13 June 2018

The Apple Macintosh - Why 1984 Wasn't Like '1984'

1984 - Side-stepping Orwell's version - exciting times...

The new Apple Macintosh came with a computer mouse. The first commercial system sold with a mouse, the Xerox 8010 Information System in 1981, had a purchase price of over $20,000! The Apple Mac was an exciting piece of computer kit which cost much less.

The original 1984 Macintosh blurb...

Introducing Macintosh

In the olden days, before 1984, not very many people used computers - for a very good reason.    

Not very many people knew how.

And not very many people wanted to learn.

After all, in those days it meant listening to your stomach growl in computer seminars. Falling asleep over computer manuals. And staying awake nights to memorize commands so complicated you'd have to be a computer to understand them.

Then, on a particularly bright day in California, some particularly bright engineers had a brilliant idea: since computers are so smart, wouldn't it make sense to teach computers about people, instead of teaching people about computers?

So it was that those very engineers worked long days and late nights - teaching tiny silicon chips all about people. How they make mistakes and change their minds. How they label their file folders and save old telephone numbers. How they labor for their livelihoods. And doodle in their spare time.

For the first time in recorded computer history, hardware engineers actually talked to software engineers in a moderate tone of voice. And both became united by a common goal to build the most powerful, most transportable, most flexible, most versatile computer not-very-much-money could buy.

And when the engineers were finally finished, they introduced us to a personal computer so personable it can practically shake hands.

And so easy to use, most people already know how.

They didn't call it the QZ190, or the Zpchip 5000.

They called it Macintosh.

'Ere, that's not a mouse - they go "eek, eek" and run up your trouser leg!

An advertisement from the "Cambridge Evening News" (England), May 1985. 

Actually, while 1984 wasn't like Orwell's '1984' I sometimes think the present day is rather.


Anonymous said...

The Ridley Scott directed Macintosh advert of 1984, aired during the Super Bowl commercials, promised liberation from a supposed IBM oppression. Apple Macintosh promised to do it different and be the alternative choice. Fast forward 30+ years and what we see is a role reversal where Apple have become the oppressive force. Just because Steve Jobs wore jeans and trainers, it didn't mean he was a down-to-earth friend of all. In the end, he was no different to the corporate shysters he was railing against from the outset.

Drew said...

Well, it's often like that, isn't it? Give folk a bit of brass... But there's no doubt that the Apple Mac was a true ground-breaking moment in the computer world.