The Apple IIe is making a comeback. More than a quarter century after the last of Apple’s “enhanced” Apple II models rolled off the conveyor belt, the machine has found its way back into the news cycle. First, there was the story of Fordham University law professor John Pfaff, who found his childhood IIe — still in working order — in his parents’ attic 30 years after he last switched it on. Now, a talented software engineer named Mike Kohn has topped that story by unveiling the world’s first Apple IIe robot, a wheeled creation that looks like the mutant offspring of an Apple II and a Roomba.
“There’s a TV channel that I watch sometimes that plays a lot of B-grade 1980s sci-fi movies where the robots look like random objects, like maybe a garbage can with wheels and LEDs,” Kohn told Digital Trends. “I thought of an Apple IIe with wheels and it made me laugh. The early-80s look of the case, plus the CPU being a 6502 — like the assembly code you see in Terminator — kind of made this computer perfect.”
Kohn’s transformation of the decidedly stationary Apple IIe into a movable robot is detailed on his blog. It explains everything from how the robot uses the Apple Basic language to send the movement commands to the necessary physical modifications that had to take place. Regardless of whether you’re technical enough to follow all the details, however, the results are pretty darn cool. Heck, the robot even has a sword, and uses a speech-synth module to blurt out sentences!
If you’re looking for a robot that performs useful tasks, Kohn’s Apple IIe robot probably isn’t for you. Then again, he does refer to it as an “evil” robot in the above video — and how many truly evil robots carry out helpful chores for you when you’re not home? In that respect, it’s an unequivocally awesome success.
“I had some other ideas for the project, like putting some sensors on the board and making it smarter,” Kohn said. “What would be really cool is turning into a battlebot! I’d also like to do a better job with the board that converts 14.8v to the voltages the Apple IIe needs. The problem is I have a lot of ideas for other projects, and just not enough free time to do them all.”
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