Apple II Turns 30 Years Old
June 5th will mark the 30th birthday of the Apple II computer. There were other affordable hobbyist computer kits available before, but the Apple II was the first computer that was ready to run out of the box. It's not surprising that an Apple II was the first computer that I used in elementary school since Apple made inroads with the U.S. educational system from their earliest offerings. What may be a surprise is that the Apple II was manufactured up until 1993 (with some redesigns and cost-reduced versions), with many still in operation today. Between five and six million of the putty colored machines were sold, (which still isn't close to the Commodore 64's record of 17 million!).
The Apple II was a versatile machine, serving markets from classrooms to businesses. Further demonstrating it's strength the Apple II remained a strong seller while the company shifted to the Macintosh line. The Mac was an expensive and unproven machine, so it was a good idea to keep the Apple II around as a reliable source of income.
I admire the Apple II's continued availability well after its technology was far from cutting edge. I'm sure that continued income was chief in keeping a 1970's era design around until the 90's - a preposterous idea these days - but there was still life in the old platform yet.
I've always thought that the computer industry has lost touch with the idea of providing people with "just enough" computer. Does your grandma really need a multi-gigahertz PC to send simple emails or read the web? I guess that role was meant to be filled by Palm computers and the many failed internet appliances of the early 2000's.
So we've established that the Apple II is a long lived and well-known commodity. There's still one question no Apple fan has ever been able to answer for me: Why in the hell does that green power light get so hot? Ouch!