Apple Macintosh

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Masc 128k from an angleWell, this is it. Apple's "insanely great" computer, Macintosh. This is the computer that caused a revolution in microcomputing, and an industry that has spawned countless companies, publications, movies, books, and devoted evangelists. The Macintosh was the combined effort of a bunch of "hackers" working at Apple that would eventually be famous. These included Bill Atkinson, Andy Hertzfeld, Randy Wigginton, Burell Smith, Bruce Horn, Steve Wozniak, and several other computer geniuses working mostly under the direction of Steve Jobs. Even so, it was originally the child of one man: Jef Raskin. After studying the graphical user interface for years, and taking several trips to PARC, Raskin was able to begin his pet project in 1979. Steve Jobs intervened in 1981 after being kicked from the Lisa project, taking many Lisa programmers with him. Raskin got into countless heated arguments with Jobs and eventually left. His ideas of compact easy-to-use machines stayed with the Mac though, and the machine owes a great debt to him. The Mac was released on January 24, 1984, to a not-so-impressed audience. Like many great inventions, it was perceived as a toy. It also had too little memory (only 128k, one tenth that of the Lisa), no designed expansion, small monochrome screen, no numeric keypad nor function keys, and arcane disk copying methods. All of these were sacrificed for cost, but hurt Macintosh sales severely. Some of these problems were fixed when the Mac 512k was released later that September, or in the Mac 512Ke released the following April. The Mac 512k quadrupled the memory, a significant increase which finally allowed more complex work to be done on the machine. The 512Ke added an 3.5" 800k floppy drive, doubling the capacity of the original floppy drive. The Mac was speedy though, thanks to the work of Burell Smith, twice as fast as a comparative Lisa costing 5 times as much. It used the same Motorola 68000 processor, now running at 8 MHz. See a conception screen shot of Mac OS System 1.0. Read the article Apple & the GUI, for a little more info and The Early Mac OS for descriptions of versions that ran on these machines. Also, stay tuned for a special section on the Mac OS, and the story behind the Mac's creation.

Front view of MacCode Names: Macintosh was the original code-name for the 128k. Fat Mac was the code name for the Mac 512k.

Processor: Motorola 68000 processor running at 8 MHz.
Memory: came with 128k of RAM (not expandable) and 64k ROM
Drives: Sony 400k 3.5" drive.
Display: Built-in 9-inch diagonal, 512 by 342-pixel bitmapped display.
Ports: Mouse port, 1 eight-bit keyboard bus, 300 baud, RJ11 connector for the Macintosh Keyboard. Two RS-232/RS-422 serial ports, 230.4K baud maximum, DB-9 connector, and sound port for external audio amplifier or headphones.

Operating Systems:
Mac 128k: came with System 1.0, supports System 1.0-6.08. System 3.3 is recommended.
Mac 512k, 512Ke
: supports System 1.0-6.08. System 4.0 is reccomended.

Models in this series:
Macintosh 128k: original model, 8MHz computer with 128k RAM and 64k ROM. Bundled with MacDraw and MacPaint.
Macintosh 512k: The "Fat Mac", it doubled the RAM to 512k and the ROM to 128k. Also came with a new System version.
Macintosh 512Ke: Included 3.5" 800k floopy drive, replacing the 400k one.

On the market for: 1 year, 10 months.

Interesting Facts:
What isn't interesting about the original Mac? If you break open a Mac 128k, 512k, 512Ke, or early Pluses you find some 30 signatures in the inside casing. Jobs believed that all artists sign their work, and the Mac team were certainly creating a work of art. So, all the members signed the case mold in 1982, which was used for most all the Mac models until 1986. Read Owen Linzmayer's excellent The Mac Bathroom Reader for more information on this practice.

The famous "1984" Super Bowl commercial directed by Ridley Scott and supposedly played only that one time on Super Bowl Sunday is the most famous commercial of all time. It wasn't played only once though. On my 3rd birthday, December 15, 1983, Chiat/Day played the commercial in a local TV station at 1:00 AM. This was so the commercial would be eligible for the year's Clio Awards and was done often by ad agencies. It also ran at several theaters before previews, often being played for free because theater owners liked it so much. It is also often run during TV specials about commercials, or during a Clio Awards show.

Because of a problem with copyright infringement, Apple didn't think it could keep the Macintosh name, already in use by another company (though with the correct spelling, "McIntosh"). It experimented with MAC (Mouse Activated Computer, reverse engineered from Macintosh), Apple IV, Bicycle (Jobs' favorite), and Esprit. None sounded right, so Apple instead paid a hefty fee to obtain the name "Macintosh", as it did with the name "Apple" itself some years later.

Resources and Related Links:
Apple's Technical Information Library
Richard Kilpatrick's site "Apple Retrospective".
The Mac 128k or 512k entry at Glen Sanford's A History of Apple Computer.
Picture at right from A History of Apple Computers, picture at left from Apple Retro.