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Apple Businesses

Macintosh's 1984 Debut 613

Stephen E. Jobs writes " is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Mac by republishing some of its coverage of the machine's 1984 launch. 'After two years of secrecy, brainstorming and sometimes zany company maneuvering, Apple Computer Inc. will unveil a new personal computer Jan. 24 that is the size of a stack of paper and, for about the same price, contains more power than the basic IBM PC.' That's how one writer described the Apple Macintosh in 1984. There's more at"
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Macintosh's 1984 Debut

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  • Well, that's a mighty tall stack. Maybe if you'd purchased the original Macintosh with 1 Yen notes, we'd have some equivalency here. (No, I can't be bothered to look up historical exchange rates and do the math. So sue me.)
    • Re:A stack of paper? (Score:5, Informative)

      by John Miles ( 108215 ) * on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:20PM (#8015334) Homepage Journal
      It sounds like the journalist at the time was confusing the Mac with the Apple //c [], which was released around the same time as the first Mac. Not counting its attached monitor, the //c was about the size of a 500-sheet stack of paper.

      It was a neat little package, but the Apple II platform's best days were behind it by then, and most people have probably never seen a //c.
      • Re:A stack of paper? (Score:5, Informative)

        by aboyce ( 444334 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @10:42PM (#8017241)
        I think the stack the reporter is referring to is a stack (box) of 8.5 x 11 tractor feed paper, which is indeed about the size of the mac in question.
    • Exchange rate (Score:3, Informative)

      by Uber Banker ( 655221 )
      Around 233.80 Yen/US Dollar in 1984. I would give a link but I looked it up on Reuters. If you have a Reuters terminal just use RIC JPY=.

      For reference, it is ~105 Yen. This means in 1984 Japanese products would cost half in US dollar terms tham they do now. [Yeah simplistic, but this is the numerical terms]. Kinda puts pleas by the present administration about the exchange rate into perspective.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Sunday January 18, 2004 @04:52PM (#8015139) Homepage Journal
    We're finally tossing the last of our original Macs. Some are Mac Plus, or a little newer, but it's remarkable how much use one could get out of those things. Can't quite say the same about PC's as we're chucking crates of those that are only 3-5 years old.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 18, 2004 @04:59PM (#8015196)
      I really wish people wouldn't do this. Firstly, you shouldn't throw computers out; they're toxic, they need to be disposed of safely.

      Why throw out rare, antique, collector item computers to the bin? A twentysomething twitty fool of a girl at my mother's workplace threw out some early model Acorn Archimedes in the bin without asking anyone. This is how these old computers become rare in the first place.
    • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:06PM (#8015237) Homepage Journal
      I still have an original Mac 128, it still works (mind you it's been upgraded to 1Mb and had a hard disk bolted on the back - which doesn't work any more).

      IMHO the big advance on the Mac at the time was having a high-quality (for the time) bit-mapped display on a consumer priced PC - even then it seemed an amazing waste of memory

    • by Jim Hall ( 2985 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:08PM (#8015254) Homepage

      We're finally tossing the last of our original Macs. Some are Mac Plus, or a little newer, but it's remarkable how much use one could get out of those things.

      A friend of mine last night said he was finally retiring his Mac LC. The hard drive had died, and figured it was time to let it go. I'm not a huge Mac fan, but I have to admit the longevity of these Macs is impressive.

    • by Oz Factor ( 63676 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:09PM (#8015259) Homepage
      Yeah, I agree. The small office that I used to work in still has a Mac SE tucked under a desk that acts as a Fax server and does some NAT routing. Not bad for a 15+ year old computer.
    • by Basehart ( 633304 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:29PM (#8015396)
      "We're finally tossing the last of our original Macs"

      Sounds like Bank Of America talking!

      Their branches here in the NW have been running SE's as terminals since the SE was introduced, and I still see them sat on manager desks and in reception areas.

      If I was responsible for deciding what hardware replaces those machines I'd be hard pressed to switch to a different manufacturer after using the same Apple hardware for such a long time.
    • by Aqua OS X ( 458522 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @06:49PM (#8015905)
      I wouldn't toss them.

      Put them on ebay. People still want those things. They are still great for MIDI sequencing, and you can turn them into a Macquarium if you want... l
    • by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) * on Sunday January 18, 2004 @08:33PM (#8016516)
      My Dad has been using his Mac Plus problem-free for about 17 years. He has a G4 that he uses for his graphic design work, but when he needs to do billing or add/search contacts he turns to the Mac Plus running his do-everything Hypercard stack running under System 6.0.8.

