APF Imagination Machine
Type Console Hybrid Developer APF Electronics Inc.
Release Date 1978-Dec Region(s) USA
Initial Price $599 USD Games Released 15
     by Dark Watcher
The APF Imagination Machine is by far one of the most unique systems we have come across.  In the late 1970s, a company by the name of APF Technologies released a simple cartridge based system similar to other consoles on the market.  The console called the APF M1000 was a simple stand-alone unit that marketed for $130 USD and featured a built in game called Rocket Patrol.  However the M1000 / MP1000 console was merely a portion of the true Imagination Machine.

APF blurred the lines of "Me too" consoles by introducing the APF MPA-10 module.  The APF M1000 / MP1000 video game console could be "docked" to the MPA-10 to create a hybrid computer.  The combined unit became the APF Imagination Machine and provided the BASIC program language, keyboard, 9K of RAM and could be expanded to 17K RAM, color graphics and a built in cassette recorder.  The cassette mixed an audio track with the data track so as you were loading, a pre-recorded voice would tell you about the program.  A 5-1/4" disk drive option was also an optional accessory.  The APF Imagination Machine could be purchased as a single unit for $599 USD, or you could purchase the console ($129 USD) and the MPA-10 module ($499 USD) separately.
APF MP1000
     by Larry Greenfield (Special Guest Contributor)
Before I bought my first CoCo (Radio Shack Color Computer), the first computer I actually ever owned was an APF Imagination Machine.  Made by APF Electronics (now out of business), I bought this through the mail from "Protecto Enterprises" in Illinois when I was still in Jr. High.  The APF Imagination Machine made a great first computer.

Motorola 6800-based, the machine had an excellent full-sized keyboard, 9K of RAM and connected to your TV set via an RF modulator.  The Imagination Machine was really an extension of APF's video game console, built to compete with the likes of the Atari 2600.  You could first buy the video game portion by itself, and then later add the "rest" of the computer, though I wound up buying mine as one complete unit, as many were later sold.
The main drawback (like so many other computers of its day) was a lackluster BASIC.  To program graphics required a lot of POKEs or CALLs, and I still remember the command to clear the screen after all these many years: CALL 17046.  The machine did have some major pluses though:
  • The games written for it were surprisingly good (both in cartridge or cassette form).
  • Each of the two controllers on the game console had numeric keypads.
  • The built-in cassette recorder (used to load and save programs) was stereo: one channel would be used for saving/loading program data, while the other could be used for recording/playing your own voice (helpful if you wanted to record comments on what you're saving, or for just having fun). For instance, below you can click on, and hear the audio you'd hear out of the the APF's speaker while loading APF's cassette-based "Space Destroyers" arcade game. This was a very unique (and sadly, never imitated) feature on the cassette system.
  • To help conserve memory while programming in BASIC, tokens were used for just about every BASIC command. In other words, if I typed out "PRINT", that would take 5 spaces in memory, but if I entered "PRINT" as a token (by pressing -- I think it was "CONTROL" plus another key), it would be entered as a "token", and take up only one or two spaces in memory.
I wound up selling my APF Imagination Machine about a year after I bought it.  I wish I could have kept it somehow, but at the time, I was only a young kid, and needed the money to buy a CoCo.  The APF Imagination Machine was a lot of fun and incorporated a lot of unique features.  It really was one of the better home computers of its day.  The main reason I traded it in for a CoCo was the differences in each machine's BASIC interpreters: the APF had a weak BASIC, while the CoCo had -- hands down -- the strongest BASIC on the market.  Since the thing I liked doing most on computers was PROGRAMMING and tinkering (in BASIC) rather than playing someone else's games.  In the end, a strong BASIC was what was most important to me, so I sadly gave up my Imagination Machine.

