The Macintosh smashed through IBM’s ‘Big Brother’ dominance in 1984 and became many people’s first home computer during the 80s and early 90s.
Its simple style, user-friendly interface and resulting popularity paved the way for Apple’s innovative products ever since, be it the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad or anything else adorned with that famous half-eaten piece of fruit.
Thirty-one years after its launch, here are some of the lesser-known facts about the iconic Apple Macintosh
The Macintosh wasn’t Apple’s first computer. The homemade Apple-I was released in 1976. Of the 200 that were produced, six are believed to be still working and one sold for around £407,000 at auction in May 2012.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976. However, there’s an oft-ignored third founder. Ronald Wayne drew the first Apple logo and the Apple I computer user manual. He sold his stake for $1,500 after just two weeks to settle a debt. His stake would have been worth $22 billion today.
The pre-cursor to the Macintosh was the Apple Lisa, aimed at business users. In many ways it was superior to the Macintosh and was used by Nasa for project management. However, with a £6,000 asking price and cheaper options available from IBM, it was a commercial failure and some 2,700 units were disposed of in a landfill in Utah.
Apple introduced the Macintosh to the wider world during its famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial. The ad was inspired by George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four and depicted the smashing of the dull and dominant ‘Big Brother’ IBM mainframe. The computing world shifted on its axis that day.
The $1.5 million commercial was directed by Ridley Scott of Alien and Blade Runner fame and has come to be considered an advertising masterpiece. The original Macintosh went on sale two days later on January 24, 1984.
The first Macintosh had 128KB of memory. Today’s Mac Pro can be configured to hold 64GB - that’s 536,870,912KB.
The Macintosh was named McIntosh after Steve Jobs’ favourite variety of apple. It changed for copyright reasons.
The original Macintosh had no user-serviceable parts, as Apple didn’t want users opening it themselves. They got a 90-day warranty and had to return it to an authorised Apple service provider in the event of problems. Some things never change, eh?
The Macintosh came with just two applications, MacWrite – a word processing application – and MacPaint, a painting tool. More importantly, it was the first affordable home computer with a graphical user interface.
Though they would eventually become bitter rivals, Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Bill Gates were once on the same page. The Macintosh pre-dated Windows and Gates estimated that half of Microsoft’s revenue would come from software sales for the Macintosh upon its launch.
Gates was right: when Microsoft Word was released for Macintosh in 1985, it outsold the MS-DOS version four years in a row.
The first Macintosh was considered a great affordable option at the time, but even then, it sold for £1,515, which adjusted for inflation comes to about £3,400. That’s more than today’s top-of-the-line Macs.
The original Mac is often remembered for the disk-swapping required to install software. It only had a single 400KB 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, so many users snapped up a second external drive, which went on sale in May 1984.
Less than 18 months after introducing the Macintosh, Steve Jobs was ousted as Apple CEO in 1985 following a power struggle with the board of directors. He would not return until 1996 when Apple was on its knees. The company was profitable again by 1998.
The Macintosh II arrived in 1987 and brought 1MB of memory, which for the first time was expandable. Users could upgrade to 68MB of memory if they chose. It was also the first Apple computer to be sold without a keyboard as standard.
This article was written on a super-slim 11.6-inch MacBook Air, but the first Apple laptop arrived in 1989 in the form of the Macintosh Portable. The screen was expensive, but poor in low light conditions so Apple released a backlit version in 1991, which halved the battery life. Both models were criticised and were discontinued in 1991. PC World magazine voted it the 17th worst tech product of all time.
The road to the MacBook began in earnest in 1991 with the launch of the PowerBook range, which captured 40% of laptop sales. Its key innovation was probably the positioning of the keyboard that gave users palm-rests when typing. Sometimes it’s the simple things…
The Mac’s return to prominence came in 1998 with the launch of iMac G3, which came in an all-in-one package, which required no external monitor. With its integrated egg shape and range of colourful designs, it brought a dramatically different appearance to any computer that came before it and was a huge hit.
Until very recently all Mac OS X software updates were named after big cats. (Leopard, Lion, Panther, Tiger, etc.) It is not known why Apple chose to ditch the convention and go with Mavericks for its latest update, but given that 30 years ago the company’s non-conformist attitudes shook up the world of home computing for ever, it seems wholly appropriate.
What was your first computer? Let us know in the Comments below.