Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Happy Birthday, Apple!

Steve and Steve

April 1, 2006 marks the 30th birthday of Apple Computer, Inc. I know I'm a few days early, but I wanted to beat the rush before everyone checks their calendars. The company was founded in Mountain View, California by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne.

In a way, it's nothing short of a miracle that Apple has survived three decades. It's almost impossible for a company to consistently innovate, yet Apple managed to repeatedly break new ground and take unimaginable risks for three decades. They were among the first to market a single-board microcomputer (the Apple I) and their followup Apple II was a smash success because of its brilliant technical design (a single board machine with an innovative and affordable floppy drive system that did much of its low-level work in software). Had the company faded from glory after producing the Apple II series, they would still have earned an important spot in history.

Of course, the story didn't end there. Apple went on to develop the Lisa and Macintosh, with their revolutionary graphic user interface and newfangled mouses. The company also dabbled in handhelds (the Newton MessagePad, among others), and migrated successfully from Motorola chips onto IBM's Power PC architecture in the mid-1990s. After that, they floundered for a while until Steve Jobs returned in 1997 and helped to revive the company with a new operating system based upon technology from his not-so-successful Next computer startup. That was followed in short order by the decidedly different hard drive-based iPod music player. The iPod has now sold over 43,000,000 units and shows no sign of losing its dominance in the industry.

What became of the founders? Well, Steve Wozniak originally dreamed of being a lifelong Hewlett-Packard engineer. It's a lucky thing for us that his talents went unrecognized at HP and he agreed to become "one of the engineers" at Apple. He quit Apple in the mid-1980s and recently helped to fund a company that acquires promising technology startups. You'll still see him from time to time as a VIP guest at Apple product rollouts, because he loves new gear as much as any of us.Steve Jobs had a tumultuous time in the 1980s. He was ousted from Apple and went on to bankroll computer maker Next and computer graphics company Pixar. Again, it's lucky for us that he returned to Apple a few years ago and continued to spin his "reality distortion field" while championing a roomful of innovative new technologies. And Ronald Wayne? Sadly, Wayne sold his 10% share of the company a short while after the company was founded for a few hundred dollars.

Happy birthday, Apple. We look forward to seeing what the next 30 years bring.

Here are a few recent Apple-themed posts from Retro Thing:

Apple II - Setting the Benchmark For Home Computing in the Late 1970s: The splash made by the Apple 1 computer would have been a mere footnote in computing history if it had not been followed by the incredibly successful Apple II.

The Macintosh Portable: How Far We've Come: The Mac Portable was introduced in 1989. It was a stunning (and stunningly hefty) piece of engineering that featured massive lead-acid batteries capable of keeping it running for over eight hours.

Newton MessagePad: On The Bleeding Edge: For a while it seemed that touch-screen tablets were poised to take over the computing world.

Briel Computers Apple 1 Clone: The Replica 1 is a modernized version of the original Apple I computer.


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