Apple Ii


The Apple II was the first (successful) personal computer to be mass-produced. It was created by Apple in 1976 and was produced until 1993 with very few revisions throughout. By the time Apple stopped making it, they had produced between five and six million of the Apple II. Add that to the third-party developers and retailers, and the Apple II was a billion-dollar per year industry.
The Apple II was ubiquitous, and very popular with businesses, schools, and private users. Part of this popularity was the programming language that the Apple II used: BASIC, or Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instructional Code, which is the first widespread computer language. Previously, each computer had needed to have its own software and personal language written specifically for it; unfortunately, something that usually only ‘computer geeks’ or mathematicians could manage. To run programs on the Apple II, the user first had to install them on the hard drive, instead of using a CD or other storage device to hold the information. These programs took a long time to install, and used their own operating language, making them very difficult to modify.
Since the computers of the 1950’s had been rather intimidating, with all the flashing lights and colored wires, Apple designed the Apple II series to look more like a home appliance than an electrical monster. Adding to its more user-friendly appearance, the Apple II was extremely beginner-friendly. Most PCs at the time did not come pre-assembled. Instead, they came in kits, or partially put together. The Apple II was the first to break this trend.
There were a whole series of Apple II computers, but the original Apple was the most popular. It had memory chips capable of holding up to 48 kilobytes of random- access memory, ran at 1 MHz speed, had an audio cassette ‘drive’ for installing programs, and used the BASIC language. To put that in perspective, today’s average laptop has two to three gigabytes, or 48,000 bytes versus 3,000,000,000 bytes of RAM memory, works at 667 MHz speed, and prefers CDs or CD-ROMs. The computer’s monitor displayed 24 lines by 40 columns of monochrome text, upper-case only, and composite video, which is a picture without sound. As a last touch, users ‘commanded’ the computer through not just the keyboard, but also a mouse.
The pricing for this PC was around $2600, with the full 48 kB of memory.

So, what effect did the Apple II have on computers and computing? First, the Apple II allowed regular people to actually have and use computers. Previously, only government or research organizations had the money or knowledge to buy and program computers. The Apple II allowed anyone to access information via computer. Secondly, the Apple II made computers convenient. Completely unlike its predecessors, the Apple actually fit in one room, and, shockingly, on a single table! Next, the Apple was made to be used by the average person. It came with programs already installed on the hard drive, so the new user did not need to write whatever programs they wished to use. And finally, the Apple II was so popular, so widespread, that its success began an entire industry: personal computers, computer games, printers, word processors, and a host of other gadgets previously believed to belong solely to scientists and computer engineers. Other companies began to create more affordable, convenient computers, many of them Apple knock-offs, which introduced the world wide web and email. Basically, the Apple II was the first large step towards the electronic age we live in now.

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