      The machine has an 8MHz 68000, 1MB RAM, a 20MB hard drive (external under-mac that I spent three years convincing him to use), and an ImageWriter II dot-matrix printer that screams to high-heaven, but prints beautiful three-part forms.

      I don't think the machine has ever been opened for even a cleaning. They don't build 'em like they used to.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 18, 2004 @04:52PM (#8015144)
    I remember all of this, and one of the things quite a few people said at the time

    "This is the end of apple. They're dead"

    heh. Apple. Going out of business since 1977

    • by questamor ( 653018 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:13PM (#8015296)
      Here's a link to a google newsgroups search [] for all the mentions of Macintosh up until January 24 1984. It's all the same rumormongering that goes on before Apple's releases today, just shifted a fifth of a century back.

      Some things don't change :)
      • by Pionar ( 620916 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @06:38PM (#8015851)
        My how things have changed. From one of those newsgroup posts:

        For more info, you might try to dig up a copy of the article (well, ok, the Mercury is not one of your major national newspapers, but I am too lazy to and most would not appreciate my entering the text of the article).

        For just a second, I was like, how rude not to post a link! :)
      • by option8 ( 16509 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @10:48PM (#8017273) Homepage
        excellent reading. thanks for the link.

        i love all the rampant speculation and comparison between the McIntosh (sic) and the PCjr, and the 1984 ad compared to the "tramp" chaplin ads from IBM. ...and about 17 years later, this guy got his answer:

        1. When will UNIX (XENIX, UniPlus, UNITY, or (dare I hope?) 4.2BSD)
        be available for the Mac?

        2. Which hapless software house gets to do the port?

        actually, it was less than ten years before apple brought out a BSD-based unix for the 68k mac in the form of A/UX, but it was killed in '94 and never made it to powerpcs
  • Innovation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gtrubetskoy ( 734033 ) * on Sunday January 18, 2004 @04:52PM (#8015146)
    The first Apple computers and the Mac were very innovative indeed.

    But remember that when Microsoft came up with Windows, it was actually a very innovative thing too - a Mac-like interface for you DOS machines! And while MS was improving Windows (added multitasking, threading, nicer GUI), Apple was stagnating - little new was being introduced in their MacOS, Jobs quit.

    These days Apple is innovating (OS X, iTunes, iPod, etc), and MS is stagnating.

    Give it another few years, and the tables will turn again....

    • Re:Innovation (Score:5, Informative)

      by gwernol ( 167574 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:15PM (#8015306)
      But remember that when Microsoft came up with Windows, it was actually a very innovative thing too - a Mac-like interface for you DOS machines!

      Of course Windows 1.0 was not the first attempt to do this. Don't forget such wonders as IBM's TopView [], Quarterdeck's Desq [], Digital Research's GEM [] and a number of others. For a while in the early/mid 1980's there was a swirl of innovation and copying (not to mention a lawsuit [] or two) as people tried to bring the Xerox-invented GUI to desktop computers.
    • He doesn't know what he's talking about.

      1. Jobs did not quit- he was voted out of his own company, many saying he was too hard on his employees until 1997 when he returned to Apple as CEO
      2. It is doubtful the tables will turn to Apple again. Ever heard of Linux?
      3. Apple made lots of mistakes early on. They did not almost go out of business because Microsoft had a superior product.

      Check out this article [] for further information.
      • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@yahF ... m minus language> on Sunday January 18, 2004 @08:35PM (#8016526)
        3. Apple made lots of mistakes early on. They did not almost go out of business because Microsoft had a superior product.

        Lots of people (not just you) seem to be doing a bit of history revision here - the original battle in 1984 was not between Apple and MS, it was between Apple and IBM. Read the article if you don't believe it, but I also recall this clearly and it was even the subject of Apple's famous 1984 SuperBowl ad ("Big Brother" was represented by IBM, not Microsoft).

        In 1984, IBM still had a stranglehold on the corporate market. This was, in all honesty, the market the Mac was originally intended for. It was designed as an easier computer for non-technical company drones to use - rather than spending weeks training on how to use an IBM PC, they just sit down and start clicking around with their mouse. The Apple II line was expected (initially) to continue as Apple's home machine. Design work (which would become Apple's main niche later on) was not even a consideration back then - no desktop computer was powerful enough to handle it. There was no "Think Different" campaign back then - the idea of the Mac was not to enable creativity, it was about letting accountants work with spreadsheets more easily.

        In the end, Apple never did gain the corporate foothold that they wanted, and both Apple and IBM were eventually overwhelmed in the desktop market by MS. Apple didn't see this coming at all when they released the Mac, and neither, obviously, did IBM. MS turned PC's into commodities - it didn't matter anymore whether you had an IBM PC or a clone, because the clones would run IBM-compatible operating systems just as well. (Don't forget that IBM had their own competing OS - PC DOS - that MS-DOS was a clone of, and this was what was generally installed on clone machines.)

