Apple and the 6502

Apr 10 21

Apple and the 6502

Paul Weinstein

This April marks the 45th anniversary of Apple Inc.’s founding in 1976.1 A short time later, Apple’s first product, the Apple I was released. Apple’s first two products, the Apple I and Apple II2, were based on a microprocessor that was developed and released by MOS Technology in 1975. 

The MOS Technology 65023 is an 8-bit microprocessor originally designed by a team of former Motorola engineers, led by Chuck Peddle. The 6502 design is essentially a simplified version of the Motorola 6800, but was initially priced far less than the 6800 and the Intel 8080. The lower price point sparked a series of home computer projects, including the Apple I and II. 

Recently, while surfing the web, I came across the website of an artist who creates works using reclaimed microprocessors, which presented me with an idea to create something of my own.

After some scavenging, I picked up a silicon wafer containing unfinished 6502 processors as well as finished processor pulled from a defunct system. Both the wafer and the chip are from Rockwell International, which manufactured the 6502 under license from Commodore in the 1980s.4

So how did my homemade “museum display” turn out? Judge for yourself:

A MOS 6502 Processor and its Progeny from r/vintagecomputing

1 Originally incorporated as Apple Computer Company on April 1st, 1976.

2 The first Apple II model was released in 1977.

3 “Sixty-five-oh-two”

4 Soon after the 6502’s introduction, MOS Technology was purchased outright by Commodore International, who continued to sell the microprocessor and licenses to other manufacturers while also incorporating it in their own line of products starting with the KIM-1 (1976) and the Commodore PET. (1977)