APF Imagination Machine
|Manufacturer||APF Electronics Inc|
|Type||Video game console|
|Introductory price||US$700 (equivalent to $2,310 in 2016)|
|Media||Cartridges, Compact Cassette|
|CPU||Motorola 6800 8-bit @ 0.89 MHz (3.579 MHz Oscillator divided by 4)|
|Memory||9 KB RAM (expandable to 17 KB (8 KB / 16 KB + 1 KB)) , 14 KB ROM|
|Graphics||Video Display Controller MC6847 @ 256×192×4, 128×192×8|
|Sound||One sound channel in 5 Octaves|
The APF Imagination Machine is a combination home video game console and computer system released by APF Electronics Inc. in late 1979. It was composed of two separate components, the APF-M1000 game system, and an add on docking bay with full sized typewriter keyboard and tape drive. The APF-M1000 was built specifically to compete with the Atari 2600. The Imagination Machine has the distinction of being one of, if not the first, affordable home PCs to connect to the television, and is still one of the most expandable consoles ever marketed. The full APF Imagination Machine, including the APF-M1000 console and the IM-1 computer component originally sold for around $700.
- CPU: 8-bit 0.89 MHz Motorola 6800 (3.579 MHz Oscillator divided by 4)
- ROM: 14 KB
- RAM: 9 KB expandable to 17 KB (8 KB / 16 KB + 1 KB)
- Video Display Controller: MC6847
- Resolutions: 256×192×4 / 128×192×8
- Colors: 8
- One sound channel in 5 Octaves
- Controllers: 2
- 13 buttons
- 0-9 numeric keypad
- Clear and End key
- 4 way joystick
- 13 buttons
The APF Imagination Machine had a few stand out features for its time.
First and foremost, was the bundled APF Basic compiler, which would allow almost anyone to program their own games and programs. Most retailers of the system offered a full and hefty instruction manual to teach you how the specialized code worked, and most even offered a tech sheet that specified every function of every chip on the console, so as to allow the users to make the most efficient code possible. To encourage more home users to create their own games and trade them, a monthly mailing list was started that lasted well through the video game crash of '83 and into the era of the next generation of consoles.
Second, and often one of the most marketed features of the console, was the fact that it had a dual sided cassette drive, that would allow the user to not only write or use a game or program from it, but also either record their own voice to it or listen to prerecorded audio. The feature was generally used for programmers to leave notes of their work, or for instructions to be read aloud before a game was played.
Third, the console had an unprecedented number of aftermarket add-ons, which included:
- RS232 Storage Cartridge
- Floppy Disk Storage
- 8k RAM Cartridge
- Mini Floppy Disk Storage
- Telephone Modem
As well as a hub of sorts, generally called the "building block" which would allow for the connection of a good deal of standard computer accessories.
Only 15 official game cartridges were ever released by APF Electronics Inc, and 1 cartridge that came with the console, the Basic interpreter; although several game cartridges contained multiple titles. Many games were created by an active programming community of owners and distributed through their monthly newsletter, but these were all released only on tape cassette form, or in some cases, merely as a print out of the code that would have to be typed in if it was not transferred through a copied cassette.
The official game list is as follows:
- Artist and Easel
- Bowling / Micro Match
- Brickdown / Shooting Gallery
- Budget Manager
- Hangman / Tic-Tac-Toe / Doodle
- Pinball / Dungeon Hunt / Blockout
- Rocket Patrol
- Space Destroyers
- UFO / Sea Monster / Break it down / Rebuild / Shoot
APF IM-2 Console
APF had planned on releasing a follow up to the original M1000 Imagination Machine game console, but went out of business just before the console could go to market. No official specs have ever been released, although some who were with the company at the time have mentioned that it was essentially the same M1000 core with typical upgrades.