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The Apple II Turns 35 Today

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-a-reminder-that-you're-getting-old dept.

Apple 173

harrymcc writes "35 years ago this week, at San Francisco's first West Coast Computer Faire, a tiny startup named Apple demonstrated its new personal computer, the Apple II. It was the company's first blockbuster product — the most important PC of its time, and, just maybe, the most important PC ever released, period."

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I started on one of those (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704423)

The parents bought it for their business and for us kids.

Re:I started on one of those (2, Funny)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704513)

PPPFFFTTTT, IBM PS/2 was way better with its sixteen colors display matrix, its 1 minute per page dot matrix printer, and its clickity clackity keyboard of oversized proportions.
Begone ye hippie!

Re:I started on one of those (5, Informative)

psergiu (67614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704615)

Apple II was released in 1977.
Macintosh in 1984.
IBM PS/2 in 1987.

Remove you presence from our lawn, n00b.

Re:I started on one of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39705475)

you forgot the commodore pet! they got it to the trade shows first, but apple beat them to the release

Re:I started on one of those (5, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704675)

>>>sixteen colors

You poor souls. My PC had 4096 colors, near-CD-quality sound, and true multitasking (preemptive). In 1985. My PC was a Commodore. ;-)

Re:I started on one of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704865)

My first was an Apple ][+ with a centronics printer & related adapter, and I also had a second floppy disk drive. And, I was one of the privileged to have owned an Amiga 1000, 500, and 4000. I remember loading one A4000 with $30,000 in RAM, and 68040 accelerator card.

Re:I started on one of those (3, Informative)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704883)

You poor souls. My PC had 4096 colors, near-CD-quality sound, and true multitasking (preemptive). In 1985. My PC was a Commodore. ;-)

And don't forget the GPU. In 1987, Gerald Hull even used it to perform simple additions for an Amiga version of Conway's Life, making it an early example of more general purpose programming with a GPU!

Unfortunately the Amiga wasn't that important, though it should have been.

Re:I started on one of those (4, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705657)

Coincidently Conway's game of life is why I forked out $80 on a secondhand Apple][ in the early eighties. I had read about the game of life in an old SciAM magazine and was obsesed with drawing pages and pages of little squares with pencil and paper, I had no idea how to program the apple, but if you have ever spent all night playing Conway's game using graph paper, you may appeciate why I forked out $80 and took the time to learn. A few years later I dumped my factory job and signed up for a CS degree (graduated in 1990, a couple of years before the commercial boom started in earnest), Even though I didn't know it at the time, that $80 'toy' changed my working life like nothing else since. And I think that last point explains a lot of the nostalgia surround Apple]['s, C64's, XT's Amiga's, etc, because I'm sure I'm not the only slashdotter who (for nerdy reasons) was fiddling with a home computer in the 80's and shitting gold bricks in the 90's.

OTOH, I had little to no interest whatsoever in the internet at first, I couldn't see what was so fasinating about 'diplaying a formatted document on a remote computer'.

Re:I started on one of those (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705679)

>>>Unfortunately the Amiga wasn't that important, though it should have been.

I don't know about that. When PC gamers saw the graphics & sound on Amiga, it created a demand for better video and sound card to satisfy them. Also you can still see Amiga graphics if you watch old episodes of Babylon 5, seaQuest, Hypernauts, or Star Trek Voyager (3rd and 4th season). They were using Amiga 2000s and 3000s with early versions of Photoshop/animation software.

Re:I started on one of those (2)

Kahlandad (1999936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706343)

It's a bit dishonest to say that 'you can still see Amiga graphics' when they were using Video Toasters for those special effects.

Video Toasters came with the still poplar and still supported LightWave 3D, not early versions of Photoshop.

Re:I started on one of those (3, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706761)

>>>they were using Video Toasters for those special effects

False. I've used the Video Toaster in a television studio. It creates the various sweeps between scenes, but the actual graphics are generated by the Amiga's GPU. When you look at ships in B5 or Voyager, or subs in seaQuest, or CGI-generated people in Hypernauts, you're looking at actual polygon graphics produced by the Commodore Amiga at 704x480 resolution. It took the computer days-and-days of rendering to produce just a few minutes of CGI. (If you still have doubt, just watch the Star Wars Walker demo... all of which was produced without the video toaster.)

BTW thanks for fixing the name of the software (Lightwave). Over 20 years one forgets names. Even now I don't remember the software I used to get online, even though I used it daily. JXterm or something like that.

Re:I started on one of those (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39707211)

False. I've used the Video Toaster in a television studio. It creates the various sweeps between scenes, but the actual graphics are generated by the Amiga's GPU. When you look at ships in B5 or Voyager, or subs in seaQuest, or CGI-generated people in Hypernauts, you're looking at actual polygon graphics produced by the Commodore Amiga at 704x480 resolution.

None of those graphics were generated by an Amiga "GPU", because the Amiga didn't actually have one.

