Technologizer

Behold, Some of the First Apple Computer Photos Ever

Apple's first dealer shares his 1976 photos of the Apple-1, the company's first product.

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Paul Terrell

The Byte Shop opens for business on December 8, 1975

Paul Terrell opened the Byte Shop in Mountain View, California in December of 1975. It was one of the first computer stores in the world, and did a lot to help popularize a business which just barely existed at the time. And it earned an even more legendary spot in tech history in 1976, when a couple of local proto-computer geeks tried to convince Terrell to sell the rudimentary PC they'd cobbled together.

Those geeks were Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. They called their machine the Apple-1, and it was a do-it-yourself kit; any buyers would have to solder the necessary chips onto the circuit board themselves, then supply accoutrements such as a power supply, keyboard and display.

Terrell was intrigued, but told Jobs that what he really needed were fully-assembled computers. In fact, if Jobs could come back with an assembled version of the Apple-1, the Byte Shop would buy fifty of them. Jobs did, and the Byte Shop became the first Apple dealer (it eventually offered the Apple-1 in a wooden case with keyboard and power supply).

Terrell's deal helped turn Apple from a project into a company. Just as important, it steered Jobs and Woz in the direction of making gadgets which were unusually approachable. Apple kept that concept going with 1977's Apple II. It's still at it today.

I've written about Terrell before; here's an old post which is mostly him telling the Apple-1 story in greater detail. But he knocked my socks off recently when he used Facebook to share some photos of the first Apple-1 from his fifty-machine order, which he took in 1976, when there were very, very few Apple products in existence. They're Polaroids — which seems like the right sort of photos for them to be, somehow — and if you know of any earlier Apple photos which survive, I'm impressed. Here they are, with Paul Terrell's kind permission.

This is the naked-but-assembled Apple-1 with an uncased keyboard (the aesthetic kind of reminds me of the original iMac, with its see-through case):

Here they are with a video monitor:

And here's the Apple-1 running the sort of program you'd write if you were learning to program in BASIC in the 1970s:

Just for good measure, this is another iconic system which the Byte Shop sold: MITS' Altair 8800, running Bill Gates and Paul Allen's BASIC:

The Apple-1 famously sold for $666.66. On Facebook, Terrell says that he paid $500 apiece (wholesale!) for his fifty systems, for a grand total of $25,000. The units which are still with us — I saw one during a tour of the Computer History Museum led by Steve Wozniak himself — are among computing's most valuable relics. (In June, Sotheby's sold an Apple-1 for $374,500.) And Terrell's original Polaroids? As far as I'm concerned, they're priceless.

55 comments
Fencemaster
Fencemaster

After Paul Terrell had sold the Byte Shop business, the Mountain View Byte Shop was replaced, sadly, with an adult video store. However, (in 2015) there's a business in the building that very much recognises the Apple / home computer legacy and is a far more appropriate tenant all round. It's a crowd-funded start up called Lockitron, which makes a hardware / app bit of kit that does something quite fitting considering the legacy of its location: It opens doors. 

bjdooley
bjdooley

I still have a Byte Shop catalog from, I think, 1978. Remains an interesting read, and a real look back at the dawn of an era.

MikeWillegal
MikeWillegal

The image is not that of a regular production Apple 1 - it is a pre-production prototype - if it still exists, it is probably worth 7 figures.

AnumakondaJagadeesh
AnumakondaJagadeesh

Rare pictures to be preserved which reminds the great personality Steve Jobs.Dr.A.Jagadeesh  Nellore(AP),India

BobLewis
BobLewis

I bought, instead, a "Byte 8" at the Byte Shop, It was an S100 System with Front panel, like the Altair & Imsai, but was a Kit, inclunding sockets & chips & raw boards, much like the Apple Kit. I brought my assembled "Byte 8" to the HBMUG meeting in Palo Alto,Xerox PARC center auditorium,  to show it off, and I saw Steve & Woz there, wth thier device. I think my comment to them was congratulations, you bult a Computer system, it just needs some packaging, to which Jobs replied in anger, that I should Shut the F up.... Figures...Even back then he was an Arrogant jerk. I was only helping, and of course he took offense. Funny how Woz, got the address of the Byte shop from me, however.... Ad thier number, in Mountain View.  I had a long retail relationship with the Byte shop during the time they were open.  I was at Intel  at the time, working on series 2 development systems, as a Lead tech.

