Bell & Howell
Introduced:June 1979
Price: US $???
CPU:MOS 6502, 1.0 MHz
RAM:16K, 48K max
Display:280 X 192, 40 X 24 text
6 colors maximum
Ports:composite video output
cassette interface
8 internal expansion slots
Storage:generic cassette drive
external 143K floppy (1978)
OS:Apple DOS

Founded in the early 1900's, Bell & Howell has always been associated with audio-video equipment - cameras, projectors, and the like. In 1979, they had a computer system which they sold mainly to educational institutions - you couldn't buy one, it wasn't available in your local computer store.

The "Bell & Howell computer" is actually an Apple II Plus computer in disguise. The normally beige case was colored black (only on the surface, it is still beige underneath), and a Bell & Howell label was attached. But as you can see above, Apple is still given full credit.

The Bell and Howell systems had the same keyboard as the original Apple II, althought it is black instead of brown.

Later systems had a recessed power indicator instead of the raised style as seen on this system.

Under the cover, there is no difference - the motherboard, power supply and keyboard electronics are all Apple.

A more advanced (Bell and Howell only) system was released - since it was intended that their computer was to placed in classrooms with children and potential computer neophytes, certain 'upgrades' were made to make it easier and safer to operate.
  • Users can no longer access the inside of the computer with the power on, a screw which holds the cover shut also activates an electrical interlock - power will be shut-off to the system if the screw is removed.
  • All of the computer interface connectors were simplified - no more wires hanging-out-of-holes like on the original Apple II.

  • To accomplish this, Bell & Howell added a large interface module to the back of the system which Apple computers didn't have. This module includes:
  • A built-in carrying handle. The electrical cable also wraps-around for storage.
  • Audio cassette recorder connectors for data storage.
  • Audio and video output, as well as additional audio inputs with mixer controls.
  • Headphone and speaker outputs.
  • Three 110VAC power jacks with a seperate ON/OFF switch for plugging-in additional equipment.

  • The Bell & Howell floppy drives were black, too, but were still just a re-badged Apple II floppy drive.

    Here you can compare the Bell & Howell floppy drive (top) with the Apple II floppy drive (bottom).

    Bell & Howell systems also have a nicer external connector for the paddle (joystick) - on Apple systems you have to open the computer and hook-up the paddle to a socket inside.

    Related Links

  • Apple II Plus - Bell & Howell Model from The Mac Geek website
  • Computers: "Bell & Howell Apple II" from Apple II History website

  • Return to the Obsolete Technology Homepage