Thirty years ago today, the Apple II personal computer officially went on sale in the United States. As Apple Computer, Inc.'s flagship product, the Apple II put the company on the map, made stars of Apple's founders, and changed the world of computing forever. The machine stood out at the time of its release due to features such as its all-in-one, no assembly required design with an innovative plastic enclosure; integrated color graphics, sound, and paddle inputs; and the ability to use an ordinary TV set as a display.
I'm not going to get into the details as to why the computer is great — it's been written about so many times before that you'd be better served reading about it somewhere else. But I did interview Steve Wozniak, creator of the Apple II back in February for Gamasutra, and I had a great time talking to him. Wozniak crafted the innards of the Apple II, an absolute masterpiece of minimalistic yet highly functional design, all by himself. Steve Jobs provided the finishing touch by insisting on a stylish case for the unit, and the rest is history.
My first computer was an Apple II Plus, a unit I still have and hold dear to this day. I squeezed years of entertainment out of it just by programming BASIC, so the Apple II means a lot to me personally. Happy birthday, old friend.