It had a blitter, which is a fancy DMA memory copy engine, and it had "copper programs", which were an old and primitive tech (as in, not Turing complete) descended from Jay Miner's previous personal computer design (the Atari 8-bit). Neither is a recognizable relative of a modern GPU.

Programs like Lightwave 3D did everything with software rendering engines. The only function of the Amiga's graphics hardware was to be a dumb framebuffer.

(Also, as far as the Toaster was concerned, the main unique feature of Amiga video HW it took advantage of was that the Amiga had relatively high quality NTSC signal generation, and facilities for interfacing external HW (the VT) into the analog signal path. The digital side or "GPU" as you're calling it was basically irrelevant to anything in the VT or LW3D.)

Re:I started on one of those (1)

KnowledgeKeeper (1026242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705093)

You poor soul... I had a machine that could do this [youtube.com] but the machine was not too popular and people didn't use it until it was too late. They all thought it was a little better than spectrum and ported only lousy spectrum games. Heck, they even thought this machine couldn't do scrolling :D CPC6128, yeah! :)

Re:I started on one of those (2)

Deep Esophagus (686515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705621)

My PC was a Commodore. ;-)

This. When I started shopping for a PC in 1978, the choices were: Apple ][+, TRS-80, and Commodore PET. After playing with all three for several weeks ("Kid, if I see you come in my store again without buying anything I'm gonna call the police!") I picked the PET because it was so cool to be able to do "graphics" simply as printable extended ASCII characters, and animate them with PEEK and POKE directly into video RAM. I couldn't understand why people thought that stupid Apple was such hot stuff.

Of course years later when it was all IBM (and clones) I became a major Apple fanboy... or at least a Woz fanboy. Still can't stand the Mac, and I pedantically correct anyone who calls that piece of garbage an "Apple computer".

4 KB of RAM and a 20x40 ASCII display should be enough for anyone!

Re:I started on one of those (2)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706173)

Bah. Kids these days.

First computer: Processor Technology SOL-20. Intel 8080 processor, Northstar BASIC and a screamin' 143k floppy drive. 1975.

You kids and your square keyboards.

Re:I started on one of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39706413)

10 poke 59464, 100

It had sound too!

Commodore PET ruled!!!

Re:I started on one of those (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704531)

My 48K Apple ][ was my first major purchase (in 1981); it cost more than the nonrunning car I bought in 1980, and more than the total of the car and the repair costs to get it running. Saved every penny, used a used color TV for a monitor, hacked a gameport print driver cable, and with later purchases played marathon sessions of Wizardry 1 and 2. It took a year to save up enough for the floppy drive (a Lobo, not an Apple Disk ][ which I could not afford for another year) and a better monitor.

I still have my ][, it gets pulled out every few months and hooked to the TV to play old games on, annoy the nieces and nephews with 8 bit graphics and raspy sound effects, and totally make my day. Dunno about yours, but my Apple ][ is forever ;)

(I still have the car too but its back to not running...)

Re:I started on one of those (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706995)

I'll have to ask my dad whatever he did with the old A2+.... Dual 5.25 drives, 80 column card, I think it even had a ram upgrade.

My dad's factory used networked apple ][s for production QC for YEARS, it was really the only cost effective data acquisition at the time. Worked just fine!

Re:I started on one of those (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706635)

I had an Apple //c for gaming, edutainment, LOGO, BASIC, AppleWorks (love those ASCII art works like multiple folders), etc. Fun times. :)

Re:I started on one of those (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706877)

Apple ][+ was my first computer too. Learned BASIC on it. DOS BOSS, peek, poke, so on. Played tons of games on it too. I was in grade school.

Then... After a few years, a new one came into the house.... Tandy 1000 with it's fancy pants 10 meg hard drive. Well now, aren't YOU special?

Sigh.

I remember occasionally it would glitch out and I would solve the problem by lifting up the front of the chassis by maybe 2 or 3 inches and let it fall down onto the desk. Worked like a charm. My dad disagreed, he preferred to reseat the chips properly.

Props to Eric the Half a Byte! (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704425)

My old Apple ][+

Damn I'm old.

Re:Props to Eric the Half a Byte! (3, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704573)

Are /all/ your computers called Eric?

Re:Props to Eric the Half a Byte! (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704583)

The first time I touched an Apple was in reading class, which would have been 1985. It was a nice machine but I couldn't understand why it was a boring monochrome screen, and simply went "beep" instead of playing music. (I didn't realize the Apple II was already ~8 year old technology.)

I never touched another Apple until the Mac SE when I reached college. And once again I wondered why it was monochrome, had almost no musical ability, and wouldn't let me run more than 1 program at a time. (Still better than an IBM PC though, which I avoided like the plague.)

Re:Props to Eric the Half a Byte! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704889)

You missed out. By the time the Mac SE came out, PCs had 386 CPUs, high colour SVGA, inexpensive digital audio and if you wanted, a MIDI synthesizer.

