Stanford archives offer window into Apple origins

Dec 29, 2011 By TERENCE CHEA , Associated Press
In this photo taken Oct. 18, 2011, processor Dennis Sparhawk checks items on shelves at a Stanford University Silicon Valley Archives storage facility in an undisclosed location in California. Historians and entrepreneurs who want to understand the rise of Apple Inc. and its founder Steve Jobs will find a treasure trove of clues in Stanford University's Silicon Valley Archives. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

In the interview, Steve Wozniak and the late Steve Jobs recall a seminal moment in Silicon Valley history - how they named their upstart computer company some 35 years ago.

"I remember driving down Highway 85," Wozniak says. "We're on the freeway, and Steve mentions, 'I've got a name: Computer.' We kept thinking of other alternatives to that name, and we couldn't think of anything better."

Adds : "And also remember that I worked at Atari, and it got us ahead of Atari in the phonebook."

The interview, recorded for an in-house video for company employees in the mid-1980s, was among a storehouse of materials Apple had been collecting for a company museum. But in 1997, soon after Jobs returned to the company, Apple officials contacted Stanford University and offered to donate the collection to the school's Silicon Valley Archives.

Within a few days, Stanford curators were at Apple headquarters in nearby Cupertino, packing two moving trucks full of documents, books, software, videotapes and marketing materials that now make up the core of Stanford's Apple Collection.

The collection, the largest assembly of Apple historical materials, can help historians, entrepreneurs and policymakers understand how a startup launched in a Silicon Valley garage became a giant.

"Through this one collection you can trace out the evolution of the personal computer," said Stanford historian Leslie Berlin. "These sorts of documents are as close as you get to the unmediated story of what really happened."

The collection is stored in hundreds of boxes taking up more than 600 feet of shelf space at the Stanford's off-campus storage facility. The Associated Press visited the climate-controlled warehouse on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay area, but agreed not to disclose its location.

Interest in Apple and its founder has grown dramatically since Jobs died in October at age 56, just weeks after he stepped down as CEO and handed the reins to . Jobs' death sparked an international outpouring and marked the end of an era for Apple and .

"Apple as a company is in a very, very select group," said Stanford curator Henry Lowood. "It survived through multiple generations of technology. To the credit of Steve Jobs, it meant reinventing the company at several points."

Apple scrapped its own plans for a corporate museum after Jobs returned as CEO and began restructuring the financially struggling firm, Lowood said.

Job's return, more than a decade after he was forced out of the company he co-founded, marked the beginning of one of the great comebacks in business history. It led to a long string of blockbuster products - including the iPod, iPhone and iPad - that have made Apple one of the world's most profitable brands.

After Stanford received the Apple donation, former company executives, early employees, business partners and Mac enthusiasts have come forward and added their own items to the archives.

The collection includes early photos of young Jobs and Wozniak, blueprints for the first Apple computer, user manuals, magazine ads, TV commercials, company t-shirts and drafts of Jobs' speeches.

In one company video, Wozniak talks about how he had always wanted his own computer, but couldn't get his hands on one at a time when few computers were found outside corporations or government agencies.

"All of a sudden I realized, `Hey microprocessors all of a sudden are affordable. I can actually build my own,'" Wozniak says. "And Steve went a little further. He saw it as a product you could actually deliver, sell and someone else could use."

The pair also talk about the company's first product, the Apple I computer, which went on sale in July 1976 for $666.66.

"Remember an Apple I was not particularly useable for too much, but it was so incredible to have your own computer," Jobs says. "It was kind of an embarkation point from the way computers had been going in these big steel boxes with switches and lights."

Among the other items in the Apple Collection:

- Thousands of photos by photographer Douglas Menuez, who documented Jobs' years at NeXT Computer, which he founded in 1985 after he was pushed out of Apple.

- A company video spoofing the 1984 movie "Ghost Busters," with Jobs and other executives playing "Blue Busters," a reference to rival IBM.

- Handwritten financial records showing early sales of Apple II, one of the first mass-market computers.

- An April 1976 agreement for a $5,000 loan to and its three co-founders: Jobs, Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, who pulled out of the less than two weeks after its founding.

- A 1976 letter written by a printer who had just met Jobs and Wozniak and warns his colleagues about the young entrepreneurs: "This joker (Jobs) is going to be calling you ... They are two guys, they build kits, operate out of a garage."

The archive shows the Apple founders were far ahead of their time, Lowood said.

"What they were doing was spectacularly new," he said. "The idea of building computers out of your garage and marketing them and thereby creating a successful business - it just didn't compute for a lot of people."

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User comments : 16

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gmurphy
5 / 5 (7) Dec 29, 2011
I'm reading Steve Jobs biography at the moment, what strikes me is that he exhibited traits from an early age consistent with what we regard as a psychopath: an ability to manipulate others for his own means, a superficial charm and a complete lack of empathy for those around him, his parents, girl friends and even Woz. It's a also amusing to note that his first product was a dial tone device for pirating long distance phone calls, amusing given the impassioned rhetoric emanating from Apple whenever competitors remotely encroach on their 'designs'.
YtButterfly
4.3 / 5 (3) Dec 29, 2011
If my memory serves me correct, HP, today's leading PC manufacturer (according to Wikipedia) also started from a single-car garage at home. I am sure there will be others to follow, especially in the Power Generating field (the next human kind challenge) that will also follow the same route as them.
bluehigh
1.2 / 5 (21) Dec 29, 2011
today's leading PC manufacturer (according to Wikipedia)


If all you ever know is from Wikipedia then you may as well be a mindless moron. Wikipedia is not a reference on anything.

