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Tuesday, 05 June 2007 03:59

Apple II: Thirty years ago the first PC went on sale

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Thirty years ago, on June 5, 1977, what is generally considered the first successfully commercial personal computer (PC), the Apple II, went on sale. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs invented it.

The Apple II, sometimes called the Apple ][, was first introduced at the West Coast Computer Faire in 1977.

It contained a MOS (metal oxide semiconductor) technology 6502 microprocessor, innovative plastic case, high-resolution and low-resolution (Hi-res and Lo-res) color graphics, integrated keyboard, sound capabilities, joystick input, eight expansion slots, two built-in BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming languages (Applesoft and Integer), and cassette tape input/output (I/O) device.

Its bus speed was 1 MHz (megahertz, or one million cycles per second) and a memory size of 64 kilobytes (kB)--combined RAM [random-access memory] and ROM [read-only memory].

In its first year of sales, its main competitors were the Tandy Corporation’s TRS-80 and the Commodore Pet. The Apple series of personal computers was built with only minor changes well into the early 1990s. The original Apple II computer was terminated in 1980. In all, between five and six million Apple II series personal computers were built.

A Basic interpreter was contained within the original Apple II. Later, Apple’s DOS (Disk Operating System) was included so that a diskette drive could be operated. Its last DOS upgrade was Apple DOS 3.3.

The Apple II line of personal computers (PCs) was replaced with the Apple Macintosh. The Apple IIGS ended its run at the end of 1992 and the Apple IIe stopped being produced on October 14, 1994.

The Apple II series of personal computers changed the world technologically, both at home and in the office. Its popularity soared because it was reasonably priced and it provided various computer activities including computer games, educational software, word processing, and VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet.

Based on the Apple II’s success, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) began making the IBM PC, these machines were cloned in mass, Bill Gates started the Microsoft Corporation to provide software for PCs, and the Internet was developed for commercial and personal use.

All of this and much more was accomplished in the computer industry in only thirty years. For those old enough to have experienced the “world-with-typewriters” and the “world-with-computers”, you know the amount of change that occurred because of the Apple II.

It all goes to show the power of an Apple, especially with a bite taken out of it.

Stephan (Steve) Gary “Woz” Wozniak (http://www.woz.org/) and Steven (Steve) Paul Jobs (http://www.apple.com/pr/bios/jobs.html) have massive amounts of information written about them on the Internet.

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