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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 



Comment From e-mail: 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.


Woz: 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.

Comment From e-mail: 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?
 

Woz: 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.
 

 

 


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