        Both Apple and IBM continuously lost market share through the 1980s and 1990s to cheaper IBM-compatible clone machines running MS software. Apple quickly discontinued the Apple II line and put all their egges in one basket with the Mac (Jobs considered the Apple II to be largely Steve Wozniak's machine, and I still believe the discontinuation of the line was partly a personal decision - at that point in time the Apple II line was actually more powerful and more expandable than the Mac, with more software and hardware add-ons available). If they had not hit on the strategy of pitching Macs for creative work (which didn't happen until at least the late 80's or early 90's), there is no question Apple would have been out of business. They had no other market, and had failed in all of their efforts at retaining market share both at home and in the workplace (not to mention schools, for that matter). The major slide started, btw, when Jobs was still leading the company. I always smirk when I read Mac fans acting as if Jobs is the savior of Apple; in fact, he pretty well drove the company into the ground with his early strategies, but to his credit he seems to have learned a lot over the years about how to run a company.

        Anyway, so the initial enemy was IBM, who were thought of back then in much the same way many people think of MS now. It's one of the biggest ironies in the history of the computing industry that at this moment, the only major internal part that separates Apple architecture from (IBM-compatible) PC architecture is a CPU that's co-produced and designed by IBM.
    • Re:Innovation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nathanh ( 1214 )
      But remember that when Microsoft came up with Windows, it was actually a very innovative thing too - a Mac-like interface for you DOS machines!

      How was it innovative when Digital's GEM did the same thing before Windows even existed?

      Seems Microsoft can just say "innovate" enough times and people start to believe it.

  • Progress? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 18, 2004 @04:53PM (#8015154)
    My Mac is still about the size of a stack of paper, and still has a little more power than the basic IBM PC. You'd think in 20 years we'd have seen some progress!

  • by ten000hzlegend ( 742909 ) <> on Sunday January 18, 2004 @04:55PM (#8015164) Journal
    The Macintosh appealed to everyone who had the cash really, remember, 1984 still had the ring of niche markets and professional roles in computing, games demoted to the Commodore 64 amongst others

    I remember seeing the first Mac in school around 1990, it was bought in 1985 with the UK introduction and people asked where it all sat, what did it do etc... ag e=personal&subpage=mac

    A great page for somemore Apple history, especially technical details and those legendary Code Names!
  • 1984 Commercial (Score:5, Interesting)

    by coolmacdude ( 640605 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @04:56PM (#8015174) Homepage Journal
    I like Apple's remake of their famous 1984 ad []. This time the woman wears an iPod.
    • Was I entirely out of the loop? I did not notice that before, and thought this was the original ad...

      Or am I just drinking too much?

    • Re:1984 Commercial (Score:3, Informative)

      by FattMattP ( 86246 )
      It's not a remake. It's the original with an iPod composited in.
  • Mac Opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Upaut ( 670171 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @04:59PM (#8015198) Homepage Journal
    This is just my opinion, but I think that Mac has always been geared towards the artist, while IBM has always been aimed at engineers. Using either of these machines one could see the begining of this trend, and now in the year 2004 it is still true. I do not believe that either machine is better than the other, and they never were. The difference between the two is more right-brain left brain.
    • Re:Mac Opinion (Score:3, Insightful)

      First, it's not just your opinion. You probably got it from the fact that Macs are marketed at graphic designers, artists, and the like, while PCs are business machines in accounting offices, cubicles, and so forth. IBM was and still is renowned for engineering and research, not cultural relevance or consumer appeal.

      Comparitavely, Macs are (or at least were) rarely used in scientific research (like I said, this is changing--I know of a few labs now that use G5s and the like as a replacement for more expe

  • by coolmacdude ( 640605 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:00PM (#8015202) Homepage Journal
    Funny, I never thought Steve was the type to whore about his achievements on Slashdot.
  • Mac's Popularity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mick88 ( 198800 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:03PM (#8015215) Homepage
    After all these years, I still wonder two things:
    1) why hasn't the Mac done better?
    2) why hasn't the Mac died?
    I know the standard answer to why Mac is still around is "Small but loyal group of devotees", but I have trouble with that idea.

    If it is good enough to inspire fanatical loyalty in some, why hasn't it been good enough to win over the rest of the world? And, having failed in winning over the world, how can apple still afford to be in the business?

    Dunno. I always did like Macs, myself. Always met my needs.
    • Just because something is good enough to inspire brand loyalty doesn't mean that everyone will feel that way or that everyone can jump on the bandwagon. Some people just never get exposed to macs. Either because they aren't sold at the local computer place, or the "knowledgable" person they trust doesn't use them. Believe it or not, some people have never heard of Apple.

