I wasn’t even born in 1976 – but trust me I’ve read enough to know about the Apple 1 and its foray in bringing home computing to the masses. The Apple 1 was the companies first launch into the computing market and retailed for on $666.66 – although it didn’t really offer much by today’s standards.
With a 1MHz processor and a standard 4KB in memory it wasn’t you gaming computer of the 21st century. Its flimsy bits of wood no match for the polycarbonate, aluminium cases of today. Many, when discussing Apple, instantly imagine Steve Jobs as the figurehead; well he was, but he didn’t really have a clue about what went where and the ins and outs of the computer. Each Apple 1 was built and designed by hand, to be precise it was the hands of another Steve, Steve Wozniak who made the Apple 1 possible. Jobs and Wozniak were skint at the time – no way in a fit state to establish, what is now a multibillion dollar company. To boost funds Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator for $500 to find the project and the pair later showcased the Apple 1 at a Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto. The computer opened the flood gates for personal computers and soon there would be a PC on “every desk” – although it may not be an Apple. PC’s would no longer be seen as corporate warm tools but means of everyday life – a situation we now find ourselves in.
You may be asking, why write about this? Why today? Well last week saw one, of the only 6 working models of the Apple 1 sold at an auction in Germany for €500,000 ($650,000). The computer sold was one of the first 50 made by Wozniak in Jobs’ garage. The listing, consisting only of a signed motherboard by Wozniak, was bought by anonymous party from Asia.
Nearly 200 Apple 1’s were believed to have been produced, 46 still exist and only 6 of these function. Bob Luther, who wrote the book ‘The first Apple’ called the Apple 1 the:
“holy grail of collectable technology”.
But not to end up a useless piece of antique technology, the buyer also grabbed an original monitor, tape player, documentation and keyboard also signed by Steve Jobs. The Apple 1 signalled the launch of a company that would change the way we perceive technology and communicate witty devices. In its prime we could have believed the Apple 1 was the future – it was that advanced. But today technology moves at an ever growing pace and it is unlikely to slow down. That is the problem. It is impossible to monitor and therefore control. Such legislation that would aim to ‘snoop’ on every users Internet usage would not work. Technology changes so frequently it would be impossible to store and capture – just look how much tech has charged since 1976.
The Apple 1 maybe old and useless today – but it definitely isn’t dead in the water just yet. For now at least it has its position as a world first and historical artefact secure for some time.