The Apple II Age: How The Computer Became Personal, a new book by Laine Nooney, was published today by University of Chicago Press.

[In this book], historian Laine Nooney shows, what made the Apple II iconic was its software. In software, we discover the material reasons people bought computers. Not to hack, but to play. Not to code, but to calculate. Not to program, but to print. The story of personal computing in the United States is not about the evolution of hackers—it’s about the rise of everyday users.

Recounting a constellation of software creation stories, Nooney offers a new understanding of how the hobbyists’ microcomputers of the 1970s became the personal computer we know today. From iconic software products like VisiCalc and The Print Shop to historic games like Mystery House and Snooper Troops to long-forgotten disk-cracking utilities, The Apple II Age offers an unprecedented look at the people, the industry, and the money that built the microcomputing milieu—and why so much of it converged around the pioneering Apple II.

A wealth of publicity has surrounded the book’s release:

  • This Thursday, May 11, author Nooney will participate in a two-hour discussion at the Internet Archive’s San Francisco headquarters; free tickets for this in-person event are available.
  • Nooney also appeared in an episode of the Vice podcast CYBER.
  • An excerpt from the book, “‘Don’t Copy That Floppy’: The Untold History of Apple II Software Piracy” is available for free in written and audio formats from Vice.

Nooney was also a guest on the August 2015 episode of the Open Apple podcast.

Nooney is an assistant professor of computers and video games at New York University’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, as well as co-host of the UNBOXING podcast. Their 352-page hardcover (ISBN 978-0226816524) is available immediately from all major retailers. Look for a review in the June 2023 issue of Juiced.GS magazine.

Update: This talk was reprised online on July 13, 2023.

Editor & publisher of Juiced.GS, the Apple II community's longest-running print publication dedicated to the Apple II; co-host of the Star Trek podcast Transporter Lock; digital nomad at Roadbits.