Apple IIe Microcomputer with Magnavox Monitor and Two Disk Drives


This computer was used by innovator Lon Safko to develop assistive computer technology for the disabled. Safko is a computer software developer and entrepreneur who first began working in this area 1978. In 1985, Texas Instruments had just developed a computer chip that could synthesize the human voice, and the original designer suggested to Safko that it might be also used as a means of implementing voice recognition in personal computers. Safko investigated this idea and created a voice-activated control system for first the Apple IIe, then later the Macintosh systems. He mostly focused on Apple technology, and became a Certified Apple Developer. As he was working with this technology, Safko became interested in seeing how it might be useful to people whose physical disabilities made it impossible to interact with a computer using a standard keyboard and mouse. He created a system called "SoftVoice" that was designed to provide the disabled with voice control of their computer systems.

Later, Safko expanded his product into a flexible set of control devices that he called the SenSei System ("SenSei" means "master" or "teacher" in Japanese). This comprised a server system that could control a range of devices designed for the disabled, such as a head mouse, modified trackball, telephone controller, TV controller, and sip and puff switches. To develop and market his systems, Mr. Safko established his own company, Safko International, in 1986. At its peak, it employed around 20 people and sold products both nationally and internationally.

These systems, including a computer, a SenSei server, and various accessories that could attach to it, cost between $3,000 and $13,000, depending on the devices included, and were customized to individual users.

For archival materials relating to Safko's work, see the Safko International, Inc. records in the NMAH Archives Center. These have Archives Center number NMAH.AC-0911.

Date Made: 1983

Maker: Apple Computer, Inc.

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Computers


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Lon S. Safko

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0291.01Catalog Number: 2005.0291.01Accession Number: 2005.0291

Object Name: Microcomputer

Measurements: overall: 16 in x 21 1/2 in x 18 in; 40.64 cm x 54.61 cm x 45.72 cm


Record Id: nmah_1297821

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