Obronix

Obtronix
Image Credit: Scott Austin


View all posts by: Vectronic | View all posts in category: Apple II Hardware

Apple Computer came into existence on April 1, 1976 as a partnership between Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Gerald Wayne. The purpose of the partnership was to sell Wozniak's Apple Computer 1, later known as the Apple I. The Apple I was a kit computer. The Apple I kit included only the circuit board. You had to supply your own power supply, keyboard, monitor or television, and case. It was a true hobbyist computer, but at the time, it represented the most innovative and powerful home computer of its kind.

 To learn more about the Apple I, see this article:  The Apple I


The Obtronix Apple I reproduction is a kit produced by Steve Gabaly, who occasionally auctions them off on eBay. It is almost an exact replica of Steve Wozniak's original 1976 version. It is difficult for the uninitiated to distinguish pictures of the replica from pictures of a real Apple I. At the date this article was written, the last Apple I reproduction kit offered by Obtronix sold for $355 in October 2008. Gabaly's auctions proclaimed, "Don't have $20,000 to spare for a real Apple 1 computer? Build your own identical replica!"

Apple made two versions of the Apple I and the difference between the two were mostly cosmetic with a few part changes. Gabaly's reproduction was modeled after the first version. In general, Gabaly tried to use the same part manufacturer as supplied with the original Apple I, but that wasn't possible with some parts. For example, he could not find the Torotel crystal or the Fairchild TTL. The substituted parts were plug in equivalents of their originals.

Obtronix
Image Credit: Scott Austin


Scott Austin put together two Apple I Obtronix reproductions and sold them on eBay in 2008. We estimate the value of a working completed Obtronix Apple I to be at least $800 US, and that is a conservative estimate. Austin has graciously granted us permission to display the images of his two Apple I reproductions. You can also view these same images on The Vintage Computer.

Scott used two different custom-built cases for his two Obtronix reproductions. One is a more authentic wooden case with a clear plexiglass cover, and the other has a more modern-looking, sleeker metal and plexiglass enclosure. It appears from the pictures that neither reproductions have a Cassette Interface Card, so running a BASIC program would be a laborious process to set up and there would be no way to save your work. However, Austin constructed his reproductions to accommodate the Cassette Interface Card should one be added in the future. On the wooden case, there is enough height for the card to fit. On the metal and plastic model, the top plexiglass is notched making room for the card. Click the thumbnails below to see these two amazing reproductions.

Obtronix
Image Credit: Scott Austin


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Obtronix Apple I Reproduction - metal and plexiglass case
Assembled by Scott Austin in July 2008




Left side showing the plastic bracket leg.
Closer look under the system. Right side.
The under side of the system, hiding the transformers, electrical connections and cabling.




Closer look under the system. Left side.
Right side showing the plastic bracket leg with the black Clear Screen button. Plastic cover has been removed.
The Apple Computer I text alone. A real Apple I uses a smoother font and also says "Palo Alto, Ca. Copyright 1976".




Obtronix Apple I reproduction with an Apple IIc monitor.
Results of the test program: a continuous stream of ASCII characters.




Test program from page 2 of the Apple-1 Operation Manual.
Rear right corner with fuse holder, lighted power switch and power cable.
Rear left corner with black Clear Screen button, RCA video connector, red Reset button.




Top shot of the Apple I reproduction board.
Shot of the board with the 6502 processor chip in the foreground. Plastic cover has been removed.
Front corner showing plastic wandering finger guard and expansion port.




Signetics 2504v -- provides the video memory in the Apple I.


Obtronix Apple I Reproduction - wooden case
Assembled by Scott Austin in September 2008




Left corner view of Obtronix Apple I reproduction system.
Front view of the Obtronix Apple I reproduction system.
The Obtronix Apple I reproduction running a test program (given in the original Apple-1 Operation Manual).




Front corner view of the Obtronix Apple I reproduction.
Back corner view of the Obtronix Apple I reproduction.
Inside view of the Obtronix Apple I system, looking through the 3/8" plexiglass cover.