An Apple Enthusiast Used a $7 Raspberry Pi for a Fantastic Project: Creating an Original Macintosh

  • Matt Evans used a RP2040 microcontroller and a few other components to achieve make the device.

  • As a result, he now has hardware that can emulate some of the original Macintosh experience.

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The original Macintosh has an interesting history. Not only is it the predecessor of the Macs we use today, it also embodies the Apple philosophy of the 1980s. While Apple had been in the market since 1977, it was in 1984 when it decided to challenge the industry leader with this product, which was famously introduced in an epic ad during Super Bowl XVIII.

It’s been four decades since Apple attempted to “free” users from IBM’s dominance with a computer featuring a small 9-inch monochrome screen, a Motorola 68000 processor, 128 KB of RAM, and a 3½-inch disk drive. Fast forward to mid-2024,  the year an Apple enthusiast decided to create his own affordable Macintosh using a Raspberry Pi.

A Microcontroller That Doubles as a “Macintosh”

Raspberry Pi is well-known among tech enthusiasts for its versatility. These boards can be used to build anything from retro video game consoles to mobile phones. Recently, a maker named Matt Evans has built his own 128K Macintosh. The foundation of the project consists of a RP2040 microcontroller with a dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ processor, 264 kB of RAM, and support for various peripherals.

Raspberry Pi

To bring this interesting project to life, the first step Evans took was to gather several current components in order to realistically replicate the experience of the old Apple machine. In addition to the RP2040 chip, Evans needed to obtain a VGA monitor with a corresponding cable, a USB keyboard and mouse, a Micro-B to Micro-A USB OTG adapter, a 5V DC power supply, and a couple of resistors.

Raspberry Pi

At the hardware level, Evans modified the RP2040 chip to accommodate the peripherals and output the video signal, as explained on GitHub. In terms of software, in addition to the necessary emulation modules, he acquired an image of System 3.2 (the last compatible version with the Macintosh 128 K) from WinWord, which included several programs from that time period.

After several days of work, the RP2040 chip was transformed into a “Macintosh 128 K” in 2024. The final images show Evans using programs like the MacWrite word processor and the MacDraw vector graphics solution. The project details have been shared by the creator so that anyone can create their own version of this computer.

Image | Matt Evans

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