Vectronic's Apple IIe Platinum
Originally Published: Nov. 10, 2003
While the overall design of the IIe Platinum's one-piece case is the same as the IIe Enhanced, Apple gave the Platinum a more Mac-like keyboard with a numeric keypad. The IIe Enhanced did not have this keypad. The keyboard is built into all models of the II line except for the Apple IIgs, which has a detached ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) keyboard. Like the IIe Enhanced, the IIe Platinum keyboard is a full two inches off the table, which can be uncomfortable after typing for a long period of time.
The monitor connected to my IIe Platinum is an Apple IIe Color Composite Monitor. This monitor is excellent for getting the most out of the IIe's color capabilities without sacrificing the ability to display 80 columns. A color television with AV jacks (as shown below) can be used if you do not have an Apple IIe Color Composite Monitor. The composite signal and the low resolution of a television CRT keeps you from taking advantage of 80 columns. 80 columns on a standard CRT television looks fuzzy. 40 columns on a television is not a problem. This is unfortunate but acceptable if you only want to play games. It is necessary to turn off color on the IIe Color Composite Monitor when in 80 columns mode due to "color-blast" resulting from the odd way the IIe generates the composite signal. This is accomplished by pushing a button on the front of the monitor, located under the panel cover. The IIe can use an RGB card with an RGB monitor but I have found that many games optimized for the Apple II look funny on a monitor with that much resolution. Games designed for the Apple IIe were primarily designed to run with a composite signal.
The IIe Platinum has two text modes: 40-columns text (24 lines, 5 x 7 dot matrix), and 80-columns text (24 lines, 5 x 7 dot matrix)(80 Column Card required). It has three graphics modes: low-resolution 16-color graphics (40h x 48v color blocks, 40h x 40v with four lines of text), high-resolution 6-color graphics (280h x 192v dots, 280h x 160v with four line of text), and double high-resolution 16-color graphics (560h x 192v dots)(80 Column Card required).
The IIe Platinum has 7 Apple II expansion slots and one Aux. Conn. slot for the 80 Column Card (also referred to as an Extended 80-Column Text Card). Apple considered the IIe an "open" platform and encouraged users to explore ways to configure it. Apple provided thorough documentation of the motherboard and even provided guidance on ways to hack it. It is a true hobbyist computer. Unfortunately, it has few built-in ports and requires cards for almost anything you would like to add to the system. The only built in ports are one composite video port, one audio cassette output/input port, and one joystick/paddle port. On the motherboard, there is a residual numeric keypad port and a paddle port, both carry-overs from the original Apple IIe. My IIe Platinum has an Apple Super Serial Card for connecting an ImageWriter II printer, an Apple 5.25 disk drive card, and an Apple 800K 3.5 disk drive card. I have connected two daisy chained 5.25-inch disk drives and one 3.5-inch 800K floppy disk drive.
The Apple IIe Platinum is the best Apple IIe. It has a beautiful platinum case and an excellent keyboard with a numeric keypad. Otherwise, it is the virtually the same as the older beige Apple IIe Enhanced. I love the Apple II platform, partially because I grew up using Apple IIs, but also because of its place in Apple history. While the Macintosh changed the world with its innovative graphical operating system, the Apple II helped create the entire home computer industry years earlier.