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The Apple II Age

How the Computer Became Personal

Skip the iPhone, the iPod, and the Macintosh. If you want to understand how Apple Inc. became an industry behemoth, look no further than the 1977 Apple II. Designed by the brilliant engineer Steve Wozniak and hustled into the marketplace by his Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, the Apple II became one of the most prominent personal computers of this dawning industry.
The Apple II was a versatile piece of hardware, but its most compelling story isn’t found in the feat of its engineering, the personalities of Apple’s founders, or the way it set the stage for the company’s multi-billion-dollar future. Instead, historian Laine Nooney suggests that what made the Apple II iconic was its software. In software, we discover the material reasons people bought computers. Not to hack, but to play. Not to code, but to calculate. Not to program, but to print. The story of personal computing in the United States is not about the evolution of hackers—it’s about the rise of everyday users.
Recounting a constellation of software creation stories, Nooney offers a new understanding of how the hobbyists’ microcomputers of the 1970s became the personal computer we know today. From iconic software products like VisiCalc and The Print Shop to historic games like Mystery House and Snooper Troops, to long-forgotten disk-cracking utilities, The Apple II Age offers an unprecedented look at the people, the industry, and the money that built the microcomputing milieu—and why so much of it converged around the pioneering Apple II.

352 pages | 19 color plates, 29 halftones | 6 x 9

Computer Science

Culture Studies

History: History of Technology

Media Studies


“A highly original and insightful book that makes an enormous contribution. Nooney demonstrates how software transformed microcomputing from an arcane hobby into a mass consumer product.”

Kevin Driscoll, author of The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media

Table of Contents

1                      Prehistories of the Personal
2                      Cultivating the Apple II
3                      Business: VisiCalc
4                      Games: Mystery House
5                      Utilities: Locksmith
6                      Home: The Print Shop
7                      Education: Snooper Troops
Epilogue: On the Consignment Floor
A Note on Archives and Sources

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