Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Jul 2007 20:01 UTC, submitted by Oliver
Apple 10ZenMonkeys has interviewed Steve Wozniak. When asked about Bill Gates, he replied: "I've only spoken with him briefly a couple of times. I admire him, he admires me. Good lord, I'd never written a computer language when he had written a BASIC in the early days of hobby computers. And I thought, 'Oh my gosh - a computer with BASIC finally makes a computer that people can use for things'."
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tupp
Member since:
2006-11-12

Steve Wozniak certainly didnt invent the PC as a concept.

And Steve Wozniak definitely did not invent the PC as a physical, operational, ready-made, complete device -- Xerox already had such a device several years before Wozniak/Apple.


Miniaturization had been going on for a number of years with the transistor and the silicon chip, so it was only a matter of time before someone would produce a computer that could sit on a desk.

Agreed. And the complete computer that could sit on the desk had been around years before Wozniak/Apple were making computers.


... however I do give credit to Woz for his technical ability.

No doubt, Wozniak was a master of computer electronics.


The Apple II was one of the first home computers that a regular person could buy and use without needing to solder on their own keyboard and transformer (I also thought it was the first colour PC as well, though I might be wrong on that).

The first computer that had a monitor, keyboard, a small box and a GUI with a mouse was unveiled by Xerox in 1973. The Apple II was first shown in 1977, and it lacked a GUI and a mouse.


The Xerox Alto was a revolutionary machine, and something of a landmark in computing...

Interesting. The Alto was "revolutionary," but only "something" of a landmark?


...however it was never for sale to the general public, and there was only a limited number made (something like 50), so I dont think it can be classed as a PC as such, even though it has many properties of a modern PC.

So, if Steve Wozniak had created a single G5 Mac in 1964 and kept it in his closet until now, the G5 in his closet could not be considered a PC?

How an invention is offered/sold/marketed has nothing to do with the nature of the device. The Xerox Alto had all of the basic properties of the later, mass-marketed PCs, with the added bonus of a GUI! The Alto was a PC, far ahead of its time.


From what I understand, the parts alone cost something like $25,000, and the gui wasn't complete. Some of it was "proof of concept" and a number of the applications were still launched by the command line.

So what? The Alto was still an advanced PC, regardless of its price. "Proof of concept" proves that something works, and, thus, the "proof of concept" parts were already invented -- long before Wozniak/Apple.

IF the Alto required some command-line interaction, nonetheless, the Alto was the first to demonstrate hierarchal menus, icons, floating windows, etc. -- many years before Apple even had a GUI.

Edited 2007-07-09 16:52

Reply Parent Score: 1

FAC73 Member since:
2007-07-09

How an invention is offered/sold/marketed has nothing to do with the nature of the device. The Xerox Alto had all of the basic properties of the later, mass-marketed PCs, with the added bonus of a GUI!

Good point, but I dont see the Alto as an "invention" as such, and if we're going to be absolute then the PDP-8 could be considered a Personal computer (minus the gui), or the Imlac PDS-1. They were contained in relatively small cabinets, could be used by a single person, and were both around before the Alto. Hell there was probably some obscure computing device from the 1950's that could be described as "personal", but its not what I'd consider to be a PC.

I have enormous respect for the Alto, but I cant consider it as a "personal computer" in the way that the PET/Apple II/TRS-80 etc. were.
Yes it had a mouse, gui, ethernet and various other technologies, but it was a high concept mini-computer used in a research center, rather than a personal device that could be used in the home. I wouldnt even say that it initiated the home computer market as such.
Kits like the Altair and Mark-8 were what kickstarted the hobbyist movement which grew into todays industry.

Perhaps my definition of PC is somewhat different to yours, but to me it implies affordable and accessible to the home user, otherwise its another tool that remains in the preserve of universities/governments/corporations etc.

Edited 2007-07-10 15:54

Reply Parent Score: 1

tupp Member since:
2006-11-12

...I dont see the Alto as an "invention" as such,...

The Alto was not the first computer, but it is probably the first computer to use a true GUI, which would make it a significant invention.

My point throughout this thread has been that credit that should go to the original inventors is usually taken by those who make the invention popular. Steve Wozniak/Jobs may have sold a lot of kits and Apple IIs, but they weren't even close to being the inventors of the small computer with a keyboard and monitor that could sit on/under a desk. Undeniably, Xerox had that years before Apple, and the Xerox Alto also had a modern GUI.


...and if we're going to be absolute then the PDP-8 could be considered a Personal computer (minus the gui), or the Imlac PDS-1. They were contained in relatively small cabinets, could be used by a single person, and were both around before the Alto.

Agreed. And all of this progress came many years before Apple computer.

However, the Alto seems to be the only one of the three that used a CPU that was small enough to fit under a typical desk, and it was the only one to use a modern GUI with icons, hierarchal menus, and floating windows.


Hell there was probably some obscure computing device from the 1950's that could be described as "personal", but its not what I'd consider to be a PC.

A Univac could have been personal, but I think that most will agree that what constitutes a personal computer is a keyboard, a monitor and a small CPU box that can fit on-top-of/under a desk (and these elements can be separate or combined).


I have enormous respect for the Alto, but I cant consider it as a "personal computer" in the way that the PET/Apple II/TRS-80 etc. were. Yes it had a mouse, gui, ethernet and various other technologies, but it was a high concept mini-computer used in a research center, rather than a personal device that could be used in the home.

I agree that the 1973 Alto was advanced, far ahead of anything Jobs/Wozniak offered until 1983.

However, how it was regarded and marketed in the early 1970's has no bearing on what it actually is. Do the users of this Alto seem like research scientists in a laboratory formulating "high-concepts?": http://toastytech.com/guis/altokids.jpg


I wouldnt even say that it initiated the home computer market as such. Kits like the Altair and Mark-8 were what kickstarted the hobbyist movement which grew into todays industry.

Again, how a device is marketed/offered/sold (and its success or lack of success) has no bearing on the true nature of the device. The Altair and Mark-8 kits may have furthered the computer hobbyist movement, but the fact is that the Xerox Alto had a monitor, a keyboard, a small CPU box and an advanced GUI long before the existence of those kits and long before Apple computer.


Perhaps my definition of PC is somewhat different to yours, but to me it implies affordable and accessible to the home user, otherwise its another tool that remains in the preserve of universities/governments/corporations etc.

What is affordable and accessible? It sounds as if your definition of a PC would exclude Steve Job's NeXT computer -- those units were prohibitively expensive and used mainly by institutions/corporations.

Edited 2007-07-10 18:14

Reply Parent Score: 1