Re:Props to Eric the Half a Byte! (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705873)

>>>By the time the Mac SE came out [1987], PCs had 386 CPUs, high colour SVGA, inexpensive digital audio

In 1987? That's a stretch. Maybe by 1990, but the PCs were still pretty expensive to purchase. And they were stuck with crappy Windows 3 or 3.1. (Yeah I remember.... I remember how much I hated it.) The PC gaming graphics still didn't look that great. So I stuck with the Macintosh and Commodore Amigas until 1998, then upgraded to a cheap PC with Win98 (because it had the same look-and-feel as the Mac OS).

Re:Props to Eric the Half a Byte! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39706549)

No, it isn't. My PC in 1987 was exactly as I said. 386, SVGA graphics, a parallel port DAC for digital audio and a Roland MT-32 for MIDI. By 1990 I had upgraded to a 486 and a Sound Blaster, keeping the MT-32 for music of course.

As for Windows, well, I didn't switch away from DR-DOS/Novell DOS until Windows 95 came out and even then I booted into DOS by default until sometime after Windows 98.

Re:Props to Eric the Half a Byte! (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706141)

Back in those days, half a byte was called a nibble.

Man, I dearly wish we kept it, the green monitor, floppy disks and all, if only so that we can play Lode Runner, Hard Hat Mack, etc.

Re:Props to Eric the Half a Byte! (1)

jedwidz (1399015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706643)

A nybble even!

"News" for nerds? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704427)

Why must "XXX turns YYY" show up on the news feed every day? Nobody cares. !News. !Stuff that matters.

Re:"News" for nerds? (5, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704497)

Lemme guess. You are in the 18-24 demo?

Re:"News" for nerds? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39705035)

Not fair. I'm still in the 18-24 demo and this is great to read. It helps me to learn more about the experiences of computer evolution. I still go on and on about the NES to the kids and they can't figure out the excitement I have. This puts it into perspective I suppose.

Re:"News" for nerds? (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705863)

Computer evolution is a liberal myth! It's time intelligent computer design theories be properly covered in our educative system!

So, it all started with a forbidden apple...

Re:"News" for nerds? (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705109)

Your assertion is provably false.

The submitter cared enough to submit it. The submitter is someone, and therefore not nobody.

It got approved to be an actual headline story. Those that approved it are also not nobody.

Your statement is better qualified as *YOU* do not care... and perhaps are incapable of imagining how anybody else could care.

Short of having some possible religious reasons to not recognize birthdays and anniversaries, I'm unsure why the fact that some other people might care about this should be a problem for you.

Re:"News" for nerds? (1)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705839)

He must care some. After all, he clicked on the story to read it.

/Remember getting a mouse for my Apple IIc, and thinking what a horrible input method that it was, and that it would never catch on.

Hooray! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704429)

35 years ago one could play games on their Apple computer, like Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Dragon Wars, Wasteland, among others.

Today Apple creates consoles that run Photoshop with one button to avoid confusion by 'savvy' users.

Re:Hooray! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704939)

35 years ago one could play games on their Apple computer, like Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Dragon Wars, Wasteland, among others.

Today Apple distributes the first and third most popular single Unix distributions in the world.

Re:Hooray! (3)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705085)

You can still play [sourceforge.net] Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Dragon Wars, Wasteland, and others [asimov.net] on your Apple computer, even if it isn't 35 years old.

Re:Hooray! (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705625)

How would things go if you submitted an iOS version of that? Things have changed.

It's fun to ask people if they played the original Castle Wolfenstein, with most thinking of the much later Wolfenstein 3D. It was a pretty cool trick to get 'voice' out of an Apple ][ in the early 80's.

Re:Hooray! (1)

NardoPolo88 (1417637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706163)

Ahh Voice....We had apple ][+'s and //e's in my school...crap I dating my self now...and I remember running SAM (Software Automated Mouth) on them. Needless to say as a Jr. High student we were basically just have fun making it curse. At home we would use my C64 and SAM to make prank phone calls. We were all such rebels then.

PC? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704435)

It's a Mac, silly.

Re:PC? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704523)

Shhhh... it can't be a PC. If it is, the MS anti-trust case looks less valid. Also, Intel hardware running Linux is always ready for the desktop, unless it's competing with MS in an court where anti-trust is an issue. Then, and only then, A box running Linux is not a worthy competitor for the same hardware running Windows. Wheeew. You almost blew it there for a lot of people.

Re:PC? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705023)

No, it was not a Mac. It was an Apple ][... a completely different computer from even the very first Macintosh computer that Apple made.

Most important PC released? Please (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704461)

More RDS in action.

Commodore, Atari, Coleco, Tandy, IBM - all were there to eat Apples lunch. There were other kit-based machines before the Apple. If they hadn't marketted it as a consumer durable, someone else soon would have. It's not like it really took visionary insight to know that people would want to buy a computer, if it was affordable.

So go wank off to your stickybear games, or whatever you do. Imma fire up my C64 and play some jumpman.

Re:Most important PC released? Please (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704521)

Imma fire up my C64 and play some jumpman.

Even the AppleFanBoy I am can agree with this! Jumpman > Breakout.

marketing (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704555)

While i'm an Atari guy, i admit we lost and they won. Marketing is what made the difference.

