The Apple II, the first practical personal computer, goes on sale
The Apple II (often rendered or written as Apple ][ or Apple //) was one of the first highly successful mass produced microcomputer products, manufactured by Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and introduced in 1977. It was among the first home computers on the market, and became one of the most recognizable and successful. In terms of ease of use, features and expandability the Apple II was a major technological advancement over its predecessor, the Apple I, a limited production bare circuit board computer for electronics hobbyists which pioneered many features that made the Apple II a commercial success. Introduced at the West Coast Computer Faire in 1977, the Apple II was among the first successful personal computers and responsible for launching the Apple company into a successful business (and for allowing several related companies to start at all). Throughout the years, a number of different models were introduced and sold, with the most popular model manufactured having relatively minor changes even into the 1990s. By the end of its production in 1993, somewhere between five and six million Apple II series computers (including approximately 1.25 million Apple IIGS models) had been produced.
Throughout the late 1980s and much of the 1990s the Apple II was the standard computer in American education. It was popular with business users, families, and schools, particularly after the 1979 release of the popular VisiCalc spreadsheet for Apple II.
The original Apple II operating system was only the built-in BASIC interpreter contained in ROM; most commercial Apple II software on disk, e.g. educational games and productivity programs, booted directly on the hardware and either had no operating system or incorporated one of its own (which was usually invisible to the user.) The Apple DOS Disk Operating System was added to support the diskette drive; the last version was "Apple DOS 3.3". Apple DOS was superseded by ProDOS, which supported a hierarchical filesystem and larger storage devices. With an optional third-party Z80 based expansion card the Apple II could boot into the CP/M operating system and run Wordstar, dBase II, and other CP/M software. At the height of its evolution, towards the late 1980s, the platform had the graphical look of a hybrid of the Apple II and Macintosh with the introduction of the Apple IIGS. By 1992 the platform had 16-bit processing capabilities, a mouse-driven Graphical User Interface, and graphic and sound capabilities far beyond the original.