News about computers, microcomputers, hobbyist, robotics, computing, museums, Bugbooks, Computers at Bugbook Historical Computer Museum, Floyd VA - the history makers present and historical.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Apple 1 Computer - Bob Luther author of "The First Apple" interviews of people from start up days of Apple Computer

My wife and I had the pleasure of an 8 day cruise up the East Coast and this gave me time for reading. I read "The First Apple" by Bob Luther for the second time.
David Larsen, bugbook,bugbooks,
"The First Apple" by Bob Luther
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Most of the people he included were involved in the start up of the Apple Computer Company.  I found reading these interviews very interesting and I learned a lot more about the early days of the Apple Company. The folks Bob interviewed had great bits of information and stories to share.

If you have an interest in any of the people in this list below "The First Apple" book is the place to read a current interview about them in their own words. A lot of good reading with about 300 pages of interviews.

I have included a few excerpts of  interviews below with permission of Bob Luther.

   Bob Luther tells you in his own voice what inspired him to write his book "the first Apple"

Allen Baum        
Mario Boglioni
Joey Copson
Rick Crandall
Bill Fernandez
Elizabeth Holmes
Dick Huston
Federico Ini
Sallam Ismail
Steve Jobs
Dan Kottke
Dave Larsen
Liza Loop
Lonnie Mimms
Neil Goldberg
Owen O’Mahony
Jef Raskin
Charles Ricketts
Wendell Sander
Risley Sams
Adam Schoolsky
Mike Scott
Dan Sokol
Craig Solomonson
Paul Terrell
Bruce Waldack
David Waldack
Ron Wayne
Randy Wigginton
Mike Willegal
Steve Wozniak 

Excerpts from Ron Wayne interview - Ron was one of the 3 original owners of the Apple Company. 
PG 117-118
Bugbook historical Microcomputer Museum
Ron Wayne
Bob- Did you leave before they started making the Apple-1?
Ron Wayne- I backed out of the situation twelve days after I drew up the contract. So I was never really involved in the workings of the whole Apple enterprise. I’ve been the ‘unknown founder” for decades.
I’ve had many vocations in my life, failing at each. I’ll put it to you this way. I’ve never been rich, but I’ve never been hungry either. And I’ve done a lot of fun stuff, and pursued many interesting things in my lifetime.
I’m absolutely convinced that I’ll go down as a footnote in history, literally because I happened to have known someone. Steve Jobs’ name will ring through the corridors of time. He’s had a very phenomenal, very productive, and very dominant life of activity in the computer world.

PG 120
It seems I made a very foolish mistake many years ago, roughly twenty years ago. I ran across an ad that somebody was running a guy who deals in famous autographs. And I’m thinking to myself, look…I’ve got this contract sitting in a filing cabinet collecting dust. Maybe I can turn this into some money, which at the time I could use. So I got in touch with the guy, and we negotiated, and that contract was sold to him for five hundred dollars. And you know what happened to that contract?
Bob- It sold at auction for one $1,500,000.