And i disagree that it was a complete shoe-in for the average guy to want to buy a computer just because it was "affordable" ( a relative term ) as you more importantly had to convince them they wanted this strange new device.

Re:marketing (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704753)

I think VisiCalc sold more Apple II's than any marketing effort on Apples part at the time.

They did well in primary education as well -- I don't remember what they did to get Apple II's in seemingly every K-6 school (or classroom!) in the 1980's -- clever, though.

Schools (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705775)

That was part of the marketing plan. Get the kids used to them so they will ask for them as adults.

To get them in there they got huge discounts, and sales guys bugging them to death.

Re:marketing (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704761)

>>>While i'm an Atari guy, i admit we lost and they won.

Only just barely. Apple in 1996 was deep, deep in debt. It was headed to the same black hole as Atari and Commodore fell into (bankruptcy). As Steve Jobs himself said, "We were only 60 days away...... I called Bill and told him to deal directly with me from now on." -- That's when Bill Gates gave Apple some cash, which allowed them to pay their bills, rather than defaulting.

Re:marketing (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705805)

Does it matter how you lost? I could go into how Tramiel's sons ( and illegal business practices from Nintendo ) killed Atari, or why commodore died out of the business market.. But its all academic, while we weren't watching, Apple beat us while we were all bickering about who was better than whom, and then IBM/MS almost beat Apple later..

End result is only 2 were left standing,and ultimately that is all that really matters in the business world.

Re:marketing (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706709)

>>>Does it matter how you lost?

Yes. History matters because you can learn from it. --- Apple didn't beat Atari and Commodore. The Intel/Microsoft dominance with ~99% of the market led them all to the slaughter. Commodore died in 94, Atari in 95, and Apple in 96 (almost).

Apple's saving grace was Bill Gates and Steve Jobs being friends, so that Bill helped-out Steve with some cash. Otherwise Apple would have disappeared too.

Re:marketing (2)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 2 years ago | (#39707267)

I'd say that it was less about friendship and more about mutual reliance. Apple needed Microsoft's productivity software. Microsoft needed a strong opponent in the marketplace to avoid government scrutiny regarding its monopoly status.

Woz Floppy Drive (4, Informative)

Artemis3 (85734) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706581)

I'm sorry but there was something more: The Floppy drive, namely, Woz floppy drive... Did you ever use floppies with the other machines? Then you know what i mean, several minutes vs few seconds to boot the very same program, and hell nothing would crash if you accidentaly pushed a button when the drive was reading, unlike certain other brand...

Marketing pushed Macs later.

Okay, you win. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704663)

You're absolutely correct. You are the man. Enjoy your victory. Now, please excuse me while I go have sex with a woman.

Re:Most important PC released? Please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704891)

The Apple II wasn't a kit machine (for most people, though a kit version was available early on.) Apple beat Commodore and Tandy to the punch; Atari was content to be a consolemaker at the time, and IBM took its sweet time realizing that the lowly personal computer would be a threat to its mainframe business.

The Apple II was the first of the Big Three home computers, the most popular, and the longest lived (it hung on until the end of 1993) and the most successful in business, thanks to VisiCalc.

The IBM 5150 was definitely more influential in the industry, but it never would have happened if the Apple II (no, not home computers in general...the Apple II specifically) had not showed Big Blue the chinks in its armor.

Re:Most important PC released? Please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704931)

In before John Titor

Re:Most important PC released? Please (1)

NardoPolo88 (1417637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706307)

I will only disagree with the "most popular" part of that statement as the Commodore 64, though late to the party, sold considerably more units during its shorter run (1982 - 1994) and thus would be the more popular of the two. Apple II series sold ~6million units during its run and the C64 sold ~17million. But when all is said and done the 1st computer I ever used was an apple ][ and it was the reason I fell in love with computers. So it is not the most important "home personal computer" it is on a very short list.

Re:Most important PC released? Please (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705115)

Commodore, Atari, Coleco, Tandy, IBM - all were there to eat Apples lunch.

And every one of them is out of the PC business today.

Also celebrating 35 (this year not today) (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704483)

- Commodore PET (same CPU as Apple II)
- TRS-80 with Zilog-80 processor (best selling computer of 1978, 79, and 80).

Source: http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2005/12/total-share.ars/3 [arstechnica.com]

Re:Also celebrating 35 (this year not today) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39705101)

True. The C64 also sold way more units than the Apple and many of the C64 coders went on to develop for the NES and SNES making it the more influential platform by far.

Of course, the Apple was better thought out than the PC. It had autoconfiguring expansion cards in the 70s while people were still setting jumpers on the PC cards up until the 90s.

Re:Also celebrating 35 (this year not today) (1)

jedwidz (1399015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706695)

Case in point: Manfred Trenz wrote Turrican on the C64, and later single-handedly wrote a Turrican game for the NES.

I never played the C64 games, but I've seen footage that looked extremely close to the Amiga versions I'm familiar with. That says a lot about how capable the C64 was in the right hands.

