CP/M being very popular Operating system back in the 70’s and early 80’s, lots of CP/M (soft) cards were made for the Apple II as well. One of the first ones was released by Microsoft, called “Z-80 Softcard” in 1980 and being first hardware product released by Microsoft. That card then was obiously cloned by Taiwanese and other manufacturers.
The Z-80 SoftCard is a plug-in coprocessor card developed by Microsoft to turn the Apple II personal computer into a CP/M system based upon the Zilog Z80 CPU. Becoming the most popular CP/M platform and Microsoft’s top revenue source for 1980, it was eventually renamed the Microsoft SoftCard and was succeeded by Microsoft’s Premium Softcard IIe for the Apple IIe.
Introduced in 1980 as Microsoft’s first hardware product, and bundled with the Microsoft BASIC programming language, the Z-80 SoftCard is a coprocessor card enabling the Apple II to run the Digital Research CP/M operating system, which was the industry-standard operating system for running business software. This gives Apple II users access to many more business applications, including compilers and interpreters for several high-level languages. CP/M, one of the earliest cross-platform operating systems, is easily adaptable to a wide range of auxiliary chips and peripheral hardware, but it requires an Intel 8080-compatible CPU, which the Zilog Z80 is, but which the Apple’s CPU, the MOS Technology 6502, is not. The SoftCard has a Zilog Z80 CPU plus some 74LS00 series TTL chips to adapt that processor’s bus to the Apple bus.
I came across few interesting cards made by Applied Engineering (Z-80 Plus) and Personal Computer Products Inc. (APPLI-CARD) and those run either 4 or 6mhz. These are the high-quality cards and not just plain clones.
I think this picture of the set was from ebay:
Box of the set:
Applied Engineering Z-80 Plus (Z80 @ 4mHz)
Personal Computer Products Inc. APPLI-CARD (Z80 @ 4mhz or 6mhz)
CP/M by Digital Research:
FinApple (c) 2018.
Apple ][ forever.