The 6502 40th Anniversary Computer Badge

Available Again!
Celebrate the 40th Birthday of the
Apple II, Commodore PET, and Atari VCS

1977 was a momentous year for the home computer industry. The Apple II, Commodore PET, and Atari VCS were all introduced. They became the founders of three revolutionary microcomputer companies that changed the world. Interestingly, the "brain" inside each of them was the same MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor.

The 6502 was designed by Chuck Peddle of MOS Technology in 1975, at the dawn of the microcomputer revolution. It was an elegant design; simple, yet powerful. Its simplicity made it the cheapest 8-bit microprocessor on the market, endearing it to bean counters everywhere. And its power quickly captured the hearts of design engineers. By 1977, Steve Wozniak designed it into the Apple II. Nolan Bushnell had it designed into his Atari VCS video computer system. And Chuck Peddle designed it into the Commodore PET.

1977 Apple II 1977 Atari VCS 1977 Commodore PET 2001

It's common to have some kind of "badge" for computer shows and hacker conventions. There are even Vintage Computer Festivals (VCFs) for fans of classic computers, held in various cities around the world. 2017 was the 40th anniversary of these amazing machines, so we thought it would be appropriate to make a badge for VCF shows using a vintage microcomputer.

The badge is a complete working 6502 computer, with RAM, ROM, LED display, serial port, and on-board BASIC. It's built entirely with vintage technology; no modern or surface-mount parts. Connect it to a terminal or computer, load a message, and the badge scrolls it across the LED display. Or, show off your BASIC or machine language expertise by writing your own programs to do something truly spectacular!

VCFMW 6502 badge front VCFMW 6502 badge rear

It's Our Chuck Peddle's Lowly Parts Club Plan

It was 40 years ago today
That computers taught the kids to play
With chips to make a new kind of game
And the world has never been the same
So let me introduce to you
The micro called the 6502!

( apologies to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band and the Beatles...)

RIP Chuck Peddle - A true pioneer.
Nov 25, 1937 - Dec 15, 2019


6502 Badge Bare PC Board -- just $6.00. Includes PC board and a manual summary with the schematic and parts list.

6502 Badge Basic Kit -- $19.95. Includes PC board and all on-board parts, with 2K RAM, and detailed manual with schematic and parts list.

6502 Badge Deluxe Kit -- $29.95. Everything in the Basic kit, plus 32K RAM, a battery holder, rechargeable batteries, USB-serial adapter, and hanger strap.

6502 badge cover and stand


We ordered a bushel of boards, and a passel of parts. Now YOU can have a real working 6502 computer, just like the pioneers of the microcomputer industry. Prices were kept low by scrounging for surplus and mining our junkboxes for parts.

Sep 2017: Showtime! The badge was a hit at the year's VCFMW show. We sold every kit we had in the first hour. We had more boards, so were madly ordering parts, kitting them up, and sending them out as fast as we could. Over 500 were sold at VCFMW and various other VCF shows around the world.

Aug 2018: Alas, the 6502 badges are sold out! I ran out of the 7-digit 7-segment LED displays. To make more, I'll have to find a new source, or modify the design for a different display.

Sep 2019: Mike Lee found a new source for the 7-digit 7-segment LED displays! So we ran off a new batch of 6502 Badge boards, in time for VCFMW 14. Come join us and get your very own Badge boards and kits.

March 2020: News Flash: We made up some more badge boards and kits for the VCF-East show. They won't be needed, as it's been cancelled due to the corona virus. So for a limited time only they are available again online! To order, click on the Paypal buttons above.

6502 NameBoy
Badge version 2

What (if any) changes should we make for a 6502 Badge version 2? Looking at the comments, the most common requests have been for a) more memory, b) a better display, and c) buttons so a PC isn't required to enter data. This will be tough to do without raising the price, or "cheating" with modern technology. But let's try...

We need a "theme". Well, this the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo GameBoy. And VCFMW is put on by the Chicago Commodore Computer Club, whose members are big on the 6502 and gaming. So how about a 6502 Nameboy!

6502 Badge for VCF 2019 assembled


The circuit is designed, the PCB is laid out, and I just got my first prototypes. Keycaps for the tactile switches "pop-out" from the main PCB. The new software is (mostly) working, but we are still bug-hunting and want to develop some applications to put the new features to work. Stay tuned for further information!

Created 6/2/2017 by Lee Hart. Last update 9/22/2020.
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