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Convention Disruption

Case Aims: To illustrate how an entrepreneurial idea can emerge and evolve over time as the founders gain understanding of the potential for market disruption

At the beginning of the saga that led to the creation of the first Apple computer, Steve Jobs' primary interest was to eventually start a business. It was his close friend Steve Wozniak who first had the vision of creating a personal computer (Brandon 2014). This occurred when he attended a meeting at which there was a presentation of the Altair computer. What engaged his interest was the Altair's usage of a microprocessor as the basis for the machine's central processing unit. Wozniak had already been designing a terminal with a keyboard and monitor that could be connected to a minicomputer. His vision was to locate the microprocessor inside the terminal and the idea of a stand-alone computer was created. Having assembled his creation, he developed the code needed for the keyboard to display letters on the computer screen (Isaacson 2011).

At this juncture Steve Jobs proposed that Wozniak's idea could be used to make money by building and selling the printed circuit boards which could carry a microprocessor, offering eight kilobytes of memory that could be programmed using BASIC. Their first potential customer was Paul Terrell who owned a computer store, the Byte Shop. He was not impressed with the circuit board idea and insisted he be supplied with assembled boards on which the microprocessor was already installed. When Jobs delivered the boards it became apparent that Terrell had expected a more complete product which included a power supply, case, monitor and keyboard. Terrell's perspective, accepted by Jobs, acted as the catalyst for the vision of PCs coming in a complete package based upon the hardware being encased, the keyboard being built in, provision of a power supply and the inclusion of appropriate software. The outcome was the world-famous PC icon, the Apple computer. This product successfully challenged and disrupted existing conventions within the computer industry, eventually providing the basis for a new world-wide global product convention (McCune 1996).

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