The 40th anniversary of the Macintosh isn't actually until tomorrow, but the celebrations are already underway, and Apple executives are sharing their thoughts on the machine. which ultimately changed not only the way we interact with personal computers, but also paved the way for them to become mainstream consumer devices.
I'm old. Old enough to buy the very first Macintosh back in 1984, but was really only able to do so because in those days Apple needed people like me more than we needed Apple…
Life before the Mac
Anyone who was I'm not alive at that time, or at least old enough to use computers, and it would be difficult to imagine what using a personal computer was like before LISA and the Macintosh, but there is an easy way to understand the idea: open Terminal on your computer. Mac.
Yes, you start your computer and see a very similar prompt, and you have to enter commands to do something – like change a folder or open an application.
When you were writing in a word processor and wanted to use bold or italics, you would have to use keystrokes to do so—and you wouldn't see an on-screen representation of the effect. Instead, you'll see something like this:
Here's a word typed ^Bbold^B, and here's a word typed ^Yitalics^Y.
Control-Y for italics, because Control-I was obviously used for tabs…
The actual effects of the font will only be seen when you print the document.
Not surprisingly, personal computers of the time were almost exclusively used by computer geeks and businessmen.
Then came the Macintosh
He smiled at you as he started up. You didn't have directory listings, you had images of folders. You didn't type in the app or file name to open it, you used this weird new thing called a mouse to double-click on it. When you bolded a word, it would appear in bold on the screen. You had different fonts! It could talk to you! (Sort of… that is, you could type something and it would say it.)
It was incredible. I immediately understood what computers should be like. I wanted one.
I couldn't afford it. In today's terms, that's the equivalent of $5,600 just for the computer itself. The “optional” second drive was optional. The ImageWriter printer needed to print these beautiful new fonts was optional. I was a first-year journalism student, and at that time it made up a significant part of my annual income.
But times were different. Back then, Apple needed access to journalists, not the other way around. Apple believed that if we had Macintoshes, we would write about them (which was correct). So he offered journalists a discount. Very generous discount: 60 percent off. (We don't have any discounts at all now, in case you were wondering.) It was still a lot of money, but I didn't care, I had to have one: I got my seventh Macintosh to come to the UK. .
To write an article about it, you inserted the system disk to boot it. You then removed it and inserted the MacWrite disc. When you wanted to save your work, you removed the MacWrite disk and inserted a blank disk (each of which cost $18 in today's money, by the way). At various points along the way, the Macintosh will eject whatever disk is in the drive and tell you which one it needs. Documents were limited to eight pages—if you needed to write more, you kept writing in a new document.
I didn't care: I loved the car. I later upgraded it to the Macintosh Plus spec with a maximum of 4MB RAM, and some time after that I added a horribly expensive 20MB SCSI external hard drive. As iFixit notes in its anniversary breakdown, the machine was fairly easy to upgrade once you got rid of those T15 screws.
My Macintosh lasted only five years that way until I replaced it with…
Best comment from Ralph Bruno
I remember in 1985 I was trying to decide which computer to buy. I'm a teacher and wanted to use it for the obvious things: creating tests, grading, etc. I also worked part time in a science lab and had a lot of experience with IBM machines. At the time, I had very little knowledge about Mac computers, but I was familiar with the Apple 2. So, I was trying to decide whether to get the IBM XT or the Apple 2. I walk into a computer store and explain the situation to the salespeople. Human. He says, “Have you ever thought about a Mac? I explained that I had no direct experience with them. He takes me to one of them and starts typing and changing font types and sizes. He then begins to paint Mac. I was sold immediately and never looked back. It was an incredible experience to see how far ahead the Mac was compared to any other computer at the time.
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Macintosh laptop computer. The name may have been a slight exaggeration – he weighed a whopping 16 pounds! But I carried it everywhere and liked it even more than the original Mac. Here it is, pictured with my much later MacBook Air 11:
In 1991, I replaced the Portable with the PowerBook 100, the first computer we actually recognized as a predecessor to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models. we have today.
I won't bore you with a full Mac timeline, even if I could be sure to remember it all, but suffice it to say that between then and my 16-inch MacBook Pro M1 2021 Max.
I doubt there are too many other 9to5Mac types old enough to have had that first Macintosh, but share your first Mac stories in the comments!