Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak stands beside an Apple II. Photo: Robert Scoble
With today’s tech devices becoming obsolete so quickly, it’s easy to think older models are forgotten by their creators the moment a follow-up rolls off the factory floor.
While this may be true in some instances, it’s apparently not the case for Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. In a recent email exchange with a vintage computer expert, Woz revealed that almost 40 years after the Apple II shipped he still agonizes about ways it could have been improved.
Steve Jobs packed an almost impossible number of innovations into a 35-year career. While we've been forced to leave out some as a result, here are 9 ways that Jobs changed computing forever -- and a glimpse at what things may have looked like had he never come along.
The Mac, on the other hand, empowered the user with the sovereignty to carry out tasks as they wanted to. The Mac may not have been the very first computer to feature a Graphical User Interface, but it was the first one most people saw. And it did it better than anyone else.
The iPod really is the little device that could. It turned around Apple's fortunes, became one of its most iconic tech designs ever, and was transformed into a byword for any new technology that was (or hoped to be) innovative, stylish and ubiquitous. It sounded great, too.
Before Steve Jobs, digital music players were good ideas in theory, bad ideas in practice; the kind of expensive gift you used once then put away to gather dust. This blobby model was the Creative NOMAD Jukebox.
Steve Jobs was convinced he could get young people to pay for their music if only he could provide an experience that was enjoyable and convenient enough for them. iTunes proved that he could. Even before the iPod came along, the first version of iTunes received a massive 275,000 downloads from Mac users in its first week.
The MacBook Air quickly snatched away the title of world's thinnest notebook. Tapering down to an astonishing 0.16" in its first version, the MacBook Air remains one of the most beautiful devices Apple has ever created. Unlike most ultraportable laptops, it came with a full-sized keyboard, too.
This is what a typical desktop computer looked like when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997: a time when more people were starting to use computers, but very few seemed to think about just how bad they looked.
The colorful, blobby iMac changed all of that -- with a computer that put style right up front. Apple's aesthetic may have changed since the toyetic iMac first burst onto the scene, but this was Apple's first computer which ever looked good enough to sit comfortably in a design museum.
Apple's latest mystery is its biggest yet. Literally.
CUPERTINO, California -- What's inside the mystery building Apple is fabricating for its big September 9 event? The giant construction project is almost as big of an enigma as what the iWatch will actually look like or do.
The boxy structure, which sprang up behind the Flint Center for the Performing Arts here on the De Anza College campus, looks like a cross between an igloo and a winning confection on Cake Wars. Naturally, the enormous two-to-three story building sparked intense curiosity among the Apple faithful when pictures emerged Thursday, so we had to go take a look for ourselves.
Will it hold something as mundane as a demo area where tech journalists can fondle Apple's latest, greatest gear? Does it contain a full-size home of the future to show off amazing HomeKit implementations? Will it house a runway for an Apple wearables fashion show or a giant stage for a post-announcement Dr. Dre concert?
Whatever it holds, it is truly a massive undertaking. It's surrounded by green fences and countless security guards. We, like you, can't wait for Apple's big reveal — here's what we saw walking around the outskirts of the secretive project Thursday afternoon.
The temporary venue where Apple will hold its September 9 press event sits directly outside the 2,405-seat Flint Center, which is notable for its role in Apple history: The company has revealed some of its most important devices in the theater, which is tucked away on a quiet community college campus just a couple miles away from Apple HQ.
"There have only been two milestone products in our industry: the Apple II in 1977 and the IBM PC in 1981," Jobs said at the Flint Center in 1984. "Today, one year after Lisa, we are introducing the third industry milestone product: Macintosh."
Apple is definitely laying the groundwork for something big on September 9: Workers are running a fair amount of power from generators outside the fence that surrounds the construction site, which is set up with table saws and other tools of the building trades.
Behind the fencing and hidden from prying eyes, the workers are building something on the site. The huge, pristine structure also features a stage that could host a concert or iWatch fitness demonstration.
No one can fill a big white box quite like Apple. We can imagine the iDevice of our dreams jumping out of this one: Will it be the iPhone 6? Or how about the long-awaited iWatch? Perhaps it will be something totally new that the rumor mill hasn't even dreamed up yet.