RonNow you got it. I’ve always been a day late and a dollar short.
Excerpts From interview with Adam Schoolsky a friend of Wozniak in the very early days of Apple. Adam tells about the Zaltair Computer spoof he and Wozniak did at the First West Coast Computer Fair in 1977 - The Computer that never was.
PG 258-259
Bob- In terms of the fair, did they need some help maintaining the booth? How did you
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Adam Schoolsky
come about participating in that?
Adam- Steve and I had done those Zaltair brochures for that thing. I did help out in the booth. I think I was there mostly to check things out, and to distribute Zaltair brochures.
Bob- Was the Zaltair prank something you and Steve had planned out much in advance?
Adam- What we did was, I’d gone to his apartment a few weeks in advance, and we basically hashed the thing out. So that it would be untraceable. I went to a printing place in LA, and I had them typeset it and print it. They printed several huge boxes of them. We had them printed in four really bright colors. And I printed thousands of these. Then I went to another place, and I had them print envelopes, because we were going to mail them out. Steve paid for it, and I just shipped this stuff up to him on PSA. You know, you used to be able to air freight. I’d go to PSA and ship all of them, twenty dollars or whatever to ship all of them up there by air freight.
Bob- What was the thinking behind doing this? It was just a goof or something?
Adam- The Altair was the popular computer at the time. So what we did was to screw with them. The Apple ll was coming out, and it had capabilities that nothing else had. One of the things on the Zaltair flier was a chart – it was pretty funny – and it had these totally meaningless benchmarks. It had all of the current competitors of Altair; Apple, Processor Technology, and Sphere, and whoever else we put on there. And it had benchmarks features like speed, numbers that were totally meaningless. Of course, everything for the Zaltari was like, 1.0 or whatever, and then all the others are like 0.5. But they didn't relate to anything. Anyway, that was pretty funny. One of the ones we did, we just put ‘Apple.’ It didn't say ‘Apple-1’ or ‘Applell‘ it was just ‘Apple.’ And, of course, for Apple, which was the Apple-1, we just put really low numbers. Because we knew the Apple ll was coming out, which was going to be way better than the Apple-1.
Anyway, we’d take stacks of these things and dump them on the literature table. All these companies had tables, and they’d put literature out. So we’d put stacks of these brochures out, and go by, see that the stack was gone, and we’d go and put out another pile. There were like fifteen thousand of these things. They had one or two of them up- It was a riot!- in the MITs booth, on the wall, and they’d written on them in black magic marker ‘FRAUD!’ It was pretty funny. Yeah, it was good.

View Copy of original Zaltair Brochure "CLICK"
Randy Wigginton was Apple employee #6 and worked at Apple for 9 years. I was specially interested in this interview because Randy mentions his brother built some cases for the Apple 1 computer and I have been trying to find out who built the case for my Apple 1 - I still do not no for sure.
PG 69
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Randy Wigginton
Bob- Your involvement with Apple from the beginning is one of those things that turned out to be a good happenstance, in your case.
Randy- Well think about it, I mean most everything is sort of happenstance. Really we don’t control much of our own fate.
Bob - How long did you work at Apple?
Randy- Basically up through 1985. For nine years or so.
Bob- Do you have good memories about the Apple-1 or the very early days?
Randy- Oh, God, there were so many. People always say they joined the company in the garage stage. Well, I joined in the couch stage. We weren't big enough for the garage yet. We were on the couch, you know. It eventually moved over to Jobs’ garage and building stuff there. My brother built some of the original cases for the Apple-1’s. Everything was very mom and pop. When the company became real, we rented office space.
Bob- The third founder, Ron Wayne, was there for a very short time. When you joined, was he already gone?
Randy- Well, I met him. But Apple was incorporated twice. They incorporated once in early ’76. Ron was never part of the second incorporation of Apple. He was still around, but he never really did that much. You know, I mean he drew some diagrams and wrote up some documentation, but that was kind of it.
Read the book for 299 pages more Apple history.

David Larsen KK4WW
David Larsen

I did enjoy this second read of Bob Luther's book and the interviews provided much early and interesting history of Apple.

"by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apple 1 computer brings record price at auction of $905,000 - Bonhams auction

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Working 1976 model sells at Bonhams' History of Science sale          

The Apple 1 computer designed by Steve Wozniak - Only 200 were manufactured and sold in 1976/77. About 40 are known to still exist in museums and private collections. The $905,000 price is a record for this highly desirable museum collectible. The previous high price was set by the Breker auction company in Germany -  Apple 1 sold for $621,400 in 2013.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Apple 1 computer 
The Apple 1 was not very popular because it was only a computer-on-a-board and the user had to add a keyboard, power transformers, &  display. Steve Wozniak realized he needed a more user friendly computer & started to design the Apple ll long before all the Apple 1's were sold.  The Apple Company took back many of the Apple 1 computers as a trade in for the much better Apple ll .

Steve Jobs sold his VW and Steve Wozniak sold his HP calculator to start there Apple business.The Apple Company may not have succeed if Steve Jobs had not been successful in selling the first 50 Apple 1 computers to Paul Terrell for sale in his Byte Shop computer stores This $25,000 sale was the financing needed to get Apple started. It was not easy for the Steve's to interest investors to provide start up funds. One person approached was Stan Veit owner of the first computer store on the East Coast.  Jobs offered a 10 percent ownership of the Apple Company if Stan would invest $10,000. Stan turned the offer down with the idea that his money was better used in his own "Computer Mart" in New York. The interesting stories about the Apple 1 and the start of the Apple company by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs are endless & the Apple 1 computer started what is now one of the most successful businesses in the world.  

