On April Fools’ Day in 1976 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded the Apple Computer Company.
Wozniak set about designing the first Apple around the Motorola 6800, before he learned of the cheaper MOS Technology 6502 which was launched at $25 and was helpfully fully pin-compatible with the 6800.
Yet his ambition in doing this appears to be much more about impressing his friends at the club rather than any plan to form a company.
Wozniak handed out copies of his completed design to the members of the Homebrew, including all the code within his Monitor software; he was keen to see them develop their own versions. Wozniak was simply trying to strut his stuff with his mates.
It was his friend Steve Jobs who noticed that while members took the data few actually got round to doing anything with them. He proposed they build and sell the boards to club members; most had their own sources for the chips.
They could obtain the boards for $20 and sell them on at $40. The original Apple I was therefore securely in the hobbyist phase of the market.
It was supplied without a power supply and there was no keyboard or display device, although significantly it was able to output to a standard television receiver rather than the expensive video display units of the time.
Initially it also came without any form of outer casing, the suggestion was that users could then customise the Apple by creating their own cases – perhaps from wood, metal or even in the form of a leather briefcase.
Wozniak had concluded it needed a language and had seen the BASIC developed by Microsoft for the Altair; the Club had a copy of this on punched paper tape. Also he was aware of David Ahl’s 101 BASIC Computer Games book.
He decided the Apple should have BASIC, but found there was no published version for the 6502; so he wrote one. He wrote it out in longhand using hexadecimals as writing programs otherwise meant acquiring an assembler and time-share access and therefore incurred costs.