So recently, there’s an article on the news about a computer which had sold for 200,000 dollars. The computer itself, an Apple 1, built by Steve Wozniak back in the seventies, had originally only sold for 666 dollars. But, a woman had taken it to a recycling center, and effectively thrown it away. The company’s now trying to attract the woman, so they can share the profits they’ve made from selling it. But just why was this computer so special? And what was it made of? So, the story of the Apple 1 takes us back to the [U.S.] West Coast in the mid seventies. Steve Wozniak was happily working at HP designing calculators, and he went along to one of the early meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club, where he thought he was going to talk about TV terminals and being able to connect to the ARPAnet for a TV, but actually, everyone was talking about the cover of Popular Electronics, where the MITS Altair 8800 had just appeared on the cover. It was probably the first computer that used a microprocessor as its CPU, rather than building it discretely out of logic chips. If you want to know more about it, click here, where Jason at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge will explain theirs, they have the serial number 3. Wozniak hadn’t even heard of these CPUs at the time, but was interested, and he was given a data sheet for the 8080, which was at the heart of the machine, and took it home, and began to look over it. And he realized that it was very similar to a computer he’d built previously out of discrete logic components, which he called “the cream soda computer” because he’d built it out of cream soda cans for the case. So he started looking at this, and very quickly realized that he could design a computer based around this, using very few chips in the CPU, some RAM, some ROM and put it together to build a complete computer for much less than the cost of the Altair. He then realized that he could link it in to a terminal he’d built. And the terminal was just a machine that you could use to connect to ARPAnet through a normal television; which he’d done there. Now, ARPAnet was the forerunner, in those days, of the Internet; and so he’d built this system that could connect to it through a cheap domestic television set. Rather than having to use lots and lots of lights on the front of your Altair to communicate with it, just use a television screen; it’d be much easier to communicate through that. And you could put a proper typewriter keyboard in it, and produce a system. So he worked out these things. He reused his circuit for his television terminal, connected that up to the logic inside his CP — his computer he’d designed, put it together with a keyboard; and he’d managed to design — he hadn’t built it at that point — a complete computer. He then looked at the design, and someone he was working with suggested he look at a different CPU called the 6800 because it was considerably cheaper and you could get one, as an HP employee, for about 40 dollars. So he redesigned the system using that, and he also looked at RAM; and he’d originally considered using what was called static RAM, but then decided, because it was cheaper again, to use what’s called dynamic RAM, and he’d managed to get a good deal on some dynamic RAM as well. So he’d redesigned his circuit. And then, he’d heard about a new chip, which was the 6502. This chip is used in lots and lots of computer systems, right through to the mid-eighties; things like the BBC Micro, the Commodore 64, and so on. So, he redesigned the circuit again around this, although it was just basically plugging in the new chip. And he then went off to build the computer. Normally, something like the Altair, and other computers at that time, you would program them by having switches on the front to type in the memory locations and the data that you wanted to store there. What Wozniak realized, because he was working with calculators at the time, at HP, is that calculators were effectively computers to some extent. They had programs, they had processors – they did things, you’d put input. But the calculators started up straightaway because the program was burnt into the ROM inside it, so he programmed his initial program for the, what became the Apple 1, into some ROM, and put that into a system so his computer would start up straightaway with what he called his monitor program, so the user could see the data on the TV screen, and they could input the data using a standard keyboard. And it’s perhaps this that made the difference between the Apple 1 and everything that followed it, and what had come before in terms of [units?]. Because before, yep, you could plug a keyboard in; yep, you could plug a video display in. But actually, most of the time, you’re entering the data, to get it started at least, via the toggles on the front. What Steve Wozniak’s genius moment was, was that he actually replaced that with a small bit of program built into the system and a VDU display, using a typical telly, and a keyboard for entry. So you went from being something that only hardware hackers were perhaps comfortable with, to the forerunner of the PC that we know today. So Steve Wozniak built the, uh, the Apple – what became the Apple 1 for himself, and he took it to the Homebrew Computer Club and started showing it around to the other people there. And of course, he showed it to his friend, Steve Jobs. And Steve Jobs realized that while other people in the computer club were taking copies of the schematics, they weren’t actually building it themselves. And so he said to Wozniak, “Why don’t we make up some circuit boards ourselves, and actually sell them to people?” They could make the boards for 20 dollars, sell the kits for 40 dollars including all the components, and still make profit. People would see them as a deal, because they were getting all the parts. And, Wozniak wasn’t perhaps sure at first, but he – Steve Jobs turned to him and said, “Look, whatever happens, if we fail, we can at least have got a company to our name. We’ll have made a company.” And Wozniak liked this idea. And so together, they started a small company called Apple. So, if you want to find out more about the history of the Apple 1 and Apple itself, I can recommend two books. Steve Wozniak’s biography iWoz goes into the details about how he created it, and what he was doing at the time. Great read. And also, if you’re interested in the technical side of it, there’s this book, The Apple I Replica Creation, where Tom Owad goes into how you can actually build your own Apple 1; goes through how to program it, and so on. Looks at the hardware inside it. Both great reads and available from your all usual bookshops.

