World’s Strangest

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Happy Birthday, Apple II

right: 35 years ago today, Apple launched the Apple
(that’s Apple ][ for you purists) computer at the West Coast Computer
Faire. It was to be Apple’s first iconic product (with the killer app:
VisiCalc spreadsheet
program) .

Harry McCracken of TIME’s Techland blog has the story:

Thirty-five years ago, on April 16 and 17, 1977, more than twelve
thousand proto-geeks flooded into San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium.
They were there to attend a new event called the West Coast Computer
Faire, and the room brimmed with excitement over a new, futuristic gizmo
known as the “personal computer.” The throngs packed the
aisles, marveling at microcomputers and related gizmos from tiny startups
such as Cromemco, IMSAI, Northstar, Ohio Scientific and Parasitic Engineering.

One of the tiny startups benefited from having an especially slick
booth located in prime real estate near the entrance. The company was
called Apple Computer, and a handful of its employees, including founders
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, were demoing an unreleased machine they
called the Apple II.

The Faire’s attendees may have understood that they were
in on the start of something big. At the time, however, there wasn’t
any consensus that Apple and its computer were more significant than
any number of other exhibitors among the 180 who filled the hall. Creative
Computing‘s article on the conference didn’t get around
to mentioning Apple until halfway through the third page; BYTE‘s
report didn’t reference the company at all.

It didn’t take long until it was obvious that the Apple II
was going to matter. The machine started shipping in the summer of 1977,
and by the end of the year, it was gaining fame as was one of a trio
of consumer-friendly, ready-to-use systems that were taking the personal
computer beyond its hobbyist origins.

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Ways to Celebrate the Apple II’s 35th Birthday

Previously on Neatorama: The
Wonderful World of Early Computing

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