Apple II - starting the personal computer boom
In April 1977, the Apple II was introduced to the public at the Westcoast Computer Faire, where Apple had rented the largest booth just opposite the entrance. Wozniak's "technological wonder") was a great success and the first orders were already made. Th e Apple II was the "first true personal computer.") It was the first microcomputer able to generate color graphics and the first with BASIC in ROM and included a keyboard, power supply and an attractive lightweight and beige plastic case, which would beco me standard for subsequent PCs. The Apple II was more sophisticated than any microcomputer before, and represented a machine which could be worked with effectively. Steve Wozniak had put all his "engineering savvy") into it, and had created a computer he would like to own.
The Apple II was given a rapturous welcome in the public. In 1977, the company sold more than 4,000 computers, which were priced at $1,300, and grew rapidly.
Programs and data for the Apple II were stored on cassette tapes. But this common way of storage turned out to be quite unreliable and awkward. Mike Markkula saw the future in floppy disks, which had been developed by IBM in the early 1970s, and asked Wozn iak to design a disk drive for the Apple II. Woz took the challenge and finished in record time (only one month). His final design was brilliant: he developed a new technique ("self-sync") and created the fastest minifloppy disk drive. It was shipped in Ju ne 1978 and proved vital for Apple's further growth. It made possible the development of serious software such as word processors and data base packages,") which increased the practical use of the computer decisively.
In 1979, Daniel Fylstra, a programmer from Boston, released VisiCalc for the Apple II. This spreadsheet was a novelty in computer software. It relieved business calculations considerably and could be used to do financial forecasting. It was the first appli cation that made personal computers a practical tool for people who do not know how to write their own programs. VisiCalc was very successful and contributed to the skyrocketing sales of the Apple II.
The same year, marketing wizard Mike Markkula made another important decision for Apple future growth. His idea was to create a new market in the field of education and schools. The Apple Education Foundation was established, which granted complete Apple s ystems equipped with learning software to schools. This market should account for a major part of the company's sales in the subsequent years, since Apple II soon became the most popular machine for students.