Home > Apple > Apple Before the MacintoshApple Before the Macintosh Submitted by Saad 2005-05-09 Apple 50 CommentsApple’s greatest hit was not the Macintosh, iMac or iPod, it was the Apple II. The machine helped bankroll Apple’s big projects (LISA, Macintosh, Newton) well into the nineties. Read about Apple’s history before the Macintosh at the Low End Mac. About The Author Eugenia LoliEx-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker.Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 50 Comments 2005-05-10 12:00 am the apple 2 holds the record on the longest running production of a home computer.. something like 12 years.. beats out the c64 now to read the article 2005-05-10 12:11 am article starts out with a factual error..The first computer worthy of the name “computer” was produced more than fiftyyears ago.ever heard of the colossus? or the atanasoff-berry computer (aka ABC) ? suppose not… 2005-05-10 12:13 am heh.. would help if i pasted the whole thing ;Phe says it was the eniac. 2005-05-10 12:18 am The ABC never sounded very impressive. The main reason why it is considered a computer is due to legal quirks. Then there were Konrad Zuse’s machines from the early 1940’s. 2005-05-10 12:20 am the real brains of the operation was woz… 2005-05-10 12:23 am Anyone catch those sales numbers of the Apple II there? Over two million Apple IIs were sold in the product’s 10 year lifetime, and that was considered a huge hit. Two million in ten years?!?! Apple sells over a million Macs in only one quarter these days! But they only have 3% marketshare.The problem of today’s Apple isn’t that it isn’t moving product. It is. It’s just that PC makers are moving more. Jared 2005-05-10 12:29 am http://www.folklore.org/index.pyThis blog has also been published as a book. It contains really interesting stories and give you an idea of what it was like at Apple back in the early days. Infact, the stories on the website give you the mindset Steve Jobs had at the time, and you will know why Apple does things the way they do.I have found it to be a very interesting read and I am sure you’ll enjoy it too.Just to make it clear.. I have never used/owned a Mac, but after reading the website, I am really thinking about getting a Mac mini. 2005-05-10 12:37 am “Anyone catch those sales numbers of the Apple II there? Over two million Apple IIs were sold in the product’s 10 year lifetime, and that was considered a huge hit. Two million in ten years?!?! Apple sells over a million Macs in only one quarter these days! But they only have 3% marketshare.”You’re comparing sales from a time when it was unusual for someone to own a personal computer to a time when it’s unusual for someone to NOT own at least one.The apple ii WAS incredibly popular, for the personal computer market at the time. While you may say ‘wow, Apple sells way more now than they do then’, you also need to consider things like operating costs; I doubt Apple spent nearly as much on marketting, research and development, etc as they do now. 2005-05-10 12:59 am Another factual error is that James Bond star Roger Moore has never in fact been an executive at Intel.However Gordon Moore has been an executive at Intel. 2005-05-10 1:12 am http://www.apple2.orgReally great. 2005-05-10 1:53 am Zeus never had an actual machine.. his machine was theoretical and he created a programming language for it.. that language was fara far ahead of its time and infact was rediscovered in teh 60’s and it the basis for almost all fortran inspired languages (basicly if you are not functional you are derived from a fortran liniage.) 2005-05-10 2:18 am I’m fairly certain that the Z1, Z2, and Z3 were built during the war. I’ve even heard stories of Zuse hiding the Z3 from the allied forces as they invaded Germany. These were second hand stories, so they could be distorted (but they *were* second hand, not third, fourth, etc.). 2005-05-10 2:38 am The Apple ][ family (II, II+, IIe, IIc) were the best machines of the early 80’s. Best software, easiest to program, color graphics. Apple’s biggest stumble of all time was not making their subsequent platform backwardly compatible.While the Mac had much more power when it was introduced, it didn’t support any Apple II software and didn’t even have a color screen, a step back for many of us who had invested in Apple initially because they actually did have color with the Apple II. Remember the Apple logo, with all the little horizontal slices of color? At one time that was an important distinction for Apple, that their computers actually operated in color, verses the mostly black and white world of TRS-80 and IBM.I actually came across my original Apple II+ in the attick just the other day. I probably spent as much time in front of that computer as any I’ve ever owned! 