Chapter 10. The Homebrew Computer Club

The fifth of March was a rainy night in Silicon Valley. All thirty-two participants in the first meeting of the yet unnamed group could hear the rain while sitting on the hard cement floor of Gordon French’s two-car garage.

Some of the people at the meeting knew each other; others had come into random contact through the flier that Fred Moore had posted. Lee Felsenstein and Bob Marsh had driven down from Berkeley in Lee’s battered pickup truck. Bob Albrecht had come over to give the group his blessing, and to show off the Altair 8800 that MITS had loaned PCC. Tom Pittman, a free-lance engineer who’d built an improbable homebrew computer around the early Intel 4004 chip, had met Fred Moore at a computer conference the previous month and had been looking forward to meeting others with similar interests. Steve Dompier, still waiting for the rest of his Altair parts, had seen the notice posted at Lawrence Hall. Marty Spergel had a small business selling electronic parts and figured it would be a good idea to rap to some engineers about chips. An engineer at Hewlett-Packard named Alan Baum had heard about the meeting and wondered if the talk would be of the new, low-cost computers; he dragged along a friend he’d known since high school, a fellow HP employee named Stephen Wozniak.

Almost every person in the garage was passionate about hardware, with the possible exception of Fred Moore, who envisioned sort of a social group in which people would “bootstrap” ...

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