Looking Back on the First Apple Computer

Apple is one of the wealthiest companies in the world. It is the world’s first trillion-dollar company, and currently has a market value of 1.98 trillion dollars. But, before becoming what it is today, it was just a tiny startup started by two college dropouts in California. 

The company was founded by two legends, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Both tech geniuses wanted to develop the world’s first user-friendly personal computer. Later on, their hardships resulted in revolutionizing the entire computer industry and changing the face of consumer technology.

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Today, Apple, along with tech giants, like IBM, and Microsoft, helped usher the digital revolution and the information age. In this article, we will dive into the first-ever chapter of the history of Apple: the first Apple computer. Read on to learn more about it.

Looking Back on the First Apple Computer

The Making of the First Apple Computer

Apple I was the first-ever personal computer built by Apple. It was introduced on April Fool’s Day in 1976. It was designed and hand-built by the co-founder, Steve Wozniak. Steve Jobs had the idea of making and selling the computer. 

Wozniak purchased one of the early microprocessors – the Mostek 6502 – and used it to design the computer. He then proposed building the design to the Hewlett-Packard, where he was an intern. Hewlett-Packard declined the proposal five times. 

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Steve Jobs suggested that they could sell it together. Jobs reckoned that they could sell it for $50, just double the price of what it cost them and sell hundreds of them to the hobbyists. 

Finding the First Retailer for the Computer

The Byte Shop, owned by American businessman Paul Terrell, was the first retailer to sell the original Apple I. When Steve Jobs was planning to sell the bare circuit board for $50, Terrell told him he would be interested to buy the computers if it came fully assembled. 

He ordered 50 pieces of the machines and pledged to pay $500 per piece at the time of delivery. To raise the capital to buy the parts for assembling, Jobs sold his Volkswagen minibus and Wozniak sold his programmable calculator. 

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Jobs and Wozniak along with their small crew spent day and night to build and test the computer in Jobs’ family garage. They finished their work sooner than the deadline and delivered to Terrell in just 10 days.

The first unit of the computer was donated to the Liza Loop’s public-access computer center. About 200 pieces of the computer were produced, and all except 25 were sold within 9 or 10 months.

Features of the Apple I

The Apple I is also credited as the first personal computer to be sold in a fully assembled form. In those times, computers did not come assembled and consisted of multiple circuit boards. 

The Apple I consisted of a single motherboard, with about 60 chips, all pre-assembled, making it a distinctive machine of its time. It used the MOS 6502 CPU that ran at just 1.023 MHz with 4KB of RAM, which was expandable up to 8 KB or 48KB. 

Today’s iPhones have processors running at 1800 times the clock speed with 500,000 times the RAM of Apple I. Wozniak also included motherboard support for CRT TV compatibility, which was an incredible idea for computers at that time. 

Additionally, there were also supports for the keyboard and power supply connection. However, to make it a working computer, users had to add a power supply, a display screen, a keyboard, and a case.  

Price of the Apple I

Looking Back on the First Apple Computer

The wholesale price of the Apple I was $500, while the retail price was $666.66 (equivalent to a staggering $3,035.72 in 2020). According to Wozniak, he liked repeating digits and added a third to the wholesale price. He also added that it’s all one digit and it was easier to type as well.

Even today, the Apple I make occasional pop-ups at auctions. Recently on September 25, 2018, a fully functional Apple I was purchased by an anonymous buyer for a $375,000 at a Dallas auction. As of January 2020, the Apple I is listed on eBay for a huge $1.5 million. 

The Bottom Line

In a nutshell, the Apple I was truly a masterpiece designed by Steve Wozniak. In September 1977, the production of Apple I was discontinued, and Apple went on to focus on developing Apple II.