Steve Wozniak, who worked for Hewlett-Packard at the time, wanted to build his own computer. He couldn't afford the Intel 8080 CPU (this CPU was very popular then, as it was used in the Altair 8800 & IMSAI 8080, but was pretty expensive), he would use the Motorola 6800 but it was also much too expensive. Finally he decided to build his computer around the MOS 6502 (which was pretty compatible with the Motorola 6800). The computer was easier to use than the Altair: unlike the Altair, the computer has a keyboard and can display characters on a TV (the Altair uses LEDs for its display). The display was very slow, only 60 characters (!) were displayed each second.
Steve Jobs, who made the game "Breakout
" for Atari, with a little help from 'the Woz', was interested in this computer. Together they created the Apple Computer Company and they tried to sell the computer.
Paul Terrell, the owner of a computer shop, was interested in this computer, but fully assembled (the Apple 1 was sold naked, no monitor, power supply, keyboard, tape drive, etc.) and with a cassette interface, which Wozniak designed. He sold it with the Basic he wrote soon after. They sold about 200 of these units.
This machine was so popular that Jack Tramiel of Commodore offered to buy Apple, because Apple was, at the time, a major purchaser of MOS 6502 processors (Commodore owned Mos Technologies). Wozniak wanted $15,000 more than Tramiel offered, needless to say, the deal fell through.
The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 at a price of US$666.66 because Wozniak liked repeating digits and because they originally sold it to a local shop for $500 plus a one-third markup.