1975. Menlo Park, CA: March-August 1975.
5 issues, Xeroxed. Issues 1, 2, 4, and 5 on letter sheets stapled in the top right corner. (1: 3pp. on 3 sheets. 2: 7pp. on 4 sheets. 4: 4pp. on 2 sheets. 5: 6pp. on 3 sheets.) Issue 6 is 8pp. on two folded sheets. Each issue stamped and addressed to member John Neves on verso of last page. Expected mailing folds, occasional notes, underlinings, and coffee stains, very good.
§ A founding document of the Information Age, the legendary Homebrew Computer Club Newsletter. Volume 1, Issues 1-6 (lacking issue 3), each issue addressed to club member John Neves. All issues are extremely rare: this series includes the only recorded complete copy of issue 1.
The Homebrew Computer Club was the first and most important meeting place of the people who invented personal computing. The first amateur computer club in the Bay Area, it became the clearinghouse for new ideas, a “swap meet” for code and for hardware, and a place to meet collaborators. "The open exchange of ideas that went on at its biweekly meetings did as much as anything to jump start the entire personal-computing revolution. It was the crucible for an entire industry." (Harry McCracken, Time Magazine, Nov 12, 2013). Dozens of pioneering personal computer companies, including Apple Computer, grew out of the small Homebrew community.
Issue 1 records the first meeting of the club held in the Menlo Park garage of Gordon French on March 5, 1971, and lists the names and addresses of the 32 founding members including Fred Moore, Steve Wozniak, and Robert Marsh. (Attendees at that first meeting were asked "What will people do with a computer in their home? Issue 1 records some of their replies.) By Issue 6, just five months after club's first meeting, the new editor Robert Reiling celebrates a mailing list roster of almost 300 people.
The newsletter played a crucial role connecting members and disseminating ideas. Distributed for free, it reported the lively conversations at meetings, described breakthroughs and inventions (Jobs debuted the prototype of Apple-1 at the club in July 1976), and provided a platform for debate (Bill Gates's famous "Open Letter to Hobbyists" was published in the newsletter in 1976). Local resources were listed and the names, contact details, and interests of members were shared. Advertisements placed by members for each other, seeking software, hardware, and collaborators, reveal the creativity, the openness, and the sheer energy of these early players in the game to change the world.
Cheaply produced and ephemeral by nature, it is unclear how many members thought to preserve their copies. These early issues, produced in small quantities, appear to have almost vanished. (A “Treasury” item in issue #1 records that $4.00 was spent on postage for issue #1. Since the stamp on the newsletter was for 10c, it suggests just 40 copies were mailed.)
No copy of any issue is recorded for sale or at auction. No complete copy of issue 1 recorded anywhere. Worldcat lists issues at only two institutions: Stanford University's Silicon Valley Ephemera Collection contains issues published between 1976-1987, but none from 1975; Stanford’s Lisa Loop Papers may contain earlier issues but they are not detailed in the finding aid. The University of Minnesota’s Babbage Institute holds a long but very incomplete series of issues, the earliest being issue 6. To Stanford and Minnesota can be added the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, which holds all ten issues of Vol.1 (1975), including the only recorded copy of issue 1 - unfortunately it lacks 2 of the 3 pages.
A newsletter that changed the world. Its influence is impossible to overstate.
"The Homebrew Computer Club was the most important event of my life. I lived for it... I always tried to get the next stage of my computer done by the meeting. And I don't think I ever failed to do so... it was the most important thing happening in the world. It was like a revolution that I'd never seen. You read about technological revolutions, the Industrial Revolution, and here was one of those sorts of things happening and I was a part of it." - Steve Wozniak. Item #124618