Today, Apple celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Mac, the computer that was almost a critical failure when it launched and turned out to be one of the most important pieces of machinery in the modern computing era.
The Mac was announced by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on January 24, 1984. The launch was accompanied by one of the most iconic commercials in the history of television, Apple’s “1984” spoof which railed against the likes of IBM’s computers in favor of the sleeker Mac. The commercial debuted in the third quarter of the Super Bowl that year and was an instant success.
The Mac was one of the first personal computers to employ a Graphical User Interface (what people today called windows) and used the Motorola 68000 processor that was considered extremely fast for its time. At the time of the Mac, Apple was in the middle of developing the Lisa 2, of which Jobs was one of the leaders of the team. The Lisa 2 proved to be expensive for Apple to develop and Jobs was famously switched to the Macintosh team which included Bill Atkinson, Burrell Smith, Jef Raskin along with some computer luminaries that people still recognize today including George Crow, Chris Espinosa, Joanna Hoffman, Bruce Horn, Susan Kare, Andy Hertzfeld, Guy Kawasaki, Daniel Kottke and Jerry Manock.
The Mac 128K, the first of the generation, originally was supposed to retail for $1,995 but was increased to $2,495 by Apple CEO John Sculley after a series of expensive Apple promotional events. Jobs was not happy with the price increase and the subsequent slow sales of the Mac. The rift between Sculley, the Apple board and Jobs was one of the reasons that Jobs was forced to leave the company in 1985.
The Mac eventually did sell well, finding its way into homes but especially schools. If you are a child of the 1980s, using a Mac was one of the key ingredients of your formative years. Macs would sell relatively well to homes and education systems for the 1980s before it began to decline in the 1990s with the uprising and dominance of Microsoft and its Windows computer operating system. By 1996, Apple was in serious trouble as a company and brought Jobs back into the fold as CEO where his first project was working with hardware designer Jony Ive to completely redesign the Mac. The colorful iMac was released in 1998 and was followed by iconic Apple products like the iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad over the next 13 years. Jobs died in October 2011.
What was your first Mac? How did it help you change the programmable world? Let us know in the comments.
To commemorate 30 years of the Mac, Apple put together a video for the anniversary of the computer, explaining its history and the impact that it had.
Lead image: Steve Jobs with the Mac 128K via Apple.com