A couple forum members have asked questions about my Apple I's history and condition. Since the other thread is getting a little long, I though I should start a new one on this topic.
In 1976, when the Apple I was first introduced, a small computer store called Computer Playground opened in Orange County CA near where I was working. In addition to selling the Apple I, and the limited other hardware items that were available at that time, they had a number of Apple I systems installed as "workstations" that you could rent time on by the hour to play games or write your own programs. I started frequenting the establishment and took a BASIC programming course taught by Dr. Will Otaguro, one of the owners. The Apple I workstations were built into a false wall with a keyboard shelf and a monitor behind a window. Everything else was in the back, you never actually saw the hardware. You could play Startrek, Life, Lunar Lander or several other games. When you wanted to play a different game, or tinker in BASIC, a staff member (usually Will) would go into the back room where the motherboards and monitors were and load the program for you. The Apple I systems that they had for sale were a bit fancier. They had custom made Walnut cases with built in keyboards. They looked a little like wooden versions of the (future) Apple II.
I didn't buy one immediately. I rented a lot of time on them though. When the Apple II came out, I decided to take the plunge and bought a 4K Apple II motherboard. Yes, initially, you could just but an Apple II board and add your own keyboard and power supplies just like the Apple I. That stopped after the Apple II was on the market a few months, but I got one out of the first production run (SN 468) and I still have it. When the Apple II was introduced, the Apple I market dried up pretty fast. Everyone (me included) was hot for the II. Computer Playground merged with another LA area computer store called Computer Components Inc. and moved into much larger quarters. In the move, the idea of workstations that you could rent time on sort of died off (until the revival of the Cybercafe 20 years later). All of the workstation Apple I's and a couple of the nice walnut cased units were sold off at clearance prices. I bought one of the nice Apple I's in the walnut case in late 1977, mostly out of nostalgia. It was the machine that I learned to program on, and they were dirt cheap by that time. I believe that the bare board systems were donated to an Explorer Post in the area for Geek Scouts to play with.
I'm not sure if I ever even powered up my Apple I after I bought it. I think I probably just put it in the closet figuring I'd get it out and play with it someday. That day didn't happen until about a week ago when I found this web site by chance, and was inspired to get it out and dust it off. I had a few minor problems getting it running, but mostly it was a couple wires broken from being moved around and a keyboard logic chip witha faulty gate that turned A's into I's (bit 4). At any rate, it's now alive and well and in pretty much the same condition it was when it was brand new. No hacks or mods on the motherboard. It's as close to being mint as a28 year old computer can be. It was never owned by anyone else, or even used until this week. I have the original Sanyo 9" BW monitor that was originally used on my Apple II, but is of the same vintage as the Apple I. Also, the Panasonic cassette was originally used with my Apple II, but is the same model that was being used with the Apple I at that time for loading programs.
Now the task at hand is to get some of the old programs running. I don't have to pay by the hour to play Startrek now:>)
Unfortunately, this won't last too long. I have been working overseas for about 12 years and store the Apple I at the home of my parents. They are getting on in years and in declining health, so they will be selling the house and moving to a retirement home later this year. At that time I won't have a place to store the old toys of my youth, so the trains, cars and also the Apple I will eventually have to go.
I will put some photos of the system on my Mac.com website this weekend and post a link here on this forum.