Apple III

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Apple III with monitorThe Apple III was announced May 19, 1980, during the National Computer Conference (NCC) in Anaheim. The Apple III was Apple's first attempt at creating a business machine that would compete with the IBM PC to be released the August of the following year. It originally sold for $4340-$7800 depending on configuration. It had very little noticeable similarities with any of the previous Apple models. It ran a Synertek 6502A processor running a new operating system named Apple SOS at 2 MHz, twice as fast as the Apple II. It had a maximum of 128k of RAM, twice the memory of an Apple II. It was also the first Apple computer to have a built-in floppy drive, a Shugart 143k 5.25" disk drive. It could have two additional peripherals added via its two serial ports, and had 4 internal expansion slots that were compatible with Apple II cards. But Steve Jobs, who supervised the project gave ridiculous demands to the development team including dimensions that were too small to fit all the components, and no cooling fan. The result was that the team had to cram the components in allowing little or no ventilation. Since there was no fan to cool the overheating, the chips expanded and eventually popped out of the machine, killing it. After replacing 14,000 bad IIIs, a newly revised Apple III, with 256k RAM and the option of adding a 5MB ProFile hard drive for $3495, was released some time afterward. It was also faulty, and had to be replaced, so Apple's final attempt was the Apple III+, selling for $2,995 in December, 1983. It had 256k RAM, a working logic board with built-in clock, improved peripheral ports with standard DB-25 connectors, a modified slot for easier card installation, and Apple SOS 1.3. Nevertheless, the III had a very bad reputation by this time and it was inevitably "too little, too late". The Apple III was discontinued on April 24, 1984 by Dave Fradin, the same man who touted it would live at least another 5-7 years one year earlier.

Code Names: The project was code named "Sarah" after the daughter of Chief Engineer Wendell Sander. The III's OS was called "Sarah's Operating System" before it was reverse engineered to it's more formal Apple Sophisticated Operating System (better known as SOS).

Processor: Synertek 6502A processor running at 2 MHz.
Memory: 128-256k of RAM.
Display: supported 24 lines and 80 columns of text and a 560x192 display in the monochrome setting.
Expansion: 4 expansion slots compatible with Apple II cards.
Drives: built-in Shugart 143k 5.25" floppy disk drive, and was later available with a 5MB ProFile drive.

Operating Systems:
The Apple III ran an advanced new operating system called Apple SOS, versions 1.0-1.3

Models in this Series
Apple III: basic system, came with 128k RAM, ran Apple SOS 1.0. Original selling price was $4340 to $7800.
Apple III revised: included 256k RAM, new sockets on motherboard, optional 5MB ProFile drive. Sold for $3495
Apple III+: included 256k RAM, new logic board, working built-in clock, improved ports, easier card installation, ran Apple SOS 1.3. Sold for $2995.

On the market for: 4 years, 11 months

Interesting Facts:
After the presentation of the Apple III at NCC, Apple transported 7,000 people that attended the event to nearby Disneyland. Apple had rented out the theme park for 5 hours at a cost of $42,000. Although Apple's official name for the Apple III OS is Apple SOS, most users began to call it S-O-S, like the emergency distress call. This was obviously because of the computers severe problems. Steve Jobs, weary of the mess he had done with the Apple III project, tried to distance himself from the Apple III by "hovering" over the Lisa project which coincidentally was Apple's second failure.

Resources and Related Links:
The Apple III entry at Glen Sanford's A History of Apple Computer

The Apple III entry at Richard Kilpatrick's Apple Retro
Advertisements 1 and 2 of the Apple III at Richard Kilpatrick's site
Picture from A History of Apple Computer.