The Original Macintosh
Anecdotes about the development of Apple's original Macintosh, and the people who made it (120 stories)
“Expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then try to bring those things into what you are doing.” -- Steve Jobs MANFAAT SEA CUCUMBER JELLY GAMAT GOLD-G very important message

Good thing you didn't ask him to: Press any key.

Back in the early 80's I was working for a computer dealer and was a hobbyist programmer on my Apple II. A friend of mine Mike McLaren was working for Legend Industries. They sold a card similar to the Apple Language Card, except with 64K of bank-switched memory. The one program power users needed more memory for back then was Visicalc. In any case one day I realized just how slow it was loading large binary files using DOS 3.3. It suddenly hit me that once I told DOS to bload, the first thing it did was read the file's Track/Sector List into a buffer. That TSL was really all I needed to know to load the file myself. So I patched DOS to jump to my own code after reading the TSL. My code took over reading through the TSL in memory and calling RWTS to load the file sectors several times faster than DOS would have. I thought it was kind of neat though limited, since it only sped up reading but not writing. I showed it to Mike and told him he could have the idea if it seemed useful. I believe it was a day later he not only had rewritten it to work on loads and bloads, but he also fit it into several small unused areas completely within DOS so it was loaded automatically. I don't know if they ever actually did anything with it, but it wasn't very long after though that a competitor of theirs came out with Quick DOS, which sped up both DOS reading and writing and obsoleted my idea.

I worked as an in-house service tech for a large computer dealer back then which sold and serviced Osborne, as well as Apple, Commodore, Altos, Alpha Micro, etc. I had the unfortunate luck to get to work on said Osborne computers. We called them OsDeads or StillBornes!

"Bo Jobs" ..... Ha Ha!!

Floyd, I think Andy probably meant the 68000 they were using in 1981 during the development of the Mac. The project didn't start in 1984 (as you might be able to tell by reading the articles on this site), it took years to develop.

Does anyone have a disk image of MacBasic? I had the book and floppy at my parents' house and was going to image it for posterity, but found to my dismay that they had given away both to a local used bookstore. Hopefully someone made some use of it, but I'm becoming worried that it'll be lost to the ages if someone doesn't put up an image somewhere.

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"The 8088 was a decent processor compared to the 6502, but it paled next to the 68000 we were using in the Mac." PC came out in 1981, first Mac came out in 1984.

FYI, Raskin's "Design Considerations for an Anthropophilic Computer" URL has changed. the new URL: -- it's still a great read. his description is even closer to apple's ipad than it was to the mac: - This is an outline for a computer designed for the Person In The Street (or, to abbreviate: the PITS); one that will be truly pleasant to use, that will require the user to do nothing that will threaten his or her perverse delight in being able to say: "I don't know the first thing about computers" - The computer must be in one lump. - There must not be additional ROMS, RAMS, boards or accessories except those that can be understood by the PITS as a separate appliance - Seeing the guts is taboo. Things in sockets is taboo - There must not be a plethora of configurations. It is better to offer a variety of case colors than to have variable amounts of memory. - And you get ten points if you can eliminate the power cord. - It would be best if it were to have a battery that could keep it running for at least two hours when fully charged. - The system must not have modes or levels. The user always knows where he or she is because there is only one place to be. ...Raskin even got the ipad's price right: - The end-user cost for this machine should be $500 or less

@Fred - your choice of words arent making sense. MS can be accused of "stealing" Windows from Mac OS, because they covertly cloned it, w/o permission, while brought in as application partner to build for it. Xerox, OTOH, had invested $1MM in Apple and shared their work in the hopes that Apple could commercialize it in a way the PARC researchers could not. quite clearly a discernible difference. for more info see here:

