How was the Apple II better or superior to the Commodore, TRS 80, Sinclaire Pet, or whatever the hell was out during the 1980's?
In case you're interested (or, more honestly, for my own nostalgia), Sinclair's most popular computer was the ZX Spectrum (the PET was an early Commodore). There were various iterations and clones, but the original was very much a computer for people who couldn't afford a computer. I wouldn't have had a computer when younger, if not for this machine.
Almost everything was run pretty much directly by the CPU. Normally an interrupt ran 50 times a second. The interrupt routine checked the keyboard (40 rubber keys: numbers, letters, shift, "symbol shift", enter, and space, with everything else accessed via various combinations of the shift keys, e.g. shift+space for "break"--the equivalent of escape). The interrupt routine also updated the internal clock (3 bytes in memory), which kept track of how long the computer had been on, up to about 4 days, excluding time spent playing sound or loading or saving. That was because interrupts had to be disabled for the CPU to run the speaker (1 bit sound) or external tape recorder (for loading and saving). There was dedicated hardware for outputting the 256x192 display to a TV (unlike with the Spectrum's predecessor, the ZX81, where the CPU spent 3/4 of its time generating the scan lines for the TV). Only two colours could be used in any 8x8 pixel square. There was no paging on the original, so memory addressing was limited by the 16-bit address bus to 64K, of which 16K was ROM and about 8K was screen memory. The expansion port was a bit of the circuit board sticking out the back.
Amazingly, in the later years people got it to do 3d polygon graphics and 2 channel sound in software (although not at the same time, obviously). Ah, for the good old days.
Long term it was healthy for computing ecosystem. Even Intel today is making each new i5/i7 use less and less power which really started from Jobs perfection in the days of the Ipad which Intel wants in. How is this a bad thing?
I don't know how things would have played out without the Apple Mac. I wonder if perhaps there was enough room left in the market for one other computer besides the IBM PC, and if it hadn't been the Apple Mac, it might have been the Amiga.