I still remember the ad Apple Computer ran showing an Apple ][ being used to monitor operations on an offshoree oil platform. I think we forget the *variety* of uses the first computers like the Apple ][ saw. In a day where computers get used for little more than games, surfing the Net, and word processing, it is interesting to note that early "home" computers like the Apple ][ were used for decoding satellite images, monitoring heartbeats for oscilloscopes, etc. Those computers brought out the imagination and skills of a generation of teens and college kids. It seems like almost every MIS person got their start with an Apple ][ or the likes.
That's good of you to remember these things. We sure do tend to forget the Apple ]['s importance in creating this company and industry.
When you call Apple to order stuff and you give them your name, do people recognize you and say "Hey, your that dude that created Apple!"
I order Apple stuff online. I doubt that any human ever sees the names. But once I ordered a gigabit ethernet option. Apple noticed two months later that only two of these had been ordered, both by me! I do get noticed every time I buy shareware, and that brings me a lot of T-shirts that I get good use out of.
Steve, Hey, I just found your web site! I have always wanted to be able to send a maser to you, but it took discovery of your site with its nice invitation to send letters to get me going.
I have been an Apple fan since in high school. Dad bought a very early apple II (before the plus) It was about serial number 3700. I got started in electronics tech school shortly afterward and the Apple was great for learning hardware/software development. Printers were very expensive back then, and as a near kid ended up getting a IBM Selectric IO terminal (upper case only) and designed, built and learned assembly from the built in monitor. Got it to print just fine!
I ended up with a genuine Apple I computer in college, and used it to learn more about digital h/w. Ended up banking some DRAM's piggyback, added a Write protect jumper for the back to keep my buggy as code from trashing everything. Added Parallel ports, timers, and a DAC to do that sinusoidal waveform synthesis stuff. I remember reading that there were folks making touch tones with DAC's...
Most of all I am to this day still telling folks how efficient Apple computer was at designing hardware. The Apple I was only the size of a terminal board, but was a full computer. The Apple II was miles better integrated than anything else, and even when IBM came out it was SO FULL OF CARDS to do the same work. The Mac was a again really excellent.
So I went from electronic tech, to engineer and was always thinking and talking apple - like the story of how you re-laid out the disk controller to get rid of a few feedthroughs. Everything was so good for the day - the Apple I disk controller, the II disk drive I/O card gee the little 256byte monitor for the Apple I was cool.
Steve - , and I really liked the back page Fine Home-building piece on the cave you built for your kids. That magazine went to work and we all sat around the lab talking about it.
P.S. I've got a basement of old stuff, the apple I, a few apple II's, a few IIe's a few IIc's, an Apple III, an IMSAI and an Altair. And a bunch of Mac's, Just can't bear to part with them. However due to space reasons, gone are the KIM-1, AIM-64 and a whole bunch of other computers. I'm glad I saved what I did, just thinking about the KIM and AIM has got me a bit wistful.
Someday I've got to take a photo of the Apple I. It looks so cobbled up, I feel bad about the cuts and jumpers on it now, but it sure helped a me learn about computers - and besides it looks like a hobbyist who really did use the thing.
Your story is one just like my own life, learning by seeing and modifying and having technical skills. With a couple of years difference you could have started Apple, clearly. You are so lucky to have the old equipment. I can hardly believe that you actually have an Apple I. I got rid of a lot of my old stuff because it was taking up 4 storage lockers, and I've regretted it ever since. I had about every Apple ][ program and peripheral ever up until some point.
The cave that I built didn't really work out. It wasn't attractive enough for kids to use as a hangout. But some secret spaces through the walls and in hidden attics with peep holes and more, things that had no practical reason in a home, turned out great for the kids.
When Apple moved from the Apple ][ line to the Mac line, where and why was the decision to move to a closed architecture? I thought that Apple suitors were the hobbyist and as such would have more of a hardware/software development contribution... In reflection on programming graphics with peek and poke, I was wondering why an interpreted language rather than a compiled language was developed. Was this the Microsoft DEC BASIC vs. Woz HP BASIC approach we discussed previously?
