A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour the NextThought, LLC, offices on the University of Oklahoma’s South Research campus. The company specializes in educational technology and “connected” online learning.
As founder and CEO Ken Parker escorted me through the open office, I spotted what appeared to be an original Macintosh computer on one of the desks. Ken asked me if that was my first computer.
I said that my first computer was actually an Apple //e.
Ken turned and gave me a high five. Turns out that his first computer also was an Apple //e, which debuted in 1983.
Of course, Ken learned how to write software on his Apple //e and went on to build an incredible career developing financial services and now educational software.
My interest in the Apple //e was all the cool things I could do with software already available on it such as the original Visicalc spreadsheet, word processing and games. AppleWorks became my go-to software product.
For instance, I used AppleWorks to develop a spreadsheet with which I ran a fantasy baseball league for several years. Of course, I had to spend several hours each week inputing data from the newspaper into the spreadsheet to make it work.
I did make a couple of unsuccessful stabs at learning to write software on the machine. Maybe it was a lack of patience that held me back.
i recall writing a little program that printed “My name is Jim Stafford.” The first time I inputed “run,” into the program, the screen filled with my name and wouldn’t stop. I had to do a hot reboot to get it to stop. Only later did I realize that my little program needed a line to tell it how many times to print “My name is Jim Stafford” and then a line that said “end” to make it stop.
The Apple //e sat on my kitchen table for a half dozen years before I finally, reluctantly, retired it. It controlled my checking account. I tracked stocks on it. I wrote articles and even created a little newsletter. I added a modem and surfed local OKC online “bulletin boards.”
Finally, I gave it to my uncle to use in his business. I moved on to the more modern Mac.
I still miss my original Apple.