Apple II computer

Apple II computer was the first commercially available, preassembled personal computer, the Apple II helped move computers out of the workplace and into the home.
The people behind the invention:
Stephen Wozniak (1950- ), cofounder of Apple and designer of the Apple II computer; Steven Jobs (1955- ), cofounder of Apple Regis McKenna (1939- ), owner of the Silicon Valley public relations and advertising company that handled the Apple account; Chris Espinosa (1961- ), the high school student who wrote the BASIC program shipped with the Apple II; Randy Wigginton (1960- ), a high school student and Apple software programmer.
Inventing the Apple.
As late as the 1960’s, not many people in the computer industry believed that a small computer could be useful to the average person.
It was through the effort of two friends from the Silicon Valley— the high-technology area between San Francisco and San Jose— that the personal computer revolution was started.
Both Steven Jobs and Stephen Wozniak had attended Homestead High School in Los Altos, California, and both developed early interests in technology, especially computers. In 1971, Wozniak built his first computer from spare parts. Shortly after this, he was introduced to Jobs. Jobs had already developed an interest in electronics (he once telephoned William Hewlett, cofounder of Hewlett Packard, to ask for parts), and he and Wozniak became friends.
Their first business together was the construction and sale of “blue boxes,” illegal devices that allowed the user to make long-distance telephone calls for free.
After attending college, the two took jobs within the electronics industry. Wozniak began working at Hewlett Packard, where he studied calculator design, and Jobs took a job at Atari, the video company. The friendship paid off again when Wozniak, at Jobs’s request, designed the game “Breakout” for Atari, and the pair was paid seven hundred dollars.
In 1975, the Altair computer, a personal computer in kit form, was introduced by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS). Shortly thereafter, the first personal computer club, the Homebrew Computer Club, began meeting in Menlo Park, near Stanford University. Wozniak and Jobs began attending the meeting regularly. Wozniak eagerly examined the Altairs that others brought. He thought that the design could be improved. In only a few more weeks, he produced a circuit board and interfaces that connected it to a keyboard and a video monitor. He showed the machine at a Homebrew meeting and distributed photocopies of the design.
In this new machine, which he named an “Apple,” Jobs saw a big opportunity. He talked Wozniak into forming a partnership to develop personal computers. Jobs sold his car, and Wozniak sold his two Hewlett Packard calculators; with the money, they ordered printed circuit boards made. Their break came when Paul Terrell, a retailer, was so impressed that he ordered fifty fully assembled Apples.
Within thirty days, the computers were completed, and they sold for a fairly high price: $666.66.
During the summer of 1976, Wozniak kept improving the Apple.
The new computer would come with a keyboard, an internal power supply, a built-in computer language called the Beginner’s All- Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code” (BASIC), hookups for adding printers and other devices, and color graphics, all enclosed in a plastic case. The output would be seen on a television screen. The machine would sell for twelve hundred dollars.
Selling the Apple.
Regis McKenna was the head of the Regis McKenna Public Relations agency, the best of the public relations firms that served the high-technology industries of the valley, which Jobs wanted to handle the Apple account. At first, McKenna rejected the offer, but Jobs’s constant pleading finally convinced him. The agency’s first contributions to Apple were the colorful striped Apple logo and a color ad in Playboy magazine.
In February, 1977, the first Apple Computer office was opened in Cupertino, California. By this time, two of Wozniak’s friends from Homebrew, Randy Wigginton and Chris Espinosa—both high school students—had joined the company. Their specialty was writing software.
Espinosa worked through his Christmas vacation so that BASIC (the built-in computer language) could ship with the computer.
The team pushed ahead to complete the new Apple in time to display it at the First West Coast Computer Faire in April, 1977. At this time, the name “Apple II” was chosen for the new model. The Apple II computer debuted at the convention and included many innovations. The “motherboard” was far simpler and more elegantly designed than that of any previous computer, and the ease of connecting the Apple II to a television screen made it that much more attractive to consumers.
The introduction of the Apple II computer launched what was to be a wave of new computers aimed at the home and small-business markets.Within a few months of the Apple II’s introduction, Commodore introduced its PET computer and Tandy Corporation/Radio Shack brought out its TRS-80. Apple continued to increase the types of things that its computers could do and worked out a distribution deal with the new ComputerLand chain of stores.
In December, 1977, Wozniak began work on creating a floppy disk system for the Apple II. (A floppy disk is a small, flexible plastic disk coated with magnetic material. The magnetized surface enables computer data to be stored on the disk.) The cassette tape storage on which all personal computers then depended was slow and unreliable. Floppy disks, which had been introduced for larger computers by the International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation in 1970, were fast and reliable. As he did with everything that interested him, Wozniak spent almost all of his time learning about and designing a floppy disk drive. When the final drive shipped in June, 1978, it made possible development of more powerful software for the computer.
By 1980, Apple had sold 130,000 Apple II’s. That year, the company went public, and Jobs and Wozniak, among others, bécame wealthy. Three years later, Apple became the youngest company to make the Fortune 500 list of the largest industrial companies. By then, IBM had entered the personal computer field and had begun to dominate it, but the Apple II’s earlier success ensured that personal computers would not be a market fad. By the end of the 1980’s, 35 million personal computers would be in use.

See also: Computer programs

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