As a die-hard Apple II user (still have my original //e and a spiffy Ethernet-equipped, Compact-Flash-card-as-a-hard-drive, maxed out IIGS), I've often pondered what might have been but for a few twists of computing fate.
With just between 16KB to 256KB or RAM, a pair of 140KB floppy drives, an 80-column green-screen or RGB color display, 5 card slots, and an 8-bit CPU bus with a CPU running at far less than 10 MHz, the IBM 5150 isn't that different than a contemporary Apple //e (typically with 128KB of RAM, a pair of 140KB floppies, a green screen or RGB display, 7 card slots, and a more efficient 1MHz CPU), and it wasn't obviously superior at the time. Both had similar expansion abilities (serial, parallel, game, modems, primitive hard drives in time), yet industry chose the PC to build upon because it was legally simpler.
What might have been if Apple allowed industry to clone and build upon the Apple II architecture, I wonder? Would we have had Compaq building luggable Apple II's with 16-bit CPUs and expanded memory early on? Might we have eventually had Apple IIs with 16-bit ISA slots, then VLB slots, then PCI slots, then AGP slots, and now PCI Express? Might we today have thoroughly modern computers with slick Windows-like GUIs, but if you did a Control-Reset or booted off of a USB-connected legacy Disk ][ you could still enter an AppleSoft BASIC program equivalent to booting off of an MSDOS boot floppy and doing a "dir?" Might our keyboards still have Open-Apple and Solid-Apple keys instead of Alt and Windows?
Now don't get me wrong, I love my PCs today and earn my livelihood with them, but as a former Beagle Bros employee, I sometimes can't help but wonder what might have been...