Z80 SoftCard, Microsoft’s first {hardware}, debuts

April 2: Today in Apple history: Microsoft Z80 SoftCard, the company's first hardware, debuts on Apple II April 2, 1980: Microsoft releases its first {hardware} product, the Z80 SoftCard. A microprocessor card that plugs into the Apple II, it permits the pc to run techniques designed for the CP/M working machine, a well-liked OS for industry application.

Coming a number of years earlier than the first model of Home windows, the Z80 SoftCard temporarily turns into a large hit for Microsoft.

Microsoft, the {hardware} corporate?

An easy plug-and-play peripheral for the Apple II, the Z80 SoftCard contained a Zilog Z80 CPU and the vital “interpreting circuitry” to learn the indicators at the Apple laptop’s bus.

It allowed the Apple II to run a lot more industry application, maximum particularly the preferred phrase processor WordStar, which required a Z80 CPU.

On the time of its advent, InfoWorld mag referred to the SoftCard as a “interesting piece of {hardware}.”

“If you want a light-weight, moveable Z80 laptop, the Apple/SoftCard aggregate is an ideal pair,” the newsletter concluded.

Microsoft Z80 SoftCard is successful

The $349 card (the an identical of greater than $1,350 as of late) used to be, in many ways, a wonder hit for Microsoft. Coming packaged with Microsoft BASIC, it debuted on the West Coast Laptop Faire in March 1980, earlier than happening sale the next month. In its first 3 months, Microsoft bought 5,000 gadgets — regarded as a large luck on the time.

Actually, the Z80 SoftCard temporarily was Microsoft’s No. 1 earnings supply. And it remained the corporate’s maximum a success {hardware} product till Microsoft presented a mouse in 1983.

Microsoft endured its involvement with Apple for the following couple of years — albeit increasingly more in application. By way of the mid-Nineteen Eighties, Microsoft was one in all Apple’s most useful builders. Such a lot in order that Apple CEO John Sculley signed a harmful contract to stay Invoice Gates and Co. putting round.

After which got here Home windows …

By way of the tip of the Nineteen Eighties, Microsoft accomplished nice luck with Home windows. The PC working machine proved so common that Microsoft challenged Apple on the market.

Over the following two decades, Microsoft’s software-based industry type ruled the tech business, eclipsing Apple’s own-everything-we-make means.

Lately, Microsoft speeded up its {hardware} push with its Floor lineup, generating tabletop computer systems, laptops, hybrid drugs, dual-screen Android gadgets or even touchscreen whiteboards.

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