Apple’s $200,000 Computer – Computerphile
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82 thoughts on “Apple’s $200,000 Computer – Computerphile

  • June 2, 2015 at 8:44 pm
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    First, bitches

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  • June 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm
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    Great, now Apple will remake them and price them at $200,000.

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  • June 2, 2015 at 9:06 pm
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    Apple, it costs more, therefore it is better. They're capitalizing on the stupidity of their customers.

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  • June 2, 2015 at 9:06 pm
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    This computer cost $666 when it was made….

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  • June 2, 2015 at 9:07 pm
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    I don't think the cream soda computer was named so because of the case being made out of the cans. From what i have heard it was named it just because they drank a lot of cream soda during the time.

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  • June 2, 2015 at 9:10 pm
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    The computer originally cost $666?? I've heard that money is the root of all evil, and big business is up to no good, but come on!

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  • June 2, 2015 at 9:22 pm
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    1:15 he was given a datasheet for the AT-AT. Wow!

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  • June 2, 2015 at 9:53 pm
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    He has iWoz! That is a good book! I read it!

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  • June 2, 2015 at 9:54 pm
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    Hmm, still waiting to hear why the computer was so special, and what it was made of. I'm guessing maybe it was the one in the wood case? You never really said.

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  • June 2, 2015 at 10:01 pm
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    So, did Wozniak create the first ever operating system for the Apple I?

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  • June 2, 2015 at 10:02 pm
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    Who da heul is apple?!?!

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  • June 2, 2015 at 10:42 pm
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    Just picturing that bit in Pirates of Silicon Valley when Jobs comes out of the bank after being rejected for a loan and throws the Apple I in the trash while No Time by The Guess Who plays in the background…

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  • June 2, 2015 at 10:43 pm
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    And like always the actual inverter doesn't get much out of it while the business person / marketer gets all the money and fame

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  • June 3, 2015 at 12:07 am
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    Ohh goshh I hate Brazil so much. Every time someone says "let's build a company" the only think I can think of is "It needs $ 3000 and 3 months to open a company in Brazil" and I'm not kidding! It's very frustrating

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  • June 3, 2015 at 1:23 am
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    5:12 8k bytes RAM LOL

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  • June 3, 2015 at 1:28 am
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    Is he speaking English???? OMG!!!

