By Leanne G.
Here at Living Computers: Museum + Labs we have a massive collection and only a handful can be displayed at any given time. Some artifacts we acquire in bulk acquisitions, other times it’s just an interesting piece of software or hardware that’s worth preserving. Today we are highlighting one of the oddest pieces in our collection: the Steve Jobs Apple 1 that our Engineering Team has modified.
There were only 200 Apple 1s ever made. There are only about 50 known to still exist in the world. This is one is special however, for a simple reason: it was originally owned by Steve Jobs.
After Jobs was ousted from the company in 1985, this Apple 1 was recovered from Jobs’ vacant office by an Apple engineer named Don Hutmacher.
The Apple 1, first developed back in 1976 by both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, was designed to be an easy-to-use computer for hobbyists. What’s interesting about this particular unit is it included an EPROM loaded with Wozniak’s Integer BASIC (the software that we use on our working Apple 1 display). This mod enabled the user to boot into BASIC directly, rather than having to type in the interpreter one line at a time. The metal case may have been a design prototype, as it resembles the overall shape of the Apple ][ case, and we suspect this machine (with the BASIC EPROM) may have been used as a demonstration model before the Apple ][ was released, but its use history, as far as we know, is lost to the ages.
This Apple 1 first came to Living Computers in 2016 and has always existed as a static display due to its provenance and historical importance.
Wanting to create some form of interactivity on this artifact, our Senior Engineering Manager, Stephen Jones, created a fun homage by mounting a display on it showing off Steve Wozniak’s Twitter feed. For that reason, our staff has taken to referring to this exhibit as “Woz on Jobs.”