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Sophistication and Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II Computer

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Despite humble beginnings, today Apple, Inc. enjoys unprecedented popularity and prosperity with its products, routinely selling over a million devices in a single day. It is a major innovator in the computing and consumer landscape, and as shown in this retrospective, the history of the Apple II computer plays a large part in the current successes of the company. The late Despite humble beginnings, today Apple, Inc. enjoys unprecedented popularity and prosperity with its products, routinely selling over a million devices in a single day. It is a major innovator in the computing and consumer landscape, and as shown in this retrospective, the history of the Apple II computer plays a large part in the current successes of the company. The late 1970s saw the dawn of the Apple II, the company's first hit product. It provided the breathing room for Apple to become self-sustaining and ultimately blossom into one of the greatest business and technology successes in history. This account provides a unique view of early personal computing and Apple as a company, focusing almost exclusively on the role of the Apple II within that story. It extends outward to the products, publications, and early online services that made up the ecosystem for the platform during its active years, and follows the story to present-day enthusiasts who still find new things to do with a computer that got its start more than 35 years ago.


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Despite humble beginnings, today Apple, Inc. enjoys unprecedented popularity and prosperity with its products, routinely selling over a million devices in a single day. It is a major innovator in the computing and consumer landscape, and as shown in this retrospective, the history of the Apple II computer plays a large part in the current successes of the company. The late Despite humble beginnings, today Apple, Inc. enjoys unprecedented popularity and prosperity with its products, routinely selling over a million devices in a single day. It is a major innovator in the computing and consumer landscape, and as shown in this retrospective, the history of the Apple II computer plays a large part in the current successes of the company. The late 1970s saw the dawn of the Apple II, the company's first hit product. It provided the breathing room for Apple to become self-sustaining and ultimately blossom into one of the greatest business and technology successes in history. This account provides a unique view of early personal computing and Apple as a company, focusing almost exclusively on the role of the Apple II within that story. It extends outward to the products, publications, and early online services that made up the ecosystem for the platform during its active years, and follows the story to present-day enthusiasts who still find new things to do with a computer that got its start more than 35 years ago.

30 review for Sophistication and Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II Computer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A friend of mine gave me a copy of the book, signed by the author. He is someone who continues to tinker with the revered computer that is the Apple ][. I grew up in Silicon Valley with a dad who worked there during the early years. I thought it was normal for people to have Apple ][‘s in their house and parents who were engineers. What I’ve come to learn, as a computer engineer myself, is the beige computer I played with when I was nine contained a lot more capability than anyone realized at th A friend of mine gave me a copy of the book, signed by the author. He is someone who continues to tinker with the revered computer that is the Apple ][. I grew up in Silicon Valley with a dad who worked there during the early years. I thought it was normal for people to have Apple ][‘s in their house and parents who were engineers. What I’ve come to learn, as a computer engineer myself, is the beige computer I played with when I was nine contained a lot more capability than anyone realized at the time. The book has a lot of good historical bits about the birth of the Apple ][ and all of its variants. I didn’t realize just how small the ROMs were or that the integer BASIC interpretor was about 2k (Woz could type in the hex from memory when needed). An empty file has more than 2k of metadata hanging off of it these days. The simplicity is amazing. But under the simplicity is a wide open architecture that invited hackers to play. I knew some of the Apple ][ stories from before they became myth. In our house, we slowly switched from a fully tricked out Apple //e to Macs as the 1980’s came to a close. We never had a //GS at home. From the book I learned the //GS was in some ways more advanced than the Mac at the time, especially with its sound and color graphics. I didn’t know Apple was releasing OS updates until 1993! There was a lot of cross-polination between the Mac & //GS OS groups, so things I thought were Mac first actually were tried on the //GS first. My dad still has a //c packed away somewhere. There is a vibrant Apple ][ community out there that is still hacking away. USB & Ethernet cards have been created for a machine that only sees the world 8-bits at a time. That is simply amazing. The book is structured more like a reference. Some passages are dry, others incorporate the spirit the person discussed. There are repetition and typos, which is the book showing its small print, labor of love flaws.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Al

