Apple II Personal Computer

Apple II Personal Computer

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In 1976, computer pioneers Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs began selling their Apple I computer in kit form to computer stores. By August of that year, Wozniak started designing an improved version, the Apple II. Wozniak and Jobs demonstrated a prototype in December, and then introduced it to the public in April 1977. The Apple II started the boom in personal computer sales in the late 1970s, and pushed Apple into the lead among personal computer makers.
The Apple II used a MOS 6502 chip for its central processing unit. It came with 4 KB RAM, but could be extended up to 48 KB RAM. It included a BASIC interpreter and could support graphics and a color monitor. External storage was originally on cassette tape, but later Apple introduced an external floppy disk drive. Among the Apple II's most important features were its 8 expansion slots on the motherboard. These allowed hobbyists to add additional cards made by Apple and many other vendors who quickly sprung up. The boards included floppy disk controllers, SCSI cards, video cards, and CP/M or PASCAL emulator cards.
In 1979 Software Arts introduced the first computer spreadsheet, Visicalc for the Apple II. This "killer application" was extremely popular and fostered extensive sales of the Apple II.
The Apple II went through several improvements and upgrades. By 1984, when the Macintosh appeared, over 2 million Apple II computers had been sold.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
date made
Apple Computer
Place Made
United States: California, Cupertino
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 10.2 cm x 38.1 cm x 43.2 cm; 4 in x 15 in x 17 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
J. & D. J. Warner
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Family & Social Life
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I met with Steve Jobs in Minneapolis in March of 1977. I was Tech manager for a chain of electronic stores called Team Electronics. We spent 2 hours together as he explained his interest in our stores distributing the Apple computer. After listening to him I asked to take the model he had with me to 'evaluate'. I then signed on in April 1977 as a dealer for the Apple. Oh, the stories I could tell over the next 5 years (the heady haydays of the 'Micro Computer' and us tech dinosaurs.....)
I purchased my Apple II plus in (I think) 1979. I was a mainframe computer programmer so I went on to write a compiled floating point basic computer game called Hegira. Later I loaned my computer to a local private school for the elementary kids to learn about computers. I included some of the games, typically arcade types. It was a bit difficult dropping off my computer in the morning and retrieving it in the afternoon after school. But as a computer guy I wanted the kids, including my own, to be exposed to computers. It was fun watching the approaches. Teachers were worried they might break it, kids charged ahead and learned and experimented with the new toy/tool. I watched the computing world change from mainframe building size computers to desktop units that could be carried under one arm. And eventually they came in notebook types that could both be carried in one hand and used on a public park bench. If you're a computing type, be sure and enjoy the ride as the technology keeps changing.
I bought my first Apple II in about 1980, soon after they were released. Apple opened a store in the brand new Celanase Building, the last of the Rockefeller Center towers on 6th Avenue in New York. The only thing I learned how to use was Visicalc which was very difficult as the instructions were in scenario form. I.e. 'if you want to do this specific project, then this is how to do it'. So, if your need was not one of the listed projects one had to go through the ones available and pick out the steps related to your own project. I had just been parachuted in from Montreal to take over our New York operation of about 300 people in a professional business. Needless to say the locals were not enamored of this Canadian being their new boss When it came time for salary increases and production review their simple plea was how their business grew from the prior year. I had hints that some had poor years before that. So I set up Visicalc to give me 'year-over-year-over year' comparisons. The staff could not understand how I knew all this as a newbie and it gave me great credibility.
"For the record: I was the clerk that sold those kits at the Byte Shop in Palo Alto. I told orders, and went to Jobs' garage to pick them up. It was an exciting time to be involved in the early personal computer industry."
Our school purchased these in 1977 when I was in 4th grade!!!!! Was waaaaay too fun to have in the classroom ... most exciting addition ... way more cool than the hamster :)

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