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The Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
was an early computer hobbyist group in Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
which met from March 5, 1975 to December 1986, and was depicted in the films Pirates of Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
(1999) and Jobs (2013), as well as the PBS
PBS
documentary series, Triumph of the Nerds (1996). Several very high-profile hackers and computer entrepreneurs emerged from its ranks, including the founders of Apple Inc.
Apple Inc.
The open exchange of ideas that went on at its biweekly meetings, and the club newsletter, helped launch the personal computer revolution. The Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
has been called "the crucible for an entire industry."[1]

Contents

1 History 2 Members 3 Newsletter 4 See also 5 References 6 External links

History[edit]

Invitation to first Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
meeting (sent by Fred Moore to Steve Dompier).

Gordon French, Lee Felsenstein, and Harry Garland
Harry Garland
would frequent the Oasis following the formal meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club[2]

The Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
was an informal group of electronic enthusiasts and technically minded hobbyists who gathered to trade parts, circuits, and information pertaining to DIY
DIY
construction of computing devices.[3] It was started by Gordon French
Gordon French
and Fred Moore who met at the Community Computer Center in Menlo Park. They both were interested in maintaining a regular, open forum for people to get together to work on making computers more accessible to everyone.[4] The first meeting was held in March 1975 in French's garage in Menlo Park, San Mateo County, California, on the occasion of the arrival in the area of the first MITS Altair microcomputer, a unit sent for review by People's Computer Company. Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak
credits that first meeting with inspiring him to design the Apple I.[5] The next few meetings were held at a large home in Atherton, California, which had been used as a preschool. Subsequent meetings were held at an auditorium at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, until 1978, when meetings moved to the Stanford Medical School[6] An anecdote from member Thomas "Todd" Fischer relates that after the more-or-less "formal" meetings the participants often reconvened for an informal, late night "swap meet" in the parking lot of the Safeway store down the road, as SLAC campus rules prohibited such activity on campus property. Others, at the suggestion of Roger Melen, convened at The Oasis,[7] a bar and grill on El Camino Real in nearby Menlo Park, recalled years later by a member as "Homebrew's other staging area".[8] As Steven Levy
Steven Levy
wrote about the Oasis gatherings:

Piling into wooden booths with tables deeply etched with the initials of generations of Stanford students, Garland and Melen and Marsh and Felsenstein and Dompier and French and whoever else felt like showing up would get emboldened by the meeting’s energy and pitchers of beer.[2]

The 1999 made-for-television movie Pirates of Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
(and the book on which it is based, Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer) describes the role the Homebrew Computer Club played in creating the first personal computers, although the movie took the liberty of placing the meeting in Berkeley and misrepresented the meeting process. Many of the original members of the Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
continue to meet (as of 2009[update]), having formed the 6800 Club, named after the Motorola (now Freescale) 6800 microprocessor. Occasionally and variously renamed after the release of the 6800, 6809, and other microprocessors, the group continues to meet monthly in Cupertino, California. Members[edit]

Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
members: John Draper
John Draper
(Captain Crunch), Lee Felsenstein, Roger Melen.

Though the Homebrew members were hobbyists, most of them had an electronic engineering or computer programming background. They came to the meetings to talk about the Altair 8800
Altair 8800
and other technical topics and to exchange schematics and programming tips. From the ranks of this club came the founders of many microcomputer companies, including Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak
(Apple Computer), Harry Garland
Harry Garland
and Roger Melen
Roger Melen
(Cromemco), Thomas "Todd" Fischer, IMSAI Division, Fischer-Freitas Company, George Morrow (Morrow Designs), Paul Terrell (Byte Shop), Adam Osborne
Adam Osborne
(Osborne Computer), and Bob Marsh (Processor Technology). John Draper
John Draper
was also a member of the club, as was Jerry Lawson (creator of the first cartridge-based video game system), Fairchild Channel F.[9] Li-Chen Wang, developer of Palo Alto Tiny Basic and graphics software for the Cromemco
Cromemco
Dazzler, was also a club member, and Lee Felsenstein
Lee Felsenstein
was moderator of the club meetings.[10] Steve Inness was a primary designer of one of the early cell phone touch screens as well as a business partner with John Draper.[11][12] Others went on to other pursuits, such as Dan Werthimer
Dan Werthimer
who is a researcher in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence[13]. Newsletter[edit]

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Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
Newsletter, September 1976

