January 24 marks the 40th anniversary of Steve Jobs' introduction of the Macintosh, the first successful mainstream computer with a graphical user interface.
The original Macintosh popularized the computer mouse, allowing users to control an on-screen pointer. This point-and-click method of computer navigation was still a new concept to most people at the time, as personal computers of the era typically had a text-based command line interface controlled by the keyboard.
An excerpt from the press Apple's 1984 release:
Users tell the Macintosh what to do by simply moving the “mouse”—a small pointing device—to select among functions listed in menus and represented by graphic symbols on the screen. Users no longer have to remember numerous and confusing keyboard commands on conventional computers. The result is radical ease of use and a significant reduction in training time. At its core, the Macintosh is a desktop device that offers users increased utility and creativity with simplicity.
Apple said the Macintosh typically takes “just a few hours to learn” and touted that what are now basic computer functions such as a desktop with icons, the ability to use multiple programs in windows, drop-down menus, and copy and paste.
Jobs quote from Apple press release:
The Macintosh fits easily on your desk, both in terms of operating style and physical design. It takes up about the same amount of desk space as a sheet of paper. On the Macintosh, the computer facilitates spontaneity and originality rather than being an obstacle. This allows you to look at ideas and relationships in a new way. The Macintosh not only enhances productivity, but also creativity.
The original Macintosh started at $2,495, the equivalent of more than $7,000 today. Key specs and features included an 8 MHz processor, 128 KB of RAM, a 400 KB floppy drive for data storage, and serial ports for connecting a printer and other accessories.
Full Apple press release for Macintosh can be found here. can be found on the Stanford University website.
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