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Tech Rewind: When the Apple Macintosh was first introduced

Apple introduced the first Macintosh computer on this day, January 24 in 1984, 31 years ago. On this occasion we list some lesser-known facts about the personal computer...

>> The Apple Macintosh is the first personal computer intended for the mass consumer market. It stood out for featuring the an integral graphical user interface and mouse. Users communicated with the computer, using a metaphorical desktop that included icons of real life items, instead of abstract textual commands.

The Apple Macintosh as introduced by Steve Jobs in his 1984 keynote address. Pic/YouTube
The Apple Macintosh as introduced by Steve Jobs in his 1984 keynote address. Pic/YouTube

>> The name Macintosh was coined by Apple employee Jef Raskin, who was incharge of the project in 1979. Raskin decided to name the machine after his favourite type of apple, the McIntosh.

>> Burrell Smith, a team member of the Apple Macintosh project, a self-taught engineer provided the computer with the following configuration
based on Jef Raskin's design specifications:

RAM: 64 kilobytes (kb)
Processor: Motorola 6809E microprocessor
Display: 256×256-pixel black-and-white bitmap display

By December 1980, an improved design using Apple Lisa's Motorola 68000 microprocessor and an increased speed from 5 MHz to MHz with
the capacity to support a a 384×256-pixel display was possible.

The final Mac design after these design changes was as follows...
- QuickDraw picture language and interpreter in 64 kB of ROM
- 128 kB of RAM, in the form of sixteen 64 kilobit (kb) RAM chips soldered to the logicboard
- RAM was expandable to 512 kB by means of soldering sixteen IC sockets to accept 256 kb RAM chips in place of the factory-installed chips -
since there were no memory slots
- 9-inch screen with 512x342 pixel monochrome display

>> The Apple Macintosh's ground-breaking graphical user interface (GUI) became a reality after Steve Jobs, negotiated a visit to see the Xerox Alto computer and its Smalltalk development tools in exchange for Apple stock options. The user interfaces of the Lisa and Macintosh were influenced by technology seen at Xerox PARC and were combined with the Apple Macintosh group's own ideas.

>> The Snow White design language was developed for the Apple Macintosh line by industrial designer Hartmut Esslinger, who was commissioned by Steve Jobs.

>> The Apple Macintosh, (later renamed 'Macintosh 128k' after it's successor Macintosh 512K was introduced) was formally announced on October 1983 with a 18-page brochure included in various magazines in December.

>> The now-famous Ridley Scott directed Television commercial named '1984' was screend at aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984, is considered Apple's watershed moment. The ad cost USD 1.5 million to make. It featured an unnamed heroine to represent the coming of the Macintosh as a means of saving humanity from the "conformity" of IBM's attempts to dominate the computer industry and alluded to author George Orwell's famous novel Ninteen Eighty-Four.

>> Apple Macintosh came bundled with two applications namely MacWrite and MacPaint, which were demonstrated by Steve Jobs in the first of his famous Mac keynote speeches.

>> Apple introduced the Macintosh Office suite the same year with the "Lemmings" ad. Infamous for insulting its own potential customers, the ad was not successful.

>> Following the release of the Apple Macintosh and subsequent bundled application MacPaint and MacWrite, in April 1984, Microsoft's MultiPlan migrated over from MS-DOS, with Microsoft Word following in January 1985.

>> There was an initial lack of software for the new Apple Macintosh system since it was designed largely around the GUI, existing text-mode
and command-driven applications had to be redesigned and the programming code rewritten, which was a time-consuming task that many software developers chose not to undertake.

>> The sales of the Macintosh were strong from its initial sales release on January 24, 1984 and reached 70,000 units on May 3, 1984.

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