Mitch Waite and the Computer Book Revolution from 1975 - 1995

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Computer Graphics Primer

Computer Graphics Primer

1979 Computer Graphics Primer is based on a homemade weather station. +

In 1976, I found myself at the heart of an epoch-defining gathering – the Homebrew Computer Club at Stanford University. A motley crew of unkempt yet brilliant minds congregated within those hallowed halls, each driven by the shared dream of revolutionizing the world with personal computers.

One fateful day, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak unveiled their brainchild: a remarkable single-board computer dubbed the Apple 1. It may appear primitive by today's standards, but at that moment, it captivated the audience with its ease of use, programmability, and creative potential. I, too, was ensnared by the promise of this technological marvel, feeling the irresistible pull of the rabbit hole that has since captivated generations of human beings – the insatiable desire to wield technology and reshape the world.

Embracing the future, I acquired an Apple 1 from Byte Shop, a brand new, unassuming store in San Rafael, California. Eager to put this magical device to use, I set about constructing a weather station to display wind, sun, and tide data on the computer's screen. To my astonishment, the project exceeded my wildest expectations – a rarity in the world of invention.

1979 The first computer book written all on my own-- I had to look like a businessman.
Sams invited me to their printing factory in Indianapolis. I had never flown on a jet plane, and this was thrilling. +
The Apple-1 computer started the PC revolution. I still have my Apple 1.

Buoyed by the success of my previous three computer books, I embarked on a new literary endeavor: a book about computer graphics. My confidence was high, I felt I could write this book on my own. My publisher Howard Sams, was excited about the idea and agreed, that since it was about color graphics, it should have color pages. Then I immediately got caught in a whirlwind of Midwestern editorial scrutiny from Sams, now it was objections regarding my use of the word "Primer" in the title. Some argued it referred to paint undercoating, while others insisted it was the component that ignited bullets. This nitpicking was a stark reminder of the pedantry that can plague the editorial process, mainly based on what part of the country your publisher is based. In my case it was midwestern conservative values vs west coast liberalism. I was thus the liberal. Undeterred, I persevered, and Computer Graphics Primer skyrocketed to bestseller status, providing me to consider to abandoning my 40 hr/wk tech writer position, and fully embrace my newfound identity as a writer.

As my life continued to transform, I found myself yearning for a partner who wouldn't begrudge my passion for computers – someone who could understand the love that had set me on this exhilarating journey...

Does such a woman exist?

Here is one of the first advertisements for the Apple-1. Note the price of $666.66. That’s the number of the devil, and Steve Wozniak came up with it. +

Steve, Me, and the Apple 1

Just before I discover the Apple 1 Bruce and I were using lasers to create cool artwork. +

The following actually happened, kind of.

On a chilly spring morning, I found myself eagerly awaiting Steve Jobs’ arrival at my houseboat, curious if he’d be as animated as he was during his Apple 1 demonstration at the Homebrew Computer Club. Steve was scheduled to visit my humble abode to examine the weather station I’d built using my Apple 1. At that time, Apple Computer didn’t exist, and with Steve being 11 years my junior, I had to constantly remind myself not to pass judgment

The Apple 1 had revolutionized my world like no other piece of technology. I had shelled out $666 to purchase my A1 from the Byte Shop in San Rafael, CA. After assembling the necessary power supply, connecting a keyboard, and plugging in the cassette I/O board, I was in awe of the machine’s capabilities, despite the finicky process of loading and saving programs to cassette tapes. When Steve finally arrived and we traversed the rickety boardwalk, he excitedly shared that Woz had discovered a method to generate 16 colors using only two chips. Moreover, he revealed their work on the revolutionary Apple II, destined to replace the Apple 1.

To my surprise, I found myself quite fond of Steve as we climbed onto the roof of my houseboat to showcase the weather vane, anemometer, and ultrasonic tide sensor. “I’m writing a book on computer graphics, and this is one of the examples,” I mentioned. Steve admired the weather station and my book, but then he blindsided me with a revelation. “The Apple 1 is a piece of junk; our new Apple II is a groundbreaking advancement. Come down to Cupertino, and you can swap your A1 for our incredible Apple II.” He casually mentioned he was launching a new venture called Apple Computer.

A few weeks later, I visited Apple’s first office on Bandley Drive. Steve handed me a brand new Apple II but forgot to bring my Apple 1 for the exchange. There’s an intriguing story about Steve offering me a job at Apple, but I’ll save that for another occasion.

Regarding the Apple 1

Steve believed the A1 had flaws that cast a negative light on Apple Computer. He offered to replace any A1 with an Apple II for owners who returned their units, and many seized the opportunity. I eventually mounted my A1 on my wall as a work of art. Fast forward forty-six years, and only 99 A1s are known to exist, with a functioning Apple 1 valued between $300,000 and $800,000. You can learn more about these Apple 1 computers at this fascinating website:

Interested in Buying One?

I plan to auction off my A1, so if you’d like to be notified of the auction date, please enter your email address below. I’ll use this information solely to inform you of the auction date and the auction house managing the sale.

Tap this image to see my board featured on the Apple-1 Registry. +