Apple Before The Mac: How Jobs And Woz Survived The '70s

By | November 29, 2016

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Left: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak ni 1981. Right: An Apple II. Sources:; Wikimedia Commons

Today, Apple's Steve "Woz" Wozniak and the late Steve Jobs are two of the legendary figures in the invention of the personal computer, and computing in general. But the destiny of the men who would later bring us the Macintosh was none too clear in 1975, the year they introduced the Apple I computer. The pair scraped together their last resources to produce the Apple I, with Jobs selling his Volkswagen microbus and Wozniak selling his HP-65 calculator to purchase the raw materials. 

Woz built the Apple Is by hand, and the product resembled more of a computer kit than what we now think of as a computer. Apple I sold enough to keep the company going, but it wasn't a blockbuster, and its appeal was limited to tech-savvy home enthusiasts. More could be done to bring computing to more people, the pair of entrepreneurs were sure of it. With this in mind they squeezed into an overcrowded auditorium for the West Coast Computer Faire in 1977.

The Technorati Were Underwhelmed

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Left: Steve Wozniak with an Apple I board. Left: An Apple I in a briefcase. Sources:; Wikimedia Commons

The original Apple I did not make the necessary waves when it was first released. The company still needed a breakout product so they had to go back to the drawing board in 1976. This initial shortcoming did not discourage the dynamic duo, they slogged it out over the next year and delivered an amazing new product that shook up the computing world. That product was the Apple II in 1977.

After the conference, things looked a bit bleak. Their product barely got mentioned, and it did not seem to create much of a buzz; however, they started to get noticed where it counted -- the tech wizards at the conference hadn't given it too much thought, but average Joes buying the darn thing.

When the product started shipping it found equal footing against the other two systems in the personal computing world, the Commodore PET 2001, and Radio Shack’s TRS-80. This meant that they had a fighter in the ring, and a champion had to be crowned.