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  • June 3, 2015 at 1:55 am
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    You know, just a small company called apple 🙂

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  • June 3, 2015 at 2:17 am
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    I'm not an Apple fanboy – I don't own a single Apple product – but I love early computing history, and I've always looked up to Steve Wozniak for his amazing talent as an engineer.  It would be great to have a Computerphile video about Woz.  Perhaps even get him on camera some day 🙂

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  • June 3, 2015 at 2:58 am
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    He is wearing an Apple Watch… I thought he was smarter than that. lol

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  • June 3, 2015 at 3:30 am
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    I find it funny how he referred to it as the "west coast" even all the way in England

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  • June 3, 2015 at 3:51 am
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    The "Cream Soda" computer was not called "Cream Soda" because it was made out of Cream Soda cans. It was because cream soda was so cheap, Wozniak consumed a lot of the cream soda while making the computer.

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  • June 3, 2015 at 5:52 am
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    How sad another apple Myth maker… Apple 1 was in fact a copy. Nothing special at all. There were many other types of PC available…

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  • June 3, 2015 at 5:58 am
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    Its funny…..

    60 years ago people wouldnt have been able to imagine computers with screens….
    (A screen we have come to love)

    Nowadays we cannot imagine using a computer without one : P

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  • June 3, 2015 at 6:05 am
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    Look at the Picture at 5:19

    "micro" processors…..
    This made me laugh harder than it should have…

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  • June 3, 2015 at 6:47 am
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    Did anybody ever write an apple 1 VM / Emulator? Since the machine itself doesn't look very complicated it would probably be easier than rebuilding the hardware.

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  • June 3, 2015 at 11:53 am
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    do you see that chicken in the laptop

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  • June 3, 2015 at 1:41 pm
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    Wozniak was the only great innovator at apple, without him the company would not exist as it does to day, if at all, and even he thinks apple should have long joined google by now.

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  • June 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm
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    If you count this as the first computer then technically the first computer made apple, not apple made the first computer. Maybe without Wozniak's design apple would have never been created. Interesting…

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  • June 3, 2015 at 3:40 pm
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    So the first apple product was designed to be cheaper and better than the other computer(s) on the market. How times have changed…

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  • June 3, 2015 at 4:41 pm
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    Yayyyy Atari guy ❤

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  • June 3, 2015 at 4:51 pm
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    It's amazing that it went from the Apple 1 with big fat CRT to todays wireless displays in such short time! Also great video!

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  • June 3, 2015 at 7:28 pm
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    This history is great! It really makes you appreciate computers as we have them now.

    On an unrelated note, I bought my first apple product (an ipad) a few months ago because Apple has a new killer app, ForeFlight, that almost no pilot is without. The airlines now run on Apple!

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  • June 3, 2015 at 7:33 pm
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    8KB of RAM lol…I now have 16GB

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  • June 3, 2015 at 10:34 pm
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    Still overpriced

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  • June 4, 2015 at 1:33 am
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    And today, Apple is one of the most horrible companies on the planet.

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  • June 4, 2015 at 7:07 am
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    $666? I sense bad things about this computer

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  • June 4, 2015 at 2:30 pm
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    But video didnt answer why it was worth 200.000…. It told us why it was an important PC at the time, but not why this line or this computer that the woman thew away was worth specifically 200k..

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  • June 4, 2015 at 8:38 pm
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    Any computer science guys present this?

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  • June 5, 2015 at 9:42 am
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    Talking about antiques… When I was in my last year of high school, that is in 1979-80, we had that machine, a tad bigger than an Apple ][, with an integrated printer (like the ones on table calculators), certainly a form of display (maybe 7 segments LED, maybe 12 segments fluorescent) and a form of magnetic reader-writer (that was using some cards the size of a credit card maybe, with a magnetic strip on them). In my memory the machine was ivory or grey-ish, with some green or dark green keys.
    It used a language quite similar to the one used on Ti57 calculators, but with much much more memory, maybe the whole lot of 2048 bytes!
    It must have been usable, as I programmed a couple of games, and it certainly had some form of arrays type.
    It was my first exposure to computers (that and Ti57), but I never knew the name or brand of that machine, and never again saw anything similar. It was a good exposure as it had me decide to further study and later work in computers.
    Does that ring a bell, anyone? That was in France, if that helps.