The closed architecture was in line with attempts to bring computers down to less technical people. Does the phrase "for the rest of us" ring a bell. Although that phrase referred to the way the software worked, there was a strong feeling that some people were turned off by too much visible technology. There might have been personal reasons within Apple to minimize the technology aspect, since the technology emphasis came largely from me and not the other Apple execs. I don't feel that it was a good or needed thing to restrict access like this. Even the designers wanted more access and at least a "test" port but Steve Jobs nixed that.
I'd never written a computer language or studied writing one. I'd also never used BASIC, only FORTRAN and ALGOL and a number of machine languages. But it was clear that BASIC was the best language for an early home computer because of the ease of learning and using it and the many games available in BASIC. So I pulled out an HP manual and wrote my syntax diagrams based on that. It was a little different, mainly with strings, than the DEC BASIC.
I always understood that FORTRAN could be compiled but BASIC was an interpreted language. It's late and I'm not sure why BASIC has to be interpreted but an easy language for small programs is quicker to use when you can enter new lines and run them right away without compiling. It also takes less RAM. We didn't even have a floppy disk then.
Wow! hey woz! Man you must be soooo smart designing the apple 1, I greatly admire you, I mean, selling a calculator and a van to make money for it (at least that's what I heard)!! So cya l8ter!!!! A fan of yours,
Thanks for the note. As you can tell, we had no money and no business experience, just some good designs and good people and vision of a new look at computers. Plus our timing was quite good.
've started this letter twice and can never seem to get it right, but here goes. I was saved from swearing off computers entirely and going to Iowa to be a potato farmer by a Mac. I was working at as a tech support agent for a large technology distributor and the constant frustration of supporting Windows and folks who just didn't care, was draining all the fun out of computers. Then back in '97 I bought my first Mac, a G3/233 minitower. It was the most incredible experience ever. Things just seem to work the way they are supposed to. One thing led to another and here I am going back to school for a degree in Computer Science, I've already got one in Business Administration, and have found that a computer is just a tool to get stuff done. It should not be an end unto itself.
Also, I seem to have accumulated four other Macs, a Plus, an SE, a IIcx and a Quadra 950. I'll wrap up by saying thanks for starting Apple, they have really kept the personal in personal computer.
BTW, my first computer was not an Apple but a Timex Sinclair 1000 with a whopping 16K of RAM.
The way I see this tool vs. end-in-itself thing is that there are lots of different kinds of people. Some of us, like most of my students, will benefit from it as a tool. But a minority, those that are like me when I was young, really do get something from the computer itself, especially if they can build and add hardware. I'll never forget the hobbyists, even if they are mostly Windows types today, because that was the center of my own life.
A TV was to watch shows, but for myself it was a thing to open up and connect wires to put in my own signals, from VCR's (before Betamax, before channel 3 modulators) and from computers in the early days.
I remember once, in slightly later years, buying a Timex Sinclair computer. It was only $50 or $100 and had BASIC and actually worked very nicely by itself. Even today, a $50 computer on your own TV screen would be a hot item.
I loved the movie-very interesting and well done! After all that happened in the film, one thing I wonder is how do things stand today between you and Steve Jobs (and Bill Gates)? Also, I am curious about how the actors prepared for their roles behind-the-scenes (if you know...), what kind of research they did to try to make things accurate? Thanks. Carmela
I'm glad that you enjoyed the movie. I did also.
I talk to Steve occassionally and try not to feed reports of any conflict between us (there is none).
I wish that Bill Gates had my sense of humor. Do you remember when he got hit with some pies in Europe? After that, I sent him a picture of myself being hit by a pie at the pizza party after my college graduation in 1986. It was fun and we all laughed and the picture is captioned cleverly "Computer pie-in-ear". I suggested to Bill that he have a pie thrower ready in the wings whenever he has a boring stage appearance, just for laughs.
The personalities and personality conflicts were portrayed quite accurately in the movie, even though a lot of the scenes didn't happen or had different parties present or happened in different cities than shown or in different years. The actors deliberately didn't talk to any of the principle parties. I guess that we would have spoiled it telling how great we all are and threatening lawsuits if they didn't show it the way we said. So some legal problems might be avoided by not talking to us.
