The birth of Apple Computer
Nineteen seventy-five is generally agreed to be the year that the personal computer was born, when the Altair 8800 kit was announced on the cover of Popular Electronics' January issue.
Shortly after that epoch-making event, a group of electronics enthusiasts formed the Homebrew Computer Club. In addition to Jobs and Wozniak, members included such soon-to-be-luminaries as George Morrow, Adam Osborne, and Lee Felsenstein. It was among that heady company that Wozniak developed the first prototypes of what was to become the Apple I.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1975
Where Wozniak saw a diverting intellectual challenge, Jobs saw a business opportunity. After the debut of the Altair, "microcomputer" kits were appearing right and left, and Jobs believed that Wozniak's designs – one for a color-capable computer, no less – could find a market.
After some cajoling, Wozniak agreed to Jobs' suggestion that they form a company, and that the company should be named Apple Computer. Although the true source of the name remains cloudy – was it that apples were grown on a commune that Jobs had recently visited, the fact that "Apple" would appear ahead of "Atari" in the phone book (remember phone books?), a tribute to The Beatles? – it was Jobs' idea and Wozniak agreed to it.
On April 1, 1976, Jobs, Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne – a friend of Jobs from Atari who dropped out of the new company less than two weeks later (and who recently published an autobiography) – signed the paperwork that created Apple Computer. With an order for 50 fully assembled Apple I computers from a tiny Mountain View, California, geek emporium called the Byte Shop, and with the proceeds of the sale of Wozniak's HP-65 calculator and Jobs' VW van, the company was up and running.
The Apple I was less than a rip-roaring success, selling around 200 units, total. Jobs reportedly wanted to sell it for $777.77, but Wozniak thought that was too expensive, so the price was dropped to $666.66 – around $2,500 in today's dollars.
Wozniak's next creation, the Apple II, was a different animal entirely. Wozniak said it should have expansion slots, so it had expansion slots. Jobs said it should run without a fan, so they hired someone to invent the smaller, cooler, switching power supply.
By far more important, however, was a decision by Jobs and Wozniak that would affect all of Apple's future product development: the Apple II would be a complete system designed for ease of use, simple operation, and consumer friendliness. Industrial design was also on Jobs' mind: no screws disturbed the Apple II's plastic exterior – they all were on the bottom of its all-plastic case.
A fully tricked-out Apple II – every geek's object of lust (source: oldcomputers.net)
Jobs made one more key move at this time: he landed a key investor and business adviser, Mike Markkula, who got the two founders to incorporate Apple in January 1977. Markkula also introduced the duo to Mike Scott, and convinced them to hire him as president of the fledgling outfit. Scott and Jobs clashed almost immediately, the first of many such battles that would lead to Jobs' eventual ouster.
On April 17, 1977, the Apple II debuted at the West Coast Computer Faire, and – as each and every Apple press releases noted for many years afterwards – "ignited the personal computer revolution".
Next page: The Macintosh
A fully tricked-out Apple II – every geek's object of lust
Indeed it was.
I was but a young whippersnapper when my school received its one and only Apple ][ computer way back in 1980 and what a time of wonder it was.
We used to book time on "the computer" in 10 minute lots, most of which were spent copying each others disks.
Apple Panic (aka Lode Runner) , Escape From Castle Wolfenstein (Ach Leiben, your caught!"), Wizardry and Blitzkreig! were favourites that I remember to this day.
I had a disk box that I built out of wood with my own hands that would hold the handful of 5.25 inch single sided floppies that I could afford to buy.
Joyous was the day when we discovered that the judicious application of a boxcutter knife enabled us to double our "storage capacity" x2 by cutting out the write enable notch allowing the flip side of the diskette to be used.
Learning how to write programs in BASIC and later 6502 "machine code".
PEEKS and POKES.
In those days computers were exciting. They were a new frontier. It was like riding a wave. With a computer *anything* was possible.
These days it is all about lock down and lock in.
Computer users are something to be controlled and harvested for personal information.
Gone are the exciting days of finding a new program and the wonder of what can be achieved.
Ditching Windows (which has long been a tool for corporates intent on user control) for the "wild west" of Linux (and the Internet) has bought some of that innocent wonder of old back but the truth be told we will never see those halcyon days again.
I'm just grateful that I had some small involvement in the wonder of those times
I pity the kids of today. Bought up on Windows and WGA not to mention iOS and the "walled garden".
The tech is much more impressive these days, but it is also much more cold and sterile.
God I feel old.
You can hate Apple and there business practices all you want, but remember this, without the drive of Steve Jobs in the last 10 years we wouldn't have things as good as we do now. Apple products have forced other companies to up their game and that's a good thing for everyone.
RIP Steve :(
My Nan used to tell me "if you've got nothing nice to say, say nothing". Sage advice, but I'm going to ignore it for now. We all know what a vitriolic little shit you can be, so please do the world a favour and keep it to yourself for a day or two, not out of respect for anyone but yourself. You really are a petty and small man.
Name ten or so things you've done to change the world for the better?
It's very easy to be an armchair pundit and slate people, but the medium you are using to spew your negative comments (ie. the WWW) was developed on a NeXT computer, y'know the company Steve Jobs created when he left Apple.
Who knows, maybe the WWW would have been worse if Tim Berners-Lee had written it on another computer. Those who have programmed NeXT machines were always praising its ease of development.
Monopolies don't help any industry and the re-emergence of Apple has been good for the industry. Windows Vista and Windows 7 are heavily inspired by OSX.