The Henry Ford organization was the buyer (reported Reuters) , which plans to display the computer in its museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Apple 1 sold at auction 

Bonhams auction house had suggested the Apple 1 would bring $300,000 to $500,000.  It was reported that more than 100 bidders participated to set the record price of $905,000.

Bonhams video of the Apple 1 computer. "CLICK"

David Larsen.
The Apple 1 computer continues to bring record prices and is  a unique microcomputer . Some are predicting prices of over a million $ by the end of 2016. This is very speculative as many factors affect the price of collectibles. This price does look very good for a group of investors who purchased an Apple 1 computer several years ago for over $300,000.  
."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vintage Computer Rare SCELBI on display in "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"

The SCELBI 8B is a rare computer - according to the developer Nat Wadsworth only about 200 SCELBI computers were made in 1974/75.  One hundred of them were the 8B (Business Model).
Click on Photo to enlarge

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
SCELBI 8B Microcomputer
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Mike Willagel (on  his blog) indicated only about 12 original  models are know to be in museums. Mike estimates 20 to 40 originals still in collections and closets.  This SCELBI  has been in our collection 25 years and I purchased it from Robert Forman of Portland, Oregon. Robert purchased the bare boards and built the computer adding his own customs cards you see on the right side of the computer.

Mike Willagel has made clone cards for the SCELBI & some folks have made clone computers from the cards.

Go here for more information about the computer in this blog including a video with close up view of the cards & original purchase receipt   "CLICK".

          David give a little history about his SCELBI Microcomputer

Click on photo to enlarge 
bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Display in museum with SCELBI  Microcomputer 
The SCELBI computer is on the second shelf down - right side, 

Computers in this display case top L-R Superjolt, LSI 11,the Tent card describing the SCELBI and copy of 1974 SCELBI advertisement.

2nd shelf Commodore 128 and SCELBI 8B.

Bottom shelf HP 85 microcomputer & Kaypro lugable computer.

On the top of case is a display of amateur radio publications.

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
SCELBI computer information

Close up of tent card describing the SCELBI in display case and copy of  First SCELBI advertisement in 1974 OST amateur radio magazine. A copy of the 1974 QST is in our collection.

You can read the tent card information and see the advertisement
Click on the  photo to enlarge and read.

More Reference information about SCELBI Computers.

Mike Willegal's hobby Blog

Build Your Own SCELBI

John Calande - His SCELBI Clone

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Bell & Howell Apple 2 computer

We have been busy today in the museum. Packed this Bell & Howell Apple 2 for shipment to "Alex's Apple Orchard" Museum collection.

It is not known how many of these computers are in collections however they are becoming rare and collectible.

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Bell & Howell Apple ll computer

When Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started to sell the Apple 2 computer - Jobs was not sure he could sell in the educational market and made a deal with Bell & Howell to sell to schools.   Jobs realized very soon he did not need  Bell & Howell and canceled the agreement.

David Larsen
We are having a good time with our "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" in Floyd, Virginia. Lots of visitors and nice to have Grayson a doing an Independent Study as graduate student from Virginia Tech (VT).  I taught about using these early microcomputers at VT for 31 years and retired in 1998.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vintage computers - "iWoz" Steve Wozniak's book by Wozniak & Smith - My comments - a good read

info click
Anyone having an interest in the Apple Computer company and how it all started will really enjoy this book. Steve's book has been in print for 8 years - if you missed it now is a good time do your read. Their are many reasons for the tremendous success of Apple however it all started with Steve Wozniak
bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Click image to enlarge
designing the Apple 1 microcomputer.  Their were many good breaks as the company developed and sometimes just being in the right place at the right time was a big help. Steve Jobs convinced Wozniak to sell his Apple 1 computer and was the marketing guru that made the company grow to what it is today and those first months of the start up are very interesting.

Did you know that the first partnership of the Apple company included 3 people not just the 2 Steve's. Ron Wayne was in on the  original official founding and actually is the one who wrote the partnership agreement and at that time owned 10 percent of the Apple company? Only 12 days after the partnership Ron dropped out and received about $800 for his interest. CNN story about Ron Wayne.