If you do some research (unlikely for a Wikipedia junkie), you would find much debate on which manufacturer builds and distributes the largest number of PC's. Dell makes a claim and depending on your definition of PC then even Apple can make the claim.

http://www.techno...s/27375/

... but then mindless twits often regurgitate shallow Wikipedia tripe. Do try make an effort to be fully informed.

gmurphy
4 / 5 (4) Dec 29, 2011
@bluehigh, wow, you must be trolling or just a genuinely malignant individual, HP is currently the top PC manufacturer, Dell is third. http://www.techce...id=17621 , The wiki info Butterfly refers to is correct. Your confused rage rant is not.
bluehigh
1.2 / 5 (19) Dec 29, 2011
@gmurphy

live in your ignorant world if it makes you comfortable .. go read the link and learn something if you can.

Oh thats right you are an American and the good old USA is the world to you ..

Yawn .. another 'educated by wikipedia' moron.

CHollman82
1.9 / 5 (17) Dec 29, 2011
today's leading PC manufacturer (according to Wikipedia


If all you ever know is from Wikipedia then you may as well be a mindless moron. Wikipedia is not a reference on anything.


Several studies by prominent universities found Wikipedia to be more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica.
bluehigh
1.3 / 5 (15) Dec 29, 2011
Several studies? Hearsay without references. I remain teachable in my old age. Do tell. Else retract.

CHollman82
1.4 / 5 (13) Dec 29, 2011
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=wikipedia more accurate britannica

You'll have to copy and paste that URL into your browser manually, physorg screws up the link.
jimbo92107
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 29, 2011
I'm reading Steve Jobs biography at the moment, what strikes me is that he exhibited traits from an early age consistent with what we regard as a psychopath...


Oh, come off it. A psychopath's emotional foundation (suppressed rage) motivates him towards hostility. Psychopaths are murderous. Jobs may have been manipulative, but he didn't sneak around other people's homes with a chef's knife.
bluehigh
1.3 / 5 (15) Dec 29, 2011
@CHollman

Wikipedia self referencing counts for nothing. If I search for criticisms of Wikipedia there are plenty of references regarding its lack of credibility, covering its inadmissible as a reference in schools, its lack of content by qualified contributors, bias in what it terms NPOV. In any case its not up to me to disprove you assertion, its your responsibility to demonstrate the validity of your statement. If not, then 'I saw a pink unicorn' becomes a scientific fact, as you must disprove the assertion rather than me prove it. We both know thats not how useful reasoning works.

So unless you can provide a valid reference by a reputable source then your statement remains hearsay. Its not worth either of us going any further with this unless you must have the last word.

My suggestion that Apple could make the claim to being the leading PC manufacturer was to add some food for thought. After all this article is about Apple and not HP.
Shifty0x88
not rated yet Dec 30, 2011
well besides bluehigh getting angry at Americans and providing what I believe to be a worse link than the Wikipedia article.... Come on an iphone and ipad is NOT a PC, no matter what you add to it.

I thought the article was alright.... I did learn that Apple was Apple because they couldn't think of anything better. I already knew Steve Jobs pulled Apple from the brink of failure only to create one of the most profitable brands. I mean how much of the tablet market do they "own"? And a few years ago, the smartphone market?
CHollman82
1.6 / 5 (13) Dec 30, 2011
@CHollman

Wikipedia self referencing counts for nothing. If I search for criticisms of Wikipedia there are plenty of references regarding its lack of credibility, covering its inadmissible as a reference in schools, its lack of content by qualified contributors, bias in what it terms NPOV. In any case its not up to me to disprove you assertion, its your responsibility to demonstrate the validity of your statement. If not, then 'I saw a pink unicorn' becomes a scientific fact, as you must disprove the assertion rather than me prove it. We both know thats not how useful reasoning works.


Do you need the "let me google that for you" link again?

I'll just give you this:
http://news.cnet....332.html

If you read the article you'll see the source of this claim is the journal "Nature".

Is Nature not a good enough source for you?
CHollman82
1.6 / 5 (13) Dec 30, 2011
Aww c'mon, tell me that the journal "Nature" is not a good enough source for you!
bluehigh
1.3 / 5 (13) Dec 31, 2011
@CHollman
(I know I should just let you have the last word but ..)

Its a six year old news article that does not reflect the current state of Wikipedia. At the time Britannica had only just begun to move to some on-line content. If you read the comments at your link you will find that many of the concerns have become even more applicable. Eg: not accepted as reference material in schools, out of date relative to current research etc.

Anyway, its New Years Eve here in Sydney and we are expecting an amazing fireworks display. There is champagne on ice and the spa is nearly filled and soon the party begins.

I do extend my best wishes for 2012 to you and aside from a very rocky start it is now good to be able to 'lock horns' with you. Have a happy and prosperous New Year.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.6 / 5 (9) Dec 31, 2011
"HP, today's leading PC manufacturer (according to Wikipedia)" - KloFlorg

HP doesn't produce PC's.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.6 / 5 (9) Dec 31, 2011
"Come on an iphone and ipad is NOT a PC, no matter what you add to it." - Zamphir

If you take the term "Personal Computer" literally then they most certainly are. But if you apply the early definition of the term then nothing Apple has ever produced was a PC, since none are based on the IBM design.

It was once correctly said that no PC would ever have gigabytes of RAM. And that statement was in fact correct given the original definition of "PC".

That design is long gone and the definition of "PC" has shifted, even though the multicore machines of today share some similarities with that design.