If you listen to any telling of the early days of Apple, it probably involves a couple of guys named Steve in one of their parents garage assembling computers by hand. While this makes a good story, its not exactly accurate. Intrigued by the fact that every Apple 1 I have ever seen was wave soldered (not hand soldered), I shot an email off to Woz to get some answers. His reply came 6 minutes later and was about as clear as could be:
We never designed or constructed any breadboards or computers in the garage. We picked up the wave soldered boards where they were made in Santa Clara and brought them to the garage for final assembly and testing.
I did construct either 2 or 3 Apple I’s by hand, with the chips tightly spaced on HP breadboards (just holes) and I used wirewrap wire cut to length for each wire I soldered on. It’s very compact that way and visible, compared to using wirewrap sockets. One of the Apple I’s I built this way was for my friend Randy Wigginton.
I still have my main Apple I prototype board.
I believe that I only constructed one Apple II that way.
So there you have it. The Apple 1 was never sold as a bare board and a bag of parts. The original 50 sold to the Byte Shop were not hand soldered by either Steve, or any of their friends for a dollar a board.
To give an idea how true Mike’s Apple 1 board is to the original Apple 1, take a look at the traces overlaid with the original board.
In 2008 I began looking for an Obtronix Apple 1 clone. After many months of finding that there were none available I set out on the task of creating one from scratch. It was not long before I got wind that Mike Willegal was also interested in doing the same. Knowing of the work he did on the Apple II Rev 0 I knew that Mike could do a much better job creating an Apple 1 board than I. I began working with him to source some of the more difficult components. After months of meticulous work, Mike is finally ready to declare victory on the Apple 1 PCB. In the next couple weeks he should get his first batch of boards and we can finally assemble one!
I’ll absolutely keep you updated on every detail as this progresses, but also check out Mike’s Apple 1 site for more details.