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  • June 6, 2015 at 2:28 am
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    THe first apple employees built 50 of this and sold the to a store in silicon valley

    The store expected actual computers but they went with the deal.

    When apple was leaving the store they said they have something in plan. The Apple 2

    At the convention (CES?) the apple to was in the middle and there was only 1 apple 2 but a crap top of boxes

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  • June 6, 2015 at 6:40 am
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    Steve Jobs is a c***. Steve Wozniak rlz.

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  • June 6, 2015 at 7:56 pm
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    Women always throw out priceless technology.

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  • June 7, 2015 at 1:38 am
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    Oh is this the new iPad? As the adage goes, you get what you pay for. Except with Apple, in which case you get the reciprocal of what you pay.

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  • June 7, 2015 at 3:21 am
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    Am I the only person who finds it ABSOLUTELY FUCKING AMAZING that the company is actually trying to share with the woman?! What other company does that?!!
    Yo man, Respect
    RESPECT!

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  • June 7, 2015 at 10:52 am
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    It sold for $666?!. Illuminati confirmed.

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  • June 8, 2015 at 8:24 pm
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    The method for earning profit sure changed didn't it.

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  • June 9, 2015 at 3:48 am
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    I thought $200 000 dollars was an average price for an Apple computer

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  • June 11, 2015 at 1:14 am
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    Some time about 1975 a friend was building a kit computer, it might have been the Altair or Heathkit, I don't recall.  In early 1976 I read of the Apple computers and realised it was a very good idea.  I wrote to Apple asking if they wanted an Australian distributor.  I'm still waiting for an answer.

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  • June 11, 2015 at 1:19 pm
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    there is a truely happy hardcore hispter out there
    ( Thank you for that intresting video ( subbed)

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  • June 12, 2015 at 9:33 pm
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    $666 illuminati confirmed! 0:9

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  • June 13, 2015 at 1:08 am
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    Woz really was the genius behind Apple.

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  • June 13, 2015 at 5:31 pm
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    The market for old Apple computers is hot. I just sold a 1984 Macintosh "Super Mac" with 1 MB of RAM for $250. That was just for the computer. No mouse or keyboard. I bought it at a thrift store 23 years ago for $40. It was a complete Apple computer system. It came with an external diskette drive and a dot matrix printer that was so loud I used it once and gave it away.

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  • June 14, 2015 at 6:50 am
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    The HP 9830A used a microprocessor, not discrete logic. This was in 1972! I dispute your claim that the Apple was the first desktop computer to employ a microprocessor. Wozniak would have used an HP 9830.

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  • June 15, 2015 at 12:53 pm
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    Lol yeah, don't throw anything out something might be valueable some day. We'll all end up like those people on the hoarders show.

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  • June 28, 2015 at 7:50 am
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    666 dollars? OOOOHHHH SHIIIT

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  • July 3, 2015 at 3:05 pm
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    NO.
    Not apple's computer. Woz's computer.

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  • July 12, 2015 at 1:57 am
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    Is it bad that I became exited when I read the title as "Apple's $200.00 Computer" and am now leaving because I realized that Apple didn't make a decently priced computer? That'd be cool.

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  • July 17, 2015 at 6:47 pm
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    i got an Apple IIc
    with man, with flopz
    with psu.. without time

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  • September 3, 2015 at 12:52 pm
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    I thought they were just talking about the normal macbook pro. I think it's also $200,000

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  • November 2, 2015 at 5:55 pm
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    "What's it made of?" 99.999% pure hipsterium!

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  • November 21, 2015 at 9:22 pm
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    $666, eh…?

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  • November 29, 2015 at 8:48 pm
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    so he basically invented the operating system?

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  • December 7, 2015 at 1:19 pm
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    Apple's $200,000 Computer? So the base model?

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  • February 1, 2016 at 3:24 am
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    Saw the title and first thing I thought was "That much money for an Apple, I bet it could run Minecraft"

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  • March 17, 2016 at 10:03 am
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    About 1:12, 3:36, and 3:59.
    Why zoom in as close as during these parts?

