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Apple II CP/M Hardware and OSes


Apple CP/M hardware comes in two major types:


The Softcard-style cards all use the Microsoft Softcard mechanism of suspending the 6502 via the DMA line and taking over the bus. The Z80 has direct access to the Apple II hardware.

Because the Z80 must be synchronized to the Apple II bus, the cards generally ran the Z80 at 2 MHz. There are, however exceptions.

Clones with onboard Z80s generally (I have discovered no exceptions) use the Softcard interface.


The Single-Board Computer (SBC) cards all have their own RAM and function independently of the 6502. When active, they communicate with 6502-hosted software to perform I/O operations.

The cards generally operate the Z80 at 4-6 MHz, but they do not have direct access to the Apple II hardware.

The SBC-type cards plugged into either a standard slot or the aux slot.

Slot-Based (][+, //e, IIgs)

Card Type* Notes
Microsoft Softcard Softcard The original Z80 card for the Apple II
AE Z80 Plus Softcard
ALS Z-Engine Softcard Hardware feature used for anti-piracy
Checkmate Zee-80A Softcard
Cirtech Z80 Softcard
IBS AP51 Softcard?
Microcomputers Mu-Z80 Softcard
SPAOE Z80 Softcard Generic Softcard clone
Unitron Z80 Softcard Generic Softcard clone
Various Softcard There are many generic Softcard clones silk-screened with “Z80 Card Soft”, “Z80 Soft”, or similar.
Ian Kim's Turbo7 Softcard Modern Softcard clone, fast 7MHz mode option
Ian Kim's APSMX Softcard Modern card with additonal hardware, also supports MSX software. Up to 16Mhz!
Ian Kim's A2Z80Plus SBC Modern 16 MHz Appli-card clone with expansion port.
Expansion card supports SG1000 and Colecovision software.
GGLabs GZ/80-A00 Softcard Modern Softcard clone, fast 7MHz mode option. Replaced by GZ/80-A01 and later models.
GGLabs GZ/80-A01 Softcard Modern Softcard clone, fast 7MHz mode option. Works with IIgs in “fast” mode (at 2 MHz Z80 speed).
GGLabs GZ/80-A02 Softcard Improvements to 7MHz mode timing
GGLabs GZ/80-A03 Softcard Improvements to timing for greater compatibility
GGLabs GZ/80-A04 Softcard SMT chips, removal of unused options
PCPI Appli-Card SBC The original SBC-type Z80 card for the Apple II
ALS "The CP/M Card SBC
Franklin ACE-80 SBC OEMed version of the Appli-Card
IBS AP22 SBC Maybe compatible with ALS?
Microsoft SoftCard II SBC Microsoft's SBC-style card, uncommon
Microsoft Premium Softcard //e SBC (Aux)
StarCard SBC Appli-Card packaged with WordStar
Alex Freed Z80 SBC 20MHz modern Appli-Card clone
CardZ180 SBC 9.216 MHz Z180 CPU, came with ZCPR/ZSDOS, should run PCPI CP/M
DRI CP/M Gold Card SBC
Tembo Z80 Unknown Has ROMs, 8255 Programmable Peripheral Interface, and 2K SRAM on board. May not be a CP/M card.

Socket-Based (//c)

These universally plug into the CPU socket and will either include one or more jumper clips, or also plug into the MMU socket.

Card Type* Notes
AE Z80c Softcard
AE Z-Ram (not Ultra) Softcard Z80 appears in “slot” 5.
AE Z-Ram II (not Ultra) Softcard
AE Z-Ram Ultra 3 Softcard Z80 appears in “slot” 4.
Cirtech CP/M Module Softcard
Ian Kim's Apple //c Z80 Softcard??? Unreleased card for Apple //c

Clones with Onboard Z80

Various Apple II clones contained built-in Z80s that were (as far as I know) universally Softcard-compatible. The boards are usually missing slot 4, which is where the Z80 appears to be installed. Many of the boards also have 64K on board and slot 0 is used for a ROM card.



Softcard* and Clones

(*except Premium Softcard IIe and Softcard II)

Generally, all Softcard-workalikes can run Softcard CP/M and AE's CP/AM. The reverse is not true, specific CP/Ms shipped with certain cards do not work on generic Softcards. For instance, the ALS Z-Engine and Cirtech cards have hardware-specific behaviors that prevent their CP/M versions from working on other hardware.

SBC-type Cards

The following are compatible:

Group Compatible Cards
PCPI PCPI Appli-Card, Starcard, Franklin ACE-80, Freed Z80, CardZ180, A2Z80Plus
Softcard II Only the Microsoft Softcard II
Premium Softcard IIe Only the Microsoft Premium Softcard IIe
ALS “The CP/M Card.” Other ALS cards are Softcard-type and not compatible.
IBS IBS AP22, compatibility unknown.

CP/M Matrix

Card/Group/Type 1.x 2.0 2.2 3.0/Plus Other
(except premium/II)
2.20 (44K)
2.20B (56K)
2.23 (60K)
3.0 AE CP/AM: 4.0B, 5.1 disk 1, 5.1 disk 2
Softcard II 2.28B
Premium Softcard IIe 2.25
Cirtech 3.0 (3.5“)
PCPI 2.2 ProDOS Support
PCPI (Franklin) 2.2 Utilities
PCPI (Starcard) 2.2
ALS (The CP/M Card) 3.0


Card Schematics

Card Schematics
Microsoft Softcard Card, Rev. E
Cirtech //c Card
PCPI Appli-Card Card & 128K Expansion
IBS AP22 Card & BOM
IBS AP51 Card & BOM


7 MHz Z80 (Apple //e Only)