The Homebrew Computer Club's newsletter was one of the most influential forces in the formation of the culture of Silicon Valley. Created and edited by its members, it initiated the idea of the personal computer, and helped its members build the original kit computers, like the Altair. One such influential event was the publication of Bill Gates's Open Letter to Hobbyists, which lambasted the early hackers of the time for violating the copyrights of commercial software programs. Paul Terrell, partner in Repco who was the exclusive sales rep company for MITS in Northern California, was a member of the Club and would provide information at the meetings about the progress of the Altair 8800
Altair 8800
in the factory and provide copies of the MITS Newsletter to members. He later started Byte Shop, an affordable computer store in Mountain View, California, and bought the first 50 Apple I
Apple I
Computers from Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
and Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak
after they did a demonstration of the Apple I
Apple I
at a meeting at SLAC. The first issue of the newsletter was published on March 15, 1975, and continued through several designs, ending after 21 issues in December 1977. The newsletter was published from a variety of addresses in the early days, but later submissions went to a P.O. box address in Mountain View, California. See also[edit]

1970s portal 1980s portal

BMUG (Berkeley Macintosh User Group) Boston Computer Society Chaos Computer Club, a large and influential German club Computer History Museum
Computer History Museum
in Mountain View, California Dr. Dobb's Journal Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, a 1984 book by Steven Levy has more information about the Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
and the companies that sprang from it. Hobby Computer Club, 180 thousand members strong Dutch group Kilobaud Microcomputing
Kilobaud Microcomputing
was a magazine dedicated to the homebrew computer hobbyists with knowledge of electronics. West Coast Computer Faire

References[edit]

^ McCracken, Harry (November 12, 2013). "For One Night Only, Silicon Valley's Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
Reconvenes". TIME Magazine. Retrieved November 12, 2013. …the open exchange of ideas that went on at its biweekly meetings did as much as anything to jumpstart the entire personal-computing revolution. It was the crucible for an entire industry.  ^ a b Levy, Steven (1984). Hackers
Hackers
(First ed.). Anchor press/Doubleday. p. 213. ISBN 0-385-19195-2. Piling into wooden booths with tables deeply etched with the initials of generations of Stanford students, Garland and Melen and Marsh and Felsenstein and Dompier and French and whoever else felt like showing up would get emboldened by the meeting’s energy and pitchers of beer.  ^ "Homebrew And How The Apple Came To Be". atariarchives.org.  ^ John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said (ISBN 0-670-03382-0) ^ Wozniak, Steve (2006). iWoz. W.W. Norton & Company. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-393-33043-4. After my first meeting, I started designing the computer that would later be known as the Apple I. It was that inspiring.  ^ Freiberger, Paul; Swaine, Michael. Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer.  ^ Farivar, Cyrus (February 24, 2018). " Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
pub that helped birth PC industry to close because of high rent". Ars Technica. Conde Nast. Retrieved 25 February 2018.  ^ Balin, Fred. "Homebrew's 26th Birthday Commemoration." Email dated March 20, 2001 ^ "Interview: Jerry Lawson, Black Video Game Pioneer". Vintage Computing and Gaming, February 24, 2009. ^ Lash, Bob. "Memoir of a Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
Member". Retrieved May 6, 2013.  ^ Rhoads, Chris (Jan 13, 2007). "The Twilight Years of Cap'n Crunch". Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on January 13, 2007.  ^ "Steve Inness - Davis". Local Wiki. Retrieved 2016-03-28.  ^ Benjamin, Marina (2003). Rocket Dreams: How the Space Age Shaped Our Vision of a World Beyond. Simon and Schuster. p. 156. ISBN 0743254171. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Homebrew Computer Club.

Stephen Wozniak, "Homebrew and How the Apple Came to Be" in Steve Ditlea, ed., Digital Deli, 1984. Steve Wozniak's home page Memoir of a Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
Member The Netherlands Home Computer Club website (in Dutch) Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
Newsletters Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
Newsletters as searchable PDFs Life Outside the Mainframe: Remembering Fred Moore In Search of the Valley A 2006 documentary on Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
which includes a section on the homebrew computer club and interviews with Lee Felsenstein
Lee Felsenstein
and Steve Wozniak. Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club
on Jolitz Heritage site Lee Felsenstein
Lee Felsenstein
and the Homebrew Computer Club, A History of Free Hardware Design The Beginning of the Apple Corps of Dallas (January 1978) Thru the Eyes of a Founding Member The Homebrew Computer Club
Homebrew Computer Club