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The Apple I

The first computer built by Apple (at the time a garage company that was comprised of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak), retrospectively known as the Apple I, was a significant step in the evolution of Personal Computers. The Apple I was hand built by Steve Wozniak, and Steve Jobs had the idea of selling it. In order to make the investment to sell the computers, Jobs sold his VW Microbus and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator for $500. The Apple I was first demonstrated at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California in July 1967.

The Apple I came onto the market at the price point of $666.66 because Wozniak “liked repeating numbers,” and it sold 500 units. The thing that made the Apple I significant and different than other computers of its time was that it came pre-assembled with over 60 processing chips already soldered onto the circuit board; the user needed only to have a case, power supply, keyboard, and monitor to plug into the device. Other computers of the time came in kits and needed to be assembled.

The Apple I's built-in computer terminal software was also distinctive because the user needed only an ASCII keyboard and a television set to plug it into, whereas many other computers of the time were programmed with toggle switches and used red LEDs to show output. These other computers needed separate hardware to be able to be connected to a monitor or typewriter machine. These distinctions made the Apple I an innovation in computer technology for its day.

upload.wikimedia.org_wikipedia_commons_2_27_apple_i.jpg

A fully assembled Apple I computer in a home made wooden case with a built-in keyboard and no monitor.

Specifications

Processor: MOS 6502 processor running at 1.023 Mhz

Memory: Came with 4 kilobytes of RAM

I/O Ports: Any standard ASCII keyboard and any monitor could be used.

Display: 60 hz display with 40 characters per line and 24 lines. Also featured automatic scrolling.

Operating System: The Apple I was to run BASIC, so games could be programmed and played on it. It was a game machine for the most part. Jobs and Wozniak thought the binary switches of the Altair 8800 and similar PCs were not user friendly enough for playing games so he wrote a BASIC language assembler into the ROM by hand using only hexadecimal.

Collecting

The Apple I is now a valuable collector's item with only 40-50 Apple I's documented to be left in existence.

  • An Apple I sold on Ebay in 2009 for $17,480 and then another sold in 2010 for $48,000

Sources


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