RESOURCE:

Apple II Personal Computer

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Source, Artifacts
Date Posted: 3/12/2012

In 1976, computer pioneers Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs began selling their Apple I computer in kit form to computer stores. A month later, Wozniak was working on a design for an improved version, the Apple II. They demonstrated a prototype in December, and then introduced it to the public in April 1977. The Apple II started the boom in personal computer sales in the late 1970s, and pushed Apple into the lead among personal computer makers.

The Apple II used a MOS 6502 chip for its central processing unit. It came with 4 KB RAM, but could be extended up to 48 KB RAM. It included a BASIC interpreter and could support graphics and a color monitor. External storage was originally on cassette tape, but later Apple introduced an external floppy disk drive. Among the Apple II's most important features were its 8 expansion slots on the motherboard. These allowed hobbyists to add additional cards made by Apple and many other vendors who quickly sprung up. The boards included floppy disk controllers, SCSI cards, video cards, and CP/M or PASCAL emulator cards.

In 1979 Software Arts introduced the first computer spreadsheet, Visicalc for the Apple II. This "killer application" was extremely popular and fostered extensive sales of the Apple II.

The Apple II went through several improvements and upgrades. By 1984, when the Macintosh appeared, over 2 million Apple II computers had been sold.


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