Waiting for Espinosa

August 13th, 2012 1:39 PM
Filed under Musings;

Chris Espinosa has long been an unsung hero of Apple Computer Inc.; as Apple employee #8, he holds the record for the company’s longest-running employment. He occasionally pops up on radars to give an interview or unveil some historical blueprints, he blogs about Apple history, and I’m told he occasionally speaks at WWDC‘s Stump the Experts panel.

Yet I’ve never had the opportunity to meet or speak with Espinosa. As editor of Juiced.GS, I have more than a passing interest in retro Apple topics. Whether it’s Chris Espinosa, Steve Wozniak, Andy Hertzfeld, or Bob Bishop, I love to meet the industry’s founders and learn more about life at Apple.

So imagine my surprise when, while attending the Denver County Fair this past weekend, who should I bump into but none other than Cris Espinosa!

Espinosa was very gracious as I explained my role in managing an annual Apple convention, how excited I was to meet such a celebrity, and could I please get a photo? Espinosa graciously paused grooming a chicken to come out from behind the table and pose, telling me that with my gushing enthusiasm, "You just made my day."

Cris Espinosa

I can’t tell which of us was more surprised!

I don’t know why the County Fair’s name tag is missing the ‘h’ in Espinosa’s first name, but I’m sure it’s not a big deal.

The above attempt at humor has caused far more confusion than I anticipated. To clarify:
Chris Espinosa (male) is a Cupertino-based programmer for Apple Inc.
Cris Espinosa (female) is a Denver-based chicken farmer.

Interview with Chris Espinosa

April 2nd, 2012 1:38 PM
Filed under History;
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Chris Espinosa is Apple Inc.’s longest-running employee; his career as Apple employee #8 hit the 35-year mark on March 17th. He’s conducted a number of interviews over the years, such as this one in 2011, but he was being noted as an Apple underdog as far back as 2000, when he spoke with Alex Pang. The interview runs just over 8,000 words, including one section dedicated solely to the Apple II manual:

I was working for Jef Raskin, who with Brian Howard wrote the original Integer BASIC manual, when I went off to Berkeley in 1978. When I left, Jef gave me a task. He wanted to keep me on staff, but knew that I wasn’t going to be able to work the hours that I had been previously. So he gave me a long-term task: he gave me what Mike Scott had assembled as the mini-manual for the Apple II, which was basically the product of a series of nightly forays into people’s desk drawers for anything typed — or handwritten, in a few cases — that smacked of technical material, that he periodically sent with Sherry Livingston down to the Quick Print place to print, collate and assemble, and put into binder covers with clear plastic and wraparound spine and three-hole punch.

That was what was dropped in with every Apple II. That was the mini-manual. That was Apple’s documentation. None of it was written consciously for an audience, and Jef said, "We need a technical manual for the Apple II." Actually, there was the mini-manual, and there was the "red book," which was essentially the same material in a red binding. Jef gave me a copy of the red book and said, "I want you to write a real manual out of this."

You can download a copy of the Red Book (not to be confused with the even rarer Blue Book) from the Apple II History site.

(Hat tip to Steve Weyhrich)

Apple office blueprints

November 17th, 2011 1:31 PM
Filed under History;
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Apple II Bits reader Kurt Geisel recently pointed me to a nifty historical artifact. Chris Espinosa, Apple’s most veteran employee (#8!), has unearthed and published a document he drew by hand on January 30, 1978.

Blueprint of Apple's offices at 10260 Bandley Drive

Who sat where in 1978?

This blueprint shows the floorplan for Apple’s offices at 10260 Bandley Drive, Cupertino, California 95014. In his blog post, which offers a PDF scan of the drawing, Chris identifies the employees whose offices are marked on the graph, as well as the meaning behind areas marked "Advent" and "Tennis courts?"

Apple quickly outgrew Bandley 1, just as the company is now outgrowing its current digs at 1 Infinite Loop. A new hundred-acre campus is currently being designed to expand Apple’s Cupertino presence. It’s comforting to know that Chris will continue to be a source of continuity throughout Apple’s many homes and epochs.