Today in Apple history: Microsoft’s first hardware debuts … on the Apple II

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SoftCard
The original ad for the Z80 SoftCard.
Photo: Microsoft

April 2: Today in Apple history: Microsoft Z80 SoftCard, the company's first hardware, debuts on Apple II April 2, 1979: Microsoft releases its first hardware product, a microprocessor card that plugs into the Apple II computer.

Coming several years before the first version of Windows, the Z80 SoftCard becomes a big hit for Microsoft. It lets the Apple II run programs designed for the CP/M operating system, a popular OS for business software.

Today in Apple history: New card runs Apple II software on Macs

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Running Apple II programs on a Mac with an Apple IIe Card was pretty darn awesome.
Running Apple II programs on your Mac was pretty darn awesome.
Photo: Microwavemont/YouTube

March 1: Today in Apple history: Apple IIe Card lets users run Apple II software on Macs March 1, 1991: Apple introduces the Apple IIe Card, a $199 peripheral that lets users turn Macs into fully functioning Apple IIe computers.

The ability to emulate the popular Apple IIe computer on a Mac brings Apple’s two operating systems side by side for the first time. While not quite the equivalent of Apple letting you run iOS on a Mac today, it’s not a world away.

Today in Apple history: Steve Wozniak leaves Apple

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A lack of respect for the Apple II leads to Steve Wozniak's departure from the company he founded.
A lack of respect for the Apple II leads to Steve Wozniak's departure from the company he founded.
Photo: Anirudh Koul/Flickr CC

February 6: Today in Apple history: Steve Wozniak leaves Apple February 6, 1985: Frustrated by Apple’s shifting priorities, co-founder Steve Wozniak leaves the company to pursue outside interests.

His departure from Apple — which comes the same year that Steve Jobs leaves to form NeXT — represents a big change for the company. It is brought about by Woz’s dissatisfaction at how the Apple II division is treated, and his desire to start a new company.

Today in Apple history: Apple ships the first Mac

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Apple lays out the strengths of the revolutionary Macintosh 128K in an original Mac ad.
Apple lays out the strengths of the revolutionary Macintosh 128K.
Photo: Apple

January 24: Today in Apple history: Apple ships the first Mac January 24, 1984: Apple ships its first Mac, the mighty Macintosh 128K.

Bringing a mouse and graphical user interface to the masses, and heralded by an acclaimed Super Bowl commercial that’s still talked about today, the first-gen Mac will quickly become one of the most important personal computers ever released.

Today in Apple history: Apple II gets its first ‘killer app’

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VisiCalc, the world's first
The world's first computer spreadsheet.
Photo: Steven Weyhrich/Apple2History

January 2: Today in Apple history: With VisiCalc, the Apple II gets its first killer app January 2, 1979: Entrepreneurs Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston incorporate their company Software Arts to publish a little program called VisiCalc.

The first spreadsheet for the Apple II, the $100 VisiCalc becomes personal computing’s first “killer app.” It helps transform personal computers from “cool to have” toys into “must have” business accessories.

Today in Apple history: Woz spends Christmas building Apple II disk drive

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Disk II pic
The Disk II was a massive success for Apple.
Photo: Wikipedia CC

December 25 Today in Apple history December 25, 1977: Steve Wozniak spends the holidays building a prototype of the Disk II, the Apple II’s revolutionary floppy disk drive.

“I worked all day, all night, through Christmas and New Year’s trying to get it done,” Wozniak recalls in his autobiography, iWoz. “[Early Apple employee] Randy Wiggington, who was actually attending Homestead High, the school Steve and I had graduated from, helped me a lot on that project.”

Wiggington takes December 25 off. Woz does not.

Today in Apple history: Happy 70th birthday, Steve Wozniak!

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Steve Wozniak wax sculpture fake eyes
Apple's merry prankster celebrates another spin around the sun.
Photo: Madame Tussauds

August 11: Today in Apple history: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is born August 11, 1950: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is born. While Steve Jobs may be the most admired Apple figure, Woz might be the most well-loved by fans.

In addition to his most famous creation, the Apple II, Wozniak is also responsible for imbuing Apple’s products with his fun-loving personality.

Happy 70th birthday, Woz!

We’re not in Kansas anymore: Apple II fest gets geeky online (and you’re invited)

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KansasFest soldering 1
A past KansasFest during less socially distanced times.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Being a fan of the Apple II is a lonely hobby. While being an Apple lover in 2020 is more mainstream than ever, being an enthusiast for Apple’s first mass market computer — launched way back in 1977 — is significantly less common.

Unless it’s July 24-26, that is. Kicking off today, and running through the weekend, KansasFest is a conference dedicated to all things Apple II. And like every other conference this year, in 2020 it’s gone online only.

It’s possible to tweet, email and even control smart devices using an Apple II

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Apple II tweet gmail 1
This is what working from home could have looked like in 1983.
Photo: @ReEstInv

The Apple IIe was introduced 37 years ago in 1983. But don’t think it’s not up to performing the latest productivity tasks, circa 2020. Well, kind of.

Twitter user @ReEstInv and Oliver Schmidt, a.k.a. @dangerfreak, recently showcased how it’s possible to get an Apple IIe to run modern, up-to-date apps like writing in Slack and Evernote, sending emails, or even controlling smart home gadgets.

So long as you’re not necessarily expecting the latest UI elements, that is.

Today in Apple history: The revolutionary Apple II goes on sale

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Apple II
Did you own an original Apple II?
Photo: Computer History Museum

June 5 Today in Apple historyJune 5, 1977: The first Apple II, the personal computer that puts Apple on the map, goes on sale.

Having previously been shown off to a few thousand rabid fans at the West Coast Computer Faire, the Apple II’s arrival means the masses can finally get their hands on the breakthrough machine.  A base unit costs $1,298 — the equivalent of $5,237 in 2017 money.