Today in Apple history: Apple II brings color computing to the masses

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Apple II
The Apple II was groundbreaking for its day.
Photo: Computer History Museum

April 17: Today in Apple history: Apple II debuts at West Coast Computer Faire with color graphics April 17, 1977: The Apple II debuts at the West Coast Computer Faire, positioning Apple at the forefront of the looming personal computer revolution.

The company’s first mass-market computer, the Apple II boasts an attractively machined case designed by Jerry Manock (who will later design the first Macintosh). It also packs a keyboard, BASIC compatibility and, most importantly, color graphics.

Fueled by some marketing savvy from Steve Jobs, the Apple II launch makes quite a splash at the San Francisco Bay Area’s first personal computer convention.

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.

Apple II’s original ‘Graphics Magician’ headlines KansasFest

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Mark Pelczarski
One of the most popular games published by Mark Pelczarski's company, Penguin Software
Screenshot: Penguin Software/YouTube

Mark Pelczarski’s first contribution to the personal computing revolution came in a zip-lock bag.

With no App Store in 1979, Pelczarski bagged disks and photo-copied instruction manuals for what was then one of the first digital paint programs for the Apple II.

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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Steve Wozniak wax sculpture fake eyes
Woz was upset at the lack of respect shown to the Apple II division.
Photo: Madame Tussauds

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.

Free Apple II papercraft makes a perfect Christmas tree ornament

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This free Apple II papercraft project will take you back to your Oregon Trail days.
This will take you back to your Oregon Trail days.
Photo: Rocky Bergen

Even amid the three-quarters of a million residents of Winnipeg, Canada, Rocky Bergen felt alone when it came to his love of vintage computers.

But thanks to his papercraft models of classic machines like the Apple II, Bergen has connected with folks in places as far away as Italy and Sweden.

Today in Apple history: The final Apple II model arrives

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The Apple IIc Plus was the sixth and final model in the Apple II line.
The sixth and final model in the Apple II series of computers.
Photo: TanRu Nomad

September 15: Today in Apple history: Apple IIc Plus, the final Apple II model, arrives September 15, 1988: Apple releases the Apple IIc Plus, the sixth and final model in the Apple II computer series. It’s a great machine, with impressive capabilities, but suffers from poor marketing and support.

With the Mac around, Cupertino simply doesn’t seem interested in the Apple computer anymore.