2005-05-10 3:20 am yes, but those were not general perpous computers at all. and his programming language was not implimentable n any of the hardware he was workign on. the Z4 was teh first computer that could do anything really usefuland that was one built after teh war. 2005-05-10 3:20 am they werent theoretical. he built actual machines, the last being the z3 iirc. 2005-05-10 3:36 am I know the Z1 – Z3 were actual machines but they were NOT general purpose machines. they could only compute specific things that they were built for.his LANGUAGE that was invented was for a machine he had not built and was purely theoretical in nature. the language was very modern in features and in fact, when it was rediscovered gave a lot of inspiration to the work being done in Object Oriented programming language research. 2005-05-10 3:42 am That was a cool article !Heh my last mac was the APPLE II..and until MAC OS X came out I never even thought of getting another one. 2005-05-10 5:15 am I still have my 2 Apple 2 e’s, one original, and one ‘enchanced’ with the 65C02 Processor. I have had them for many years (something like 14 or so), I used to run a local BBS for a year out of my home off the enhanced 2e I had. (Only able to have 4 users on at once, hehe). Written many, many programs, God! Was so damn fun back then. 😀Speaking of the 2e is it possible to actually get on the internet with an Apple IIe? I once even heard rumors of a small minix-like OS for the apple II series, but it could have been just internet trash, I dunno. Any info would be appreciated, especially about getting an Apple IIe Online. Ok, I need to go hug my 2e’s and fire them up for a few hours now.–Jed 2005-05-10 5:27 am The general quality of that article was very nice but as usual on the history side presented from a US pt of view, I won’t quible about that.I can’t say I blame most authors for not knowing the entire truth because whether it was Zuse, Atanasoff, or Colossus doesn’t really matter anymore, one fact is clear, the European govs had those facts locked up under national security laws for 50 or 100 yrs esp the UK.All computers that did become public were all reincarnations of earlier ideas with a few more twists so it is right to say that xyz was the 1st to do this & that. Of course Americans were far better at marketing and producing these things than anybody in Europe, then and now. (I am not an American, I just give credit where its due).I am glad I never owned an Apple2 because I never considered 8bit computing to be usable enough for anything but games, I had to wait for the Mac for that and it was worth the wait, mine lasted 8yrs until it got replaced.BTW what was the Sarah reference about? 2005-05-10 5:36 am Just from the article.Wozniak– Helped Jobs do his work at Atari– designed a BASIC language for the 6502– created an adapter to use a cassette recorder for storage– built a floppy drive with Randy Wigginton– designed computers to be inexpensiveJobs– Convinced Wozniak to build the Apple I– Pitched the Apple I to the Byte Shop– Designed the Apple II case so that cables were hiddenThe article focused on technical contributions so Jobs’ stronger skills of sales and marketing are not highlighted.I sometimes think that if Wozniak never left Apple and Jobs was gone I might be typing this post from a Mac right now. 2005-05-10 6:05 am I sometimes think that if Wozniak never left Apple and Jobs was gone I might be typing this post from a Mac right now.I have to wholeheartedly agree with you there, konkat. I feel the same way, there are lots of times I’ve thought, “man I wish the Woz was in charge of Apple, I’d be using a Mac right now.”I bet there are alot of us who feel that way.–Jed 2005-05-10 6:30 am > I sometimes think that if Wozniak never left Apple and> Jobs was gone I might be typing this post from a Mac> right now.Woz was the technical genius in the early days of Apple, no doubt. But it takes more than technical genius to create a successful product.As Jobs apparently said, “Real artists ship”. (That is, it’s not art until somebody can actually view it – or use it.)Those who belittle Jobs’s contributions should consider that if it wasn’t for Steve Jobs, Apple would have never have existed in the first place.You should also remember that Apple’s worst years were the time without Jobs. It was Jobs returning (with NeXT) that saved Apple’s bacon.Cheers,Rich 2005-05-10 6:38 am Just take one glance at the other half-hearted business ventures Wozniak made, and you’ll see why Jobs was more necessary to Apple’s success than you think.The one constant in the computer industry that most people ignore is that marketing sales, not hardware. So many advances have come and gone due to poor marketing. Conversely, so many stagnated products have persisted due to market saturation.Both men are brilliant in their own regards, mind you. 2005-05-10 6:54 am Have you looked at the sales numbers of early cars? A few hundred cars were considered a sucess in the early days. The same principle applies to computers. There is a much higher demand and need for computers today. 