I was finally able to obtain this model i only few years ago became aware of, CEC-E, to my collection. I don’t as such, collect Apple II-clones, but in this case it’s little different as i have ties to China from my wife’s side. Also these are not very well documented (in the west atleast) so i kind of had to get into this. And, it is fascinating!
So i was able to get one CEC-E for myself this summer, thanks to Mr. Djordje Mitic, the great ZX Spectrum OMNI 128HQ – creator, living in South China. I visited him as we happened to be in the same city for our summer vacation and we tested it and it powered up fine. We tried also repairing my CEC-I’s like i mentioned earlier in an another blogpost as well. Djordje is super nice guy originally from Serbia but have lived in China for over a decade for business reasons. He have nice retrocomputer collection as well but he’s speciality is ZX Spectrum’s.
I had luck and managed to buy an another one (with the box!) but that went to an another friend in USA as a trade. Before this i actually even didn’t know the CEC-E standed “China Education Computer – Expansion”.
Basicly it’s Apple //e 64k – clone without as many slots built-in. From right the connectors are : integrated Disk II – connectors 1 and 2, printer, joystick, color/b&w-switch, CGA-video, RF, composite and tape-connectors.
There’s one slot in the left side of the enclousure that can be adjusted (switch inside) to be either 5 or 7. Reminds me of vTech Laser 128 in that sense.
Right side there’s the power switch.
Listing of the slots usage.
The keyboard is different to CEC-I. The CEC-E uses better keyswitches (feels like Apple //c+) and it’s actually very confortable to type with.
Keyboard pcb backside.
There’s also model from CEC-E that have numeric keypad in the right side, but it seems to be really rare. Not sure if it’s an upgrade or actual variation of the CEC-E. Only saw few of those ever. I’d like to get one of these.
I don’t think CEC’s were sold outside China. Not sure about Hongkong, Taiwan and Singapore. There were lots of clones made and sold in these regions already so CEC’s might be ment for “Mainland China Only”.
INFORMATION FROM THE RETAIL BOX:
Production Permit: xk-09-002-030
Chang An CEC-E (China Education Computer Expansion) not only containts all functions of CEC-I, also expans two floppy disk drive ports and printer port. It has good electromagnetic compability and high safety reliablity. With new model lower price, high quality. CEC-E is both the best tool to intellectual development and good teacher and helpfull friend of pupil and student.
Shaanxi Computer Factory
Add: No.15 Friendship, East Road, Xian, China.
Tel. 334462,335008 Postcode: 710054
The main board.
Information from the box:
64k ROM (can be expanded up to 96k, with built-in BASIC, LOGO (Subset), monitor and Chinese Character management program.
Chinese Character functions: built-in GBI,II level chinese characters (6763 chinese characters and some foreign letters) and three kinds of input models; letter, phonetic alphabet and area code. If neccessary, WBZX and some other input modes can be supplied.
Display port: Supports NTSC & PAL system color & black’n’white televisions, monochrome monitors and CGA monitors.
FDD: Support two 5.25″ Floppy disk drives (20 pin connector)
Printer port : Support dot-matrix printers with centronics standard.
Joystick port: Supports one joystick
Tape recorder port: Support one tape recorder
Keyboard: 73 key standard ASCII keyboard or digital keyboard with 87 keys.
Bus Slot: Compatible with all cards of Apple IIe
Powersupply: Switching powersupply, 220VAC, 50hz, 25W (120-260V, 50Hz)
Powersupply specs from the label of the powersupply enclousure:
+5v/2A, +12V/1A, -5V/0.1A, -12V/0.1A
USING THE CEC-E:
I could not get it to boot from original Apple II Disk II-drive. It does power up, but it wont boot from it. With CEC-I the Disk II-drive worked fine. I tested several different Disk II-drives so it was not a hardware issue or one bad drive. However the half-height 5.25″ drives worked fine.
The SDFloppy2 (a2heaven.com) also worked fine. Everything booted up just fine. Too bad i don’t own SDfloppy2 anymore but i’m hoping a2heaven.com will produce more of these (or even with .woz support?).
There’s the same RAM/ROM-test built-in as well as it’s with CEC-I’s that you can access from the boot by pressing “TEST”-button. The buttons to the right of it, are for switching the imput method and screen mode.
The RAM/ROM-test. There’s also LOGO-programming language built-in ROM.
“The Chinese mode”
I found that there were issues with output video colors with composite-connector. The colors are not 100% correct for some reason. I am not sure why this is happening, is it that the frequence is not correct (monitor) the cable or the board is failing. The picture starts to degenerate after some minutes after the CEC-E is turned on. There might be some capasitors failing on the board that might need replacements.
However all the software worked fine that i tried booting (64k) without any issues. But who knows, Apple II software catalog is big..
There’s some Chinese made software for the CEC-models made. Using those is big challenge as i do not read Chinese. Hope someday my daughter can assist me on this.
There are several known models of the CEC-line of computers made. Some is just speculation but if you have better knownledge about these, please contact me. I am NOT CEC-specialist..
Here’s a short list of details that i am aware of:
CEC-IA – 128k model. Seen this listed as CEC-1A but not released, or this was this later released as CEC-E (64k) or CEC-2000 (128k?).
CEC-2000 -This one looks like vTech Laser/CEC-hybrid. I’d assume it has 128k RAM on it. Maybe even same specs as Laser 128? Not much is known about this model. I have seen the user’s manual for this but it’s not scanned anywhere so far i know of.
CEC-M – More simple, cost cutdown model. Very little information available. It had Printer port?
CEC-G – More simple, gaming orientatied model with cartridge port in right side. Speculation, possibly FC/NES-compatible?
And interesting development CEC-I for FC-gaming console games.
Some interesting cards were made for the CEC-line of computers in China.
Z80 + Printer card (in same pcb)
Z80 + Printer + Floppy drive controller (2 ports). I think this is pretty awesome!
So the CEC-serie could run CP/M.
Slot raiser card.
Gaming paddles CEC-YJ.
I’m not sure if they ever released under CEC-branded products like Half height 5.25″ floppy drives, Joysticks, Monitors or Casette drives.
But there seems to have been software for it in China. These are kinds of hard to find more information about..
The built quality is better than the CEC-I model. The plastic is softer and the keyboard is actually pretty good. No wonder this model was called “expansion”. This model reminds a lot of CEC-2000 (that i would like to learn more about) with design as well, kind of vTech Laser 128. The case design reminds a lof of later Atari XE line of models, not sure why excatly. Maybe Atari got their cases made in China back in the day?
The oddity is the support for CGA-monitors. Too bad i do not have such monitor in hand so i could not test that. I’ll see if i can get that tested somwhere, sometime.
I wish i could find more about the history of these models. All material is in chinese naturally so it’s bit tricky to get it translated correctly. There’s always google translate.. So there might be an another blog post coming about the history later.
If you have more information about the CEC-models, please contact me and i’ll update the information here. I am looking for CEC-releated material always, please contact me if you have any. Specially : CEC-2000, CEC-G, CEC-M.
Thanks to: Djordje Mitic, SK Leung, Lysander Leung & others.
FinApple 2018 (c)
Apple II Forever.