Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March 23rd, 2010

Steve Jobs Riding a 1966 BMW (Taken in 1982)

The word “nostalgia” is a compound from ancient Greek consisting of nóstos (”returning home”) and álgos (”ache”). Etymologies don’t get much more interesting than that if you’re into that sort of thing.

In the late 1600’s a Swiss doctor identified nostalgia as a medical disease — a kind of hypochondria of the heart. And for the next couple of centuries people went on suffering the disease without a treatment.  Then a professor of Slavic languages at Harvard named Svetlana Boym spent years studying various manifestations of nostalgia, and determined that there were two distinct types of the sensation. One she called “reflective nostalgia”, which consisted of longing for the past without denying the present. The second type she called “restorative nostalgia”, which involves inventing a tradition to make the past more coherent.

Apple II Advertisement

Nostalgia came to mind when watching a television show a couple weeks back called “Welcome to Macintosh” on Apple history.  The reflective kind, to be precise.  One enlightening part of the documentary was how the director happened across an old Apple II computer — on the internet up for bid. It wasn’t just any Apple II, but the fifth unit (S/N #5) to roll off the manufacturing line in the late 1970s.

This led the director of the film to the Twin Cities and to Wayne Wenzlaff.  Wenzlaff has long been credited with giving the still-emerging Apple its first big break. As the film puts it, “It all started in Minnesota.”  The documentary recapped how Wenzlaff picked up the film director at the Twin Cities airport and whisked him off to his Apple-related treasure trove, which included the Apple II.  Complete with an Apple-imprinted leather case from 1977 and given to Wenzlaff by none other than Mike Markkula, Apple’s original investor.  It turns out that Wenzlaff was a buyer for the since shuttered Minnesota-based Team Electronics chain of stores.   Team Electronics went on to become Apple’s first big foothold in the consumer-retail market. In addition, Wenzlaff helped Apple win its first big education-market deal, in Minnesota.

Souvenir Team Electronics Pocket Knife (circa:1977)

It’s funny.  I can’t remember what I had for lunch last Thursday, but for some reason I have a rather clear recollection of my Apple experience when living in North Dakota (“NoDak”) attending college.   For awhile I worked part-time at Team Electronics (Store #30) in Bismarck.  This was circa 1977 and I distinctly remember when the first Apple II computer showed up at the store.  No one knew what to do with it, but soon enough we figured out how to spent hours playing a Star-trek game (loaded by cassette tape).

Apple II StarTrek Screen Shot

In fact, a good buddy of mine (who also worked at Team and was partly responsible in getting me a job there) we’re talking about this documentary and he told the story of his attendance at a mini-electronics show in Minneapolis just weeks before the Apple II’s arrived in the stores.  Before the opening of the show, there was a meeting of all store reps and Team Central staff where the Apple II was going to be unveiled.   He recalled this tall guy with hair in a pony tail wearing an uncomfortable suit 10′ away — none other than a nervous Steve Jobs!   It was ground zero for the introduction of the Apple II to the Team Electronics Franchise.

The past can’t be fully recaptured, and often it never really was the way you recall it. But, this documentary delivers some laughs and I recommend it to anyone with even a vague interest in Apple.  The 1.5 hour film can viewed online HERE.  At the 12:15 minute mark is where the Wenzlaff/Team dialogue starts.  There is also a great article from the October 1982 edition of National Geographic on Silicon Valley and Jobs HERE.

Photo’s courtesy of Charles O’Rear and Apple. Pocket knife is from my tool box!

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: