History Of Macintosh Computers – Exiting Journey

Macintosh by Apple

The Macintosh is a famous name in the computer industry. It’s a series of personal computers designed, produced, and sold by an American company Apple Computer, Inc. Macintosh was the first commercial product of Apple launched in 1984.

Back then computers are like typewriters and were only used by large organizations for their commercial purpose. Normal users find it difficult to use the command line interface of a computer.

That’s why the First Macintosh computer launched with a Graphical User Interface(GUI) and a Mouse made the computer easy and super fun to use. In GUI menus are visible on the screen, you have to choose accordingly with the mouse.

The first Macintosh was introduced on January 24, 1984, by Steve Jobs and it was the first commercially successful personal computer to have featured a graphical user interface, built-in screen, and mouse. This made the machines much easier to use and more accessible to people who may not be interested in technology.

Apple started to focus on the different sectors in the industry, From Apple’s entry-level Mac mini desktop to a mid-range server, and the Xserve. Macintosh systems are mainly targeted toward the home, education, and creative professional markets.

Production of the Macintosh is based upon a vertical integration model in that Apple facilitates all aspects of its hardware and creates its own operating system. This is in contrast to PCs, where different brands of hardware run operating systems such as Microsoft Windows.

Original Macintosh computer’s used the Motorola 68k family of microprocessors, then later in 1994 they switched from Motorola and used IBM’s Power PC processors for all MAC. Later Macintosh called MAC in 1998 and 2006 the first time used Intel processors in their products. It allowed Macs to run any x86 operating system natively.

Macintosh was a revolution in the computer industry and changed the image of consumer technology. It was not created overnight, there was a story behind it that creates the base of the Macintosh…

During the Previous Years.

Apple I II III
Image Source: Wikipedia

Apple computers began their journey from a Home Garage in Los Altos, California on April 1, 1976. Two friends Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the Apple 1, a desktop computer, pre-configured with a single motherboard.

Next year they launched Apple 2. It was an upgrade from the previous generation. The system included an integrated keyboard and case and expansion slots for attaching floppy disk drives and other components.

The Apple 3 was released in 1980, but due to various technical issues and system failure, its reputation was affected and heavily criticized in the industry.

Later After buying Xerox companies stock, he started to experiment with their products and created a computer with a graphical user interface.

The very first graphical interface was developed by the Xerox Corporation at its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the 1970s. It was too expensive and too difficult to use for ordinary people. In 1979 Steve Jobs visited PARC and was impressed by Xerox Alto’s technology.

He named it Apple Liza which was quite large in size but allows users to interact with visual icons. Later he created a smaller version of it that fits on a desktop.

Development of Project Macintosh:

An Apple employee Jef Raskin started the Macintosh project in early 1979. Jef Raskin was working on low-cost and easy-to-use computer technology at that time. Later in September Jef hired Bill Atkinson, a member of the Lisa team(which was developing a similar but higher-end computer), and introduced him to Burrell Smith, a service technician. Their main aim was to create a prototype for a low-end system.

team macintosh

Over the years Chris Espinosa, Joanna Hoffman, George Crow, Jerry Manock, Susan Kare, and Andy Hertzfeld are also joined and created a developer group that designed and built the Macintosh Hardware and software.

The first Macintosh board had 64 kilobytes (KB) of RAM, used the Motorola 6809E microprocessor, and was capable of supporting a 256×256 pixel black-and-white bitmap display. Although the final product used a 9-inch, 512×342 monochrome display.

By December 1980, Smith had succeeded in designing a board that used the Motorola 68000, a processor which clocks around 5 to 8 megahertz (MHz) and supports a 384×256 bitmap display. He used fewer RAM chips on the board making it super cost-efficient than Apple Liza.

The final Mac design had 128 KB of RAM, in the form of sixteen, 64 kilobits (Kb) RAM chips soldered to the logic board. Though there were no memory slots, it was expandable to 512 KB of RAM. It had far more programming code in ROM than most other computers at those time.