One Of The Most Expensive As Well (4, Interesting)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704535)

Although not strictly the Apple II, the IIe was the first real computer brought into my house growing up. Now that I'm a professional working adult, looking back on that box with the green monitor, the one floppy drive, and other details I wondered how in the world my parents were able to justify and afford the thing! As the article correctly points out, at $1200~ 1980 dollars that is around $5000 today! That was probably the most expensive piece of technology in the house at the time and I never realized it at the time where instead I was simply happy to mess around with Applesoft Basic and various games.

Re:One Of The Most Expensive As Well (2)

pwnyxpress (2597273) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704643)

As the article correctly points out, at $1200~ 1980 dollars that is around $5000 today!.

Close, but about $1000 [tomshardware.com] short

Re:One Of The Most Expensive As Well (2)

NibbleG (987871) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704735)

As the article correctly points out, at $1200~ 1980 dollars that is around $5000 today!.

Close, but about $1000 [tomshardware.com] short

How is an eBay auction today relevant to the adjusted price of a [computer] in 1977?

Re:One Of The Most Expensive As Well (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704661)

Although not strictly the Apple II, the IIe was the first real computer brought into my house growing up. Now that I'm a professional working adult, looking back on that box with the green monitor, the one floppy drive, and other details I wondered how in the world my parents were able to justify and afford the thing! As the article correctly points out, at $1200~ 1980 dollars that is around $5000 today! That was probably the most expensive piece of technology in the house at the time and I never realized it at the time where instead I was simply happy to mess around with Applesoft Basic and various games.

A couple of years ago people were spending more than that on big screen TVs. They've come down in price since. It all depends on whether you have a disposable income. TVs can be educational but are usually used to watch junk and a bigger TV adds nothing to the quality of the content (though bigger may impact learning/attention for younger children). Your parents through wisdom or accident chose to spend money on something that contributed to your education and your ability to compete. Then and now there are luddite parents and educators who believe if you introduce a child to a computer you can't also teach them to do math in their head or have them memorise times tables, and who are proud of their ability to restrict their children's access to technology. Be thankful your parents weren't idiots.

Re:One Of The Most Expensive As Well (1)

iroll (717924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706941)

I spend about eighteen hours a day with a computer on in my presence, and eight-plus hours interacting with one. I'd hazard to say that I'm computer literate.

I also happen to be one of those luddites who thinks people should learn to do math on paper first, only I prefer to think that it's important for a person to be flexible and capable of doing math without a calculator. You might never do long division again, but then again, you might; wouldn't it be a lot easier to have it already exist in your mental toolkit? And simplifying fractions isn't just an exercise to satisfy your 4th grade teacher; it prepares you for algebra.

Being able to know when to use math-on-paper and when to switch to your graphing calculator or excel shows that you have a better sense of what you're working with, not that you're anachronistic. Understanding what your calculator does when it solves a matrix is a strength, not a weakness.

I mean, is it so crazy that I can touch-type 90 wpm, and yet also believe that people should be able to write legibly with a pen and paper?

Re:One Of The Most Expensive As Well (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704841)

$1200??? Wow. My first computer was only $400 (the C64). For a CRT, we just plugged the thing into the TV.

Re:One Of The Most Expensive As Well (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705851)

Being able to be plugged into a tv was one of the outstanding features of the Apple II from very early on. You'd need a Sup 'R' Mod if you didn't have a composite input on your tv, but this was no obstacle.

IIRC the guy who made the things (per an agreement with Apple, who didn't want to bother with the FCC certification for it) sold a few hundred thousand of them.

Re:One Of The Most Expensive As Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39705689)

On the one hand, it's a lot of money. On the other hand we still had a large middle class.

That said, the early Apple computers were definitely a sign to me of *upper* middle class. I had to wait until the C64 hit $400 to get one. I don't count the TI which I had for about a year before that--it was a Christmas present which was a pure surprise. My parents realized its limitations soon after I did.

Re:One Of The Most Expensive As Well (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706207)

Apple operated with shrewdness. They pumped their machines into schools with discounts, and managed to con our parents that they were THE educational tool unlike Commodores and Ataris which were "merely" game machines and toys sold at K-mart.

However, Apple II was indeed superior with their open architecture even while lacking in graphics and sounds.

Time to boot Oregon Trail (5, Insightful)

KatchooNJ (173554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704575)

Toast to evenings once upon with that soft green monochrome glow... and me dying of dysentery.

Re:Time to boot Oregon Trail (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704633)

Ah memories. If I had a mod point for you. Cheers old timer.

Wonder if I can get the apple ][ version of that game running under emulation or maybe it's off written in javascript or flash somewhere...

