The Apple I was the result of the development efforts of Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and Ron Wayne. It was developed, not in a garage, but in the bedroom of Steve Wozniak's home on 11161 Crist Drive in Los Altos (the house number was later changed to 2066). Steve Wozniak built the printed circuit-board, while Ron Wayne wrote the Apple-1 Operation Manual at his home. Steve Jobs did what he does best, advertising the Apple I to friends and family. They first previewed the Apple I in action during a May 1976 meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club. Paul Terell, the owner of the Byte Shop, the only computer store chain at the time, was impressed by what he saw and promised to buy 50 fully assembled computers for $500 each. As you can see, the machine was intended for hobbyist that would add ASCII keyboards and displays after buying the bare circuit board. It was not meant to be pre-built with fully-assembled displays and attachments. Jobs insisted it could be done and with the help of Woz, Bill Fernandez (who introduced Jobs to Woz) and Daniel Kottke (a friend of Jobs) they were able to build by hand all 50 of the motherboards on the second-to-last day before their loaned parts were due. They were not the "fully assembled" computers Terell had asked for, but he paid the men the cash they needed to pay off loans and make a good profit. Apple later sold the Apple I for $666.66 before being replaced by the much more practical and user friendly Apple II. Look at a screen shot of the Apple-1 display.
Processor: MOS Technology 6502 processor running at 1.023 MHz.
Memory: Came with 4k RAM (expandable to 8k, 65k with clever hack).
Ports: any standard ASCII keyboard that could be installed (as shown at right), and any monitor.
Display: frame rate of 60.05 Hz, could support 40 characters per line at 24 lines, with automatic scrolling.
Woz built the Apple I to run BASIC, so games could be programmed and played on it. It was a game machine for the most part. Woz thought the binary switches of the Altair 8800 and similar PCs were not user friendly enough so he wrote a BASIC language assembler into the ROM by hand using only hex. The Apple I did allow you to play around with the system using the 6502 disassembler though, following the philosophy that every user should be allowed to know everything about their computer.
Although the final pricing for the Apple I was $666.66, Jobs originally wanted to sell it for $777.77. Woz insisted that this price was to high so he agreed to sell it for $666. When he was asked why he picked this number (the mark of Satan) he answered that he just took a lucky number, 7, and subtracted one.
Ron Wayne, the unknown third founder of Apple, left the company shortly after Apple delivered their first order. The reason behind this was because Jobs planned to go highly in debt to build large quantities of the Apple I. Having lost a lot of money in other investments with new computer companies, he wrote a letter of resignation to Apple and gave back his 10% in Apple stock. He received $500 in cash for the work he had done.
Resources and Related Links:
The Apple I entry at Glen Sanford's A History of Apple Computer
The original Apple-1 Operation Manual converted to HTML by Achim Breidenbach
The Apple I section of John Stile's emulation.net which includes Boinx Software's Sim6502, an Apple I emulator
Thanks go to Glen also for providing the picture of the Apple-1 circuit board.
Picture at left from A History of Apple Computer, picture at right from emulation.net.