When I visited a friend in Silicon Valley in December, I drove by the nearby local landmark, the boyhood home of Steve Jobs. The understated ranch-style home doesn’t stand out too much from the rest of the block, but it represents a technological history. In that very garage, in the ’70s, Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak assembled his first 50 of his Apple I 8-bit desktop computers. That machine was Apple’s first, and in July 1976 he launched it for $666.66.
It’s amazing, considering the history-making coding and conversation that took place in that one-story house. I felt a wave of amazement as I imagined , and scrolling through the first six issues of the Homebrew Computer Club newsletter, freshly scanned in Arkive, had a similar reaction. Arkive aims to decentralize art by allowing anyone to obtain and vote for items in the collection. It calls itself a “people-curated museum,” and the newsletter is one of its early acquisitions.
The influential Homebrew computer enthusiast group has gathered its members to exchange ideas, code, and hardware. Many, including Jobs, became technology pioneers. Wozniak; Lee Felsenstein, who created the Osborn, the world’s first mass-produced portable computer; Len Shustek, an early developer of PC networks and Honorary President of the Computer History Museum. The newsletter pages capture the early days of Personal’s computer revolution and the spirit of its innovative and influential times.
The first issue, published just ten days after the Club’s first meeting on March 5, 1975, contains treasures. We have a list of new members’ names, addresses and interests. Some say he owns an Altair 8800, a microcomputer designed by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems in 1974 and sold in kits to hobbyists, early he was an 8-bit programmable microprocessor. Some say it has an Intel 8008 which is
Notes from the first meeting show vigorous speculation about what people will eventually do with home computers.
“We asked that question, and the diversity of responses shows that people’s imaginations are underestimated,” reads the newsletter. From editing, mass storage, memory, and more, to controlling home utilities: heating, alarms, sprinkler systems, auto tune-ups, cooking, and even games…”
The second issue contains microprocessor scorecards and stunning hand-painted portraits of seven club members with their 70’s hair and glasses clearly swinging. A list of local supply stores includes those that accept mail and phone orders. I learned that early suggestions for the club name included “Eight-Bit Byte Bangers”.
Online versions of typewritten newsletters can be skimmed online, for example at the Computer History Museum site, but Arkive’s newsletters contain 10-cent stamps, dirty postmarks, writing, and so on. Additional details are preserved that make the relics really come to life. It’s underlined with a green pen and the page has lots of coffee stains.
Arkive is made up of artists. Private art dealer; former museum curator. Web3 experts; coders; who believe everyone should be able to help define and amplify culturally significant items. We debuted our first collection titled Was a Game Changer. The collection includes objects that “reflect, embody, and witness turning points in art and culture caused by technological advances.”
Along with a scanned Homebrew Computer Club newsletter is a 188-page patent for ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the first programmable general-purpose electronic digital computer built during World War II.
Harry McCracken, Fast Company’s global technology editor, once called the Homebrew Computer Club “a crucible for the entire industry,” and Arkive members clearly appreciate the value of the newsletter’s weathered pages. In describing its cultural significance, one said, “It’s a beautiful and humble reminder that technology doesn’t exist without community and human connection.” increase.