Greekgeek
Greekgeek

I'm tempted to boot up the Apple ][ in my parents' basement when I visit this Christmas and snap a few photos of it with my iPad. ;) 

GaryDauphin
GaryDauphin

Those aren't Polaroids, by the way.  Those were taken on his iPhone4 and then Instagram'd.  No, really!

SteveHartsock
SteveHartsock

That sure looks like my Commodore VIC-20 keyboard. 

JamesAndersonMerritt
JamesAndersonMerritt

Before taking a job with Apple, I worked for North Star Computers, who put out a nice S-100 bus, Z80 processor computer called the North Star Horizon. You could put it together as a kit or buy them fully assembled. They had their own operating system and version of BASIC, which were very popular in the day. North Star's gear was very solid and well-regarded, and the company was an important competitor for the early Apple: in that context, I was very amused to learn, once I had jumped over to Apple, that the latter had used at least one Horizon as a development environment for Apple products. Hey, the best gear for the job, right? ;-)

JoeyGates
JoeyGates

apple sucks so bad tho!!! but yes the great woz needs a little more credit to his name..any who... pc for life!!

rapp
rapp

Bought my first computer in 1973 an all in one Wang 2200 PC with advanced Basic in ROM. It had 16K of ram, a tape drive and with the high speed parallel printer cost $9200.00. It did all of our storm and sanitary sewer design, watermain design, pump head loss calculations, payroll and collating time/expenses etc. using software that I wrote. The Wang was stoll running in 2000 when I gave it to a local computer museum. 

Once the Apple II+ came out I was hooked and then owned the Apple III, Lisa, Fat Mac, SE, SE30 and many other Mac and iMac computers. I love my Mac Mini (PPC), 27" iMac, iPod and iPad. Those were certainly the good old days.

GaryRMcCray
GaryRMcCray

Saw the prototype of this (mostly wire-wrapped) back in 1975 when the 2 Steve's brought it in to the Kentucky Fried Computer Store (Later NorthStar) in Berkeley to show it off.

Instantly liked Steve Wozniak.

I thought the single board computer concept was great but I thought the segmented architecture of the MOS 6502 was a little lame and sort of dismissed it.

I was using the "superior" Intel 8080 in S-100 computers at the time.

Not one of my better fortune telling moments, but I was really happy that it was so successful for them.

When I saw the title of this I figured it was one of your's Harry, Good job.

Built my first 8080 computer from scratch, designed and wire wrapped it myself and got Bill's small Basic running on it Got most of the Parts from the Electric Brain in San Ramon.

My second one was a George Morrow split octal 8080 front panel board I got direct from George at his house in Berkeley, 5th or 6th one as I recall.

DougFarmer
DougFarmer

Ahh the good old days.  I bought my first Apple (an Apple ][+ with a whopping 48 kilobytes of RAM) for $1,899 August of 1980 and I've never looked back.  Back then software was stored on cassette tape and you could, if you had a dual tape deck on you home audio system, copy a friends software quickly and easily.  As cool as those time were though I far prefer my iMac and iPad. :)

MikeLand
MikeLand

Oh, remember Babbages at the malls?  A friend had to remind me they later became Game Stop.

MikeLand
MikeLand

I built a lot of kits back then.  It were mainly logic circuits, some Sinclairs and the odd 8088 system.  Then I got into Trash-80's and had them so modified that you could never close it back together.  I experimented with peripherals and had every conceivable storage system.  It amazed me that I could use an audo reel to reel, 8" floppy, stringy floppy (cartridge tape), and finally a hard drive for storage.   Ifirst set my dad up with a database management system at his work using it.  Then it went to a rec faciilty and managed the registration and banking.  In the end of its life, it was a terminal for me to access bigger university based systems.  I miss those days.

daviandmary
daviandmary

I built an Elf II and then bought an Apple II. Ah, those were the days, weren/t they? My how the compuer has evoved.

CitizenX
CitizenX

I worked with the Terrell Brothers at the Byte Shop NorthWest from 1980 to 1985.

verif26
verif26

It is very nice, when you see how computer business begun.I think that the history of computer business should be called 'Apple history'