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  • March 18, 2016 at 5:48 pm
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    $666 😱😱😱

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  • March 22, 2016 at 8:35 am
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    I find it interesting Steve Wozniak realized he could build a computer *cheaper* than Altair

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  • March 27, 2016 at 7:47 am
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    So…. why was the one that sold for $200,000 so special? All you said was it's an apple one. Nothing else.

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  • May 6, 2016 at 11:34 pm
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    Apple's first overpriced product ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡° )

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  • May 9, 2016 at 5:41 pm
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    ILLUMINATI CONFIRMED

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  • June 16, 2016 at 12:33 am
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    why are you so wozniak centric? apple is just the company that sold out an image of creativity ceos in it. but it was based on unknoun genius (like dennis ritchie, who died a week latter to jobs, and no one noticed this). i will recognice that apple did get creative with some gadgets, but, for example, y think that sun michrosystem did a lot more than apple to the computer industry.

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  • June 18, 2016 at 1:53 am
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    I just realized the ending of computerphile. </computerphile> like the ending of an html line

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  • August 2, 2016 at 2:24 pm
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    Apple's $200,000 computer… sounds about average ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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  • September 16, 2016 at 10:04 pm
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    Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs must have had interesting conversations…
    "Hey, Steve."
    "Yes, Steve?"
    etc.

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  • June 4, 2017 at 6:20 pm
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    Strictly speaking a Commodore 64 had a 6510 in it.

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  • June 8, 2017 at 10:09 pm
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    I used to bash on Apple till I actually tried some producs.
    Yeah I would never buy a new apple product cause it's really expensive.
    But I did switch my gaming laptop for a used 2012 non retina macbook pro with a 5400 rpm hdd, i bought it for 500 euro. I switched the 4 gb of ram for 16(yes I use more than 12 a lot), and switched the hdd and optic drive for 2 ssd's and raided zero them.
    I can honestly say, I'll never ever go back to windows apart from gaming. Apple os is amazing at how close it is to linux and it's great for programming (my job). The trackpad motions keyboard shortcuts , make web browsing and everyday use so much more practical.
    In 3/4 seconds I do stuff that would take around 20 seconds on a windows pc.
    And the build quality on these things is amazing, it feels solid not cheap at all.
    I wish they were a bit cheaper but in my 20 something years of windows laptops nothing came even close to this laptop that I love and wouldn't switch for any windows laptop

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  • March 23, 2018 at 1:50 am
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    It's really incredible how far computer technology has come in such little time.

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  • May 16, 2018 at 1:37 am
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    Good to see Steve Wozniak getting the kudos he deserves occasionally instead of Steve Jobs who had the tech savvy of a worm.

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  • February 15, 2019 at 2:41 am
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    I always enjoy hearing Wozniak’s story. I often wish I had been alive for these early days of home computing. So much discovery and new opportunities to explore and create new things!

    I am also very sad to see how the majority of comments on this video are making fun of people who buy from Apple, complaining about Apple’s modern business practices, and just being negative in general. Who cares what Apple is today, this moment changed history! Can we please appreciate that fact for what it is and not spoil it with all your childish jokes and negativity?

    People buy Apple’s products for their own legitimate reasons, just the same as other people buy Windows and Android for their own legitimate reasons. What’s it matter to you who buys what? Their purchases don’t have any bearing on your lives unless you let it by choosing to be annoyed, or also very likely, jealous.

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  • March 3, 2019 at 9:05 pm
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    Don't forget the TV film Pirates of Silicon Valley

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  • May 19, 2019 at 7:41 am
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    I love all the Dr. Bagley videos. He explain things "close to the metal" in a way none of the other computerphile stars do, with the exception of prof. Brailsford.

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  • June 27, 2019 at 11:18 pm
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    Very easy to fap to…

    Reply

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