      Also, some people see it and don't care, and some people see it but can't afford to go buy one (expense argument aside, entry level mac
    • A good question, since the Mac was launched when there was a real window of opportunity. My first PC at work cost something like $6,000 and this was a "cheap clone" at the time. But it had a 20 Mb hard disk and that meant we could do real work on it. The Mac, with its 128Kb RAM and single floppy, was just too slow for serious work.

      If Apple had made the Mac expandable using some kind of external bus (something the Apple II and Commodore 64 and CP/M systems and PCs all did), there would have been a supply of external disks that would have allowed it to compete with the PC.

      If they had made a business version that had a larger case which could be opened and expanded with more memory, they might have cornered the market.

      If they had licensed the hardware and software to other manufacturers, they would have been able to compete with the price drops that kept the (IBM) PC the most popular choice.

      As it was, IBM clones were simply cheaper, more expandable, more widely available, and eventually, more capable.

      Apple captured a small number of markets with its graphic capability and has basically been serving the same markets ever since.
  • by armando_wall ( 714879 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:04PM (#8015221) Homepage

    I remember being completely skeptical of that new "point and click with a mouse" thing, in the macintosh. It looked like a cool idea, but in my keyboard-oriented mind, I just couldn't imagine how, lord, HOW you could tell the computer what to do by entirely relying on clicks on graphics. Steve Jobs was a great envisioner (or xerox copycat, depending of your point of view).

  • by bckrispi ( 725257 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:09PM (#8015265)
    Apple's brochures and TV ads proclaim, ``Of the 235 million people in America, only a fraction can use a computer.'' Macintosh, they say, is ``the computer for the rest of us.''

    This statement really tells a lot about the problems that Apple had throughout the mid 80's to late 90's. They were so innovative, that they often fell "off of the curve". In 1984, Joe Consumer wasn't about to spend $2500 on a computer; an appliance that was, at the time, a luxery, and not a necessity. And certainly, it had no where near the ubiquitiy that it enjoys today. Microsoft knew that the timing for a "computer for the masses" was around the mid 90's, ten years after the Mac debuted. So they *ahem* borrow the Mac's look and feel, and release Win 95. IIRC, '95 was around the time that Apple decided that the next revolution in computing was in handhelds and palmtops that could respond to a user "writing" rather than keying in data. The Newton exploded onto the market, and promptly gathered dust on the shelves as users passed it by. A scant four years later, 3Com capitalizes on Apple's brilliant but horribly timed innovation with the Palm series.

    It looks like after 20 years, Apple is finally getting it right. The IMac was the first "sexy" computer. Only a year later, I see that I can buy neon ground effects for my transparent PC. ITunes was released at exactly the perfect time. And should be, and rightly so, a cornerstone of Apple's brand identity for the first decade of the 21'st century. So, Happy Birthday to the Mac, and congrats to the great engineers at Apple that have finally learned that innovation and market timing are inseperable.

    • Your analysis tells us little while perpetuating the myth that Mac's were expensive. For Pete's sake, it cost $2500 for a KAYPRO with two floppies and no hard drive back then! And as expensive as the original Laserwriter was, it undersold by a large amount other comparable laser printers. Perhaps you aren't aware that the initial asking price for a Lisa was $10,000. That was a mistake, but the Mac was created to show that the price of an IBM PC could buy a lot more.

      It's pretty clear to me that corporate gr
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:12PM (#8015286) Journal
    but I am now and forever more going to use Macs. When OS X came with a mac we got for work, I gave it a shot, and have never looked back. I bought a 15" AL Powerbook last year and it has been the best computing experience ever.

    Sure, back in the day, I had an Apple IIgs, and used Apple II computers at school - but when I got out on my own, I built a PC (for games of course).

    Now that my gaming has been replaced by other things, I find that my last objection to going to Mac is moot. Of course, this is even more moot (can that happen?), because there is a fine selection of games available for the Mac.

    I still would like to see GTA for the mac, as that is one you can play for 10 min, or ten days...

    My last PC will be my last.

    I look forward to see what else Apple will improve - I still think that I should never have to wait for anything on a computer, that I should be able to comunicate with it in plain language, and that it remains a tool for me, rather than a 'content delivery and licensing kiosk' like many of our Windows friends are ending up with.

