Apple III
Introduced:May 1980
Released:Spring 1981
Price:US $3495 w/128K RAM
US $3815 with monitor
How many?65,000 TOTAL (four year)
CPU:Synertek 6502A, 2.0 MHz
RAM:128K, 512K max.
Display:Color composite video
16 colors at 280 X 192.
16 shades at 560 X 192
Ports:Two serial ports
External floppy port
Expansion:Four internal slots
Storage:Internal 143k 5-1/4 inch floppy
External floppy drive
OS:Apple SOS (Sophisticated OS)

Since 1977, Apple had been making millions of dollars on their Apple II line of computers. They sold hundreds of thousands of them, and it was the primary money maker for the company.

But Apple didn't expect the Apple II to continue to be so successsful, so they set out to design an even better system, the Apple III, specifically for the business environment.

Seen here is the Apple III with the Silentype thermal printer. This is the first printer released by Apple, although it is actually a rebadged Trendcom Model 200 printer. The Silentype was first released for the Apple II ($595 in 1979) with an interface card, but the Apple III has Silentype support built-in - it uses Port A.

The Apple III was announced on May 19, 1980, during the National Computer Conference in Anaheim, California.

In the fall of 1980, Apple ships the first Apple III units in limited quantity. It runs twice as fast as the Apple II and has twice as much memory - 128k of RAM. It is also the first Apple computer to have a built-in floppy drive, a Shugart 143k 5.25-inch floppy drive.

The Apple III has 4 internal expansion slots that are compatible with Apple II cards, and also has Apple II Plus emulation built-in.

The Apple III chassis is a single, heavy piece of aluminum, with the power supply totally enclosed in the left section, with no ventilation what-so-ever.

Steve Jobs, who supervised the project, gave ridiculous demands to the development team including dimensions that were too small to fit all the components, and no cooling fan, because they were 'too noisy and inelegant'.

The result was that the motherboard got hot and warped, eventually causing some chips to come loose in their sockets, which would cause system malfunctions. One popular fix was to pick up the console and drop it onto the desk, temporarily re-seating the loose chips.

In addition, the real-time clock did not work, and the Apple II emulation wasn't perfect and didn't always work correctly.

After replacing 14,000 bad Apple IIIs, a newly revised system, with twice as much memory, 256K RAM, was released late in the fall of 1981. Apple also introduced the ProFile 5Meg external hard drive, seen here sitting between the Apple III and the Monitor III.
There were still problems, mostly the Apple III's bad reputation, so once again, in December 1983, Apple introduced the redesigned Apple III Plus, for US$3000. It has a working clock, peripheral ports which were now standard DB-25 connectors, and an improved operating system, SOS 1.3.

On the Plus, the keyboard is now a lighter shade than on the original Apple III, and the matching monitor is also in a lighter shade to match the keyboard.

Nevertheless, the Apple III was so distrusted that even though it was now a fine and functional system, people still did not buy it.

On April 24, 1984, the entire Apple III line was retired with only 65,000 units sold in total. The Apple III Plus was on the market for a total of 4 months!

Years later, in 1989, you could still purchase an Apple III for $395.00 from Sun Remarketing. If that didn't suit your tastes, you could also buy either a Macintosh or Lisa for a similarly low price.

Related Links

  • Apple III at Apple Retrospective
  • Washington Apple Pi
  • Apple III at PC Museum
  • Apple III at The Unofficial, Unauthorized, Apple Online Museum
  • Woz Homepage
  • Vectronics Apple World

