Last week, we told you about collector and former Microsoft Program Manger Jimmy Grewal’s mission to restore his recently acquired Apple I board to working condition. After rigorous testing and cleaning, Grewal and his team have fully revived the system and documented the restoration process in a new video.
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Only about 200 Apple I systems were ever produced during the computer’s production window in 1976, and of those, less than 70 are known to still exist. Finding one in working condition is even more challenging.
Several complete systems have hit the market over the last few years, sometimes commanding bids of over $800,000 at auction. Grewal took a chance when he purchased his Apple I, with only a single photo for reference and its operational status unknown.
Over the past week, Grewal has tweeted about his restoration work, which began by thoroughly cleaning the system. He explains in the video below that what was feared to be corrosion on the board turned out to be simply residue from deteriorating anti-static foam that the computer had been stored in.
While the board powered on immediately, the computer would not function as intended. Interestingly enough, Grewal’s team discovered that the newer Apple II keyboard they had attached was the culprit – not the computer itself!
After additional testing and the removal of corrosion discovered on some of the RAM modules, the system worked. Grewal was able to load an ASCII art program displaying Steve Wozniak’s face onto the Apple I using a modern iPad to simulate a cassette player. Original Apple I software was distributed as audio tones on cassette tapes and was loaded into the system’s memory through a cassette interface.
Now that the system is working and restored, Grewal is in search of a permanent location near Dubai to display the piece of computing history. In the United States, several systems are on display in museums like The Henry Ford in Dearborn, MI, and The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.