Though today they are extremely rare (by now, most have probably been recycled, and have come back as plastic dashboards on Nissans), thanks to R. Cotoia, I now once again have a working APF Imagination Machine.
     Officially licensed releases
Larry's APF Imagination Machine (MPA-10)

APF M1000
APF M1000
APF MP1000 (No Power Light)
APF MP1000 - Version 1
APF MP1000 (With Power Light)
APF MP1000 - Version 2

APF MP1000 - Detailed Images

     Non-licensed hardware releases
No clones were released for this system.
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.  The following is based upon my experience with the APF MP1000 (console portion of the APF Imagination Machine).
APF Rocket Patrol Screenshot
Console Design 05 The APF MP1000 might seem ordinary at first glance, but the sheer simplicity of its design is welcomed by this gamer.  Having a built-in game (Rocket Patrol) is another huge plus.
Console Durability 06 These are very durable machines, with the exception of the hardwired controllers and AV cord which tend to fray near the the back of the console.  I have experienced some screen rolling on one of my units, but I believe this may be the exception than the norm based upon chatting with other collectors.
Controllers 04 Though I like the compact design of the APF controller, there are entirely too many functions squeezed into such a small palette.  The joystick responds fairly well, but feels a bit fragile.  The small buttons of the numeric keypad are spaced too close together making it difficult to use.  On the other hand, the top fire button is huge and well positioned.
Graphics 07 I was pleasantly surprised by the graphical capability of the APF MP1000 console.  Games could be displayed in up to 8 colors and provided a relatively flicker-free gaming experience.  I have to assume that having the MPA-10 Computing Module (adds extra RAM for gaming/video) attached to the console would further improve graphical output.
Audio 06 Though most games feature rather lackluster sound,  every once in a while the APF MP1000 truly shines by delivering some rather impressive audio effects.  Like most consoles, the developers seemed to have learned how to pack in more bang-for-the-byte in later titles.
Media 07 Cartridges are constructed with thick, hard plastics and are extremely durable.  The top edge labeling is easy to read and organize. 
Game Library 02 Though the game graphics were slightly better than similar offerings of the competition, there really isn't anything unique that would justify the expense in obtaining titles for this system.
Gamer Value 02 Unless you are a heavy BASIC programmer and have the desire to develop your own titles, the expense in acquiring one of these systems can not honestly be justified for the standard gamer.
Collector Value 08 Due to its limited production run, the APF IM is a highly desirable unit for collectors.  The full APF Imagination Machine is quite expensive, while the stand alone console portion (M1000 & MP1000) can be secured for a fairly reasonable price.

     Interesting facts on software for this system
The APF M1000 and MP1000 gaming consoles have the game Rocket Patrol built directly into the system.  A boot screen is presented to the user upon system start up.  Games also came on cassette tapes for use with the player that is built into the APF MP10 unit.

Sample Game Play - In Store Demo Cartridge

APF Game Boxes
APF BackgammonAPF BaseballAPF BlackjackAPF Bowling/Micro MatchAPF Brickdown/Shooting GalleryAPF CatenaAPF Hangman/Tic Tac Toe/DoodleAPF UFO/Sea Monsters/Break It Down/Rebuild/Shoot
     Captured in-game images
Cart MG1008
Cart MG1006
Cart MG1007
Bowling/Micro Match
Cart MG1004
Cart MG1012
Brickdown/Shooting Gallery
Cart MG1005
Cart MG1001
Casino: Roulette/Keno/Slots
Cart MG1009
Hangman/Tic Tac Toe/Doodle
Cart MG1003
Pinball/Dungeon Hunt
Cart MG1011
Sea Monsters/UFO
Cart MG1010
Space Destroyers
Cart MG1013

     First and third party system emulators

Excellent Windows-based emulator developed by Enrique Collado.

     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
Motorola 68000 3.579 MHz Motorola MC-6847 Video Display Generator 1 KB (expandable to 17 KB)
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
256 x 192 (4 colors)
128 x 192 (8 colors)
8 colors N\A One Channel (5 octives)
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Cartridge Unknown 15 (cartridge) Cassette (with optional MP-10 module)
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
2 KB (built-in game Rocket Patrol) Optional Tape Cassette Joystick with 13 button keypad and Trigger button MPA-10 Computing Module
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Two (hardwired) None Expansion port RF
Power Supply - External Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
Input: 120V AC 60 Hz 10W
Output: 7.5V 750mA
APF M1000 Owners Manual (PDF) - 2.00 MB
APF Imagination Machine Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.62 MB

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Various magazine articles reviewing the APF Imagination Machine and overall operation

Nice APF collection that was listed on eBay

     Visitor insights and feedback
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