Today an Apple first took seed.
It’s hard for me to believe, but there were no PCs when I was a teenager. Computers were big, hunking things that were made by companies like Unysis and IBM. They ran on giant spools of magnetic tape, and we fantasized that they’d one day talk like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some computer geeks who lived in Silicon Valley back then would meet to compare notes and designs for smaller versions, though. They dubbed themselves the Homebrew Computer Club, and they were open sourcing content before the term existed. One member was named Steve Wozniak. He was a technical wiz who worked at Hewlett Packard, and he had a friend named Steve Jobs who worked at Atari (“Woz” had helped Jobs simplify the circuit board for an arcade game called Breakout). On this day in 1976, Woz finished the design for a small computer. His sole purpose was to bring it to the club and share it, passing out the schematics so his fellow members could rip the machine apart. He helped them do it, then incorporated their improvements into his plans.
His friend Jobs wasn’t content with tinkering, however. He wanted to build a company, so he and Woz agreed to a partnership. Jobs took to the challenges of arranging credit for parts and promoting the company as if was an established entity (Neither guy owned a house or car at the time). Jobs finagled a $50,000 retailer order for Woz’s experimental machine. It took them days to hand assemble each unit, working mostly at night, but they made their delivery deadline. Then they started work on the Apple II. Their conflicts centered on wonk-vs-consumer issues, mostly. For instance, Woz wanted eight expansion slots so geeks could fool around with the machine. Jobs reasoned that consumers would only use two. Jobs won, and the rest is, well, history.
So do great ideas emerge from individuals or from communities?