Thank you for putting the personal into PC. As an engineer I appreciate your ethical and moral approach to technogy and your commitment to education.
I have to be honest. I'm into children being precocious and being somewhat problems. If too heavily protected they might have too boring a life. But when you play tricks on people or take other negative actions (copy software) then you should have some solid, logical, ethical thinking that convinces you that you believe in your reasons enough to tell other people what you do and why. That's the ethical hacker approach.
My own keys to happiness include knowing that I'm good and that logical truth reigns and in knowing that I don't have to convince other people to believe in that which I do. My life was successful when these keys came to me, before college even. Hey, a built-in religion with no church, and no group to agree with all the time, is the best for me. I just stayed very young in my beliefs all these years.
My commitment to education and to children in schools was with me all my life. In the movie they show the time Steve and I and his girl friend wore Alice in Wonderland costumes in a shopping mall. It was a joy of my life. I even took a week's vacation from my job as an engineer at Hewlett Packard to take this minimum wage job. Steve doesn't look back on it as a great thing in life but I do.
I am just commenting on what I have read about the comments made about the "Pirates of Silicon Valley". My ex husband had been using Apple computers then the Mac since 1985, he was a systems design engineer.
When the "clones" started appearing, I had always stated that their OS reminded me of the Apple/Mac OS only to be told that I was the one that did not know what I was talking about. (That was by computer instructors) It was very reassuring to me to see it pointed out that the operating system for the clones was pirated from Apple. Something that I had always realized and no one believed.
To have been around in the era of when home computing was born, I find it to be an privilege and yet a burden at the same time. There are many out there that did not and still may not realize what went on in the early days of home computing...Deb L.
For years, we Mac users knew how much better a computer system we had. Then the PC clones appeared running the Windows OS from Microsoft. It was so sad to see the copiers win out, particularly since the copies weren't as good.
Thank you for the Apple. Regardless of where it started or where it has been I have it now and it does add to my enjoyment of life. I am somewhat puzzeled by your seemingly critical view of Steve Jobs. I know that you experienced it all first hand but the fact of the matter is that Mr Jobs has driven the car while you got off. I care not why but you seemingly respond in your answers to "Pirates" that you did it all and Mr. Jobs was basicilly a non-technical salesmen. Did he or did he not have anything to do with the Apple computer ? As I interput your reponses, he was just hanging around like a vulture. Thanks for your time. C. H.
I'm sorry. I probably misdirected others too. I made a lot of comment about having done a lot of hardware and software, including writing BASIC for the Apple I and Apple ][, in my "Pirates" replies because I did this design while Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Paul Allen were not as great as engineers. As for the engineering, on the 'dark' side there was Ed Roberts with a computer (who designed it???) and Bill Gates and Paul Allen writing a BASIC. I did all of this and much more, singlehanded, while working a day job at Hewlett Packard too. Steve Jobs did not design the computer in hardware or software terms. He did what was needed to start a company. He found people and companies that could get us to a product (it was manufactured at a company in Santa Clara and we just put the final pieces together in the garage) and sell it and more. He also had product design contributions along the lines of the plastic case and low heat power supply. But almost every other unique 'first ever' feature was my own idea of what would make a good computer. In the spirit I had, of helping and not making money, I gave out schematics to anyone that wanted them in the Homebrew Computer Club. This is what led to the interest that led Steve to see a possibility of making a product for sale.
I've spoken many times in the past about the importance of Steve Jobs' role in the Apple computers. But I was the inventor and engineer, solely. Remember, the Apple I was the first small computer ever with a keyboard standard, and the Apple II had the first color graphics, the first hi-res graphics, the first BASIC in ROM, the first sound and paddles for games, and a host of very clever approaches. Plus, it was so understandable and versatile and usable that it inspired tons of people. I hear from these people all the time, everywhere I go.
In my speeches I go out of my way to make Steve Jobs' role, in non-engineering ways, seem more important. But in response to the movie, I'm trying to compare myself as the engineer to Gates and Allen as engineers and any perceived denigration of Steve Jobs is not intentional.
Thank you for the chance to explain.