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Aside from being a saint, I think Woz singlehandedly jumpstarted the computer industry by 1-2 years with his genius early designs.

It would be 2017 now if it wasn't for him!




I think that is a bit of an exaggeration in as much as there were plenty of other designs under way, with at least Commodore and Tandy hitting the market at the same time as Apple reached any kind of volume, and a multitude of small volume designs around. If Apple hadn't been there, people would have just bought one of the others.

E.g Commodore's Chuck Peddle was part of actually designing the 6502 with Bill Mensch, and went on to lead work on the PET which reached the market about the same time, and Commodore machines outsold pre-Mac Apple machines by a substantial factor from the very beginning.

The early Apple machines were too expensive to get the same reach, and never penetrated many markets at all (I'd never seen one in person growing up in Norway until the Mac - it simply wasn't a thing there, same as in many other European countries).

Woz's designs may well have been influential in some parts, but e.g Peddle spoke to Woz and Jobs when peddling (sorry) the 6502 to them, and was subsequently very dismissive about them, so the Commodore team explicitly went a different direction because Peddle saw their approach as too hacky and decided to build his own instead of considering licensing theirs, and so he's one of few people that have designed a computer from the CPU itself and up.

While his assessment of Apple will have to stand for Peddle's personal opinion, the point is that Commodore as well as Tandy/RadioShack machines would likely have hit the market at the same time irrespective of Apple, and in many markets they - especially Commodore - totally trounced Apple in vokumes anyway, so while I know Apple was influential to some, I really don't see any of those tree taken out of the equation changing things that much.

In fact to me my primary interest in the early Apple machines is because it's like a window into an alternate past that's just totally foreign to me because to me early Apple was just not a part of my childhood (my friends all had Commodore, Spectrum, Atari or Amstrad machines with some poor soul stuck with a Tandy; the mix varied greatly by country, but Apple was in very rarely in Europe, with strong sales in only a handful of countries), and it's fascinating.


You could be right.

I base my estimates on several very admiring write-ups on Woz's genius early designs.

But of course those kinds of stories travel better than "his designs were half decent and did the job good enough to capture an empty market", and winners always write history, etc.


To be clear, I don't have a problem with people seeing his designs as amazing. I just think there were multiple amazing people racing to bring out home computers at the same time, and so while each of them did amazing things with what they had available, we'd have done OK with any one if them.




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