Homebrew Computer Club

by Michael Holley

In January 1975 I went to the Base Exchange in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and bought a copy of Popular Electronics. I read it with interest and figured I would get a computer someday. Later that year I was attending the College of San Mateo and picked up the December issue of BYTE magazine. I knew I would get a computer.

Sometime in 1976 a computer store opened down the hill from the college. The store, Allied Computer, was owned by Chet Harris and he gave me a job assembling computer kits for customers. I took my pay in computer stuff.

By the fall of 1976 I had built a SWTPC CT-1024 terminal and was looking for a computer. I had assembled an Imsai 8080 and was not impressed with toggling in programs. I had studied the Apple 1 at the Byte Shop in Mountain View, CA. but I decided to go with the SWTPC 6800.  I was attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club by this time.

Intel  8080 System Design Kit (SDK-80)One day Bill Kelly brought in a SDK-80 board to the computer store and wanted to use our Teletype to run it. He worked for Regis McKenna Advertising on the Intel account and had a SDK-80 board that was left over after a photo shoot. We hooked up the board and got it working. Another one of Bill's accounts was Apple Computer, he developed the first ads for the Apple II. He had a prototype Apple II board and needed a power supply for it. I build a power supply and traded it for the SDK-80 board.

Interface Age December 1976 - Palo Alto Tiny Basic Dr. Wang's Palo Alto Tiny Basic. Copyleft @All Wrongs Reserved The December 1976 issue of Interface Age had a article title "Dr. Wang's Palo Alto Tiny BASIC" by Roger Rauskolb. In early 1977 at a Homebrew Computer Club I asked if anyone had a copy of this Tiny BASIC. Roger was in the audience and said he could provide me a copy. I brought a couple of 2708 EPROMs to his house and left with Tiny BASIC. This program had the famous "@Copyleft, All Wrongs Reserved" statement.

I built a portable computer by adding a Bay Area TVT board and a SWTPC keyboard in a small case. It could be as a terminal or a computer running Palo Alto Tiny BASIC (for very small BASIC programs that would fit in 1K of RAM)

Things I remember about the Homebrew Computer Club

  • Jim Warren of Dr. Dobbs Journal was very approachable and friendly.
  • Asking a question and having someone in the audience be able to answer it. Such as getting Tiny BASIC in EPROMs.
  • A vendor explaining that the order for joysticks was held up in U.S. Customs because they thought it might be a sexual apparatus.
  • Seeing an Apple prototype with peg board as a chassis.
  • Steve Jobs proudly showing the prototype case for the new Apple II. He explained that at the photo shoot the computer would crash every time the strobe lights went off.
  • Lee Felsentein's control of the meetings.
  • I later got to use a first day production Apple II computer (Serial number 2.)
  • In 1978 I moved to Seattle and joined the  Northwest Computer Society. Joe Felsentein, Lee's brother was a member there.
  • I paid full price for my copy of Altair BASIC.
  • The First West Coast Computer Fair in San Francisco. Bob Wallace (later the ninth employee of Microsoft) and I attend the Second West Coast Computer Fair in San Jose.


Michael Holley's SWTPC Collection Home Page
This page was last edited August 22, 2007