On this day in 1977 the apple II went on sale and became one of the most popular computers ever

The Apple II, or Apple ][, became one of the most popular computers ever. Although it is a vast improvement over the Apple I, it contains the same processor and runs at the same speed.

New features include a color display, eight internal expansion slots, and a case with a keyboard. That may sound funny, but the Apple I and many other early computers didn't necessarily have a case or even a keyboard. On some systems you had to added your own keyboard, if possible, and on others you toggled switches to enter programs and issue commands.

In the spirit of the original computer hacker, the Apple II was also available as a circuit-board only, without keyboard, power supply, or case, as seen here on the right.

The Apple II was one of the first computer with a color display, and it has the BASIC programming language built-in, so it is ready-to-run right out of the box. The Apple II was probably the first user-friendly system.

The most important feature of the Apple II was probably its eight expansion slots. No other computer had this kind of flexability or expansion possibilities. The top of the computer isn't even attached, it lifts off with little effort allowing easy access to the system motherboard and expansion slots. Dozens of different expansion cards were made by Apple and other manufacturers to add to the Apple II's capabilities.

These include:

  • memory expansion
  • floppy disk controllers
  • PASCAL and CP/M emulator cards
  • parallel, serial, and SCSI cards
  • processor accelerators
  • video cards

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