    Shut up, you had me at hello. *tear*


    • If it wasn't for OS X, I'd be a Windows or Linux user. OS 9 was becoming increasingly bloated, unstable and shitty overall. The only reason I tolerated it was because I was used to it. So I bought a QuickSilver G4, and it came with OS X v10.0.0. I was a little resistant to using it, at first. I had waded into OS X with the Public Beta, and I was thoroughly confused by it. But, I decided that it was the future, and that I'd best adopt it and learn to use it as soon as possible.

      Haven't looked back since. N
  • by Gothic_Walrus ( 692125 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:19PM (#8015331) Journal
    For those of you who haven't seen it, here is Apple's way of commemorating their 20th anniversary:

    There's just one subtle difference...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:21PM (#8015344)
    From the article: "Within the next few months, Microsoft Inc., a Bellvue, Wash. software publisher closely allied with IBM, is scheduled to introduce a spreadsheet package for making financial projections, a graphing package and the Basic programming language."
  • by metalligoth ( 672285 ) <> on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:24PM (#8015364)

    According to several sources, Microsoft has been working on Mac software for more than a year. Early on, Mac project leader Steve Jobs took the Mac plans to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, sources said. Gates reportedly agreed not to produce similar mouse-based software for a year, but with Mac behind schedule, Microsoft was able to jump into the market in 1983 with its own mouse programs for the IBM PC.

    I wondered if I would ever find out exactly how Microsoft was ever able to take the Mac GUI, complete with Mac icons. There have been many conflicting stories over the years. Since this is from 1984, I tend to think we might have finally found something accurate.

  • My Last PC... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NeoGeo64 ( 672698 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:26PM (#8015376) Homepage Journal
    My next computer will be an Apple *Mac or *Book.

    I really don't mind using Windows XP; it's stable enough for me -- but I'm looking towards the future...

    I think Longhorn is really going to be a prison for it's users.

    Don't get me wrong, I think light-use-DRM is fair (e.g. iTunes Music Store) but Microsoft is just plain evil. They want to control your BIOS, your computer and your life.

    Hell, after 2006 when this Trusted Computing platform comes out, don't be surprised to see that you can't install Linux or any other UNIX variant on your machine because the BIOS won't let you. That box won't be yours, it'll be Microsoft's. Ever wondered why that little icon on your desktop was called My Computer? Maybe you should read the EULA better!

    I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Apple had double digit marketshare by 2010.
    • by rueger ( 210566 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @06:26PM (#8015768) Homepage
      Don't get me wrong, I think light-use-DRM is fair (e.g. iTunes Music Store) ... I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Apple had double digit marketshare by 2010.

      I honestly wouldn't surprised if Apple hardware had the same DRM as PC hardware by 2010. They've already nailed their users with the iTunes DRM, and I can see no reason why they won't continue down that road.

      If nothing else, companies like Adobe, who are getting positively [] nuts [] about fighting "pirates" will force them into it.
  • An Amazing Read (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:27PM (#8015379) Homepage
    I've got to say that was a VERY interesting read. I'm just under 21 so I didn't pay much attention to the Macintosh's launch at the the time. But reading the article, it's amazing how much the (computer) world has changed. They have to describe what things like icons are, and what a mouse is. Today it's almost unfathomable that someone wouldn't know what a mouse it. Some of the technical specs are interesting too. It seems so weird that things were specified in BYTES then. I realize it made sense but can you imagine what it would be like to go to a computer store and ask for a 40,000,000,000 disk drive? I also have to say the description of being "the size of a stack of paper" seems very odd to me, as when I think of a stack of paper I think of something the size of a book at max, but still. Weirdest of all is describing Microsoft and where they are located (Seattle). These days people don't write about a Seattle software company named Microsoft, they write about MS because we ALL know who MS is.

    Seeing the introduction of some things from the past can be facinating in how much our world has changed. But in this case, it's especially interesting in how FAST it's changed. I'm sitting here typing on a laptop that is a year or two old. That said my laptop (for about that price, ignoring inflation) has a hard drive that's half a million times larger than the machine's RAM, has more power than a building full of old Macs running together weighs 1/3 (or less) what that mac did, can do TONS of other things that the Mac could never dream of, and my laptop is OLD AND OUT OF DATE. Of course, I owe a HUGE amount of this stuff to that little Mac (which I have 4 of im my basement ;). Go Apple!

    • Stack of Paper (Score:3, Informative)

      by midifarm ( 666278 )
      Remember that the average stack of computer paper back in 1984 came in a tall box and each sheet was connected and perforated so our DOT Matrix printer could feed it through it's track wheels! A lot has changed and hopefully will continue to, for the better!


