Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple and creator of the Apple I and Apple II personal computers, believed that the 1970s were the "Me" generation. He intended the US Festivals, with Bill Graham's participation, to encourage the 1980s to be more community-oriented and combine technology with rock music. The first was held Labor Day weekend in September 1982, and the second was less than nine months later, over Memorial Day weekend in May 1983.
Wozniak paid for the bulldozing and construction of a new open-air field venue as well as the construction of an enormous state-of-the-art temporary stage at Glen Helen Regional Park near Devore, San Bernardino, California, just south of the junction of Interstates 15 and 215. This site was later to become home to Blockbuster Pavilion, now Glen Helen Amphitheater (the largest amphitheatre in the United States as of 2007). The festival stage has resided at Disneyland in Anaheim since 1985, and has operated under various names and functions as the Videopolis dance club, the Videopolis Theatre, and the Fantasyland Theater.
The festival ran for three days in 110 °F (43 °C) weather; there were 36 arrests, and a reported twelve drug overdoses. One "associated" murder of a hitchhiker occurred the day after the event. The festival lost a reported $12 million, and total attendance for the three days was about 400,000. The price for a three-day ticket was $37.50 (approximately $100 in 2021 money).
The US festival featured the first implementation of the U.S.-Soviet Space Bridge, a two-way satellite hookup between the United States and the Soviet Union. Organizers had planned to have the US Festival and Soviet rock fans interact as a way to promote goodwill between the Cold War rivals, but it was too dark in California for cameras to pick up the festivalgoers when the link went live.
Santana didn't play at the 1983 US Festival.