    A book of almost 600 pages on the Apple II, a computer that was first released in 1977, was published in 2013! I think it is fair to say that the Apple II platform comprised some of the most loved (correct word) microcomputers ever. I had both an Apple IIc and IIe back in the eighties. They were two of my favorite computers, so I really enjoyed this comprehensive history of all facets of this line of computers. There is plenty of information on AppleWorks, which was the killer app for me. I can’ A book of almost 600 pages on the Apple II, a computer that was first released in 1977, was published in 2013! I think it is fair to say that the Apple II platform comprised some of the most loved (correct word) microcomputers ever. I had both an Apple IIc and IIe back in the eighties. They were two of my favorite computers, so I really enjoyed this comprehensive history of all facets of this line of computers. There is plenty of information on AppleWorks, which was the killer app for me. I can’t imagine there are many details that the author did not include. The technical aspects are well covered, both software and hardware. There is perhaps a bit too much coverage of computer magazines and bulletin boards. Many photographs of hardware and screenshots add to the interest, but they are on the small side for aging eyeballs. But still, what a great effort for what is obviously a longtime passion for the author. The author is a practicing physician. Can you imagine developing an electronic medical record in AppleWorks or integer Basic? Why not? It would probably be as good as some of them out there today ;). If you were (or are) a fan of the Apple II you should really enjoy this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    A lovely trip into the history of this seminal point and process in computing. Quite thorough, and if you were an old user you will find yourself nodding I recognition of the names and developments in the long history. One caveat for the book - it could probably have used another pass by an editorial eye - the chronology of references is sometimes muddled (that is, forward references to enhancements in the future are made without explanation), which means if you weren't reasonably close to the pl A lovely trip into the history of this seminal point and process in computing. Quite thorough, and if you were an old user you will find yourself nodding I recognition of the names and developments in the long history. One caveat for the book - it could probably have used another pass by an editorial eye - the chronology of references is sometimes muddled (that is, forward references to enhancements in the future are made without explanation), which means if you weren't reasonably close to the platform, you may struggle to keep up.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Some of the dates are off, and some of the aspects the author focuses on are odd, IMO. However: there's nothing else like it, so if you're interested then it's a must-read. Some of the dates are off, and some of the aspects the author focuses on are odd, IMO. However: there's nothing else like it, so if you're interested then it's a must-read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Al Bokolor

    OUTSTANDING history of everything having to do with the Apple II computer - best book ever written on this subject!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Sarrica

    A nostalgic trip down memory lane for this Apple II user. Weyhrich's book is at its best when he is sharing little known behind-the-scenes stories about the history of the Apple II, its development, success, and decline. I wasn't as interested in some of the details about computer publications and online services of the past and their fates. The design of the book and its physical quality are excellent. I only noticed a few typos — although one was on the very first page. "Sophistication & Simpl A nostalgic trip down memory lane for this Apple II user. Weyhrich's book is at its best when he is sharing little known behind-the-scenes stories about the history of the Apple II, its development, success, and decline. I wasn't as interested in some of the details about computer publications and online services of the past and their fates. The design of the book and its physical quality are excellent. I only noticed a few typos — although one was on the very first page. "Sophistication & Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II Computer" is an excellent study of an important early 8-bit computer. Weyhrich also discusses how the Apple II paid for the development of the Apple III, Lisa, and Macintosh that followed it and shows how the Apple II experience influenced the designs and that followed as well as the corporate culture. As good as it is, the book is probably for hardcore geeks only.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark Scheuern

    A must-have for Apple II fans. This was clearly a labor of love for the author. Not surprisingly, I found the early years the most interesting and learned much despite having read several histories of Apple. The book did drag a bit in parts for me with too many chapters on magazines and online services. Oddly, there's little about games. A more thorough proofreading would have helped, too, but I did very much enjoy the book. A must-have for Apple II fans. This was clearly a labor of love for the author. Not surprisingly, I found the early years the most interesting and learned much despite having read several histories of Apple. The book did drag a bit in parts for me with too many chapters on magazines and online services. Oddly, there's little about games. A more thorough proofreading would have helped, too, but I did very much enjoy the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Guilherme

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben Combee

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ionfarmer

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Eleneski

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bunpot Thanaboonsombut

  13. 5 out of 5

    Curt Jeffreys

  14. 5 out of 5

    David

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nathan D. Riggs

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Talley

  17. 4 out of 5

    Roy

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rodrigo Monteiro

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dave Ross

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alexander

  21. 5 out of 5

    Wade

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wes Kelley

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ben L

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dave Cheney

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maurice R. Kelly

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Chase

  30. 4 out of 5

    Frank Fichtl

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