Re:Time to boot Oregon Trail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704885)

http://www.virtualapple.org/oregontraildisk.html

Re:Time to boot Oregon Trail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704895)

I know a lot of people look back fondly on that version of the game, but I never played it.
I did see a few kids playing it on Apple IIc computers in my junior high library.
For me, the real game will always be the one from MECC Elementary Disk 6, where the menu just called it "OREGON".
That was the one where shooting a deer, wolf, bandit, or Indian meant timing the "press any key" just right so the buckshot would creep up to it over several seconds and hit it.
I played it last week on sdlmess.
And that wasn't even the earliest version!
If you care, read Jimmy Maher's extensive history of The Oregon Trail. [filfre.net]

Re:Time to boot Oregon Trail (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704975)

M.U.L.E.
Enough said. "Archon" was also a cool game. And Spindizzy. And Silent Service. And Red Storm Rising. And Pirates. And.....

Re:Time to boot Oregon Trail (1)

KatchooNJ (173554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706681)

Yes! :-D All great games... although, I actually played those on the C64. heh But I have to admit that the superior M.U.L.E. experience was on the Atari 800 because you could play with 4 players. :-D

was my first, too. (1)

nblender (741424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704667)

The Apple-][ was my first as well. I had to move beyond Integer Basic to asm in order to figure out the increasingly complex copy protection that was evolving as fast as we could figure it out ... Did my first BBS'ing with a Hayes MicroModem...

good times ...

"most important PC ever released" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39704745)

Really? What a wanker's definition. It was the most successful of the bunch, no doubt, but "most important?" I'd prefer the IBM 1401 (my first "PC" at C-E-I-R) with 4000 bytes of memory, which was a LOT earlier; it was the first computer that medium- to small-firms could buy to automate their billing systems. And, the most significant part of THAT whas the IBM 1403 Printer!

iWoz (1)

misfit815 (875442) | more than 2 years ago | (#39704819)

Started with a used ][+. Strangely, to this day, I've never owned another Apple product. In the early years, it was a matter of cost and availability to me. These days, I just prefer to stroll around outside the walled garden. But, man, I loved that computer.

Re:iWoz (0)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706235)

We need a -10000:Pretentious Shit mod option.

Re:iWoz (1)

misfit815 (875442) | more than 2 years ago | (#39707163)

Hah, ok, yeah, it did sound pretty pretentious. It's all true, though. I remember looking at some Apple system that had 128k or so in a glossy magazine thinking of all the stuff I could do with it. I have no idea what that was, but apparently it was some killer stuff. And then I went to work for a guy who gave me a used 286, and I was in the IBM PC world for good, trading up for better parts whenever I could.

And, seriously, I've never owned any iAnything. The walled garden thing is spot-on. I'd rather do without than opt-in. I just found it curious that I never managed to own any other Apple item, even back in the "good old days".

The domino that knocked all the others down. (1)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705047)

The Apple ][+ (please, people, use the right characters for it) on which I learned to code back in 1980 in school, thanks to the incredible forward vision of a man I only knew as "Mr. McAniff." All good things in my life...and there are so, so many of them...came from that. Rest in peace, Mr. McAniff, I bow to you now and for all time.

Re:The domino that knocked all the others down. (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705837)

characters depend on model, II appeared on the IIe platinum, I usually type // cause that is what my //e enhanced that we had for half my life, and the //c that I have today

Hunt the Wumpus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39705113)

I cut my programming teeth on an Apple ][+... I still own a working Apple //e and //c... What really blows my mind is those 5.25" floppies still work great... I've baked them, frozen them, boxed them, dropped them, stepped on them, and generally abused the frack out of them for 30 years... I even still have a copy of Hunt the Wumpus and Oregon Trail!

Also 35 today (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705125)

me :)

Happy Days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39705187)

I fondly remember buying BeagleBrothers Software, reading "AppleBlad" Magazine (in Dutch/Flemish) and typing over the peeks and pokes in Integer Basic.
And then suddenly, my interest in machine language was born: programming the 6502 and trying out all the memory locations in the C000-CFFF area to see what happens with your hardware (video, diskette drive...).
Together with an collegue I even wrote my own Assembler IDE for Apple ProDos.

But the best memory was that NOBODY bothered me with PC being infected with crapware. Heck, people didn't even dare to call me: i was the computer voodoo priest and computers were still used in companies with 10+ people or schools.

Re:Happy Days... (2)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706185)

I loved the disk care warnings on the Beagle Bros. floppy disk envelopes. I always took care to not put the disk in the toaster, but I unfortunately didn't heed the warning about feeding disks to an alligator. Who knew that would ruin them? ;-)

I also loved the "ragtime" graphics and fonts on all of their products.

Re:Happy Days... (1)

KatchooNJ (173554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39707203)

And don't fold the floppies into paper airplanes, either! ;-)

Angry Dads! (0)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705285)

Who else remembers mom and dad arguing about the cost of this, with mom (and the urging of your teachers) on one side, and dad's worry about the cost on the other? And then Dad complaining that they didn't need to spend $1,400 on another Atari (2600). Then the countless summers with an angry Dad threatening to pull the plug if you didn't go outside and get at least a half an hour of fresh air? And now as 40-somethings we hear our angry dads apologizing? Who knew it would turn out the way it did....

