View Full Version : Choice between Apple II+ and IBM PC 5150

Great Hierophant
September 25th, 2008, 08:08 PM
I have a tough choice to make. I only have room for one retro computer in my house, and it has come down to these two. My primary purpose is to use the machine as a retrogaming system. Lets go over them:

Apple vs. IBM CGA Graphics
40 Column Text / 40 or 80 Column Text
140x192x6, 280x192x2 / 160x200x16, 320x200x4, 640x200x2
Composite Monitor / Composite or RGB Monitor

Advantage: IBM (Much better options)

Apple vs. IBM Sound
CPU Driven Speaker / Timer or CPU Driven Speaker
Mockingboard / Adlib, Game Blaster, Roland MT-32

Advantage: None (Not alot of Adlib or Game Blaster software would run at an acceptable speed on a 5150. Not alot of Apple software used the Mockingboard.)

Apple / IBM Input
53 Keys / 83 Keys
Integrated Keyboard / Detached Keyboard
Uppercase / Uppercase and Lowercase
Mouse Card / Serial Mouse

Advantage: IBM (much easier to type on the detached keyboard, easier to repair keyboard, no hacks required for lowercase letters.)

Apple / IBM Storage
140KB / 360KB
One Sided Drive / Two Sided Drive

Advantage: IBM (who wants to flip disks, also its easier to get software from a more modern computer to an older one.)

Apple / IBM Memory
64KB / 640KB

Advantage: IBM (but you have to sacrifice an expansion slot for more than 256KB)

Apple / IBM Joystick
3 Buttons / 4 Buttons

Advantage: IBM (but you need an expansion slot)

Apple / IBM Expansion
7 General Purpose Slots / 5 General Purpose Slots

Advantage: Apple (especially as it includes video and game input hardware on motherboard)

Apple / IBM Software
1,000s of games / ~200 games

Advantage: Apple

September 25th, 2008, 08:45 PM
My head would probably say go for the IBM, but my heart would definitely be for the Apple.


September 25th, 2008, 09:02 PM
I would say IBM for gaming. If you kept the Apple you would probably need another vintage system to make game disks.

Terry Yager
September 25th, 2008, 09:06 PM
Even if I knew nothing else about either system, your comparison makes it kinda a no-brainer...

(Of course, you didn't include all the pertinent data, such as cost, software availability, etc.).


September 25th, 2008, 09:53 PM
It's an apples-and-onions comparison to me.

It doesn't sound as if you have an early 5150. The first ones only had room for 64K on the mobo (4116 DRAMs). The first 16K was soldered in; the remainder was socketed. So, the 5150 is the more common 256K model, not the real antique.

There's not much that won't run on a modern PC that will run on on a 5150. While there are Apple ][ emulators available, it's not quite the same as having the real thing.

You can add a hard disk to the 5150 pretty easily, as well as a second floppy drive (even a 3.5" one).

So what do you want to do with either of these machines?

September 26th, 2008, 01:07 AM
They don't take much room. Why not keep one in the attic and swap them when you feel the need. Throw out some old books instead.

I think the Apple is more common (?) So I would keep the IBM.

September 26th, 2008, 05:46 AM
Because of nostalgic value, the apple would be a no brainer for me. However, you could have your own experiences that make it go the other way.

If you have a more modern PC or laptop within cable reach, you will be able to make disks and have access to literally thousands of apple programs. And there will be little worry about compatability. With IBM, you'll always have to make sure the programs were not made for later PCs. Memory requirements, video, etc will also need to be addressed. With a fully decked apple, you'll run into few such issues. Apple does not score high on sound or graphics. But all the games are there and a lot of history was forged on this system. Do you have to go with an apple ][+? I ask because if you decide on apple, an enhanced apple //e would probably suit your needs better. They will be compatable with almost all software, they are more robust, and easier to find spare parts for to keep it going. This is also a great platform to learn assembly and basic computer functioning of an eight bit microprocessor.

September 26th, 2008, 07:21 AM
I would go with whichever you used more or whichever you had. Make it a bit more nostalgic for yourself to go back to the system you used to enjoy things on.

