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Apple II Plus - Bell & Howell Model - Introduction

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These are images of my personal Apple II Plus, which was distributed by Bell & Howell. There isn't any difference between this particular Apple II Plus and any other Apple "beige" model. This particular unit that I have was purchased from the original owner, a school teacher, in 1999.

There seems to be three models of the Bell & Howell line... Model A2S1048B included an optional backpack system, which included coax video support, three power outlets, a carrying handle, and the ability to plug a headphone with the large headphone jack. On the right back side of the A2S1048B, it had a cassette jack that was much different from the usual built-in cassette jacks you'd find on a beige Apple II Plus. The model that I own and that you see in the following photos, A2S1032B, does not include the backpack system. Model A2S1016B, which I've never seen before, seems to be a similar configuration to my unit, other than the memory capacity.

Besides being colored black, the "Darth Vader" model also shipped with optional Disk II drives, with the exterior of the Disk II designed to match the Bell & Howell Apple II Plus' black exterior. Other than the disk drives and the computer itself, everything else, right down to the logic board and power supply, was the same as a beige Apple II Plus.

There were reportedly only 5,000 to 10,000 of these three models of the B&H made, making them quite rare in comparison with other Apple II-based models. The reason for its small number is that they were never sold to the general public. You couldn't just walk into ComputerLand and buy one of these. In the K-12 education systems throughout most of the U.S., there were strict guidelines on what kind of computer equipment you could purchase, one of them which required UL compliancy. Because the Apple II Plus could run while being opened, it did not qualify for UL certification. Therefore, schools could not buy the beige Apple II Plus. Instead, what Apple did was allow Bell & Howell, who were already selling audio/video equipment to schools, to sell a version of the Apple II Plus that was compatible with their existing A/V equipment. This allowed schools to receive the Apple II Plus because it was part of the A/V equipment purchase (I guess the logic here is that if the A/V equipment is UL compliant, then the entire system, including the Apple II Plus, is compliant). To interface with the A/V equipment, Bell & Howell added the backpack system (A2S1048B only). Why the backpack system was not included in my A2S1032B unit is beyond me.

Besides the Apple II Plus, Bell & Howell also developed a printer for the Apple II, model P-100. The P-100 is basically a MPI model 99G, and it shipped with a proprietary Apple II parallel printer controller. The printer is a 9-pin dot matrix model, with the usual text and graphic capabilities. Reading through the manuals that I have, it does not state compatibility with any particular printer (EPSON, etc.) The ribbon cartridge is also very proprietary, so unless I re-ink the ribbon myself, this printer won't be printing anytime soon.

The Museum-for-a-Day Bell & Howell Apple II Plus Collection Include:

  • Apple II Plus, model A2S1032B, serial number A2S3-006663
  • Disk II "Drive 1" serial number A2M0003-158817
  • Disk II "Drive 2" serial number A2M0003-401217
  • Power supply, model 605-5701, serial number 009706
  • SANYO 9-inch Security Monitor, model VM 4509, serial number 60912794
  • Bell & Howell P-100 Printer, serial number 27696 (includes original manuals and Apple II interface card)
  • Apple II Language Card (slot #0)
  • Apple Super Serial Card (slot #2)
  • Hayes Micromodem II (slot #3)
  • Apple Disk II Controller Card (slot #6)
  • PCPI Appli-CARD CP/M Card (slot #4)
  • Apple Game Paddles
  • Apple II DOS 3.3 System Master and BASICS diskettes, plus box
  • Apple II BASIC Programming Reference Manual
  • Apple II Reference Manual
  • Apple II - The DOS Manual
  • Apple II Super Serial Card User's Manual (shrink-wrapped)
  • Apple II Disk II Installation Manual (includes registration form)
  • Apple II User Input Report Form, for the Apple II and Apple II Plus
  • Registration form for the Apple II and Apple II Plus
  • 16-sector decals
  • 2 large and 2 small Apple logo decals
  • Disk II mounting kit (still shrink-wrapped, includes Apple logo wrench)
  • 10 Verbatim SS/DD 5.25-inch Diskettes (shrink-wrapped)

Computer Specifications: Logic Board: 6502, 1 MHz. Memory: DRAM, 48KB (3 banks of 16KB) RAM, added Apple II Language Card (16KB), increasing overall memory size to 64KB. Storage: Two 5.25-inch Disk II drives, each with a capacity of 160KB (16-sector, 35 tracks). Ports: Cassette in/out, composite video out, built-in speaker, joystick DIP jack . Display: None built-in. Apple did not sell a display for this particular model. Operating System: Apple DOS 3.1 through 3.3, ProDOS, Pascal operating system. Introduced: June 1979.

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