Most of the trucks on campus appeared to be generic white rentals, but we spotted one with a sign indicating it was owned by Devcon Construction. Was the company hired to build this tantalizing structure for Apple? Devcon is known around Silicon Valley for building sleek, modern, high-tech campuses for companies including Adobe, Cisco and Yahoo!
Cult of Mac contacted Devcon's vice president of construction but did not receive a reply by press time. Workers on the super-secret Apple project know the secrecy drill, though, and were very tight-lipped about the goings-on at the construction site. Security was tight.
All photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac. Additional reporting by Nicole Martinelli.
The Flappy Bird phenomenon will never die. Although the game has been pulled from the App Store, the addictive little Bird has spawned a million clones, and been ported to all manner of devices, including Android and Windows Phone smartphones, as well as the Mac.
But what you’re about to see might just be the ultimate Flappy Bird port. It’s Flappy Bird running on a vintage Apple IIc, at an astonishing 60 frames per second.
It may seem hard to believe, but there was a time when Apple shipped computers without built-in monitor, not as an exception, but as the rule. Such was the case with the venerable Apple II, which shipped with a behemoth of a 320 x 200 CRT monitor that weighed a monstrous 22 pounds… more than a 27-inch iMac weighs today!
So in a very real way, this computer — built from an old Apple II connected by some kind of magic to an iMac running as the display by Franceso Zaia — isn’t just a sext Frankenstein. It’s actually a lighter, more efficient Apple II monitor than the original. And as an added bonus, you can dual boot up to OS X when the mood suits.
On June 10, 1977, Apple Computer Inc. shipped its first Apple II computer.
A hulking beige mammoth with 4KB of RAM (upgradeable to a whopping 48KB), the Apple II was the computer that defined Apple for a generation of fans. Retailing at $1,298, it cost the equivalent of two MacBook Pros today — even though it seemed a total bargain at the time.
Unlike its Apple I predecessor, the Apple II was polished and mass market — featuring a keyboard, BASIC compatibility and, most notable of all, color graphics.
Despite being the company’s second computer, the Apple II was responsible for a number of firsts at Apple. It was the machine which turned Apple into a million-dollar company (yes, million — not billion). The year the Apple II debuted, Apple turned over $770,000 in revenue. The year after that, its success brought in $7.9 million, and the year after that $49 million.
In Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, there is a scene in which a tribe of early hominids, having encountered an extraterrestrial Monolith for the first time, are suddenly evolved to the next stage of human consciousness, and are capable of using tools for the first time.
This video of children from the ages of 6 to 13 trying to figure out how to work a vintage Apple II is like the opposite of that. And it shows just how inexplicable computing was to pretty much everyone before Steve Jobs released the original Mac in 1984.
From the highs of the Steve Jobs portrait made out of 20lbs of electronic waste, to the lows of the hideous statue that looked like a totem from Hellraiser, there have certainly been some “uneven” tributes to Apple’s late co-founder.
So which camp does this creation fall into, then?
Called “Baked Apple,” the fountain-sculpture depicts a deformed Apple II sitting on top of a column (previously the base lamp), adorned with images of Jobs and the Apple logo. It was created by artist Robbie Schoen, who once attended Jobs’ alma mater. Schoen, and made his creation with the aid of a real-life Apple II, formerly belonging to the school’s science department.
2014 isn’t only the thirtieth anniversary of the Macintosh. It’s also the thirtieth anniversary of Infocom’s classic game The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — a title that will likely be fondly remembered by anyone who was gaming in the mid-80s.
To mark the game’s thirtieth birthday, and to coincide with the 36th anniversary of the series’ first radio broadcast, the BBC has announced that on March 8 it will publish a new online version of the game, featuring new high definition graphics, social media support, and smartphone/tablet optimization.
In addition to all the new products of 2013, the past year was a whir of activity in the vintage Apple space. Apple may be content to only move forward and deny existence of any products older than seven years – what do you mean my first generation MacBook Pro is vintage??? – but the public has not forgotten them.
The biggest retro news of the year was probably the ascendancy of the Apple 1 on the auction block. In May, an Apple 1 fetched a record price of $671,000 at an auction in Germany – until just recently the highest price ever paid for a personal computer. Other Apple 1s sold this year in the $300,000 range, so if you are lucky enough to have one of these oldies-but-goodies in your attic, dig it out now!