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Apple Macintosh went on sale, 1984

Jan 12, 2018
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In April 1976 Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne founded Apple to market their first personal computer, the Apple I, in kit form. A little after a year later Wozniak and Jobs introduced the ground-breaking Apple II, Wayne having sold his stake to his co-founders when they incorporated the company. In 1980, the Apple III went on sale, but it was not a great commercial success.

By that time, an Apple employee called Jeff Raskin had begun developing a cheap personal computer called the Macintosh (named after his favourite apple, the McIntosh). In 1979, a number of Apple employees including Raskin and Jobs visited Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, where they saw a Xerox Alto computer. The Alto ran an innovative graphical user interface (GUI) controlled by a new device called a mouse, alongside the traditional keyboard.

Apple began developing their own GUI to run not only on the Macintosh, but also on a business machine that they had in development called the Lisa. Jobs initially headed up the Lisa project, but soon realised that the Macintosh was a better commercial prospect. In 1981, a personality conflict between Raskin and Jobs resulted in Raskin departing the Macintosh project team, which was taken over in 1982 by Jobs following him being forced out of the Lisa team.

On 24th January 1984, the Apple Macintosh went on sale for $2,495. It had a 8Mhz Motorola 68000 processor and 128KB of RAM (boosted by a 64KB ROM chip). The built in 9-inch black and white screen had a resolution of 512×342 pixels. A 3.5-inch floppy drive was included with which software was loaded and files could be saved.

Two days prior to the Macintosh going on sale, an Orwellian themed advertisement for the Macintosh was shown during Super Bowl XVIII. This now famous advert was directed by Ridley Scott and cost in the region of $1.5 million. Whether due to this advertisement or not, the Macintosh proved an immediate success, selling over 70,000 units within four months.

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