information together than might otherwise need to be gleaned from several books (most of which would be out of print).

The author has hinted that there may be either an update and/or a download version coming shortly.

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