On this day 47 years ago, Paul Terrell opened the Byte Shop, one of the world’s first personal computer retail stores and famously known for ordering the first rudimentary computers from Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak’s newly formed company, Apple Computer.
Paul Terrell opened the original Byte Shop in Mountain View, California, on December 8, 1975. As a computer hobbyist and businessman, he aimed to help popularize both the hobbyist and the home PC markets, which at the time the latter was almost non- existent.
As the story goes, months after opening, Terrell was approached by Steve Jobs at the Byte Shop, offering to sell him a circuit board kit called the Apple-1. Jobs initially intended the machine to be a build-it-yourself computer of sorts. Buyers would have to solder the necessary chips onto the circuit board themselves and integrate their own keyboard, mouse, display, and power supply. Something that would be entirely geared towards hobbyists.
Terrell was intrigued by the idea, but already had trouble selling existing kits he had. In a move that would shape the future of Apple and the entire personal computer industry, he told Jobs that he would be interested in selling them in his shop if they came fully assembled. Terrell promised to buy 50 for $500 each in cash on delivery.
Jobs and Woz delivered a scrappy-looking Apple-1 computer (which eventually came with a wooden case, keyboard, and power supply) to Terrell in July 1976. It went on sale for $666.66 ($3,573 when adjusting for inflation). Today, they go for insane amounts of money. One sought-after Apple-1 hand number by Steve Jobs is currently at auction and is expected to exceed $375,000.
By insisting that the Apple-1 be sold as a fully-assembled computer, or what was close to it, Paul Terrell set Jobs and Wozniak in the direction of making products that were unequivocally approachable and usable by everyone. A concept that was carried into the Apple II and still lives on today.
Apple-1 vs. Apple II
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