I read a magazine article in the late 1970s about a couple of young Californians who built a new stand-alone computer in the garage of a Cupertino, Calif. home.
They started a company called Apple Computer to sell their innovation.
I had never used a computer at that point in life. As a journalism student at Abilene Christian University, we did all of our writing either on our own antiquated typewriters or on IBM Selectric typewriters in the newsroom of ACU’s student newspaper.
Anyway, the more I read about Apple and its Apple II computer, the more fascinated I became with both the company and the concept. Like most people, when I thought of computers, IBM and its massive room-sized mainframes came to mind.
After graduating from ACU, I went to work at the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Ark. We worked on typewriters when I arrived in late August 1978, but by the Spring of 1979 the paper had installed its first computer terminals for reporters and editors to use.
They were so-called “dumb” terminals that were tied to a mainframe computer. They crashed a lot, usually right at deadline.
Meanwhile, I was still keeping up with Apple and its computer, but thought it was way beyond what I could afford.
Besides, who ever thought of having a computer in your house?
Fast forward about seven years. I was working at The Oklahoman when J.T. Goold, one of my co-workers, said he had a used Apple IIe for sale. It had been his father’s,
So, I ponied up about $500 and bought the Apple IIe, which came with a green monitor and two 5-1/4 inch floppy disks.
That Apple IIe sealed my love of all things Apple. I learned to use word-processing software on that computer, as well as a spreadsheet, a simple database and a page-design program.
In a few months, I added a 1,200-baud modem, which opened up a whole new online world of what were then known as bulletin boards. Then came AppleLink.
I tried my hand at learning some BASIC programming skills, but never got much further than making a little routine that filled the screen with a single sentence.
I’ve written all of this because I’m deep into Steven Levy’s book, “Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.” The Apple II and its creator, Steve Wozniak, play a huge role.
In Hackers, Levy detailed the founding and growth in the early 1970s of the Homebrew Computer Club in the San Francisco Bay Area. The club attracted scores of computer hackers who shared a vision of a future where everyone had a stand-alone computer of their own.
Levy wrote: “These were people intensely interested in getting computers into their homes to study, to play with, to create with … and the fact that they would have to build the computers was no deterrent.”
Steve Wozniak attended the very first Homebrew Club meeting, but it was a few years before he actually built his first computer. His friend Steve Jobs convinced him to create a company as partners and sell his computer invention.
So they began building computers in the garage of the home of Jobs’ parents. The Apple II became a runaway bestseller, bringing computers to millions of people.
I became an Apple fanboy after reading that early magazine article in the 1970s. The used Apple IIe that J.T. Goold sold me in the mid-1980s ensured it would last.
And here we are today. I’m writing this on an Apple MacBook Air while the my Apple iPhone keeps buzzing with text alerts and notifications. I’m reading Levy’s excellent “Hackers” on an Apple iPad Mini.
It’s been a long-term relationship, to say the least. Still an Apple fanboy after all these years.