Friday, 1 December 2017

Applix 1616

The Applix 1616 was a very cool 32 bit computer designed in Australia in 1985 by Andrew Morton. It used the Motorola 68000 (like a Macintosh!) and had a fully bit-mapped display. All very cool stuff. Many people (myself included) see the Applix as something of a successor to the Microbee, though minus the commercial success of the 'bee. Incidentally Microbee designed their own 68K machine (the Microbee Gamma) not long after the Applix became available, but struggled badly in development. The Gamma was never released publicly, and only a handful of prototypes exist now.

There were kits of the Applix available, and a blurb in ETI magazine, but things like 68K processors were obscenely expensive back then, so there was no way I was going to build one. That's all different now. I've got pretty-much all the bits in my various junk boxes and drawers to make one. Now all I've gotta do is reverse engineer the PCB layout, come up with some PAL designs, and go for it. Unlike the bee there are no issues with IP ownership and sharing.

There are four sheets - CPU, CRTC, and a couple of I/O ones. How hard can it be?

Edit March 2018.

I've managed to borrow a real Applix 1616 (Thanks heaps Philip), which after a quick clean I've taken some really detailed macro photos of to help with the replication.


russells said...

I have a 1616 in a box somewhere, and the owner of the space wants the space back. I haven't applied power to this in probably 20 years.

From memory, I have a 1616, SSDCC (is that right) a SCSI disk or two, some manuals, and a case.

I have far too many other things going on to do anything with it. I'm very unlikely to ever power it on again. It should go to a good home.

Are you interested?

Suzy said...

Hi Russell,

Yes, I most definitely am!

Suzy said...

Hi Russell,

Alas this thing's not giving me an email address for you. Email me at to discuss...

Tim said...

I had a look at my Applix 1616 after many years of no use-but at I found one issue another one would come up and a lot where board or connection problems with some discrete component failures. I have a look at Philips board and hard drive controller put many hours into it, put in the end the same problems where coming up, so I had to call it a day and accept that repair was just not worth the amount of trouble-shooting required. it is a big pc board which is not cheap to produce in small quantities and there are some pal logic to reduce the overall component numbers.

I used it a learning curve and have not regretted the money that I spent, but the amount of time that I actually put in on doing some projects that supported the project was only supported by a small amount of enthusiasts in the end. Many smart projects both software and were produced for the applix but very few were actually supported by the community.

The computer was way in front of anything produced in Australia in both software and hardware
and is a credit to all the designers and programmers involved.

Tim said...

Hi Suzy

The 1616 disk controller card with a special rom fitted had the ability to both format many different floppy disks formats available and even do part format and copy from one format to another on the fly.

At the time this was not possible without dedicated hardware and software and rivaled even many commercial products available. Yes all done down under.