Apple II with dual disk drive and display
Apple II image from Musée Bolo

Hop in your DeLorean and head back to 1990, just a short 33 years ago... Thanks to the availability of cheaper clones and business software like Lotus 1-2-3, the IBM PC had taken over the computing market, claiming 84% market share. The Apple II had enjoyed a loyal following since its release in 1977, but for most of its life it had been outsold by other systems from Atari, Commodore, and later on the Macintosh. The IIe and IIgs were still being sold in 1990 and would continue until 1993, but the PC was here to stay.

IBM PC with display and Model F keyboard
IBM PC image from Musée Bolo

You've got a great new PC, but what do you do with your favorite Apple II software? Two hackers in Bulgaria, Alexander Patalenski and Emil Dotchevski, wrote an emulator to solve that problem. These days a multi-core, multi-GHz CPU barely notices that it's emulating a 1 MHz 6502, but an 8088 needed to work pretty hard (and your code needed to be clever) to make things feel smooth. Appler is written in 8088 assembly so it's as fast as possible, and it's probably still the fastest Apple II emulator.

Appler also supports HGR - the high resolution graphics mode of the Apple II. By high resolution, I mean a staggering 280x192 pixels. It doesn't seem like much, but 40 years ago that was pretty impressive!

The authors didn't have access to an actual Apple II color monitor, their Bulgarian clone systems only had a monochrome green display. But they knew what the colors should be, and using resistor values from the schematic calculated the values to use in their code.

High res!

What can we do with an emulator from decades ago? More than you'd think!

Of course we can run old software and play games, but Appler also has nice tools for dealing with memory and debugging, making it great if you want to get into 6502 assembly programming.

Let's set it up and see what it can do!

This guide was first published on Apr 04, 2023. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (What's an Appler?) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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