Dell founder revealed that he was an Apple II iron powder when he was a teenager


Tencent technology news on October 8, just after the 10th anniversary of the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the memoir of Dell founder Michael Dell “play nice but win: a CEO’s journey from founder to leader” will also be published soon. In the book, Dell recalled his worship of Steve jobs before the establishment of his PC Empire, and revealed that he was an iron powder of Apple II.
The following is a summary of Dell’s memoir:
In the 1970s, Houston in the United States was a completely new city, full of rising buildings. Sometimes, when my family and I drive along the ring road, I will look at all the new buildings with flagpoles and glittering lights in front of the window, thinking that I will have my own company and set up flagpoles in front of the building in the future. I didn’t know what the company would do, but that was what I dreamed of.
As you may imagine, I am not a child who likes sports. I collect stamps and baseball cards. Baseball player Hank Aaron was a hero I admired when I was a child, but soon my hero became a businessman, especially those entrepreneurs who challenge the status quo and start their own businesses from scratch, such as Charles Schwab, founder of Carson wealth management, Fred Smith of FedEx Media tycoon Ted Turner and others. I saw those people in business magazines, and I’ve been tracking their stocks when their stocks rose rapidly.
In the seventh grade, I took an advanced mathematics class and learned it very well. Mrs. Darby invited me to join the exclusive number sense club. One day, in the classroom of the club meeting, a new type of machine was displayed. It was called computing telex terminal. It’s not actually a computer, but other children in the club and I found that you can input mathematical equations or very basic programs on this terminal, send them to the host somewhere, and the answer will be sent back. This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.
I usually go to school by bike. There is a shop called RadioShack between my home and school. In a short time, the now extinct national chain not only sold police scanners, remote-controlled aircraft models and helmets with alarms, but also manufactured and sold more personal computers than any other company in the world. TRS 80 is their pioneer machine. On my way home from school, I often stop at the store just to play with their display models. I’ll stay until they kick me out.
It was the dawn of the microprocessor era. I naturally longed to have my own computer. In Mrs. Darby’s class, I learned about byte, a magazine about microcomputers and microprocessors. I subscribed, read each issue from beginning to end, and then read it over and over again. In one issue, apple co-founder Steve Wozniak published an article introducing Apple’s upcoming second personal computer, Apple II.
The following article gives a detailed technical description of Apple II. Unlike the TRS 80 (and Commodore pet 2001, the third largest entrant in the new PC market), Apple’s new model will be equipped with a color display. Wozniak wrote that, unlike apple I, Apple II will have “greater memory capacity, read only memory (ROM) basic interpreter, color video graphics, dot graphics and character graphics, as well as scalable system software, let alone (optional) game consoles.
I vowed to buy it. The price of Apple II is as high as $1298, which is equivalent to $5000 today, but fortunately I can pay with my savings. I found out early that I like to make money and think it’s interesting! So I went to work early. In summer, when I’m not in summer camp, I will work in my father’s clinic. I give it every day I like to work with my father to see how many patients he has helped.
On my 14th birthday, I was allowed to take nearly $1300 out of my hard-earned savings and order Apple II. I was excited to wait for it to come and felt like a few weeks. Then one day, I received a call from UPS saying that the computer had arrived, but for some reason, the computer was shelved in the local warehouse. This was unacceptable. I asked my father to drive Take me to get it. When we got home, the car was still driving in the driveway. Before it stopped completely, I jumped out, carefully carried the precious goods, took it to my bedroom, turned on the beautiful computer, and it even smelled good. I immediately took it apart to see how it worked.
It is said that I know a little about computers, so I soon began to teach nearby children how to make the most of their Apple II. This has become a very profitable sideline. I also joined haaug, an Apple user organization in Houston. Hundreds of technicians meet at a local library every month to discuss upgrading, exchanging parts and exchanging experience.
I will go out with these guys (almost all of them are boys) and get all kinds of ideas on how to improve Apple II. At the group meeting, I met a computer engineer in his twenties and thirties. He is a very smart technician. I think I want to stay with this guy and see what I can learn. We came up with a lot of cool things together.

At that time, developers were writing software for Apple II. The problem was that they would sell a piece of software, and then everyone would copy it. The developers themselves would never make money. All you need is two floppy drives: you can put the software on one floppy disk, the other on a blank disk, and then enter the copy command. Educators are one of the most serious violators. They think: “we are educators, so we really shouldn’t pay for software.”
So my engineer friend and I invented a copyright protection method. Each floppy disk has a specific number of tracks, I believe 35. We came up with a way to program the software so that it will write some data on the half track between the tracks: when you run the copy program, it will copy the data on the track, but it will not copy the data on the half track. Result: the content cannot be copied. We sold it to many companies that write educational software. For a while, it became a small business and we did well.
Then I read that Steve Jobs was coming to Houston to deliver a mass performance to our users. It was the spring of 1980. Jobs fascinated me. He was not only a computer pioneer, but also an outstanding entrepreneur: I read his story in business magazines and deeply admired him. Like many successful people, jobs only had an idea at first, but he had a strong motivation to turn it into reality.
Jobs successfully changed American business. He was only 25 at the time, and the company he co founded with Wozniak seemed to be ready to enter orbit in 1980, when it was at a critical moment in the initial public offering (IPO) and the launch of Apple III. Jobs himself is even more persuasive than a paper book. When he came into the room during our meeting, it was as if the water separated it automatically.
He talked passionately about personal computers and the revolutionary changes they are bringing to the world. “Now, with the capital investment of a passenger train, you can buy 1000 Volkswagen cars. The difference is that people can take these cars and freely choose where to go, when to start and who to travel with.” he said that with personal computers, people will be able to accomplish unimaginable things.
I was 15 years old and was fascinated by the prospect described by jobs. I can’t imagine that five years later, jobs and I will not only become colleagues, but also become friends. (reviewed by Tencent technology / Jinlu)