2005-05-10 7:14 am I think that the most succesful computer, at least in Europe was the C64 but surly not the Apple II. The C64 was than succeded by the incredible Amiga and the Atari ST. Apple II was just an expensive toy that’s it! 2005-05-10 8:57 am I sometimes think that if Wozniak never left Apple and Jobs was gone I might be typing this post from a Mac right now.It would have been a different company, undoubtedly a lot better a whole lot sooner. But, as already mentioned, Jobs does not have what Woz has, but Woz doesn’t have what Jobs has. Woz made the dream come alive, but it was Jobs who had the dream. Woz will make you some amazing hardware with great economy of components and features and it’s going to work great, but Jobs has the Reality Distortion Field. You want to buy what he’s selling. And when it comes to products: look at what other manufacturers do: they make good stuff and it’ll work, but it doesn’t have the flair of Jobs’s vision, you just can’t take that away from the man.What hardware manufacturer [computers] makes anything on the level of sexy that Apple makes? Sony is good, but you can’t name two Sony’s. It’s not there.I wanted an Apple II in the good old days but they were FAR too expensive for my purse. I went to the C64, an utterly amazing machine and then to the Amiga, which was ten times the computer the C64 was and which in its hay day had no rival. Nothing was as good as an Amiga. Sorry the management stunk something unbelievable.It saved me from having to buy a PC and it was easy to go from the Amiga to the Mac. It was always great [a few quirks of the system here and there notwithstanding] but now with Tiger… hog heaven, friends. 2005-05-10 9:01 am USA and Europe was two complitely different computer markets at that time. In europe, computer was used mostly for gaming/entertainment, that’s why Amiga was such a big machine here. In USA, computer was seen as “productivity tool” even then. Apple made major inroads in Europe only after iMac line was launched. 2005-05-10 9:15 am Well, I agree with you, that Europe and the USA were and still are very different markets. But you cannot compare the Apple II with the Amiga but with the C64. Sure, in Europe both systems were mostly used in Households and there there were used for everything including games, but the Amiga was widespread in the Videomarket, that was the Domain of the Amiga, Anaimation and Video, just as the Mac revolutionized the Press-Market (DTP). But the Apple II, sorry you could not do anything more than the C64 and there was hardly Software for it compared to the C64. 2005-05-10 9:51 am When I was a kid I loved using my AppleIIe (at that time Yugoslavia was not allowed to import computers but you could have always smuggle them in from Germany). It’s the first computer I used and I still have really great memories about it. It was a great computer and had peripherials far ahead of it’s time, like the graphic tablet and had this new idea that you could plug-in cards into it, probably one of the reasons why the PC got so popular (expandibility) and why people were a bit chilled at the time about the Mac. 2005-05-10 11:23 am When I was a kid I loved using my AppleIIe (at that time Yugoslavia was not allowed to import computers but you could have always smuggle them in from Germany)Actually, I believe a firm called Velebit-something imported Apples, but like everything else in Yugoslavia of the 1980s the same rule applied: make a trip to Muenchen & smuggle. All other options were simpli too expensive or just not there. 2005-05-10 11:29 am I actually still have my Apple IIe Platinum. Probably the most reliable computer I’ve ever owned. It still works, and my kids love the games. Have it decked out with the following:Aux Slot: Applied Engineering RamWorks III w/1.5MB RAMSlot 1: Super Serial Card w/ImageWriter (I) PrinterSlot 2: Super Serial Card w/ImageWriter II PrinterSlot 3: Applied Engineering TransWarp AcceleratorSlot 4: Apple Ram Expansion Card w/1MB RAMSlot 5: UniDisk 3.5 Controller w/dual UniDisk 3.5 DrivesSlot 6: Disk II Controller w/dual Disk II DrivesSlot 7: Apple High Speed SCSI Card w/40MB Hard DriveSome of the devices were obtained at sales, close-outs and stuff like Church Rummage Sales, yard sales. Saved a lot of money that way. Good stuff, too!It boots, it works and I’ve had it since 1987. No matter what, over the years, I’ve simply never wanted to get rid of it.Never been to the shop and never had a hardware failure.Love that thing, indeed! 