Daniel Terdiman, writing for CNet:
In the common retelling of Apple’s history, it was Steve Jobs’ and Steve Wozniak’s second computer, the Apple II, that launched their fledgling company toward stratospheric growth and financial success. The machine’s triumph as a single platform for business software, games, artistic tools — and more — set the stage for the later debut of the first Mac, and later OS X and iDevices.
What many forget — or may not even know — is that when the Apple II was introduced at the inaugural West Coast Computer Faire in April, 1977, it suffered from what, in retrospect, was a glaring shortcoming: It had no disk drive.
Thanks to 35-year-old documents that have recently surfaced after three-plus decades in storage, we now know exactly how Apple navigated around that obstacle to create the company’s first disk operating system. In more than a literal sense, it is also the untold story of how Apple booted up. From contracts — signed by both Wozniak and Jobs — to design specs to page after page of schematics and code, CNET had a chance to examine this document trove, housed at the DigiBarn computer museum in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, which shed important new light on those formative years at Apple.
What they show is the process, driven by Jobs’ urgency and inspired by Wozniak’s technical vision, yet emblematic of their reliance on outside help, behind one of the most vital software projects in Apple’s history. Without the project, we now know, Apple’s ambitions of selling a serious computer for a wide audience might very well have collapsed just as the company was on the verge of making the big time.