|Developer||Steve Wozniak (creator)|
|Type||Personal computer / kit computer|
|Release date||April 11, 1976|
|Introductory price||US$666.66 (equivalent to $3,428 in 2022)|
|Discontinued||September 30, 1977|
|Operating system||System monitor|
|CPU||MOS 6502 @ 1 MHz|
|Memory||4 KB of RAM standard|
expandable to 8 KB or 48 KB using expansion cards
256 B of ROM
|Storage||456 KB (cassette tape)|
|Graphics||40×24 characters, hardware-implemented scrolling (Signetics 2513 "64×8×5 Character Generator")|
The Apple Computer 1, originally released as the Apple Computer and known later as the Apple I or Apple-1, is an 8-bit desktop computer released by the Apple Computer Company (now Apple Inc.) in 1976. It was designed by Steve Wozniak. The idea of selling the computer came from Wozniak's friend and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The Apple I was Apple's first product, and to finance its creation, Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator for $500 and Jobs sold a second hand VW Microbus, for a few hundred dollars (Wozniak later said that Jobs planned instead to use his bicycle to get around). Wozniak demonstrated the first prototype in July 1976 at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California.
Production was discontinued on September 30, 1977, after the June 10, 1977 introduction of its successor, the Apple II, which Byte magazine referred to as part of the "1977 Trinity" of personal computing (along with the PET 2001 from Commodore Business Machines and the TRS-80 Model I from Tandy Corporation).
On March 5, 1975, Steve Wozniak attended the first meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club in Gordon French's garage. He was so inspired that he immediately set to work on what would eventually become the Apple I computer. After building it for himself and showing it at the club, he and Steve Jobs gave out schematics (technical designs) for the computer to interested club members and even helped some of them build and test out copies. Then, Steve Jobs suggested that they design and sell a single etched and silkscreened circuit board—just the bare board, with no electronic parts—that people could use to build the computers. Wozniak calculated that having the board design laid out would cost $1,000 and manufacturing would cost another $20 per board; he hoped to recoup his costs if 50 people bought the boards for $40 each. To fund this small venture—their first company—Jobs sold his van and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator. Very soon after, Steve Jobs arranged to sell "something like 50" completely-built computers to the Byte Shop (a computer store in Mountain View, California) at $500 each. To fulfill the $25,000 order, they obtained $20,000 in parts at 30 days net and delivered the finished product in 10 days.
The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 at a price of US$666.66, because Wozniak "liked repeating digits" and because of a one-third markup on the $500 wholesale price. Jobs had managed to get the inventory into the nation's first four storefront microcomputer retailers: Byte Shop (Palo Alto, California), itty bitty machine company (Evanston, Illinois), Data Domain (Bloomington, Indiana), and Computer Mart (New York City).
The first unit produced was used in a high school math class, and donated to Liza Loop's public-access computer center. About 200 units were produced, and all but 25 were sold within nine or ten months.
In April 1977, the price was dropped to $475. It continued to be sold through August 1977, despite the introduction of the Apple II in April 1977, which began shipping in June of that year. In October 1977, the Apple I was officially discontinued and removed from Apple's price list. As Wozniak was the only person who could answer most customer support questions about the computer, the company offered Apple I owners discounts and trade-ins for Apple IIs to persuade them to return their computers. These recovered boards were then destroyed by Apple, contributing to their later rarity.
Wozniak's design originally used a Motorola 6800 processor, which cost $175, but when MOS Technology introduced the much cheaper 6502 microprocessor ($25) he switched. The Apple I CPU ran at 1.022727 MHz, a fraction (2⁄7) of the NTSC color carrier which simplified video circuitry. Memory used the new 4-Kbit DRAM chips, and was 4 KB, expandable to 8 KB on board, or 64 KB externally. The board was designed to use the next generation of 16-Kbit memory chips when they became available. An optional $75 plug-in cassette interface card allowed users to store programs on ordinary audio cassette tapes. A BASIC interpreter, originally written by Wozniak, was provided that let users easily write programs and play simple games. An onboard AC power supply was included.
The Apple I's built-in computer terminal circuitry with TV composite output used shift register memory and a character generator.
All one needed was a television set and a ASCII keyboard. The Apple I did not come with a case. It was either used as-is or some chose to build custom (mostly wooden) cases. Competing machines such as the Altair 8800 generally were programmed with front-mounted toggle switches and used indicator lights (red LEDs, most commonly) for output, and had to be extended with separate hardware to allow connection to a computer terminal or a teletypewriter machine. This made the Apple I, along with earlier introduced Sphere 1 and other hobbyist microcomputers, an innovative machine for its day.
The computer used a Signetics 2513 64×8×5 Character Generator, capable of displaying uppercase characters, numbers and basic punctuation and math symbols with a 5x8 pixel font:
As of August 2022[update], 62 Apple I computers have been confirmed to exist, and, according to unverified information, 20 more are likely to exist. From these, 41 were produced in the first batch, 39 in the second batch, and 2 unknown versions, potentially from other batches, also exist. Most are now in working condition.
Both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak have stated that Apple did not assign serial numbers to the Apple l. Several boards have been found with numbered stickers affixed to them, which appear to be inspection stickers from the PCB manufacturer/assembler. A batch of boards is known to have numbers hand-written in black permanent marker on the back; these usually appear as "01-00##". As of January 2022, 29 Apple-1s with a serial number are known. The highest known number is 01–0079. Two original Apple-1s have been analyzed by PSA, Los Angeles, concluding the serial numbers had been hand-written by Steve Jobs.
Several Apple I clones and replicas have been released in recent years. These are all created by hobbyists and marketed to the hobbyist/collector community. Availability is usually limited to small runs in response to demand.
At a Homebrew meeting in July 1976, Woz gave a demonstration of the Apple 1. Paul Terrell, one of the industries earliest retailers, was in attendance.
After my first meeting, I started designing the computer that would later be known as the Apple I. It was that inspiring.
A recycling centre in the Silicon Valley is looking for a woman who dropped off an old Apple computer that turned out to be a collectible item worth $200,000 US.