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.

51 comments
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'

PaulTerrell
PaulTerrell

@BobLewis Long live the Byte 8 !!!! Does it still run? Paul Allen is doing a Living Computer Museum in Seattle and would love to have one....

PaulTerrell
PaulTerrell

@Greekgeek Thank God for the Apple II with a 5 1/4" Floppy Disk Drive and Visicalc!!!! Personal Computing was finally on the road to greatness!! Killer App (Application) meets Personal Computer not kit or hobby anymore.


PaulTerrell
PaulTerrell

@GaryDauphin  Wish I had an iPhone Apple stopped selling me product many years ago when I didn't comply with there Dealership program. But that's another story.

PaulTerrell
PaulTerrell

@JamesAndersonMerritt What a great product the Horizon was but North Star played a more important role in the evolution of the personal computer by designing the first floppy disk controller for the Shugart 5 1/4 inch floppy drive for the s100 bus and saved my ass at Byte Shop because I had an exclusive contract with Don Massaro the president of Shugart for the HOBBY Computer market and had no idea how we were going to interface them to anything or even more important ... How were we going to control them!!! Thank GOD for Digital Research and a Disk Operating System... Love you Gary Kildall ! CPM forever....

mcmixmaster
mcmixmaster

@JoeyGates yeah, that is why Apple is the fastest growing computer company in the world.  You may be PC for life, but you better learn linux or Mac.  Microsoft is about to loose the OS market with Windows 8.  They bet everything on it and it's failing.  Apple has a built in spell check and grammar engine.  This would be very useful for you.

Greekgeek
Greekgeek

@rapp Last time I checked -- which admittedly was some years ago -- my ][+ still booted. They don't make computers like that anymore!Of course, that would be because they lack a hard drive and have only 64K with an upgrade card. Details...

DavidClaudeWarlick
DavidClaudeWarlick

@rapp I made computers in the summer of 1965 for a local engineering company (Rockville, MD).  The computer had an aluminum frame about the size of say a 3' x 6' table.  The frame was filled with ceramic connectors, each say 4" x 1", and each containing perhaps 20 pin holes. Our first step was to write letters on one edge and numbers on the other edge of the frame.  Then every hole had a column, row, and pin number.  We had a book perhaps 1" thick of wire size, starting hole, and ending hole:  say 20" wire, from hole A.4.19 to hole L.10.3.  We would select a 20" wire and connect the two identified holes using pressure (that is, we had a tool to jam the wires tightly into each hole).  It took 2 men (or women) several weeks to fill a frame.  Then we attached a card reader, which could read one IBM paper card at a time if someone inserted the card, pressed together the two sides of the reader, and then removed the card.  The wiring got so thick at the end that it became hard to find the pin holes.  My job was to insert the wires, so I never saw the final computer in action.

 I used an Apple III for one day.  It had to be one of the world's worst computers.  It was DOS, meaning every time it needed to make an operation, it would first spin the disk drive, take the appropriate instructions into active memory, do the instructions, then look at the next operation, again spin the disk, again download the required operating instructions, do the operation, and repeat.  It took forever to do anything.  I hope everyone appreciates today's power of having huge RAM.

My office had the first Mac.  As I recall, it looked like a 1949 TV in a large case with a tiny screen.  The head admin guy in the company loved the Mac.  The rest of us had the Xerox 860, an excellent word processor that Xerox drove into the ground (for instance, Xerox sold its "spell checker" for $1000, an amount that got you one 8" floppy disk with a limited number of words.)  All Xerox wanted was enough profit to buy gold chains for their VPs.  They had no concept of consumer value or CRM or feedback or just listening.  For instance, the 860 had a typewriter keyboard with no function keys, and when my company suggested that Xerox add more keys, the gold-covered senior VP said his research showed that his customers liked simple keyboards.  Good luck with that, Xerox.

fajarpri
fajarpri

@MikeLand 

My first computer was a Sinclair in the 80s. Well, it's not mine.. I borrowed it from my neighbor :) Amazing how all the games title was in a cassette and we load it using a small radio cassette. I had to adjust the volume to the correct one to load it successfully. It was good memory. I wish kids nowadays are taught about computer history by seeing them in action.

PaulTerrell
PaulTerrell

@CitizenX Can you believe we are all still ALIVE... Was it my brother Mike in Byte Shop Bellevue or Pat in Portland

PaulTerrell
PaulTerrell

@verif26 I'm satisfied thinking of it as IBM even thought there were others beside Tom Watson but hen you say computer and history I think IBM is the company that makes me think computer. APPLE isn't done yet and as the biggest company in the WORLD today and I don't want to Name Them for at least another 20 years but they will be far more significant than just computer business and as far as Commodore goes they were the company that made personal computing Consumer computing  and brought the price point to the consumer level like they did with calculators. ... Question.... Who took Hobby Computing to Personal Computing????

