The Apple I was the brainchild of Steve Wozniak. Woz—as his friends called him—built his first computer in 1971 with his pal Bill Fernandez (the “Cream Soda Computer,” after the drink that fueled its creation). Bill also introduced Woz to an electronics enthusiast name Steve Jobs. Though Jobs was nearly five years younger than Woz, the two bonded over a shared passion for electronics, Bob Dylan and practical jokes. Woz set to work designing what would later be called the Apple I after he attended the first meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club in club co-founder Gordan French’s garage in San Mateo, CA.
While Woz provided the engineering, it was Steve Jobs who added the entrepreneurialism. Jobs negotiated a deal to deliver 50 computers to Byte Shop owner (and Homebrew regular) Paul Terrell. To make good on the $25,000 order from the Byte Shop, Jobs secured 30-day terms for $10,000 worth of electronic components, and together, he and Woz set to work. Over the next month, they worked well into the night to make good on the order.
The success of the Apple I led Woz and Jobs to a more ambitious vision: a fully-developed, completely-assembled computer that would reach beyond hobbyists and find its way into home, schools and businesses—a true personal computer that, Woz recalled, “you didn’t have to be a geek to use.” That machine—the Apple II—was more successful that Woz and Jobs could have ever imagined; it transformed Apple into the hottest computer company in Silicon Valley.
LCM+L has three Apple I computers on display, including one available for public use.