Apple IIc and IIc Plus: Compact Apples with Internal Floppy Drives

The Apple II family was known for its expansion options – eight slots for adding capabilities. Inevitably one held a floppy controller, typically one held a parallel printer card, and another might have a serial card for a modem or printer. Some bought Microsoft’s Z-80 SoftCard to run CP/M. But for most users, most slots remained empty.

Apple IIc header

That’s the market Apple aimed at with the Apple IIc. The IIc was built on the foundation of the Apple IIe and released during the April 24, 1984 Apple II Forever event. (This was three months after Apple had introduced the first Macintosh.)

Apple IIc with green screen monitorThe IIc was the first Apple computer to use the improved 65C02 CPU, which added 27 new instructions to the original 6502, and for the first time Applesoft BASIC could use lower case text. 80-column text display was a standard feature, and Apple even had a switch for using the Dvorak keyboard layout – a supposedly superior key layout that has never managed to displace the QWERTY keyboard that have been in use for decades.

Built-in features that had been on cards in previous Apple II models include the Extended 80 Column Card, two serial ports, a mouse card (or joystick port), and a floppy drive controller. The Apple IIc had 128 KB of memory and supported both 80-column text and Double High Resolution graphics out of the box.

Visually, the IIc was the first Apple product to embrace the Snow White design language – and the only Apple computer ever produced in the off-white color known as Fog.

The computer weighed just 7.5 pounds, making it easy to transport, and this was helped out by a handle at the back of the unit, which could also be used to prop up the back of the computer. Apple also offered a fairly compact 9″ green screen display with a stand that accommodates the IIc.

Apple IIc Revisions

The first version of the Apple IIc only supported one device on its floppy drive port: Apple’s external 5.25″ floppy drive. A ROM update released in November 1985 added support for the Apple UniDisk 3.5, the first 3.5″ drive for Apple II computers.

In September 1986, Apple updated the IIc with a new logic board that could support 1 MB of memory. The new revision replaced the beige keyboard and floppy drive latch with light grey to match the then-new Apple IIGS. Owners of older Apple IIcs could receive a free logic board upgrade if they purchased the new memory expansion.

In January 1988, a new ROM fixed problems with memory expansion. It was available for free to IIc owners with memory expansion. This was the final revision of the IIc before the IIc Plus arrived.

Apple IIc Plus

Apple IIc and IIc PlusThe last new model in the Apple II series, the IIc Plus adopted the 3.5″ floppy drive and increased CPU speed fourfold from 1 MHz to 4 MHz, making it the fastest of any stock Apple II model and faster than many accelerated Apple II machines. It was introduced on September 16, 1988, and it has a 1 MHz compatibility mode for old software – especially games.

The keyboard layout was modified to match the Apple IIGS keyboard, and the Open Apple and Solid Apple keys of the past became Command and Option keys. The serial ports used the DIN-8 connectors found on the IIGS as well. The new model was a half-pound lighter than the Apple IIc. The IIc Plus moved to Apple’s Platinum coloring already in use on the IIGS.

Where the IIc had used an external power supply and could run from a battery pack, the IIc Plus had a built-in power supply, so running from battery was no longer an option.

The biggest complaint by users was that the IIc Plus didn’t have a built-in 5.25″ floppy drive, since the vast majority of software came in that format. This meant picking up an external drive to use their existing software.

Although there had been many localized versions of the Apple IIc, the IIc Plus was only available to the US market. Not even Canadian Apple dealers could sell it.

The IIc Plus was discontinued in November 1990, just over two years after its introduction, leaving the Apple II family with just two remaining models: the Apple IIe and the IIGS.

Next time, we’ll look at the Apple IIGS.

Further Reading

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