  • History of the Apple Computer Corporation

    • 1973: Stephen Wozniak joins HP.
    • 1976: Wozniak proposes that HP create a personal computer. He is rejected.
    • 1976: March - Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs finish work on a computer circuit board, that they call the Apple I computer.
    • 1976: April - Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak form the Apple Computer Company, on April Fool's Day.
    • 1976: July - The Apple I computer board is sold in kit form, and delivered to stores by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Price: US$666.66.
    • 1976: August - Steve Wozniak begins work on the Apple II.
    • 1976: October - Wozniak remains at HP, but is soon convinced that he should leave and join Apple Computer.
    • 1976: December - Steve Wozniak and Randy Wigginton demonstrate the first prototype Apple II at a Homebrew Computer Club meeting.
    • 1977: March - Apple Computer moves from Jobs' garage to an office in Cupertino.
    • 1977: April - Apple Computer delivers its first Apple II system, for $1295.
    • 1977: May - 10 months after its introduction, 175 Apple I kits have sold.
    • 1978: Apple Computer begins work on an enhanced Apple II with custom chips, code-named Annie.
    • 1978: Apple Computer begins work on a supercomputer with a bit-sliced architecture, code-named Lisa.
    • 1979: June - Apple Computer introduces the Apple II Plus, with 48KB memory, for US$1195.
    • 1979: September - Apple Computer sells 35,000 Apple II computers for the fiscal year.
    • 1979: October - 2.5 years after the introduction of the Apple II, 50,000 units have been sold.
    • 1979: Apple Computer begins work on "Sara", the code name for what will be the Apple III.
    • 1980: May - Apple Computer introduces the Apple III. Price ranges from US$4500 to US$8000.
    • 1980: September - Apple Computer sells over 78,000 Apple II computers during the fiscal year.
    • 1980: Apple Computer ships the first Apple III units in limited quantity.
    • 1980: Apple Computer begins project "Diana", which would become the Apple IIe.
    • 1981: September - Apple Computer introduces its first hard drive, the 5MB ProFile, for US$3499.
    • 1981: Apple Computer officially reintroduces the Apple III, with improved software and a hard disk.
    • 1982: Sales of Apple II Plus to date: 45,000.
    • 1982: Sales of all Apple II systems to date: 750,000.
    • 1982: Apple Computer becomes the first personal computer company to reach US$1 billion in annual sales.
    • 1982: Franklin Computer Corp. unveils the Franklin Ace 1000, the first legal (at the time) Apple II clone.
    • 1983: January - Apple Computer officially unveils the Lisa computer. Its initial price is US$10,000. During its lifetime, 100,000 units are produced.
    • 1983: January - Apple Computer introduces the Apple IIe for US$1400.
    • 1983: June - The one millionth Apple II is made.
    • 1983: June - Apple Computer begins shipping the Lisa.
    • 1983: June - Video Technology introduces the Laser 3000, an Apple II workalike microcomputer.
    • 1983: June - Unitronics shows the Sonic, an Apple II work-a-like microcomputer.
    • 1983: July - Apple Computer officially begins marketing the Lisa computer.
    • 1983: December - Apple Computer introduces the redesigned Apple III as the Apple III Plus, for US$3000.
    • 1983: December - Apple unveils the new Macintosh to the press.
    • 1983: Franklin shows an operating Franklin Ace 1200 Apple II compatible for US$2200.
    • 1984: January - Apple releases a new version of the Lisa computer, the Lisa 2. It uses all new software, as well as the Macintosh operating system.
    • 1984: January - Apple Computer's Steve Jobs introduces the Apple Macintosh.
    • 1984: April - Apple Computer unveils the Apple IIc, priced at US$1300.
    • 1984: April - Apple Computer retires the Apple III and Apple III plus, with only 65,000 units sold in total (90,000 made).
    • 1984: May - Apple Computer announces that 70,000 Macintosh computers have been shipped in the first 100 days since its announcement.
    • 1984: September - Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh 512K for US$3200.
    • 1984: November - The 2 millionth Apple II computer is sold.
    • 1984: Apple sells the 250,000th Macintosh system.
    • 1985: January - Apple Computer officially renames the Lisa the Macintosh XL.
    • 1985: March - Apple Computer introduces the Apple Enhanced IIe.
    • 1985: April - The Macintosh XL (formerly called Lisa) is dropped from Apple Computer's product line.
    • 1986: January - Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh Plus. Price is US$2600.
    • 1986: April - Apple Computer discontinues the original Macintosh and the Macintosh 512K.
    • 1986: April - Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh 512K Enhanced, for US$2000.
    • 1986: July - Apple Computer discontinues the Macintosh XL.
    • 1986: September - Apple Computer introduces the Apple IIGS, with the Apple 3.5 drive, for US$1000.
    • 1987: January - Apple Computer introduces the Apple Platinum IIe.
    • 1987: March - Apple Computer introduces the open architecture Macintosh II, US$3900.
    • 1987: March - Apple Computer makes its 1 millionth Macintosh personal computer.
    • 1987: March - Apple Computer introduces the expandable Macintosh SE for US$2900.
    • 1987: March - Apple Computer discontinues the Macintosh 512K Enhanced.
    • 1987: Apple Computer begins shipping the Macintosh II.
    • 1988: September - Apple Computer introduces the Apple IIc Plus for US$1100.
    • 1988: September - Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh IIx computer, base price is US$7770.
    • 1989: January - Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh SE/30, US$6500.
    • 1989: September - Apple Computer announces the Macintosh Portable, for US$6500.
    • 1989: September - Apple Computer announces the Macintosh IIci, for about US$8700.
      Source: Chronology of Events in the History of Microcomputers

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