Paul_J_Lucas
Paul_J_Lucas

@verif26 Except Commodore also played a major role in the early days of computers that is often overlooked. The PETs, Commodore 64s, and VIC 20s far outsold anything at the time, including Apple chiefly due to them being far less expensive. Also Commodore owed it success to Jack Tramiel, it also eventually faltered because of his mis-management. A great book on Commodore history is, "On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore."

PaulTerrell
PaulTerrell

@BobLewis Did you know Todd Andersen Byte Shop #2 Santa Clara he to was an Intel Engineer before he saw the light of personal computing. Steve Leininger from National Semi would hang out in Todd's Byte Shop and build machines for customers in the back room before he took a job with Charlie Tandy and designed the TRS 80.

JamesAndersonMerritt
JamesAndersonMerritt

@PaulTerrell @JamesAndersonMerritt  My first North Star floppy disc was hooked up to a Processor Technology Sol-20.You'll remember it was a sweet, good-looking little console with one of the best-feeling full-size keyboards in the industry at that time. I got the gig at North Star by sending them a long and detailed critique of N* BASIC. By the way, Paul, I miss going to Byte Shops. I used to frequent the Berkeley store, and at one time worked for a competitor (the pilot Computerland store in Hayward, originally called Computer Shack). The dedicated hobbyist computer shops were more than retail establishments. They were hubs of geek culture: a lot of learning, connecting and pizza eating went on there! Too bad we don't have more such stores around today.

PaulTerrell
PaulTerrell

@harrymccracken @JamesAndersonMerritt North Star saved my Butt by designing the first floppy disk interface for the S100 Bus that worked with the Revolutionary Shugart 5 1/4" Floppy Disk Drive that got the whole PC Industry away from those cassette recorders and those cassette recorders got us away from paper tape readers for loading programs into computers... And of course after many sales of North Star Drives came the North Star Horizon. WOW! Little did Don Massaro know when he called me to his office at Shugart to discuss the PC Industry and how it might impact the sales of the 8" Floppy Disk Market and the profit margins he was getting from the professional computer manufacturers, what impact that was going to have on his company and the growth of the industry that product helped spawned. We would have gone nowhere without reliable data storage.


gartlc
gartlc

@mcmixmaster @JoeyGates "Apple has a built in spell check and grammar engine. This would be very useful for you." Says the person who said "Microsoft is about to LOOSE the OS market with Windows 8".

Check your own grammar first.

mattack
mattack

@DavidClaudeWarlick @rapp That's not at all what "DOS" means.  Apple III's DOS (SOS) is similar to the later ProDOS on 8 bit Apple IIs.  It sounds like you used a bad *program* that read from disk all of the time.

PaulTerrell
PaulTerrell

@harrymccracken @GaryRMcCray  MicroProcessor for $25 are you KIDDING!!! That's what MADE the 6502 chip when Chuck Peddle showed up at WESCON that year and he and his wife where selling the processor out of their Hotel room because WESCON wouldn't allow sales on the floor of the Convention Hall. That price blew the socks off of Intel Pricing an Motorola was just as bad in Pricing.

Gifted1
Gifted1

Hi Paul, I used to hang out at the Byte Shop in Tacoma, WA as a kid. Some great guys there. 

DavidCulp
DavidCulp

@Paul_J_Lucas @verif26 Thank you!  It REALLY bothers me that most people overlook the massive contributions of Commodore (which had a superior machine at the time) and many other companies.  The history of personal computing is NOT the history of Apple and the Apple II was not as revolutionary as it is made out to be and I AM an Apple fan and even own a few vinatge Apple computers including an Apple I replica!

mcmixmaster
mcmixmaster

@Paul_J_Lucas @verif26 I had both the Vic 20 and Commodore 64.  They were great for the time.  True blue Apple fan now, but work in an IT department that supports a majority of PC.

JamesAndersonMerritt
JamesAndersonMerritt

@PaulTerrell @MrKokoRo@SteveHartsock   /* speaking in congress member's voice */ "That was a pretty nice business there. Shame that something happened to it." Next time vote Libertarian. ;-) And best of luck in future ventures.

PaulTerrell
PaulTerrell

@MrKokoRo @PaulTerrell @SteveHartsock Rob,

Can you believe it took an ACT of CONGRESS to put me out of business by outlawing Software rental. The try it you'll like it software rental program was ahead of it's time and of course it's totally legal today by downloading APS from the cloud!!!!

DavidClaudeWarlick
DavidClaudeWarlick

@mcmixmaster @Paul_J_Lucas @verif26 The Commodore 64 was great except its disk drive.  The drive would "center" itself by banging against a fixed pin, and then read the inserted 5.25" disk.  It didn't take long for the "fixed" pin to move, and render the disk unreadable (or at least untrackable).  The solution was to drill a hole in a very specific spot on the underside of the drive, then insert a screwdriver to re-locate the pin.  The process was tedious, but it was the best we had at the time (say 1980 to 1981).  Yes, the only problem with Commodore was its management, not its computers.