  • other magazines (Score:4, Interesting)

    by savetz ( 201597 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:27PM (#8015382) Homepage
    For other perspectives, see Creative Computing magazine []: Apple Mac review and Compute magazine []: Apple's Macintosh Unveiled
  • Dupe! (Score:3, Funny)

    by ath0mic ( 519762 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:31PM (#8015403)
    Oh wait... /. wasn't around in 1984; heck most /. readers weren't around in 1984.
  • I Switched... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by voodoo_bluesman ( 255725 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:43PM (#8015479) Homepage
    a year ago and haven't looked back. Unix functionality with a nice GUI. I use the Mac for development (perl and C utilities), music and video production, and plain old web surfing and email. I have never really had a computer in the past that could handle all of my different interests w/ this much ease.

    For example, we shot a low budget indie short film two years ago. After shooting, we went to my PC and tried to edit it. We ended up giving up due to frustration. A year later, I bought an eMac and edited with no problem using iMovie and then distrubuted it w/ iDVD.

    I've been recording music in my home studio for quite a while now, and while I had an ok setup with my PC, it got sooo much easier when I got the Mac. Especially now, with Garage Band, I've been able to scratch out songs with half of the effort I had to put into my Windows box.

    Keep in mind that I'm a network engineer, and I maintain over 500 Windows servers - so I'm not really biased. For the enterprise, Windows is your choice (for now), but for the home user, I'd encourage everyone to consider the Mac.
  • by BookRead ( 610258 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:49PM (#8015513)
    I don't think they got the Mac right until the Mac SE came out in '86 or so. The original 128K Mac was too slow and small for its ambitions. The other funky thing about them was their power supply. It was cooled by convection, which made sure the power supplies died easily and often. I think the other forgotten aspect of the Mac was the LaserWriter which made the WYSIWYG metaphor work.

    And let's not forget the Apple Lisa which started the mouse/icon/desktop thing for Apple. That puppy was way ahead of its time. The Mac simply brought it down (relatively speaking. a Lisa was $10K) to where mere wealthy mortals could afford it.
    • by jefraskin ( 195507 ) on Monday January 19, 2004 @01:39AM (#8018138)
      BookRead has some facts sort of sideways. The Lisa certainly did not start "the mouse thing" for Apple. What most people don't know is that the Mac and the Lisa were started within a few months of each other and were parallel products. When I started the Mac project, the Lisa was still a character-generator, green-on-black, machine. I sold the Lisa team on going graphic.

      The Mac was a lot more than something that "simply brought" the Lisa price down.

      Jef (I was there :-) Raskin
  • by Scholasticus ( 567646 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:50PM (#8015518) Journal
    I've never owned an Apple/Mac, and don't particularly want to, but this is an important anniversary. Apple has innovated more over the years than just about any other computer company. Apple has had it's ups and downs, but it could be argued that they've been more loyal to their customers than anyone could have expected. The fact that so many of their customers are loyal to them - well, that should tell you something about what kind of company this is. Hats off to Apple for 20 years of the Mac!
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:58PM (#8015556) Homepage
    My favorite quotation from the article: "Because the machine now has one drive and 128K of RAM, several sources said users might have to 'swap' diskettes..." Oh, brother. Did we ever.

    It's strange that Steve Jobs, generally a fan of new technology, had such a blind spot about internal hard drives. I tend to think it was that, more than anything else, that got the Mac off to a dangerously slow start.

    I remember paying, I believe it was $400, for a second, external floppy drive, without which the machine wasn't very usable. Even then, it was (after the novelty wore off) quite annoying listening to those drives play that "MacDirge" (they had a very audible, musically pitched whine that jumped between several pitches as the disk format went to different numbers of sectors per track. I never thought to take it down in musical notation, but the drive played three or four notes of a minor chord).
    • It's strange that Steve Jobs, generally a fan of new technology, had such a blind spot about internal hard drives.

      Jobs hated hard drives because they were loud and power hungry. A Macintosh with internal hard drive would require a cooling fan, and that was agains Jobs will. He was always a fan of silent computing (and still is - the hard drive in my iBook is incredibly silent, and the machine is almost entirely mute, until the fan kicks in, but that's not very often). Oddly enough, many people in early
  • by rufey ( 683902 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @05:59PM (#8015564)
    Other posters have provided links to the famous 1984 advertisement, but I haven't seen anyone post the history of the ad. It almost wasn't shown at all because the board didn't like it at all.

    Here [] is a good writeup on how the advertisement came about and what the initial internal reaction to the ad was in late 1983.

  • Wired (Score:5, Informative)

    by phalse phace ( 454635 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @06:14PM (#8015681)
    Wired [] also has some interesting write ups about Apple and the Mac, such as:

    The Macintosh's Twisted Truth [], which talks about how Jef Raskin was the real inventor of the Mac (and how Jobs wanted to kill the Macintosh project at the time), and Apple's Unlikely Guardian Angel [], which details how Microsoft support the Mac from day one.

