Apple Home Computers – The Apple I
Apple I – 1976
The First Complete Computer on a Board
The Apple I was unlike any other computer that Apple sold. It required some assembly and did not have the refined design and edges that countless Apple products are known for. Prior to designing the Apple I, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made devices to hack phone networks to get free long distance by playing with tones sent over the wires.
Above: Apple 1 printed circuit board.
However, when looking at the so-called home computers of the 1970s, Steve Jobs got an idea that they could build something much better that the common person could use.
Incomplete Early Computers
Prior to the Apple I, computers lacked keyboards and monitors and have little real purpose rather than display blinking lights. Data entry occurred through toggling switches and using punch card input.
The Apple I was Steven Wozniak’s first contribution to the personal computer field and it would later become the foundation of the first Apple computer line.
Above: Apple 1 Circuit Board complete with power and keyboard connected.
The Apple I retro computer was designed over a few years while Wozniak was busy with school and working part time.
It went on sale in July on 1976 in the United States for US$666.66 and all 200 units sold out. The Apple I was also shown off at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto to much attention.
Some Assembly Required
As mentioned above, some assembly was required. However, unlike other home kits of the time, no chips or other components were required. The motherboard came fully assembled. The owner just had to add a case, power supply and storage device. In a way, not much different than some do today with more complex systems.
Above: Modded Apple 1 tripped out with a wooden case resembling that of a typewriter.
Construction and Price
The Apple I was based on the MOStek 6502 chip, whereas most other “kit” computers were built from the Intel 8080. This was an eight-bit computer and used 8-bit pathways.
The Apple I was sold through several small retailers and the optional tape-interface was sold separately.