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Wozniak as Woz
Steve Wozniak ( Steve often goes by just Woz ) designed the Apple 1 and Apple ll totally on his own and also wrote the initial software monitor and Basic program.  Steve was and is a very smart and clever designer.  Woz wanted to give the plans of the Apple 1 for free and in fact did so at Homebrew Computer Club meetings. Of course without the Apple 1 their would be no Apple Company today.

The first sale made by Steve Jobs was just a few days after the original partnership was signed and he sold 50 Apple 1's to Paul Terrell owner of Byte Shop. It could be that without this sale their would be no Apple Computer Company today.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum, bugbook
Zaltair computer - steve wozniak
 "Zaltair Computer"      A really great practical joke that Steve Wozniak  pulled of at the First West Coast Computer Faire in April 1977.  Steve says in his book "iWoz" that he likes to do practical jokes and have someone else get blamed for doing the joke. In the case of the Zaltair he did a very good job and did not get accused of being the originator of the joke in fact Gary Ingram at Processor Technology was the one accursed of doing the hoax. The hoax was directed toward the Ed Roberts and his Mitts Altair 8800 microcomputer. Steve called his friend Adam Schoolsky to come help with this hoax.

More about the Zaltair.

   Woz with Apple 1
Photo by Dan Sokol
I recommend reading the book to learn in Woz's words about the start up of the Apple company and his own story. It is worth a second read if you like history and these fascinating story's told by Woz. The book "iWoz" published in 2006 and was on the New York Times best seller list.

David Larsen

I had the opportunity to read this book for a second time and I learned many new interesting story's  about Wozniak and the Apple Computer Company - a good read

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vintage Computer - the first portable computer at 200 lbs - Autonetics Recomp 501 (1958)

                  Click photo to enlarge
info click
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Autonetics Recomp 501 digital computer
The Autonetics Recomp 501 is also the very first commercial transistor digital computer. Autonetics computer is now displayed in our museum.  We moved the computer from the warehouse into the museum to help show the time line of computing before the microcomputer revolution.  This computer is serial # 003 & some components in it are date coded 1958 - this may be the earliest transistor digital computer in any a museum.  We are  delighted to have it -- WOW it is small but very heavy - about 200 lbs.

Autonetics Recomp 501 digital computer, bugbook
Autonetics Recomp computer in museum
The computer looks good with all the cards exposed - here it is in the museum.  The size is about 30 inch's high & 40 inch's in length.

It looks like a nice piece of art with all the cards, gold connectors and 1000's of wires connecting the cards.

    David tells about the Autonetics computer he acquired 25 years ago.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Click on photo to enlarge
Bugbook Historical micrcomputer Museum
1958 ad for first 200 lb transistor computer
 This has to be the very first advertisement for a portable computer -about 1958. Look at the photo and see the two fellows carrying this 200 lb computer onto a construction site – WOW what a imagination. This computer is very heavy and these fellows are carrying it like it is only  30 lbs.
Here is some text from the advertisement.

200 lb computer – Portable Digital Computer that can solve your problems where they happen.

It may be a highway construction job --- oil exploration --- and aerial exploration. Where ever your problems happen – in the field – office – or lab.


Here is one side panel with the PC cards. It is built very solid and must have taken a very long time to build by hand.

David Larsen, kk4ww,bugbook,
Autonetics Recomp 501 digital computer

There must be at least 1000 wires in the backplane - all white. Building this computer required lots of Advil. This photo shows only a small part of the wiring.

David Larsen, kk4ww,bugbook,
Autonetics Recomp computer 

Drum memory - looks like the all the registers as well as the data are on this form of memory - ie Accumulator - the instructions were executed serially so this is a very slow computer. 

Autonetics Recomp 501 digital computer

Archive photograph - full operational setup.  This photo takes away the idea that this is a portable computer.

Here is link to another Autonetics computer that I worked on in 1960 and the Recomp computer supplied many ideas for this ICBM computer.

A few references for the seriously interested - a service manual and more.

More photos and information about our Autonetics computer.

Recomp service manual - just in the event you have one and need to get it running.

