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Lot #5002
Allan Alcorn and Steve Wozniak: Tektronix 465 Oscilloscope Used to Design the Pong Video Game and the Apple II Computer

The workhorse Tektronix 465 Oscilloscope—used by Alcorn and Woz to create the Atari Pong video game and the Apple II personal computer!

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Estimate: $5000+
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The workhorse Tektronix 465 Oscilloscope—used by Alcorn and Woz to create the Atari Pong video game and the Apple II personal computer!

Atari engineer Al Alcorn’s Tektronix 465 Dual-Trace 100 MHz Oscilloscope that he used to create the early video game Pong and that he later lent to Apple Computer founder and lead designer Steve Wozniak, who used the machine to develop the Apple II 8-bit home computer. The Tektronix 465 is signed on the bottom in black felt tip, “Used to design Pong and lent to Woz to design Apple II, Al Alcorn.” The lab standard of the 1980s and one of the most popular scopes ever produced, the Tektronix 465 is a wide-band, portable oscilloscope with external or internal triggers, calibrator, delayed triggered sweep, and much more. The dual-channel dc-to-100 megahertz vertical deflection system provides calibrated deflection factors from 5 millivolts to 5 volts/division, and the bandwidth limiting switch reduces inference from signals above about 20 megahertz for viewing low-frequency, low-level signals. Includes the original instruction manual. Untested and in fine cosmetic condition, with a chip to the edge of the display cover, and wear to foam on the back vent.

Accompanied by a signed letter of provenance from Alcorn, in full: “In 1972 I was a 24-year-old electrical engineering graduate from the University of California Berkeley working at Ampex when Nolan Bushnell offered me a job as vice president of engineering of a company that was only he and Ted Dabney and we were going to design and make coin-operated arcade machines like pinball games but would use high-speed digital electronics to play a game on a television. I had no idea if the product would be successful but starting a company with some smart friends sounded like more fun than working for Ampex so I joined what became Atari.

In early 1970 Tektronix introduced a portable, powerful and transistorized version of their large vacuum tube oscilloscopes called the 465. These oscilloscopes became the standard instrument for digital logic designers and were one of the first purchases that the new Atari made so I could design video games like Pong.

In 1973 we were growing fast and we needed talented staff. A teenage hippy dropout from Reed College applied for a job as a technician and I hired him because he could solder, read a schematic, and was cheap. That was Steve Jobs. He soon saved up enough money to fund his trip to India to meet his guru and when he returned a few months later he asked for his old job back and I gave it to him. His buddy, Woz, designed a single board computer they called the Apple I but it was too much of a prototype to sell as a personal computer so Woz set about to design the Apple II. He asked me if he could borrow the scope for a while to finish the design so I loaned it to him for a few months and the Apple II was born.

This scope has been in my possession since 1972 and it still works.”

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Apple, Jobs, and Computer Hardware
  • Dates: #644 - Ended August 18, 2022