An Apple //e does change the benefits quite a bit and is pretty cheap and easy to come by. An Apple II+ is a bit more difficult to find and worth probably more than an IBM 5150 (atleast from what I've seen). I'd like an Apple II and Apple II+ for my collection myself, but that's to fill the gap for Apple in my collection (no I don't have an Apple 1 either but don't have $10K for one right now and will just enjoy my replica (thanks Briel)).

Games aren't that difficult to transfer from adt or apple disk images using a serial cable and another system and transfering files that way. *You may need Prodos for this though.. can't remember but I needed to get a copy of that first for some reason.

IBM could be fun too. Get some cult classic games to check out, first mainstream "PC" which certainly has a market lead now adays, expansions for some nice features. And with the right gear, can be impressive http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5885351342753379583

Terry Yager
September 26th, 2008, 09:25 AM
If cost is no object, and you just want to run Apple ][ software, then get an Apple emulator board (StarCard, etc.) for the IBM and enjoy the best of both worlds.


September 26th, 2008, 04:43 PM
Tough decision.

I really like both machines. I've never used an Apple ][+, ][, ][e, nor ][GS, but I own an Apple ][c. It's a cool machine. I don't like it much, though, due to it's close-systemnes. But from the Byte magazines I've been reading, I think an Apple ][ computer would be really cool to have, and better than the IBM 5150. I'd recommend a ][e (Platinum, if you can get it at a good price) instead of a ][+. Same functions and then some, including amazing lower-case lettering.

Why is the Apple better than Big Blue?

Well, first off, software. There is much software available for both, but the Apple software is more efficient (less RAM needed) while being just as productive. Furthermore, it's easier to use, designed for "the rest of us."

Second, design and support. I like it's look better than the IBM in some ways, sleek and smooth. And it is a well supported system, just as the IBM is. Manuals are slimmer and easy to understand, in wording that can be understood by a 5 year old.

I could go on and on in this fasion, but I would write pages and pages of pluses. Let me continue on to the IBM PC 5150.

Something tugs at me to the IBM PC 5150. I am drawn to the blocky design (Much like I am to older Volvos), and how professional it looks. Plain black, white, and gray, exactly how professional computers should be colored and designed. It demands respect and screams authority.

It has a HUGE playing field of software as well. Mostly business applications, which draws me in as I am a professional type. The games available for it are cool, but graphics are limited, as is sound.

Which is another reason to go with Apple. Superior graphic capability, and not only are games available, but professional applications as well. Sound is just a bit better, too, depending on which system you go with. It's design shouts that it is an easy to use computer that conforms to needs. Instead of portraying that computers are for business men only, its softer and sleeker looks says that, to quote Creative Computing magazine (forget the volume, dont have it with me) "Computers are for everyone." It can be used by everyone, too.

Although, IBM got the keyboard just right, far better than the Apple.


Great Hierophant
September 27th, 2008, 08:11 PM
For true ease of use and usability, the Apple IIgs would be the best choice for an Apple II. It eliminates the biggest problem, use wise, with the older versions. The Apple IIgs has a detachable keyboard, which makes using it much easier for typing.

However, there are excellent emulators for the Apple II and IIgs. There is no really good emulator for the IBM PC with composite CGA. MESS is probably the best option, and it is merely OK. Even though there are not nearly as many games that run well on the 5150 as on the II, it is a less known area of pc gaming, which attracts me.

September 28th, 2008, 05:38 PM
I'd pick the 5150 over Apple II plus.

It sounds to me from your criteria that you'll be happiest with a Commodore 64! If you only have room for one system, a c64 beats Apple and IBM for its games library. I suposse this is not much help, and I assume this is not an option....

For games IMHO Apples are third behind Atari.

The GS is an excellent system too, if I had to have an Apple.

Great Hierophant
September 28th, 2008, 06:14 PM
It sounds to me from your criteria that you'll be happiest with a Commodore 64! If you only have room for one system, a c64 beats Apple and IBM for its games library. I suposse this is not much help, and I assume this is not an option....

If I lived in the UK I would agree, but as I live in the US, I cannot. I would prefer an Atari 800 over a Commodore 64 personally. The 64's floppy disk drive does not attract me, the line's questionable reputation for reliability and compatibility, and the great number of ports do not attract me. The 800's four controller ports and large number of cartridge games interest me more.