part one

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

Alan Kay


Andy Hertzfeld, Burrell Smith, and Brian Howard in 1987

I’ll Be Your Best Friend

August 1979

Burrell Smith was creative in more than just engineering

Toward the end of my first week as an Apple employee in August 1979, I noticed that someone had left a black binder on my desk, with a handwritten title that read, Apple II: Principles of Operation. The binder contained a brilliant, concise description of how the Apple II hardware worked, reverently explaining details of Steve Wozniak’s epic creative design hacks in a clearer fashion than I’d ever read before. I didn’t know who left it there, but the title page said it was written by “Burrell C. Smith.”

Later that same day I was approached by a young, animated, slightly nervous guy with long, straight, blond hair, who entered my cubicle and walked right up to me.

“Are you Andy Hertzfeld?” he asked. “Wow, it’s amazing to meet you. I read your articles in Call A.P.P.L.E. and Dr. Dobb’s. Apple’s lucky they got you to work here. I want to shake your hand.”

With exaggerated formality, he extended his right arm stiffly, almost in a parody of a handshake offer. “I’m Burrell. Burrell Carver Smith. Pleased to meet you. I wrote that manual and left it on your desk,” he said, ...

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