From the Garage to the iMac: 1976-1999
Living Computers: Museums + Labs host a new permanent exhibition dedicated to the first two decades of Apple Computer Company.
Apple started with two friends in a garage, the engineering wiz Steve “Woz” Wozniak and the aspiring entrepreneur Steve Jobs. After a short stint making “phone phreaking” devices called “Blue Boxes” for making free (and illegal) long-distance telephone calls, the pair moved to selling Woz’s Apple I computer boards to hobbyists interested in building their own computers. The Apple Computer Company was founded on April 1st, 1976, and a couple weeks later Woz showed off the new PCB based Apple I at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto. Of the approximately 200 Apple I computers produced, fewer than 70 remain.
This exhibition features the only operable Apple I available for the public to use.
With the modest success of the Apple I, Jobs and Wozniak set their sights on the Apple II—a fully-fledged microcomputer designed to break past the hobbyist market and find its way into homes, schools, and businesses. Their vision attracted a programmer and investor named Mike Markkula, who joined the Apple as a partner.
While Woz worked on the design, Markkula assumed the crucial role of securing the additional investment needed to bring the Apple II into production. In order to show the potential of this product, a demonstration unit was built from a modified Apple I board in a prototype metal case. The demo computer contains a chip loaded with Woz’s version of the program BASIC. This eased demonstrations by allowing the computer to run BASIC without the clunky process of loading it from a cassette tape drive, a feature that was later incorporated into the Apple II. This unique computer also has a modified cassette interface board tagged by Apple’s first employee, Bill Fernandez, as the “ACM Mod” for Armas Clifford Markkula, Mike’s given name. Jobs and Markkula raised the capital Apple needed, and the Apple II was released on April 16th 1977 at the West Coast Computer Faire.
That special Apple demonstration computer lived on a shelf in Steve Jobs’ office until 1985. Then it disappeared. Until today. Paul G. Allen recently acquired this one-of-a-kind computer from the estate of a former Apple engineer for display at Living Computers: Museum + Labs.
The remainder of this first of its kind hands-on exhibit features direct experiences with original Apple II, IIe, Apple III, Lisa, Macintosh, Macintosh SE, iMac, Power Mac G4, and NeXTcube computers. Exhibit materials trace to assent of Apple in the early years, the power struggle that led to Jobs’ ouster, and years of decline before Jobs returned and led the company’s resurgence.
Apple Computer Company founded on April 1, 1976
The Apple I debuted in April of 1976, maybe the 14th
The Apple II debuted on April 16th of 1977