Worth bringing an NTSC Apple IIe from the States to a PAL Country?

As a collector of vintage computers and video games I had been looking a long time for an Apple IIe. In my home country (Germany) they have been pretty expensive. Same here in Australia where I am living now and they are relatively rare these days. Chances are probably better in Australia to catch one than in Germany but I had no luck so far.

My plan was next time my work takes me to the States to buy one there. If you have a look on eBay you will that there are always some getting sold. Shipping from the US to Australia is crazy expensive was therefore never really an option. But I was confident that I can stuff one in my luggage and bring it back with me.

Without owning one before I had to educate myself about the different models and how successful I would be using it in a 240v PAL country. To my surprise quite a large number of IIe were sold with two different power supplies that can be modded for 240v by cutting a jumper wire:

  • Dynacomp AA11040
  • Astec AA11040

The IIe I found got a Dynacomp AA11040B power supply and cutting the wire transformed it successfully to 240v. There are different revisions of the power supplies (A,B,C) but the mod seems to work for all of them. The IIe doesn’t even need to be opened to check which power supply is installed, the model number is visible from the back.

More information and pictures can be found in the Apple II FAQ.

The remaining problem is NTSC. What I have learned is that Woz did a pretty evil video hack to get a color NTSC signal. The PAL Apple IIe version seem to have suffered from that as what worked in NTSC not necessarily works well in PAL. People with PAL IIe I have noticed were looking into converting it into NTSC because of that. That means with an NTSC Apple IIe you actually got the better deal. But you will need a screen that can do NTSC. My PAL Commodore 1084S-D2 unfortunately doesn’t work in NTSC. But what it does is of course displaying a monochrome picture. My main interest fore the IIe is not really game related, having no color doesn’t really bother me. If you really need color and you don’t have a monitor or old TV that can handle get some of the Compostive to VGA/HDMI upscalers. That might do the trick.

The IIe I bought for USD 200 got a number of expansion cards installed: Floppy Controller, RTC Clock, 80 Column card with memory expansion, Superserial card and the first version of CP/M card (Microsoft’s Softcard). Playing with CP/M on the IIe was one thing I was really interested in and the Softcard was definitely a great piece of history to me that I wanted to own. At the end I was more than glad to get it all in one package. With the Superserial card you are able to send floppy images from a PC or Mac to the IIe which is helpful.  I really recommend to get one of these too if you are keen to get a IIe.


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