Today in Apple history: The first Apple II ships


Are you old enough to remember the Apple II?
Photo: Computer History Museum

friday_10 Mobile devices may now represent the overwhelming bulk of Apple’s enormous revenue, but there’s no underestimating just how significant the Apple II was when it arrived — not just for Apple’s bottom line, but for personal computers as a whole.

First shipping on June 10, 1977, the Apple II came with 4KB of RAM (upgradeable to a whopping 48KB) and a not-insignificant price tag of $1,298: the equivalent of two MacBook Pros today.

Happy birthday, Apple II!

Steve Jobs shows off the Apple II.
Steve Jobs shows off the Apple II.
Photo: Apple

Although Apple had already debuted the Apple I, the Apple II was Apple’s first true mass-market computer, shipping with a keyboard, BASIC compatibility and, most notable of all, color graphics. On top of this, it had great peripherals like the Disk II 51/4-inch floppy drive, and superb software ranging from games to productivity tools like VisiCalc.

It may not have turned Apple into a billion dollar giant overnight, but the Apple II had a big impact on Apple’s finances: helping Apple bring in $770,000 in revenue the year it debuted, $7.9 million the year after that, and a whopping $49 million the year after that.

The Apple II line also introduced some major players to the world of high tech, including Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Development Corporation and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and John Carmack, the legendary coder behind the smash hit games Wolfenstein 3DDoom, and Quake.

Simply put, without the Apple II the tech world looks very, very different indeed.

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  • bIg hIlL

    Interesting. Meanwhile in England we had the Sinclair Spectrum and Manic Miner

    • Slimey

      Not Quite. This pre-dated my Sinclair ZX80 by quite a while. But I remember at school we had a choice of an Apple II or three Commodore PETs. Obvious choice really, Apple was pretty irrelevant to all but the very rich in those days.

  • Loren Sims

    I considered getting one, but all those ribbon cables trailing out the back looked sloppy to me and I was looking for much better graphics and sound. I went for an Atari 800 and it’s always been the clearly better choice.