Wednesday, April 18, 2012

35th anniversary of the #Apple II

Woz & Jobs with the Apple II
Thirty five years ago if you'd gone to the West Coast Computer Faire, at San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium, front and centre as you walked through the doors you'd have seen a smart display from a new computer start-up - Apple Computers. Steve Jobs, just 21 years old, in typical fashion had talked his way into the prime spot at the exhibition, because Apple had something revolutionary to show off.
    The Apple II was Steve Wozniak's (Woz's) masterpiece; what he'd been put on this planet to do. He designed most of its circuitry, including new circuits for displaying color graphics. He'd spent the night before the exhibition writing code to control the disk drive - most other PC's of the day used cassette tapes, but Apple wanted the faster random access of a disk. Woz also wrote the initial operating system and software. All this he did, not to make money, but for fun, just to prove he could!
    Jobs had a significant input as well. He oversaw the visual design of the Apple II. It was the first PC to ship in an attractive chic case; most computers looked like they were built by ham radio enthusiasts - the Apple II looked more like a stylish European hi-fi. Jobs knew that it was important that the Apple II "worked right out of the box,"  and it was one of the first PCs to do color graphics and sound and even shipped with two game paddles. The Apple II was a computer you could take home, unpack and use right away. But for the enthusiast the Apple II featured eight expansion slots which eventually enabled a wealth of aftermarket products like: more memory, printers, modems, and light pens to be connected. The Apple II was simple yet flexible. 
    Although the Apple II was expensive, starting the slur that Apple fans have more money than sense, it was a best seller, grossing Apple at its peak over $1 billion a year. Remarkably the last incarnation of the Apple II shipped 16 years later in November 1993 -over 6 million were sold in total.  
    Happy birthday Apple II, you were a remarkable computer.