Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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Larry Seltzer
Larry Seltzer
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Apple II - The Original BYOD

35 years ago this spring Apple released their first usable computer, the Apple II. It turned out to be a highly-significant device and a very popular one, launching into legitimacy the company that today holds the world's largest market cap. And it also became the first computer tech product that large numbers of people bought for their jobs.

35 years ago Apple released their first usable computer, the Apple II. It turned out to be a highly-significant device and a very popular one, launching the company that today holds the world's largest market cap into legitimacy.

In the May 1977 issue of BYTE we published an an article by Steve Wozniak, the Apple II's designer, describing the system in gritty detail. We recently republished that article. If you're old enough to remember May 1977 this will bring you back.

The Apple II (styled "Apple-II" in the article) was the original BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) product. In May 1977 normal people didn't have computers. Microcomputers of the time (they weren't "PCs" yet) were completely unusable by today's standards. "Real" business computers were outrageously expensive and the sole province of experts. But the Apple II developed an ecosystem. The nascent microcomputer software industry wrote programs for it, programs like the first killer app VisiCalc. [Click that link and you can download a copy of the DOS version of Visicalc for free.]

By today's standards, VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program, was a toy. But at the time it was so compelling that many people bought Apple II computers personally to use at their jobs. It's not like you could get your boss to approve a computer purchase in an era when computers were major capital expenditures. It really is no exaggeration to say that Apple began the BYOD phenomenon long ago. It took a while for microcomputers to be accepted as legitimate business tools. The first evidence that they were was the Apple II, 35 years old this Spring.

An ad from BYTE in 1977. Click on the images for a larger version.

Notice that Hubby is doing some business thing on his Apple II Advertisers have since learned not to put so many words on a page.

 Yowza! Computers were expensive back in those days. At least they accepted Master Charge and BankAmericard. 

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