Apple Co-Founder Wozniak Turns 72: A Look At His 'Cream Soda' Computer That Was His Inspiration

Zinger Key Points
  • Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak turned 72 on Thursday.
  • Before Apple I and Apple II, Wozniak worked on a barebones machine dubbed "Cream Soda."

As Apple Inc AAPL co-founder Steve Wozniak turned 72 years old on Thursday, here’s a look at the computer that led to the legendary Apple I machine.

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Woz’s Cream Soda Inspiration

In 1971, Wozniak, who is known as “The Woz” in tech circles, built what was called the “Cream Soda” computer. 

The computer earned its name because Wozniak and his friend Bill Fernandez, who went on to become one of the first employees at Apple, were drinking Cragmont Cream Soda while creating it, according to Emberify founder Shashwat Pradhan, who interviewed Wozniak.

In the now archived 2014 interview, Wozniak said the computer was built before useful microprocessors were created. 

The computer was not a machine that we are familiar with today, according to Pradhan. It had no screen or keyboard; instead, input was achieved via punched cards and output was received in the form of a sequence of lights. 

Wozniak said the processor itself was built out of Transistor–transistor logic (TTL) chips. The Arithmetic Logic Units (ALUs) were in 4-bit flavors. 

“The start was to create an instruction set. I used two common 4-bit ALU chips, I think. The minimal processor of this sort needed some arithmetic commands and at least one branch-on-condition,” said Wozniak. 

The Birth of Apple’s First Machines 

Wozniak’s Cream Soda experimentation led to the birth of the 8-bit Apple I, which was originally named, Apple Computer. It was released in April 1976 and sold for the introductory price of $666.66, according to the Cult Of Mac.

On the final outcome of the Cream Soda project, the Apple co-founder said, “It did work and was a good prelude to my thinking five years later with the Apple I and Apple II computers. You always move forward and the world of hobby computing was being born around devices not much more than my Cream Soda computer.”

Where Is Cream Soda Today?

Pradhan wrote that the computer “blew out” after a reporter from the Peninsula Times stepped on its power supply cable. However, the good that came out of the Apple I predecessor was that it led to Wozniak’s meeting with Steve Jobs, Apple’s other co-founder.

Wozniak, a pioneer of personal computing’s early days, reflected on his birthday in a tweet on Thursday that the Earth would be in the same position around the sun on Friday as it was when he was born. 


Wozniak's journey around the sun is as extraordinary as that of his creations. Both personal computers and Apple have come a long way in the many revolutions the planet has made around the sun since the Cream Soda computer made its debut.

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Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

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