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Happy Birthday, Apple II

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Today, as the tax deadline looms, my thoughts have turned nostalgic with flashbacks of my first programming experiences. For as Scott Stevenson points out, today is the thirtieth anniversary of the Apple II.

As several folks have been pointing out lately, Apple has really defied the odds with not one (Apple II), not two (the Mac), but three (Mac OS X) amazing, revolutionary products in their lifetime. But the Apple II started it all -- for Apple and for me.

My first exposure to an Apple came in probably about 1982 or so, playing a game called Snooper Troops in my neighbor's basement. Several years later, I was introduced to the Logo language at school, where I got to control lines and drawings on the screen in much the same way that I direct my LEGO Mindstorms NXT today.

A few more years after that, the big one came along. While we all played Oregon Trail, I found in the back of the classroom a book on programming text adventure games in BASIC. While I had had some exposure to BASIC with an old TI-99/4A at home (how's that for a consumer product name), I never got beyond simple line drawing and single-purpose programs. But finding BASIC Fun With Adventure Games in 1988, combined with an understanding teacher who essentially let me turn in homework early and spend time typing in the 65K program by hand instead of being in class, is what gave me my first taste of text command parsing, control structures, databases of information, and the importance of saving my work frequently onto a 360K floppy.

I spent a lot of time on that Apple IIe, typing, proofreading, and saving. The program couldn't be run until fully complete, which took days -- maybe even weeks -- but I'll never forgot the thrill of creating, then using, my own application -- even if I did already know every possible outcome of being a CIA agent, breaking into Russian Ambassador Griminski's house, and trying to find enough evidence to incriminate him. Computers and spy role playing -- could it get any better?

For all of this I have Steve and Woz -- and my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Wright -- to thank. Here's to you.

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One mistake in your commentary. It wouldn't have 360k disks but 140k disks that you saved your program on if you actually typed it into an Apple II. It was IBM that used 360k disks, all the Apple II had was 140k, until they came out with the 3.5 inch drive.


@Dean: You are probably right. I had an IBM PCjr a few years later with 360KB 5.25" disks and I was probably assuming the Apple had them as well. They were 5.25" though!

Thanks for the clarification.