When Apple made mainframes

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English: The logo for Apple Computer, now Appl...

English: The logo for Apple Computer, now Apple Inc.. The design of the logo started in 1977 designed by Rob Janoff with the rainbow color theme used until 1999 when Apple stopped using the rainbow color theme and used a few different color themes for the same design. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These days we think of “mainframe computers” as lumps of “big iron” computing power that are typically designed to handle lots (millions) of simultaneous pieces of data and record manipulation.

But the term did not originate in that way – a “mainframe” computer was simply one where all the key components of a “Von Neumann machine” were inside one box – a “main frame”.

So, it is interesting to see Apple advertising from 1978 (see page 16 here) describe the Apple II computer – oh how much I would have loved to have had one of those – in these terms:

Apple is a fully tested and assembled mainframe computer.

If that sort of approach from a company associated with miniaturisation is long gone, one approach has very much remained.

The main body of the advert states:

Just take an Apple home, plug it in, hook up your color TV and any cassette tape deck – and the fun begins.

But in smaller type at the very end of the ad we are told (emphasis added):

Apple II plugs into any standard TV using an inexpensive modulator (not included).

Still, if you could afford one of these devices (Apple seems to have always charged about £1000 for its computers) then you could probably have afforded the extra cost of the modulator. And they were lovely machines.

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