Not everyone can say they were hired by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in a one-page contract worth $13,000. But Paul Laughton can.
In April 1978, Laughton, a former IBM employee who was then a contract programmer for Shepardson Microsystems, was hired to design the file manager, a BASIC interface, and tools for Apple II DOS (disc operating system, the first disc drive) version 3.1 from his home office.
The Apple II was a game-changing computer, fully assembled, with color, graphics, sound, expansion slots, game paddles, and a built-in BASIC programming language. Laughton, who previously worked as a programmer for John Hopkins University and IBM, would later author Atari Basic. Afterward, he would become director of software development at Logitech.
After retiring in 2000, Laughton became a docent for the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, near San Jose. In August 2018, Laughton returned to Virginia Tech to give a talk on his career to a packed house inside Goodwin Hall. Laughton sported a bright yellow 3-D printed bow tie that, yes, he made himself.