2005-05-10 12:43 pm Apple didn’t really hit it here because Maggy Thatcher Gvt. & The BBC made the BBC Micro with one of the first version of BASIC, a lot of schools still run these little babies, very very advanced machines for the time! Dual CPU’s, one for processing and one for Graphics / Sound. – Later to become Acorn.They Claim colossus, which was designed by the GPO (General Post Office) was the first programmable computer, it was used for decrypting Enigma in WW2, Using the technique developed by the Polish who reliquished all research to the British. 2005-05-10 12:49 pm Velebit? I remember “Triglav” computer from this company (maybe 1984 or something) that had 3 CPUs Z80 on the board (roughly the same architecture as today unveiled xbox 360 🙂 2005-05-10 12:51 pm >Yugoslavia of the 1980s the same rule applied:>make a trip to Muenchen & smuggleYeah, good old days, my C64 was also smuggled, in a bag full of shirts and Milka chocolates 🙂 2005-05-10 1:11 pm Actually, Sinclair Spectrums wre the most popular 8-bit’s in the UK. They were quite popular in the rest of Europe too. Except France who had to be different and decided another British computer, the Oric Atmos, would be their bag.C64 was always way too expensive. You could buy a Spectrum 48K for just over £150 and use it with any TV and nearly any cassette recorder. The C64, Atari 400/800/800xl all needed a custom cassette machine and costed double the price. Apple wasn’t even anything I’d heard of till I was well into my teens. Apple just never made it here period.As for the BBC. Only the kids with rich parents had those. We used to laugh at how crappy the games were for them. They were lucky if they got one game in 200 that was actually any good.Oh, and BBC BASIC was old hat. There had been a ream of other home computers by that point with some form of BASIC, I’m afraid… certainly nothing new. What was cool about the BBC (from a geek perspective) was that it has a built in assembler and M/C monitor that you could access and program for via basic…. 2005-05-10 2:06 pm The Z4 was used by the German Army during the war…“In the closing days of the second world war, a truck left Götingen carrying a mysterious machine marked with the code word V4. The V1, V2 and V3 were secret weapons with which Hitler had hoped to turn the tide of war, so it was not surprising that the truck was given high priority. After an adventurous journey, the machine ended up hidden in a cellar near the Austrian border.It was not a weapon of war but another computing machine, the Z4, the fourth design of Konrad Zuse. Of it too, one could say that the man who built it knew how to design and build an electronic (strictly speaking, electro-mechanical) universal computer. The Z4 was installed at Zurich in 1950 with some modifications and matched the performance of computers elsewhere.” 2005-05-10 2:45 pm “article starts out with a factual error..‘The first computer worthy of the name “computer” was produced more than fifty years ago.’ ever heard of the colossus? or the atanasoff-berry computer (aka ABC) ? suppose not…”LOL.. you are saying the ABC was not built more than 50 years ago? This may come as a surprise, but 1939 was more than 50 years ago That sentence you quoted is 100% true. Some of the stuff around it might not be (didn’t RTFA) but then maybe you should have quoted that instead.. 2005-05-10 2:47 pm Velebit? I remember “Triglav” computer from this company (maybe 1984 or something) that had 3 CPUs Z80 on the board (roughly the same architecture as today unveiled xbox 360 🙂No, that was “Iskra-Delta” Triglav The same company that was making some CP/M compatibles in the early 1980s…As for Apples in Yugoslavia:http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=981at the end of the last paragraph:“…The company Velebit which imported Apple’s into Croatia also distributed Ivels and Orao machines” 2005-05-10 3:39 pm Ivels were manufactured by Ivasim (from Ivanić Grad). They were clones of Apple ][ (although they looked nothing like it on the outside). My high school had a fer Ivel Ultras and an older Ivel Z3. They all ran Apple ][ software. We used UCSD Pascal and hardly anything else on them.[croatian]Ali bojim se da ovdje dosađujemo svima koji nisu naše dobi i državljanstva [/croatian] 2005-05-10 3:53 pm “As for the BBC. Only the kids with rich parents had those. We used to laugh at how crappy the games were for them. They were lucky if they got one game in 200 that was actually any good.”The games were crappy? Games like Chucky Egg and Elite, for example? Or perhaps Planetoid, Rocket Raid and Snappers? Arcade conversions (rip-offs) for the beeb were way ahead of the 8bit competition at the time.