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Vectronic's Apple IIe Platinum

Blue Arrow Archives Section:  Apple II Collection Archive

Vectronic's Collections (New Site):  Apple IIe Platinum

Originally Published:  Nov. 10, 2003

The Apple IIe Platinum was introduced in January 1987 as a replacement for the Apple IIe Enhanced. The IIe Platinum motherboard is essentially the same as the IIe Enhanced. Apple changed the case color from the beige of the IIe Enhanced to a blue-gray color it called "platinum." At the time, Apple switched most of its computers to this color. The IIe Platinum also has a smaller 80 Column Card. The 80 Column Card allows the IIe to display 80 columns of text across the screen. Without it, the IIe can only display 40 columns. The 80 Column Card also provides the IIe with an additional 64K RAM. The IIe Platinum has 64K onboard RAM and 128K total RAM with the addition of the 80 Column Card. The IIe Platinum uses a 1 MHz SynerTek 65C02 processor. I purchased my IIe Platinum in 2001. With the addition of a color composite monitor, various cards, and disk drives, the whole system cost approximately $150.

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.

Apple IIe Platinum one-piece case

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.

Apple IIe Platinum connected to a television

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 Apple IIe Color Composite Monitor is great for games

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.

Apple IIe Platinum ports - port numbers 2, 3, and 10 are 5.25-inch disk drive card, 3.5-inch disk drive card, and Apple Super Serial Card respectively (port numbers on the case do not follow actual slot numbers)

The only built in external ports from left to right - composite video port, audio cassette output/input, and joystick/paddle port

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. Vectromania

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