Ah the summer of 1980 and all that family strife over the Apple...

Re:Angry Dads! (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705853)

dad bought ours for his biz

Apple II personal computer isn't 35 yet (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39705643)

Just because the Slashdot crowd is the kind that should Know (knowing is half the battle,) the OP probably should identify this as the 35th anniversary of the Apple II kit. Not a purchasable personal computer.

The first personal computer was the TRS-80 Model I, which was a real product in stores in August/September of '1977. (August for the first units.) The Commodore shipped its first units in October, where the Apple II didn't even have it's case tooling set up until December or early 1978. So it's a little 'fuzzy' to use the kit build as an anniversary when almost everyone is remembering the production units. [That said, one dealer was supposedly assembling the kits themselves and then selling the machines.]

But once you include kits, then there's a whole history of personal computing that predates all of the above. Scelbi, Altair 8800, IMSAI 8080, CP/M, Gates & Allen's BASIC, etc. None of which got the 'anniversary treatment', so perhaps next year for the Apple II? And not until fall for for the TRS-80.

Maybe the most important PC ever released (1)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#39705961)

Maybe not. The IBM PC was way more important.

Re:Maybe the most important PC ever released (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39706773)

Fair enough, but the Apple II running VisiCalc popping up in places of business got serious attention from both the top bosses at IBM and the engineers in Boca Raton, who were clearly influenced by the Apple II. Some of the grid-paper sketch proposals of Lew Eggebrecht, the main PC designer, note comparisons with the Apple II in the original PC design spec.

The Apple II also had an incredibly long life span, my first PC was the //c in 1985. Not far of the original II, just more memory. Same great 1mhz clicker-sound poll-driven io wonder.

There is a //e Enhanced sitting on my desk right.. (2)

PotatoHead (12771) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706105)

. now!

I've got a project going to put a modern micro-controller into it. There are times when I will write on it too. The keyboard just brings back a wonderful state of mind and many memories of happy times.

Like another contributor up thread mentions, I owe a lot to a Mr. Krouse, who put a few of us on the machines and encouraged us to "go boldly forth", and we did! Figuring out binary math on the blackboard, typing in 6502 assembly language into the monitor to make fast little subroutines, and sounds. Shape tables. Then there was Copy II+ Yeah baby! We had some of everything floating around the school.

Text adventures were the best. I still enjoy playing them. Heh, I've not looked, but those need to be on the smartphones yesterday. Hook 'em early.

LOGO, PASCAL, CP/M...

Artifacting. When I was a kid, the Apple graphics fascinated me. Other computers had a different look to them, well generally. It turns out Woz exploited NTSC to get color. The 3.58 Mhz color carrier present on composite video signals limits overall luma resolution. Small pixels end up getting translated into both luma and color because of their high frequency content. The phase between them and the reference color signal dictates which color will be seen.

Pixel position on the screen equates to color, in other words. Additionally, on all but the very first revision Apple ][ computers, the 7th bit in the high-res graphics screen would trigger a 1/2 pixel phase shift, creating the first "color cell" type graphics to be seen. Of course, that also introduced color clashing...

My first Apple experience was on the monochrome green or amber screen monitor. They had a fairly high image persistence too. I want one for some stuff today, for that exact reason. Man! We are tossing the CRT's at an amazing rate, driving up the cost considerably. I regret getting rid of my old one now, but I digress.

Simple on or off pixels made a lot of sense, until that Apple was connected to a TV where the color fringing on text could be seen, and a whole lot of it could be seen on the 80 column text! That triggered a lot of learning about TV signals, and artifacting on just about every machine I've been on since. If it outputs to TV, I've tried artifacting on it. Lots of fun.

Some of us in high school proposed making up a character set to provide for moderate resolution color graphics. Non user definable characters was seen as a clear disadvantage after we saw what the Atari, Commodore, and other machines could do. My CoCo also had a fix character set, BTW.

The number of variations on artifacted pixels ended up being quite high, with some impressive images possible. Before the Beagle Brothers software came out, we had written a simple painter program in Applesoft and were creating some fairly nice images, though many of those ONE DOT AT A TIME. When displayed on an 80's era TV, colors were seen all over the place, creating pretty solid pixel artists out of some of us.

(not me, I kind of sucked)

When double-high resolution graphics hit the scene, it became apparent that the 1Mhz 6502 wasn't really enough to fully exploit the machine capability. Until that time though, I was stunned at what people managed to do with the Apple. The other machines had faster CPU's, or better graphics chips, not just some hard-wired TTL thing, and that made for more appealing visuals in most cases, but... The Apple was a well rounded experience, and the funny thing about them was most owners had a good setup. Games saw good ports, and the experience, even the wierd audio from clicking the speaker was very good.

So much software for the Apple...

The best though? The machine was laid bare. It shipped with ROM listings, and the slots and pins inside just screamed, "hack me!", and the built in monitor said, "program me!"

Those years spent learning how to get an Apple to do stuff were responsible for my professional work today. We learned so much!

