You probably weren’t paying attention when a tiny company called Apple Computer introduced its second product, the Apple II microcomputer, at the West Coast Computer Faire on April 16 and 17, 1977. (I wasn’t.) You may never have owned an Apple II. (I didn’t.) But it’s still easy to get fascinated by the machine and its legacy. (I sure am.) And there are many ways to explore its world — many of which you can do without getting out of the chair you’re sitting in right now, thanks to the Web.
Make sure to check out McCracken’s post for a cornucopia of facts, anecdotes, and videos about the Apple II. Pictured above (via) is the Apple II Plus, a successor to the Apple II introduced in 1979, featuring improved graphics and disk-booting support in the ROM. Wikipedia is a good resource to learn more about the Apple II series today.
Also, don’t forget that registrations are open for the KansasFest 2012, an annual convention dedicated to the Apple II. Check out the schedule and list of presentations and workshops here.
Mac|Life Online Editor Roberto Baldwin (@strngwys – where are the vowels man?), Retweets Dan Frakes on one of the coolest conventions I wasn’t aware of. Dedicated to only the Apple II, KansasFest welcomes hobbyists to Kansas City, Missouri, where workshops, keynotes, contests, and other sessions take place over a span of six days this year from July 19th to July 24th. Some of the sessions include hacking together an expansion card, a programming competition known as HackFest, and a vendor fair for old equipment and hardware from the days of yore. This is seriously cool, and if the nostalgia flu is kicking in, you might want to get in during the early registration. This year will mark their 22nd annual convention.
Is the MacBook Air just another netbook that can barely run Photoshop? We all know it’s not. Benchmark numbers and stats aside, that thing is fast. I’ve been trying a 11-inch model (a friend of mine bought one) this week, and it literally screams. Instant-on thanks to SSD, strong battery life, responsive…just do yourself a favor and go try one at an Apple Store near you.
Or, if you want a quick example, take a look at the picture above. It doesn’t provide any numbers, but it gives you an idea of what this machine can do. It’s a MacBook Air running on four different screens: a 20-inch Apple Cinema Display, a 7-inch Mimo 720-S USB display and an old Apple IIc which is displaying a Terminal session through serial cable.
As he took us through the museum, it became apparent how brilliant an engineer he is. He stopped at the Apple-1, the company’s first computer and the machine that first put computers into the grasp of “the rest of us.” His vision for the Apple-1 when it shipped in 1976 was simple — and profound.
“I didn’t design this computer to make a lot of money and start a company,” he said. “I wanted to accelerate the world advancement in the social revolution.” The Apple-1 would be a new way to communicate. A new way for the individual to exercise power.
He walked over to the Apple II on display nearby.
“This is my real gem,” he said, “the greatest design of my life.” And no one — not a docent, no guard, nobody — said a word when he pulled off the top panel to show the machine’s motherboard. “About half as many chips,” he said.
Kevin Kelly, editor of the Whole Earth Catalog and founding editor of Wired, on his first Apple II computer:
To my immense surprise, I found that these high-tech computer networks were not deadening the souls of early users like me; they were filling our souls. There was something unexpectedly organic about these ecosystems of people and wires. Out of complete nothingness, we were barn raising a virtual commonwealth. When the internet finally came along a few years later, it seemed almost Amish to me.
That was 30 years ago. Guess who else used to read the Whole Earth Catalog back then.