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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Comment from E-mail:
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?

Woz:
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.

Comment from E-mail:
2. Where did the development happen?
Woz:
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.

Comment from E-mail:
3. How many people worked on the first Apple II?
Woz:
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.

Comment from E-mail:
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?
Woz:
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.

Comment from E-mail:
5. Why do you think the time was right for the Apple II to succeed?
Woz:
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.

Comment from E-mail:
6. How do you think the Apple II set the stage for other PCs, the Mac, and even the Internet?
Woz:
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.


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