    • Re:Wired (Score:5, Informative)

      by jefraskin ( 195507 ) on Monday January 19, 2004 @01:36AM (#8018128)
      Diamondsw says that the original Mac didn't have a GUI, sound, etc. He also says that I made up a "lot of history". Please give me an example or two. The example has to be something I actually said or wrote, not what somebody else said or an example of bad reporting. For example a web site recently said that I said that I "started Apple". I wrote to them to tell them it was wrong and they corrected it: I had said no such thing (and never have).

      Before you respond, consider taking a look at the "Holes in the Histories" article on If you want dates and want to see original documents dating back to 1979, read "The Book of Macintosh" much of which is in the Stanford University History of Technology collection.

      If you want proof that I wanted computers to be graphics-based and human-centered (and that I had invented and built my own graphic input device in 1965 or 66) see "The Quick Draw Graphics System", my thesis, which was published (Penn State) in 1967 -- 5 years before PARC was established. This puts the lie to the often-stated claim that the Mac stole its basic orientation from Xerox PARC. Not that we didn't learn a lot from PARC's brilliant work later.

      So, diamondsw, even if the original Mac didn't have a GUI as most people now know it, but it did have a graphics-based interface that was (IMHO) even easier to learn and use. As for sound, it had it from the first -- I've been doing computer music for years before the Mac and there's no way I'd design a product without built-in sound.

      Also see the Appendices to my book, "The Humane Interface" which has a detailed, button-press-by-button-press, account of some of the differences between PARCs interface and the one I designed.

      Jef (I was there :-) Raskin

  • Amazing computer. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @06:31PM (#8015810) Homepage
    I still have two Mac 128k machines in the garage and they still run. They were amazing machines in their day. Compared to the green-screen PC's running cumbersome software with manuals inches thick, the Mac was a beautiful machine to use. The sense of control and interaction was so immediate!

    Does anyone remember the lovely tutorial disk that came with the Mac? I can't remember what it was called (i.e. what was on the label), but there was a disk that you booted from that just taught you how to use the machine. It walked you through a lovely animated tutorial with sound that went through use of the mouse, windows, menus, icons, files, etc. using little games -- a maze, an on-screen piano... and it provided feedback in how skilled you were with all of these things. It only took about 10 minutes to get through it, and then you could use the Mac like a pro! But it had graphics and sound! People take these things for granted today, but I had a steady stream of friends over who just wanted to go through that amazing tutorial over and over again and couldn't believe their eyes and ears.

    I still remember seeing MacWrite/MacPaint for the first time, just after having set the machine up and gone through the tutorial. Without ever reading a single manual, I knew how to use this incredibly powerful (for its time) WYSIWYG text editor (unheard of on the PC) and paint program. I must have spent hours just doodling in MacPaint, and friends who owned PCs would come over to do the same and then to print out their doodles on the ImageWriter, which, as a graphics-oriented printer that printed fonts as they appeared on-screen, was about as wild an idea as the Mac itself was. To the friends, who had single-font dot-matrix or daisy wheel printers, even the idea of dot-matrix graphics from a printer seemed like a visit from the kool aid fairy.

    The disks were a pain, it's true, but they stored more than the PC floppies and were much more compact and durable, and nobody else but mid-sized and large businesses at the time had any way to afford a hard drive. The 5MB (yes, 5 megabyte) full-height hard drives for PCs were prohibitively expensive, thousands of dollars... Not to mention 10MB (there were no 20MB PC drives yet, IIRC).

    Even just the black-on-white display was stunning. Everyone was so accustomed to the notion that computer displays were by necessity some sort of harsh green... Even though Tandy had had a white-on-black display for their TRS-80 Model I some time earlier. I remember one of my friends commenting that if there was no technical reason for making green displays, he'd be happy never to have to see one again after seeing my Mac's display.

    Even when Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 came out years later, the computing environment that they created was nowhere near as integrated or as usable as the original Finder 1.0 had been for the Mac. The Mac is quite a testament to the vision of Apple computers, the influence of Xerox notwithstanding... I mean, how often is the devil really in the details (look at Windows, for example), and yet Apple in a remarkable number of cases over the years seems to have gotten 95% of the details in their products right... more often than not when Steve Jobs has been around.
    • Re:Amazing computer. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ktakki ( 64573 )
      That disk was called "Macintosh Guided Tour", IIRC and, at the time I bought my first Mac (late '85), was accompanied by an audio cassette (also called "Guided Tour"). The tape consisted of a gentleman with a soothing voice walking you through the Finder and instructing you on how to use the mouse. There was a new-agey piano track under the voiceover. "Very West Coast", I thought at the time.