Some days, I'm crappy, burned out feeling, just funky. That's why the Apple is on my desk! I can boot up a game, and yes I still have floppies from that time and they work about as well as the new ones I bought to hold whatever disk image I want to fool with.

Appleworks. This program changed everything! It's as important as VISICALC was. To a high-schooler, VISICALC was "Star Trek" technology, and the funny thing was everybody was into it, kids, teachers, business people, everybody. Appleworks was the same way, because it brought some productivity to the masses on computers. To me, that was one of the distinguishing factors between the Apple ][ and many other 8 bit machines.

When I wanted to play games or create music, I would go for the Atari or C64, because they had capabilities that generally exceeded the Apple. But, when I actually wanted to get work done, it was the Apple every time. I kept my original into the mid 90's, authoring papers and doing basic business modeling stuff on it, despite having a PC at that time. (the PC was used for some early CAD and industrial purposes)

A well equipped Apple makes a potent 8 bit workstation! The TRS-80 could come close, as could the Color Computer, particularly the CoCo 3, but not until near the end. Apples were there and potent, despite limitations, pretty much from the beginning. Open made a big difference!

One could continue to invest in an Apple, adding things into the slots, improving the machine very seriously over the course of ownership. Advanced graphics and sound could be added. Scientific test / measurement cards were available. Industrial control. Video overlay. Big RAM. Big disk. You name it, and there was somebody doing it on an Apple, if it could be done. When IBM created the PC, it's clear they saw how that was all working and emulated it, though not doing such a fine job as was done on the old Apple at first. Took a few iterations to really nail it all down.

Today, the other thing I do on the Apple, besides write idle programs for entertainment and play games, is some electronics. It's fairly easy to bring a cable out to a breadboard and do stuff! The low speed doesn't get in the way of anything, meaning it's just a great place to explore the hardware / interfacing side of things, much like we will do with modern micro-controllers. My other 8 bitters are more complicated, the need to manage the special chips and such complicates the machines. The Apple is just really simple and useful, and that to me defines the machine more than anything else does.

Apple ][ forever, or at least until my //e dies off, at which point I may just get another one. After so many years, it's hard to imagine it not being there on the desk...

(god, we are all turning into old fuckers... getting old sucks)

Appleworks Paid for Development of the Mac (1)

QuincyDurant (943157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39707303)

At $250/copy, this was not a cash cow; it was a cash stampede. I got far more than my money's worth from it--used it hours a days for years.

Apple ][ trivia: 1-bit Stencil Buffer & Cutsce (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706119)

Some cool Apple ][ trivia ...

- Karateka was one of the first games to have cut-scenes. Here is the end-game music in MIDI format =)
http://michael.peopleofhonoronly.com/dev/applewin/karateka/karateka_end.mid [peopleofhonoronly.com]

- Conan: Hall of Volta by Datasoft (*) was the one of the first games to use a 1-bit stencil buffer!
http://michael.peopleofhonoronly.com/dev/applewin/conan/conan_stencil_buffer.bmp [peopleofhonoronly.com]

- Broderbund games (Drol, Spare Change, Captain Goodnight, Choplighter, etc.) offered smooth animation because they used the (initially) undocumented V-SYNC: (Vertical Blanking) !
RDVBLBAR = $C019 ;not VBL (VBL signal low)

I highly recommend AppleWin for finding out old Easter Eggs =)
http://applewin.berlios.de/ [berlios.de]

* To see the stencil buffer you need
a) disk image
ftp://ftp.apple.asimov.net/pub/apple_II//images/disk_utils/cracking/the_saltine/Conan%20A.dsk [asimov.net]
b) Mount disk A in the first drive in AppleWin
c) press F2 to boot
d) at the intro. screen press F7 to enter the debugger
e) in the debugger type the following commands to view the HI-RES pages 1 or 2 respectively
HGR1
HGR2

Robotwar (1)

n2505d (759637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706699)

I had typed-in programs from the various mags at the time into my Commadore and peeked and poked a bit. However it was the game "Robotwar" that got me really interested in programming. My first original programming was done on an apple ][. A turning point for me; pointed me toward programming, math and science. Cheers to the apple ][! BTW, I still boot one from time to time to play Robotwar!

The Apple II is no longer manufactured (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39706711)

Don't you actually have to be alive at 35 to reach the age of 35?

Apples have been obsolete and out of production for a long time. We don't normally talk about those who are dead, transformed into aquariums, and buried, as reaching a certain age -- corpses are ageless.

I still have it. Yay. Best Apple product ever. (1)

drwho (4190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39707067)

Don't like the mac, the iphone, the ipod, the ipad, or the isoul. woz++

First West Coast Computer Faire (1)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 2 years ago | (#39707159)

I was there and stopped by the Apple booth to pick up one of their brochures after hearing about the company from a friend. Still think it is stashed away somewhere in my collection. I was a bit more impressed by the Compucolor, but that machine unfortunately never took off.

One amusing note was finding out five years later that Trip Hawkins had also attended the Faire that year and that's what led him to join Apple.

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