Its funny how things start…

by Adrian on October 26, 2012

I’ve been reading recently (or rather listening on audiobook whilst driving up and down to the office I’m currently working at) to the Steve Jobs biography.

This may be showing my age, but it brought back poignant memories when the book described the amateur computer clubs, hackers conventions and west coast counter-culture that spawned silicon valley in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

It reminded me of my time back then as a 10 or 12 year old going to similar amateur back-room computer clubs in Coventry – which I guess were similar to what was happening in the US but colder and with less LSD (I cant remember LSD at the club I went to, I think we just had tea, coffee or apple juice!)

I remember playing the first games (mastermind, nim, and other simple number games) on the at-the-time advanced programmable HP calculators that could be programmed by magnetic card stripes. I remember electronics geeks crowding around the first microprocessor boards being amazed at a the first personal computer programs. I remember the first few games from the first Altair’s, Pets, TRS-80s and ZX80s. It was a whole new frontier that we were all just starting to discover.

It was very interesting listening to similar stories of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak astounding fellow geeks with their Apple 1 prototypes and how they’d all gather around the bare 6502 circuit boards and be amazed by the emerging first generation of computers.

Apple 1

From those first computer clubs and garage hobbyist workshops, a few very clever people spawned the PC revolution. I’d recommend the book if you haven’t read/listened to it.

This is another pretty historic event described amazingly well in the book: The unveiling and launch of the very first Macintosh computer after months and years of design, struggle, confrontation, ingenuity, hard work, toil and bullying by Jobs to get it launched and just right.

I was 15 at the time and studying my O levels and still attending those computer clubs… How our view of the world has changed since then…

Demo of the first Apple Macintosh by Steve Jobs, January 1984, in front of 3000 people. Andy Hertzfeld captured the moment quite well in his retelling: “Pandemonium reigns as the demo completes. Steve has the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on his face, obviously holding back tears as he is overwhelmed by the moment. The ovation continues for at least five minutes before he quiets the crowd down.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

The girl October 26, 2012 at 09:09

So much for keeping the geekery under control! I thought of buying him that book (Kindle version, natch) for his birthday. Good job (good jobs?!) I only thought of it, of course, he’d already bought it for himself….

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