Historic photos reveal new details about Apple's first prototype

Historic photos reveal new details about Apple’s first prototype

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Historic photos reveal new details about Apple's first prototype
A careful examination of a photo of an early Apple prototype finds it carries an unexpected name.
Photo: Paul Terrell/Apple-1 Registry

The first computer built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak is the Apple-1, right? Not quite. Turns out before that was the “Apple Computer A.”

Unfortunately, the actual Apple prototype with that name was not found. But pictures of it from 1976 were. And they show details of this handmade Apple prototype.

A look back in time finds ‘Apple Computer A’ prototype

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak showed prototypes of their computer to Paul Terrell, founder of the Byte Shop, in 1976. The retailer would go on to sell the first Apple computer.

Terrell took pictures at that momentous meeting, and later shared them with Achim Baqué, curator of the Apple-1 Registry. Baqué went over them minutely and discovered, to his surprise, that one of the prototypes was labeled “Apple Computer A © 76.”

After 46 years, Wozniak has forgotten there was ever a prototype by that name. “Woz doesn’t remember why the name was changed,” according to Baqué.

The preproduction model has a different layout from the one that eventually sold to customers. And it has a 6800/6501 CPU, not the 6502 that went into the shipping units. Wozniak told the Apple-1 Registry, “I had left the 6800 space because it was needed for the $20 6501 instead of the $25 6502. The difference was strong clock driver transistors. We built a couple with the 6501 but by real production time we could get the 6502 for the same cost.”

Sadly, no one knows what happened to the prototype after the launch of the Apple-1. Wozniak pointed out there was a fire in his garage, and that may well have been the end for this piece of computer history.

Speaking of those early Apple computers, the Apple-1 Registry recently solved the mystery of wrote the serial numbers on the production units.

Source: Apple-1 Registry