The First Apple Tech Support Call Ever

Stan Veit—first editor Computer Shopper—has a fascinating first-person account on the very early years of Apple, starting with what may be the very first Apple tech support call ever, answered by Steve Jobs himself.

According to Veit—Editor in Chief of Computer Shopper magazine from 1983 to 1988—Steve Jobs contacted him when his computer shop in New York was taking off big time. On the phone, Steve convinced him about having to check out this amazing new computer, which according to the Jobster was "insanely great" (or something like that). Jobs wanted him to distribute it and, after talking for a bit, Veit agreed to give it a try. To his surprise, it arrived the next day FedEx delivered a package C.O.D. for five hundred dollars.

It was the first Apple computer ever, the Apple I.

He gave the computer to Dave, one his best tech guys, who was surprised at its minuscule size compared to the usual computers at the time. After a while, Dave set up the computer but it didn't do anything, so Veit called "Apple"

"See! It works," Dave told me.

"What does it do?" I asked.

"Nothing! It needs a keyboard. I'll get one," Dave told me.

Dave came back with one of our SWTPC keyboards and wired it in after studying the schematic.

"Don't work," he told me. "Better call 'em."

So I called the number listed in the paperwork and asked for Steve.

"Which one?" the young man at the other end asked.

"The fast talker," I told him.

"Oh, Steve Jobs. Wait a minute."

Steve came on the line, and I told him the keyboard didn't work.

"What kind of keyboard did you use? Southwest? Nah, they won't work. I'll send a good one and some software tomorrow."

"Wait." I told him I didn't need it FedExed next day, I could wait. But too late, he was gone.

Veit's feature is full of personal insight on those times and, while there's always two sides to a story, I find it extremely amusing, specially his last remarks:

Lunch was served to the press and notables, and I was seated with Steve Wozniak's parents. Introducing myself, I struck up a conversation with them and in the course of discussion I mentioned that people were often shaking their heads when I mentioned that I had refused Steve Jobs' offer of 10 percent of Apple for an investment of $10,000.

Mrs. Wozniak said, "Don't feel bad, you were not the first person Jobs offered stock in the company for a small investment. When the boys needed printed circuit boards, Jobs offered an interest in the company to the man who did the boards. However they managed to pay for the boards and the man never got any stock. When Apple went public, Jobs would not give stock to several employees who made the Apple possible. My son gave them stock out of his allotment, or they would have never benefited from the long hours and devotion they put in to start the company. If you had given Jobs the money, he would have found a way to keep you from getting the stock."

Ouch. Follow the link to read the entire feature. [Computer Shopper]

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