That's right: 35 years ago today, Apple launched the Apple II (that's Apple ][ for you purists) computer at the West Coast Computer Faire. It was to be Apple's first iconic product (with the killer app: VisiCalc spreadsheet program) .
Harry McCracken of TIME's Techland blog has the story:
Thirty-five years ago, on April 16 and 17, 1977, more than twelve thousand proto-geeks flooded into San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium. They were there to attend a new event called the West Coast Computer Faire, and the room brimmed with excitement over a new, futuristic gizmo known as the “personal computer.” The throngs packed the aisles, marveling at microcomputers and related gizmos from tiny startups such as Cromemco, IMSAI, Northstar, Ohio Scientific and Parasitic Engineering.
One of the tiny startups benefited from having an especially slick booth located in prime real estate near the entrance. The company was called Apple Computer, and a handful of its employees, including founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, were demoing an unreleased machine they called the Apple II.
The Faire’s attendees may have understood that they were in on the start of something big. At the time, however, there wasn’t any consensus that Apple and its computer were more significant than any number of other exhibitors among the 180 who filled the hall. Creative Computing‘s article on the conference didn’t get around to mentioning Apple until halfway through the third page; BYTE‘s report didn’t reference the company at all.
It didn’t take long until it was obvious that the Apple II was going to matter. The machine started shipping in the summer of 1977, and by the end of the year, it was gaining fame as was one of a trio of consumer-friendly, ready-to-use systems that were taking the personal computer beyond its hobbyist origins.
Previously on Neatorama: The Wonderful World of Early Computing