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: Apple co-founder quits and cashes in his stake for $800

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Ron Wayne: today, and when he co-founded Apple in 1976
Ron Wayne today and when he co-founded Apple in 1976.
Photo: Ron Wayne

April 12: Today in Apple history: Apple co-founder Ron Wayne quits and cashes in his stake for $800 April 12, 1976: Apple’s third co-founder, a former Atari colleague of Steve Wozniak’s named Ron Wayne, cashes in his Apple shares for just $800.

Wayne, who owns a 10 percent stake in the company, throws in the towel after worrying that he doesn’t have the time or energy to properly invest in Apple. He later receives an extra $1,500 check to seal the deal. When he cashes it, he loses out on an investment worth billions.

Today in Apple history: Apple-1 starts a revolution

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Apple-1
The Apple-1 in all its glory!
Photo: Auction Team Breker

April 11: Today in Apple history: Apple-1 launches. It's the First Apple computer. April 11, 1976: Apple releases its first computer, the Apple-1.

Designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak, the computers are sold wholesale by “Steven” Jobs. To finance their manufacturing, Wozniak sells his HP-65 calculator for $500, while Jobs sells his VW van. Years later, in 2014, a working Apple-1 will sell at auction for $905,000.

Today in Apple history: Apple frenemy Microsoft is born

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Bill Gates
Apple and Microsoft had a long and storied history together.
Photo: Fulvio Obregon

April 4: Today in Apple history: Microsoft founded April 4, 1975: Childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen found Microsoft Corporation, a software company destined to become a tech behemoth — and a major Apple frenemy.

A few years later, Microsoft will break through to the mainstream with Excel and Word, becoming a key developer of Macintosh software. Then comes the Windows operating system, looking suspiciously Apple-like. After that, Microsoft and Apple embark upon a long-running feud.

Today in Apple history: Apple is founded by Steve Jobs, Woz and Ron Wayne

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Apple logo
The original Apple logo, designed by Ron Wayne.
Photo: Apple

April 1: Today in Apple history: Apple founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne April 1, 1976: The Apple Computer Company gets its start as founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne set out to sell the $666 Apple-1 computer.

Apple will not officially become a corporation until January 3 the following year. By that time, Wayne is no longer a part of the business.

Today in Apple history: Apple moves into Bandley 1, its first custom HQ

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Bandley 1 was Apple's first purpose-built HQ.
Bandley 1 was Apple's first purpose-built HQ.
Photo: Dvorak

Jan 28: Today in Apple history: Apple moves into Bandley 1, its first custom HQ January 28, 1978: Apple Computer occupies its first custom-built office, giving the company a bespoke business center to house its growing operations.

A full 15 years before One Infinite Loop, and almost 40 before Apple Park’s stunning “spaceship” will land, 10260 Bandley Drive — aka “Bandley 1” — becomes the first purpose-built, permanent headquarters for the newly founded company.

Today in Apple history: Apple becomes a corporation

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money
Apple was incorporated 40 years ago today.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac/401Calculator

January 3: Today in Apple history: Apple becomes a corporation January 3, 1977: Apple Computer Co. is officially incorporated, with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak listed as co-founders.

Third Apple founder Ron Wayne — who initially invested in the company — is not part of the deal, after selling back his share in Apple for $800. The funding and expertise needed to turn Apple into a corporation is provided by a man named Mike Markkula, who becomes an important figure in Apple history.

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: The Byte Shop, Apple’s first retailer, opens

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Paul Terrell founded The Byte Shop on his birthday.
Paul Terrell founded The Byte Shop on his birthday.
Photo: NextShark/Paul Terrell

December 8: Today in Apple history: Early computer store The Byte Shop, Apple's first retailer, opens December 8, 1975: San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneur Paul Terrell opens The Byte Shop, one of the world’s first computer stores and the first to sell an Apple computer.

Years before Apple would open its own retail outlets, the Byte Shop stocks the first 50 Apple-1 computers built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.