Difference between revisions of "Macintosh"

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Revision as of 17:03, 9 April 2010

CPU: 8 MHz Motorola MC68000
Maximum RAM: 128 KiB (Apple), 128 KiB (Actual)
Supported OS: System 1.0/Finder 1.0 - System 3.3
Introduced:January 24 1984
Discontinued:October 1985
MSRP:$2495 (US)
Full Specifications

Released in 1984, the Macintosh was the first in a series of machines that would help to redefine not only how computers were used and what they were capable of, but how they were accepted and embraced by the general public.


Since the fledgling Apple had exploded onto the home computer market in 1976 with the release of the Apple I, the company had been constantly pushing the boundaries of home computing, introducing new and 'revolutionary' concepts to a market that many didn't even believe existed. The Apple ][ had turned the computer from being a circuit board in a wooden box into a plastic cased consumer object that was easy to connect and use.

The Apple ][ had been a massive success but Apple's attempt to move into the business market, in the shape of the Apple ///, had been an unmitigated disaster. This had not been helped any by the woeful sales of the company's, then, flagship and 'here's-the-future-now' product: Lisa.

While Lisa brought the graphical user interface (GUI) to the mainstream, its price tag ($10,000) and intended business user had resulted in extremely poor sales. Salvation came in 1984 in the form of a little beige box with a built-in 9" screen: Macintosh.

Originally proposed in 1979, the original requirements for Macintosh called for a $500, all-in-one consumer games machine. Apple assigned the project to Jef Raskin who showed very little interest, instead pitching his idea for an easy to use, self-contained machine that would appeal to home users. It wasn't what Apple had wanted but they gave him the go ahead to start investigating anyway. He christened the project 'Macintosh' — a loose corruption of the 'McIntosh' variety of apple — and the rest is history.

Although often shunned by the rest of Apple in favour of the Apple /// and Lisa, the Macintosh project soon blossomed into a small but dedicated team of hardy individuals who slowly pushed development forward. It also became clear that the dream of a $500 all-in-one machine was going to be unrealistic and Macintosh started to evolve. The original $500 machine was starting to look more like a $1000 machine such were the ever 'improving' specs: colour graphics, programming languages on ROM, more memory, more storage, a built-in printer. Some ideas were little more than pipe dreams but everything went through the same process of comparing price with performance: colour would be nice, but monochrome would do...

While work on Macintosh progressed, the fallout over the Apple /// was causing casualties and these didn't come any bigger than Steve Jobs himself. Ousted by the board of directors, Jobs assigned himself to the Macintosh team and quickly found himself at odds with not only his team members but also Raskin. Forever demanding 'perfection', suggesting often insane ideas (such as renaming the whole project 'bicycle', although he did make the decision to go with the mouse rather than Raskin's preferred light pen or joystick), and forever clashing with Raskin, Jobs eventually succeeded in expelling Raskin and assuming control of the whole project.

Jobs had a massive impact on the Macintosh in terms of, both, the final product and the team behind it. Having been the man who had given the go ahead to Lisa's GUI, following a visit to Xerox PARC, Jobs decreed that the command line was history and demanded that the Macintosh have a full GUI, too. With its modest processor (the 6809E), equally modest memory (64 KiB) and limited disk space (143 KiB via the same 5.25" floppy disks used in the Apple ][) the Macintosh in its (then) current state needed a massive overhaul.

The decision to use the Motorola 68000 processor — running at, what was then, a blistering 8MHz — gave the Mac enough raw grunt to get the job done. Unfortunately, the expanded 128 KiB memory was barely sufficient to accommodate the operating system and those 143 KiB disks had to be ditched in favour of the latest 400 KiB 3.5" Sony disks. However, Jobs favoured developing a drive internally, and was saved only when several members of the project team went behind his back — even to the point of hiding a Sony sales representative in a cupboard to avoid Jobs finding out what they were up to. All of this new technology didn't come cheap, though, and the original $500 price tag had spiralled to almost $2000.

Elsewhere, the Macintosh team managed to cut corners and be 'inventive', regularly 'borrowing' ideas and code from the Lisa team. Despite sharing some visual elements, the GUIs on the Macintosh and Lisa are incompatible; this means that software written for one will not work on the other. This was a conscious decision by Jobs; he wanted Macintosh to beat Lisa and actually went out of his way to make the two systems incompatible.

Despite having been released later than originally expected and requiring gargantuan efforts by all involved, the Macintosh was introduced to the world on January 24th 1984 at Apple's annual conference. Jobs put on a masterful demonstration where the Mac, literally, spoke and wowed the world — even if the machine in question actually had 512 KiB of memory rather than the standard 128 KiB that it was supposed to have (there was no way that even the demonstration program would fit into 128 KiB!).

Even at its final sale price of $2495, the Macintosh was a big hit and sales, although disappointing initially, soon went through the roof, with more Macs being sold within the first 100 days than the total number of Lisas that were sold in the previous two years.

Full Specifications

  • General
    • CPU: 8 MHz Motorola MC68000
    • ROM: 64 KiB
    • Bus Speed: 8 MHz
    • Data Path: 16-bit
    • Standard RAM: 128 KiB
    • RAM Onboard: 128 KiB
    • RAM Slots: 0
    • Maximum RAM(Apple): 128 KiB
    • Maximum RAM(Actual): 128 KiB
  • I/O & Expansion
    • Serial: 2 (DE-9)
    • Floppy Connector: 1
    • Audio Out: 8-bit mono (mini-jack)
    • Built-in Speaker: Mono
  • Storage
    • Floppy Drive: 400 KiB 3.5"
  • Video
    • Built-in Display: Internal 9" B&W
    • Max Resolution: 512×342 pixels (1-bit)
  • Miscellaneous
    • Apple Model Number: M0001
    • Codename: Macintosh
    • Gestalt ID: 1
    • Power: 60W
    • PRAM Battery: 4.5V PX 21
    • Case Style: Macintosh
    • Dimensions: 9.6" x 10.9" x 13.6" (W x D x H)
    • Weight: 16.5 lbs.
    • Mac OS Support: System 1.0/Finder 1.0 - System 3.3
    • Introduced: January 24 1984
    • Introduced: October 1985
    • MSRP: $2495 (US)

More Information