      I do recall that there was a little maze applet that was meant to introduce you to mousing. I might still have t
    • Would you pay $3200 or $4000, instead of $2495?

      Not only would you add the cost of a hard drive, but add cooling fan, an extra i/o chip in the motherboard, firmwire/bois modifications, and fit it in a tiny tiny ( by 84 standards) space, would make the apple as expensive as the $7,000 lisa!

      This is 1983 we are talking about here.

      These are not commidity items back then.

      A simple analog to digital converter was hundreds of dollars! Today they cost about a nickel and are used in cell phones.

      If you have ever s
  • by option8 ( 16509 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @06:55PM (#8015936) Homepage
    i have a circa 1984 macintosh i picked up at a garage sale or surplus at some point. i can't remember when. i have so many now - 9 compact "toaster" models of various descriptions.

    anyhoo, it's still a marvel. at some point, it has been upgraded from the original 128k to a 512k-e motherboard so it's actually pretty usable. i wish i had the original 128k mobo. i'd frame it - "look kids, soldered on memory and no expansion slot!".

    the keyboard and mouse still work after 20 years, which is remarkable in itself, but by the feel of them in the hand and the action of the keys, they could have been sold a year ago.

    i had to track down an operating system (and 400k floppies) to get it and its brethren to work. the folks at sun remarketing [] used to sell software for it - i can't find it on their site now - system version 5.x and finder 4.x, i think, but i was able to track down a couple years ago disk images all the way back to system 1.

    it's tricky to get a working 400k system disk from a G3 with no floppy to a 512k with no network connection, but suffice it to say it involves another power mac and a mac plus with two floppy drives.

    but anyway... the finder and few apps i have are not only remarkably fast (no multitasking, though), but beautifully designed - every pixel placed with care, and use of the very limited screen real estate well thought out.

    it's no wonder, comparing this machine to some of the other '80s vintage PCs in my collection, why the press of the time was gushing over the first mac. regardless of its lack of hard drive and cooling fan (steve likes his computers quiet - and when not reading from the floppy, the mac is eerily quiet) and nonexistant expansion opportunities, it was way ahead of everything else out there.

    well, maybe with the exception of the Lisa.
  • by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @07:41PM (#8016232)
    ... two weeks ago. A 15" G4 AL laptop w/ a superdrive. It is god's machine. This is by far the coolest computer I've ever owned. The ease and utility of a mac and the versatility and power of unix. It is like NeXT reincarnated and better. In the last twenty years, no offense bill, but M$ has gone from bad to worse. Linux is still cool, however.

    • This is the very same reason I will be buying the 15" Powerbook with the superdrive in the next few months. I'm sick of running Windows to watch DVDs and my Linux box is incapable of this amoung other things, but is still an exelent choice as a server platform.

  • print ads from 1984 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by option8 ( 16509 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @08:55PM (#8016602) Homepage
    this page [] on is an old article, but timely. it has links to a lot of old apple ads and brochures from the days when you had to explain to people what a mouse was.

    i have a little collection of old BYTE magazines that i picked up from used book stores specifically for their apple ads. it's always amusing to me what kinds of claims they made back then...
  • by jdkane ( 588293 ) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @09:11PM (#8016732)
    For $2,495, Macintosh buyers will get a computer that operates unusually quickly and is directed by a mouse - a handheld device that, when slid across a table top, moves the cursor on the Mac's screen.

    Now that is a step back in history. It's funny to see that they had to fully describe what a mouse was. But I do remember those days, and the mouse was definitely something rather new to consumers, especially to "the rest of us".

  • by jefraskin ( 195507 ) on Monday January 19, 2004 @02:01AM (#8018213)
    One of the posts states: "In 1984, IBM still had a stranglehold on the corporate market. This was, in all honesty, the market the Mac was originally intended for. It was designed as an easier computer for non-technical company drones to use - rather than spending weeks training on how to use an IBM PC, they just sit down and start clicking around with their mouse. "

    The poster correctly identifies one of the original marketing directions. But the original major application I proposed was the Net (which didn't exist yet). If you want to read the original document about what I expected people to do with it, see the Appendix (written in 1979, when I started the Mac project) to my article "Holes in the Histories" on

    Jef (I was there :-) Raskin
  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Monday January 19, 2004 @05:41AM (#8019125)
    It is that with a very "primitive" configuration, compared to what we have today, one could do 90% of the every day tasks that we can do today with a PC. The Mac toolbox was in ROM and it took 128 KB of memory. It had networking, print support and a GUI that was economical in resources and easy to use. The Mac was a "quantum leap" for computers in that era.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"