The Apple II

Jeff Pack, Brown University '99 (English 112, 1996)

In 1983, my family purchased an Apple IIe. (I think it was 1983, anyway; and since my back issues of Family Computing date back to January 1984, it's probably a good guess.) I was six.

By modern standards, the IIe wasn't much: 128K of RAM, no hard disk, low resolution graphics... yet I spent countless hours in front of that machine, doing homework or messing around with its built-in BASIC or (most often) playing games as the television-as-monitor irradiated my eyes. Even now that I have a computer far more powerful than that first one, I still keep an emulator on my hard drive so that I can run those programs I enjoyed so long ago.

The Apple II's interface wasn't very powerful, but it wasn't very complicated, either. Running software involved nothing more than putting the appropriate disk into the drive and turning on the machine (and occasionally swapping disks as needed). From there, I used the keyboard or joystick to interact with the software (mice, though available for the Apple II series, weren't commonplace, and I didn't have one). This interface didn't allow for anything very complex - just control-characters and menus navigated with the "arrow keys".

Eventually, though, the IIe became obsolete, and was replaced by a new PC running MS-DOS.

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