This innovative and cost-effective design caught the attraction of Steve Jobs the Co-owner of Apple. He quickly understands the potential of Macintosh over Liza and was seriously involved in the project.

Raskin finally left the Macintosh project in 1981 over a conflict with Jobs and the final design of Macintosh come out with a Jobs creation.

The very first graphical interface was developed by the Xerox Corporation at its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the 1970s. It was too expensive and too difficult to use for ordinary people. Xerox has pioneered GUI technology.

Jobs Visited PARC and negotiated with them to use their GUI technology in exchange for Apple stock.

Industrial designer Hartmut Esslinger also worked on Snow White design hired by Steve jobs.

However, after the launch of Macintosh the very next year 1985 Jobs was forced to leave the company after an internal clash with new CEO John Sculley and create NeXT another computer company.

Introduction of Macintosh:

On January 24th, 1984 at the Flint Center on the De Anza College campus Steve Jobs the president of Apple Computer launched the Macintosh Computer. It consists of a built-in screen and a Mouse (an optical device used with a PC).

Image Source: Wikipedia

The machine featured a GUI, an operating system known as System 1 (the earliest version of Mac OS), and two software programs, including the word processor MacWrite and the graphics editor MacPaint.

The New York Times said that the Macintosh was the beginning of a “revolution in personal computing.”

Apple spent $2.5 million on the promotion of the Macintosh and started a campaign called “Test Drive A Macintosh”. Where if you had a credit card you can borrow a Macintosh for 24 hours and then return your product to the dealer afterward. Almost 200,000 people registered for the program but it ended as a flop for Apple because the company was unable to deliver units on time and many of the users returned the product in a very bad condition.

This marketing campaign proved to be a huge loss for the company and to recover from it CEO John Sculley immediately made Macintosh costlier from $1,995 to $2,495 (equivalent to $6,000 in 2020).

Despite that high price, Macintosh sold really well and By April 1984 the company sold 50,000 Macintoshes and hoped for 70,000 by early May and almost 250,000 by the end of the year.

Desktop Publishing:


Desktop publishing (DTP)is the creation of documents using page layout software on a personal computer. This technology allows individuals, businesses, and other organizations to self-publish a wide variety of content, from menus to magazines to books, without the expense of commercial printing.

In 1985 using Mac, Apple’s LaserWriter printer, and Mac-specific software like Boston Software’s MacPublisher and Aldus PageMaker (now Adobe PageMaker) enabled users to design, preview, and print page layouts complete with text and graphics. DTP was unique at that time for Apple and become available for all PC users later.

Later programs such as Macromedia FreeHand, QuarkXPress, and Adobe Illustrator strengthened Mac’s position as a graphics computer and helped to expand the emerging desktop publishing market.

Development, Growth, and Drawbacks:

Over the next few years, Apple started to upgrade the capability of Mac’s hardware and software. Mac’s first two big limitations were less amount of RAM and storage, which cause it to give a faster experience to users. So they worked on it.

By October 1985, Apple increased Mac’s memory from 128KB to 512KB, but the backdated hardware caused some issues so they launched the Macintosh Plus, released on January 10, 1986, for $2,600 price tag.

It offered one megabyte (MB) of RAM, expandable to four, a revolutionary SCSI parallel interface, allowing up to seven peripherals – such as hard drives and scanners – to be attached to the machine, 800KB Floppy drive capacity, etc.

The Plus was an immediate success and remained in production until October 15, 1990, and was available for sale for four years and ten months.

In 1987 Apple took advantage of the new Motorola technology and introduced the Macintosh II, which used a 16 MHz Motorola 68020 processor. This move solved two issues slow processor speed and limited graphics ability.

Afterward many products like Macintosh II, IIx, IIcx, SE/30, IIci, and IIfx, portable released by Apple with fast processor speed and large RAM size.

Similarly, their operating system also significantly improved over the years from system 1 to system 11 which is the current one.

In 1990, Other Big players like Windows and Linux also improved their products and gave major competition to Apple. Windows 3.0 releases with great performance and features and give Mac a huge competition. It was low cost and easy to use.

