Homebrew Computer Club

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Homebrew Computer Club Newsletter, September 1976

The Homebrew Computer Club was an early computer hobbyist club in Silicon Valley, which met (under that name) from March 5, 1975 to roughly 1977. Several very high-profile hackers and IT entrepreneurs emerged from its ranks, including the founders of Apple Inc.


[edit] History

The 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 construction of computing devices.[1] It was started by Gordon French and Fred Moore after the dissolution of the People's Computer Company. They both were interested in maintaining a regular, open forum for people to get together to work on making computers more accessible to everyone.[2]The first meeting was held in March 1975 in Gordon French's garage in Menlo Park, San Mateo County, California. Subsequent meetings were held at an auditorium at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.[3]

The 1999 made-for-television movie Pirates of 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.

[edit] Members

Though the Homebrew members were hobbyists, most of them had an electronic engineering or programming background. They came to the meetings to talk about the 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 Bob Marsh, George Morrow, Adam Osborne, Lee Felsenstein (wielder of "the big stick", a form of moderation), and Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. John Draper was also a member of the club.

[edit] Newsletter

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 pirating commercial software programs.

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.

[edit] Other computer clubs

Since the first Homebrew Computer Club meeting, other hobby computer clubs have emerged all around the world. For example, in The Netherlands a Homebrew Computer Club emerged with members meeting near the town of Utrecht. Initially the HCC (Hobby Computer Club), as it is called, had only a few dozen members and published a small stencilled newsletter in A5 format. They still exist today, have 180 thousand members (they are the biggest such association in the world), and from the small newsletter grew the magazine "Computer Totaal!". But they also publish several other magazines and provide internet access and other consumer services.

One of the biggest and most influential computer clubs worldwide is the German based Chaos Computer Club (CCC).

In the 1980s, a Silicon Valley computer club called The Computer Workshop emerged, operating mostly in Sunnyvale, California and at Stanford University.

Many of the original members of the Homebrew Computer Club continue to meet (as of 2006), having formed the 6800 Club, named after the Motorola (now Freescale) 6800 microprocessor. After the release of the 68000 microprocessor, the group renamed itself the 68000 Club.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

  1. ^ Homebrew And How The Apple Came To Be
  2. ^ John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said (ISBN 0-670-03382-0)
  3. ^ Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer, by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine
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