Homebrew Computer Club

Back in the days when I commuted to Intel in Santa Clara, California, form Livermore, on the back of a dinosaur, I heard about a group of fellow geeks that met at The Standford Linear Accelerator Center, that called themselves “The Homebrew Computer Club”.

At the time, I was trying to build my own computer out of an Intel 8008 that had been donated to me by the Intel Product Engineering group that handled the 8008. If I recall, the i8008 needed high voltage clocks, and hadn’t learned much about straight transistor design then, so it was taking some head scratching.

I remember talking to the other technicians about the Altair when it came out, and noting that if you wanted a chip from Intel, it was $400, but you could get the Altair kit for $395.

Back to Homebrew: They met in an Auditorium on top of a hill at S.L.A.C. S.L.A.C. is kind of an interesting place, their main claim to fame is this 1 mile long Linear Accelerator that runs under the Interstate 280 Freeway! In the auditorium, we would all take seats, and Lee Felsenstein would moderate the discussion. Gordon French, the librarian, would stand and mention whatever new thing had appeared in the library. Other folks would talk about anything related to computers that they wanted.

Getting off of work at 4, hanging around the south bay for 2 hours +, then going to Homebrew, spending an hour driving home after the meeting made for a very long day, but I did it from time to time. I was young and foolish then. Later in my time at Intel, I got off at 5PM, which meant less wasted time, but I got to work at 5AM, so those were REALLY long days.

I don’t remember when I discovered the Santa Clara Byte Shop. I remember seeing an Apple I sitting on a table in the corner of the store. A computer on a single board! It had a 6502 in it so I kind of looked down my nose at it, being an Intel guy and all. I had my Imsai 8080 by then.

I remember going to a Homebrew meeting one time, and seeing the prototype Apple ][ there, with the prototype case. They hadn’t had time to get it painted yet. All in one box, and it would do color graphics to boot! Steve Wozniak did AMAZING things with almost no hardware! It boggled the mind. But it still had a 6502 in it.

If you look at me, Woz and Jobs, I guess you can tell who wins. Well, Jobs is dead, but he did go out in a blaze of glory.

Bruce Sherry