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The Apple IIe is a part of the Apple II series of personal computers, and is the third model in the line developed by Apple Computers. The "e" in the name stands for "enhanced" as it retained the previous models’ software library, aesthetics and capabilities while several popular features from older models that had only been available as paid upgrades were now available out of the box. This model earned its merit to be the longest-lived computer as it was manufactured and sold for nearly eleven years with fairly few changes.
In 1980, Apple Computer had planned to discontinue the Apple II series after the introduction of the Apple III. However by 1981, IBM released its IBM PC, causing Apple III to struggle in the market, but the Apple II was already established so the company decided to continue the line.
The Apple IIe was introduced in January 1983. It included the same 1.02 MHz 6502 processor as the Apple I and II. Some of the hardware features of the Apple III were borrowed, like the bank-switched memory and the ProDOS OS. It incorporated the Apple II Plus’ Language Card and was the first Apple computer with custom ASIC chip – reducing its motherboard’s size and cost. The culmination of the said modifications resulted in increased sales and greater market share in the home, education and small business segments.
Apple IIe contained a built-in 64k RAM with allowable addition up to 128k RAM using the 80-column card. This column card allows 80-column-text-mode support and additional 64k RAM. Additional RAM could be added via third-party hardware. One notable improvement that the Apple IIe had is that it drastically lowered the chip count on its motherboard system from over 100 chips to just 31. This made the unit available at a lower cost while giving enhanced performance and extracting a higher profit for the company.
The Enhanced IIe came out in March 1985, which served as an upgrade of IIe to Apple IIc. Its final major revision came out in 1987, namely the Apple IIe Platinum. The IIe Platinum added a numeric keypad to the built-in keyboard and moved some keys around. In addition, it included several internal memory enhancements and miniaturized 80-column cards.
The bulk of Apple II software works on an Enhanced IIe, hence its popularity and longevity. All models were discontinued in November 1993.