I'm am a BIG fan of Macs! I am hoping you can give me some background
on the making of the Apple II because I'm doing a History Fair project
for eighth grade and I have chosen to report on the impact of the first
personal computer (the Apple II). Some questions I have are:
1. When did you start developing the Apple II and how long did it take?
The answer should be on my web site but I started in the summer of 1976,
a little after we started selling Apple I's. I was demonstrating hardware
by October. The product was pretty finalized, with BASIC additions and
more developer software in ROM by about Feb. of 1977. I finished various
ROM routines for graphics and other things by about March of 1977.
2. Where did the development happen?
Mostly, the design occurred in my apartment in Cupertino and in my lab
cubicle at Hewlett Packard's calculator division. Steve Jobs worked out
of his home to establish connections with potential investors/purchasers
of the company. He also arranged things with suppliers and located essential
people for making a great product, like a designer that could develop
a switching power supply which generated low heat. Also, Steve researched
low cost plastic enclosures, although we had to scrap that one quickly.
Most of the product ideas came out of my head. But reactions of people
like Steve to possible 'aspects' of the computer meant a lot. My friend
Allen Baum was INSTRUMENTAL in developing some debugging software that
made the microprocessor programmable directly from the keyboard.
3. How many people worked on the first Apple II?
I was the sole designer of the computer part, except that Allen Baum wrote
some of the debugging software. Steve worked on the product appearance
and presentation (to the public). Rod Holt designed the switching power
supply. All of us, plus president Mike Scott, worked on parts specification
and blueprints and manuals and the like. Mike Markkula handled early business
matters and marketing, which was perhaps the most important of all.
4. How do you think the Apple II changed computing and the way we live?
What were the short term and long term effects? Did you think that your
work would be as successful as it was?
The Apple ][, more than any other early machine, made "computer" a word
that could be said in homes. It presented a computer concept that included
fun and games -- human type things. It was the first to be easily usable
from day one for real work too.
5. Why do you think the time was right for the Apple II to succeed?
Mainly, the price of components, most importantly the microprocessor,
had fallen to where such a machine could be made affordable. The Apple
][ was the technological leader with tons of firsts at low cost. Although
we couldn't have predicted it when we introduced the Apple ][, the floppy
disk drive and spreadsheet were going to make the right machine very very
valuable a year or two later.
6. How do you think the Apple II set the stage for other PCs, the Mac,
and even the Internet?
It made computer a household word. It made computers acceptable for education.
It made computers very useful for small business and for people within
large business. I'm not sure how it set the stage for the internet, although
we did have employees and products, like HyperCard, that set the tone
for hyper-'links' to become commonplace and better understood.