The Apple II

Apple II

Steve Wozniak designed the Apple II in 1977. The self-contained unit housed electronics, keyboard and power supply, with the BASIC language in permanent memory. A TV served as the display. The floppy disk drive (1978) and spreadsheet program VisiCalc (1979) made it a blockbuster.

The Apple II

When it debuted in 1977, the Apple II was promoted as an extraordinary computer for ordinary people. The user-friendly design and graphical display made Apple a leader in the first decade of personal computing.

Unlike the earlier Apple I, for which users had to supply essential parts such as a case and power supply, the Apple II was a fully realized consumer product. Design and marketing emphasized simplicity, an everyday tool for home, work, or school.

“Introducing Apple II” ad

Like many computer and technology ads at the time, Apple’s early promotional material was dominated by text. Several decades later, some of the most memorable Apple ads would only have a word or two, such as “Think Different” or “iPod.”

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A Tale of Two Steves

Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer in 1976. Corporate headquarters? The Jobs family garage.

Wozniak and Jobs met in 1971, creating and selling “Blue Boxes,” devices for making free long-distance calls. After stints at Hewlett Packard and Atari respectively, they reunited, formed Apple, and demonstrated the Apple I to the savvy hobbyists at the Homebrew Computer Club.

It was their more fully developed Apple II, however, that established Apple. They built the company with Jobs focusing on promotion and creating a distinct Apple identity, and Wozniak as the designer.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak with the Apple-1 computer

Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus and Wozniak his beloved HP-65 programmable calculator. Adding personal loans and vendor credit, they were able to afford parts to fill their first order from Palo Alto’s Byte Shop: 50 Apple-1 computers at $500 each.

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Apple-1 operation manual

The manual of the Apple-1, aimed at hobbyists, contained the computer’s complete wiring diagram and listed the monitor software source. Ronald Wayne, co-founder and briefly a 10% owner of Apple, drew its short-lived logo featuring Isaac Newton.

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