So suddenly Apple shifts its focus on budget-friendly devices and created some cheap alternatives like Macintosh Classic, LC, and IIci. All three machines sold well, although Apple’s profit margin was considerably lower than on earlier machines.

With the release of System7 Apple worked on graphics, memory addressing, networking, and cooperative multitasking to create a rich experience for its users. Later in 1991, they introduced Macintosh Quadra, classic II, and LCII.

For heavy users, they create Powerbook 100, and 170. Those were the first portable computers with the keyboard behind a palm rest and a built-in pointing device (a trackball) in front of the keyboard.

The next evolutionary step in Macintosh CPUs was a switch to the RISC PowerPC architecture developed by the AIM alliance of Apple Computer, IBM, and Motorola. This lineup created huge success for Apple, with over a million units sold by late 1994.

But the next two years Apple faced a dip in its business because of the rise of Windows 95 OS and Intel Pentium processors. These two products outperform Macintosh and suddenly they lose lots of revenue. Apple started a Macintosh Clone program to come out of this situation.

New Beginnings:

After the return of Steve Jobs in 1998 they released All in one Macintosh(called iMac) with a new design, glossy colors, and some propitiatory apple hardware. Now the focus was to create an own ecosystem with very little dependency.

The iMac proved to be phenomenally successful, with 800,000 units sold in 1998, making the company an annual profit of US$309 million.

In 1999, Apple introduced a new operating system, Mac OS X Server 1.0 (codenamed Rhapsody), with a new GUI and powerful Unix underpinnings. The same year Apple introduced the iBook, a new consumer-level, portable Macintosh. Then similarly eMac, Power Mac G4, Mac mini, etc.

On October 11, 2005, Apple released its fourth-quarter results, reporting a shipment of 1,236,000 Macintoshes – a 48% increase from the same quarter the previous year.

Finally with the release of the iMac Core Duo and the MacBook Pro in 2006 Apple switched from Power PC to Intel Processors.

Final Thought:

Over the years Macintosh grows and develop like a pro and gives users a rich experience altogether from the look, usability, adaptability, features, etc.

And one of the major things was security which creates a difference among others. One of the best things about Apple was by the time it creates different products like iPod, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, and more.

They give a seamless experience to their users and always maintain their quality of service which made them one of the giants in the industry. Apple has successfully created its Own ecosystem in the digital world.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. It’s great to read this history of Apple.  In the late 80’s, I was in charge of buying 60 “personal” computers for branches spread over hundreds of miles.   We looked at the new PC’s which were well know and operated primarily by DOS.  As well, we looked at this new Apple little tv like thing with the plastic box that rolled around and an Amiga.  We got a great price on the Amiga’s which of course disappeared in two years.  Ever since the demise of the Amiga’s I have used an Apple.  They are more intuitive, more malware resistant and usually faster.  I was happy to remember how this marvel devise upon which I am typing came about.  Thanks.

    1. You’re most welcome and really appreciate you for sharing your story in the late ’80s. This is a prime example of what Apple does over the years. To create a strong bond with the customer and give so much value to their life so that they can stick with the brand for a longer period of time. Apple has done it beautifully.

  2. This is yet another very exciting history of the development of Macintosh Computers, This goes so much to show that what we enjoy at no cost to us, cost others so very much in terms of knowledge, money, time and  lot of frustration.

    This is the same story of Macintosh computer. We generally identify it with Steve Jacobs but this history acknowledged his friend Steve Wozniak. 

    Together they created the Apple 1, a desktop computer, pre-configured with a single motherboard. And the whole journey started from a Home Garage in Los Altos, California on April 1, 1976. 

    Going down the lane it was not easy but with perseverance, we are enjoying the apple brand even though Steve at some point in time was push out of the company. The final version of apple resulted when he rejoined the company.

    This is knowledge worth knowing and it so much appreciated. 

    1. Thanks for your time and glad you know the history behind Apple. There is lots of hard work and commitments are going on in the background to create something of this size. We can see the impact today.

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