“Oh, and BBC BASIC was old hat. There had been a ream of other home computers by that point with some form of BASIC, I’m afraid… certainly nothing new. What was cool about the BBC (from a geek perspective) was that it has a built in assembler and M/C monitor that you could access and program for via basic….”But BBC Basic was better than the other Basics around at the time because it had constructs that supported structured programming. While you used line numbers to input the BASIC programming you didn’t need to use line numbers to control the flow of the programming, thanks to the use of user defined procedures (PROC/DEFPROC) 2005-05-10 5:23 pm Yes, it’s still alive at least in the hearts of the people who used it.It was unique machine and proven to be pretty capable for it’s time. Alsothere was the AppleIIGS which is the ONLY 16 bit machine to be backwardscompatible with it’s 8 bit predecessor (excluding the 8088 PCs).There is still Apple II newsletters plus new software and hardware developedfor it, and although I am no Apple fan anymore, I still like the elegance ofthe Apple 2 machine.The 2 million Apple 2 machines sold is not quite accurate about the real numberof Apple 2s, because they were cloned – for example there was Agat inRussia (The first one was slower than the real Apple 2, but the next were OK),the IMKO and Pravetz (Pravetz-82, Pravetz-8M, Pravetz-8A, Pravetz-8C) in Bulgaria,also in Hong Kong, Japan, Germany and many more countries.Links: http://www.apple2central.com http://www.apple2clones.com 2005-05-10 5:32 pm I’ll not deny Steve Jobs was/is integral to the business-end of Apple, and for the current aestetic value of the Mac and Mac OS X.Part of me thinks that perhaps if Woz were to re-join Apple today, and be partnered up with Jobs as he had back during the day, I believe that Apple would become even better, stronger, and more affordable.I say, “Bring back some of the glory of the past.”Just some personal comments. 😀–Jed 2005-05-10 6:08 pm I saw the Apple Lisa for the first time in high school on a field trip to the Apple plant near us. It was the first time any of us had ever seen a GU being used to the green monitors and text. We were astonished. 2005-05-10 6:41 pm As of apple in Yugoslavia saga:In 1986 (I think) there was “American Design” (artistic rather then technical) expo in Sarajevo, where they put togather cool stuff from various US companies. One item was Macintosh IIGS with it’s built-in color display, latest and hottest computer to own worldwide. It looks cool even now, but then I was just shocked to see such a cool thing. 2005-05-10 10:38 pm But the Apple II, sorry you could not do anything more than the C64 and there was hardly Software for it compared to the C64.I agree the C64 was the machine to have back then sure it was fun playing Oregon Trail and another game i forgot the name of. The C64 had the best game selection and still today the games are fun to play. Like Uridium,Kung-fu(love the music), Bruce-lee,World Championship Karate(we called it Epyx Karate) and of course California games. It wasn’t a bad machine to learn basic on either. 2005-05-11 2:08 am I don’t know a ton about the history of Apple, but I suspect that Woz was relatively much more important in the beginning then he would be now. A company the size of Apple has many skilled engineers, many of them quite talented whereas there is only one CEO to put a face on a company. Also a fine engineer may not be so fine at management. Jobs was the vision and Woz was the technical backup. One person still can provide that vision, whereas one person could not drive the technology of a company the size of Apple as an engineer. 2005-05-11 3:33 am For all you guys attempting to claim the C64 was any competition to Apple, LOL. Ever heard of “VisiCalc”? If you haven’t, it was the original “killer app”, and people were willing to pay $250+ for it back 20 years ago for a pirated copy! Anyone who didn’t have an Apple ][ wanted one, and that is the bottom line. 2005-05-11 7:58 am Get the PC version now!http://www.bricklin.com/history/vcexecutable.htmit is only 27,520 bytes long! 2005-05-11 8:52 am So what, the C64 had a great wordprocessor called Visawrite64, including a database, now that was a great app, which could do things Word could do years later as long the ptinter was capable enough, not granted at that time. And don’t forget GEOS that was a Desktop comparable with the Mac but long before. The C64 was not just a gaming mashine. You could do practicly anything with it. A friend of mine controled his miniature trains with it and another one was watering his plants automaticly controlled by the C64. Apple II bah. 2005-05-11 10:33 am I used to be a fan of apple, but after they adopted the west hollywood style i kinda lost interest in them.