I agree about lock-in, it's frustrating that I can't directly shoot a photo over Bluetooth from my iPhone to Nokia winphone or Google Nexus tablet. On the other hand, too much freedom & flexibility IMHO makes using Android generally a rather sub-par experience, with vendors cluttering up the products with cheap games and special offers, and of course endless takes on what an app launcher should be, each with their own themes and icon sets, etc. Giving users so many options doesn't mean they'll make optimal choices. If Steve Jobs wasn't the way he was, would someone else have spearheaded an iPhone, or iPod, or NeXTstep (to become OS-X), or iMac, or Macintosh. I'm inclined to say _maybe_ - but many years later. These were things that when introduced, looked very little like anything else yet suddenly everyone was stealing ideas. That must be some Reality Distortion Field - or maybe they were good ideas. An alternative theory, though - and one I think is more plausible - is that it wasn't that Jobs was so brilliant, it was that other companies were mostly producing junk.

I was hired early (#142) to help get the first few 100 Apple lls in and out of the service department in an organized way. On my first day, Mike Scott saw me waiting at the door to my work area and let me in. I asked what he did there, I had no clue who he was. Then I remember seeing 40 or so Apple IIs that need to be handled. After a while with the help of Burrell we created a small program to handle all these bad Apples. He was a service tech at the time, we had a good little department, 5 guys. The entire parts department was one 4'x6' black cabinet (I had he keys). I remember Burrell being very clever and nice to work with. I eventually left Apple, his parting comment "So let me get this straight, you are leaving Apple to sell forms?" He was right, it was a crazy move but a good path for me, I do miss the old Apple.

Are you the guy in Zoolander? ;)

@Aaron Wallentine The overlapping windows thing is just one of quite a few gross errors in the book. Errors that should and could have been readily been picked up and corrected by letting knowledgeable people read the draft. Sadly people are thinking the book is gospel. Truth is, Smalltalk was far more advanced in almost every way than the first (and in many ways the current) Mac OS. And it DID have overlapping windows. Numerous videos and stories on the web will show you that. It needed a much bigger disc and also preferably a faster CPU than the one supplied with the first Mac though. The first Mac was a nice start, but should have been followed up with something more advanced soon after. Instead we are stuck with basically the same "paradigm" 30 years later. With a lot faster hardware, but woefully held back by the interface and programming techniques. In fact, it could be said that the first Mac GUI is a great improvement on everything that came after. Because everything that has been added has been essentially feature-bloat and half assed fixes on stuff that needed a much more radical rethinking. Hypercard was a step in the right direction, but was not taken to it's logical conclusion. Steve never got to explain in that All Things D interview why he axed it, instead of resurrecting it. It's not too late though. But then it never really will be.

Awesome story. Thanks for sharing. It inspired me to make this short Vine video about Mr. Macintosh:

came across a link to this page again, 7 years later from my first comment. and now it takes on new meaning... regarding my prior 2 noted items: - Sharing is important - we're all communication junkies. - One goal: the computer disappears into the environment ...the boon of social media confirms #1. pocket and sofa computers in the form of smartphones and tablets are now a reality. as a developer this one is interesting: - Smalltalk is object-oriented, but it should have been message oriented. ...this is validated w/ the shift to service-oriented architecture. my current client's entire infrastructure is based on web services and messages.

@glennf: From what I read in the "Steve Jobs" biography by Isaacson, they hadn't actually achieved overlapping windows at Xerox PARC, but the visitors from Apple thought they had. And so, believing that they had achieved this, they felt they needed to do this to, since it was such a "killer feature".

Realmente é ele. Atenciosamente.! Jim_-_Mackey

I've been trying in vain to find out the source of the exact clock frequency used in the original Macintosh. The oscillator was 15.6672 MHz, divided by two for the CPU's 7.8336 MHz. Everything I search for regarding those two frequencies seems to lead back to its use first in the Macintosh. (For example, the UniDisk drive's controller ran at 7.8336 MHz, clearly derived from the Mac's design and use of the IWM) The original choice of 15.6672 was what lead to the horizontal retrace frequency of 22254.5454 Hz, the later infamous "odd" Mac standard sound sampling frequency that stuck around for many many years. So what lead to the choice of that exact frequency in the first place?