This list claims the Recomp is the 118th type of digital computer every made

David Larsen
I have had this computer in my collection for 25 years or more and wish I had records of where it came from. I just remember it being in a corner with about 10 or so minicomputers. Most of the minicomputers have gone out to other collectors like Bob Rosenbloom 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Vintage Computer BBC Documentary "iWonder - History of Computing Timeline" using some Bugbook Computer Museum Video Clips

info click
David Larsen & Apple 1
David Larsen & Apple 1
Several months ago I was contacted about using parts of my Apple 1 computer videos for the BBC program - "iWonder - History of Computing Timeline".  I don't know the schedule
of the program however I am delighted they chose to use some of my Apple 1 computer Video for the program.

Click on image to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
BBC none exclusive use

Release and permission form to use our material. A simple use of our material however always nice to have some of the work done by our group used.

Earlier BBC documentary "Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy". BBC used some clips of my Apple one computer in this documentary as well at 11 minutes 50 seconds into the film. I watched this production again and noticed our group got a thank you in the credits as the LCF Group.

David Larsen

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Vintage Computer - Super Jolt a 1975 microcomputer using the 6502 Microcomputer

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Super Jolt Computer
info click
The Jolt computer used the 6502 microprocessor and was somewhat advanced in 1975. This is before the Apple 1 or Apple ll and the same year as the Altair 8800 microcomputer. The Altair 8800 sold for $395 in kit from with no software and a very small memory. The Jolt came with a monitor debugger program called Demon and had an interface for the Teletype (RS232 20 MA current loop). The wired unit sold for $348 and kit $249.  Accessory cards were also available like the 4kb RAM memory card for $320. However the computer never became very popular.

Click on image to enlarge and read.
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Jolt full page advertisement

The Jolt microcomputer was released in 1975 by Microcomputer Associates. The company was founded by Ray Holt and Manny Lemas.  The company was later acquired by Synertek, a second source manufacturer of the 6502, and renamed Synertek Systems. Synertek went on to produce the popular SYM-1 microcomputer. Ray Holt did some early microprocessor development work for use in the F-14 Tomcat aircraft.  This work was classified and Ray's design work during the period 1968 to 1970 may have been the very first microprocessor chip set .

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Super Jolt Computer

The Super Jolt computer is on display in our "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"  located in Floyd , Virginia. The computer card is setting on top of original box from Jolt. I don't remember just when or who I received the computer from & the box also has a SYM-1 in it. Microcomputer Associates/Synertek produced these computers - this was a nice addition to our collection with 2 new and never used microcomputers.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Super Jolt Microcomputer CPU section

CPU section of the Super Jolt Microcomputer.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Memory Section - Super Jolt

The Super Jolt has more memory the the first Jolt.

David Larsen

Sunday, September 28, 2014

PDP11/10 Vintage Minicomputer in Bugbook Historical Micrcomputer Museum

Our museum has only one minicomputer - (PDP11/10)   on display. We think it is a good idea to have a minicomputer to make comparisons with the microcomputers.  This PDP11 was  made
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
PDP11 computer
info click
in 1971 and cost about as much as a small house. It is easy to see why not many people could afford to purchase a minicomputer for home use. When the first microcomputers became available they were instantly in demand. The Altair 8800 first microcomputer kit made possible home computing  in January of 1975. The Altair 8800 sold for $395 however it was very limited in capability without a lot of skilled work and additions to the computer. The Altair was designed by Ed Roberts. Ed thought he could sell 500 computers however I understand he had 4000 orders the first several months. We are fortunate to have one of the very first Altair 8800's in our collection -- Serial Number 23.

Click photo to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
PDP11 and David Larsen, Curator with PDP11

Digital Epuipment Corporation (DEC) made mincomputer from 1960 to about 1990. Microcomputers put DEC out of business with very good low cost computing. The first PDP computer was a PDP1 in 1960. Only about 3 of these computers still survive. The Computer History Museum in Mt. View, California has a restored PDP1 restored and in nice working condition.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
PDP11/10 minicomputer

Many versions of the PDP11 were made and about 600,000 were sold during its 20 year lifetime.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum

The core memory is nonvolatile and does not lose its memory when powered off for the day. This module has very tiny cores -probably  16k words of 16 bits each.

Magnetic core memory module PDP11/10

Click this link for a verbal description.The PDP 11/10 

David Larsen