Apple turns 30

Originally written for eVent! magazine [ep] on 04/06/06.

Even if you do not use an Apple computer, and have never owned one, the 30th anniversary of Apple Computer on April 1st 1976 is a significant world-changing event.  Apple had been around for a bit before its official date of birth, existing in the garage of Steve Jobs the company started as a way of selling Steve Wozniak’s Apple I computer to hobbyists.  The Apple I was not the sort of computer we would recognize today, but rather just a motherboard consisting of a CPU (central processing unit), RAM memory and basic textual-video chips and the user would have to build the rest on their own.

Wozniak had designed the Apple I to be simple and cheap as a way of getting himself a computer as the existing kits for a build-your-own computer were out of range of his modest budget.  The kits sold well, but it was not until the Apple II, the first real personal computer, that Apple changed the world.  Launched April 16, 1977 the Apple II, which became the first successful mass market personal computer.  Following the success of Apple IBM entered the personal computer market, using Microsoft’s DOS as an operating system and the rest is history.

Maybe you had one of the early Apple II’s.  I myself had an Apple IIe that my parents had bought for us to do word processing on, and to play games.  The then Okanagan Mission Primary had one Apple II, which was kept in the hallway.  Our class would take turns going out into the hall for computer time when we would get to use the computer for about half an hour.  I remember trying to program my own game in BASIC, the computer language that let you make applications that would run on the Apple.

Maybe you did not have an Apple II, nor any of the following computers that came from the California company.  However it’s likely you have a computer now, and that would not have been possible without Apple, and it would look a lot different.  Apple have continually pushed the boundaries of what a computer could be.  From adding a disk drive to the Apple II, something that at the time was unheard of in a mass market computer, to bringing the graphical-user interface and mouse to the computer world in the Macintosh line of computers.  Granted they stole the idea from Xerox but the Xerox did not really understand what they had.  Apple’s release of the Macintosh in 1984 paved the way for Windows, and computers that worked in a way that anyone could use them.

Apple continues to be the company at the forefront of what personal computing is even today.  Most of the features in Mircosoft’s much-delayed new version of Windows titled Windows Vista have been available on the Mac since 2001 in Apple’s constantly changing operating system OSX; meanwhile Vista’s still not going to be available into sometime in 2007, at the earliest.