The Original Macintosh
Anecdotes about the development of Apple's original Macintosh, and the people who made it (121 stories)
“I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.” -- John Cage

I sometimes wonder what kind of 8-bit computer Burrell Smith could have designed if he had the desire to do so like Woz (at roughly the same time frame). He and Woz are two engineers that I really wished I could meet one day.

@Zane Kaminski You may want to ask that question over at new Stack Exchange site for Retro Computing. Comment activity is kind of dead around here. :-)

After I read this, I started looking for RoundRects everywhere. Sure enough, I see them all the time. :-)

How does the Macintosh II interface with the IWM? The 68020+ don't have the predictable instruction timing that the original 68000 has, so how can the Mac II feed the IWM data at the exact right moment?

@Phoebus66: > In short the IBM hardware and that MS-Dos software were a > perfect match that would set te mark on everything that followed > in its path: Unvisionary Compartmentalized Brute Force design > methodology. The PC is the exact opposite of compartmentalized. The Project Chess team was deliberately organized to be completely open internally, but completely separated from the usual IBM vertical integration. And that's why they designed an open-architecture computer with off-the-shelf parts. And that's why it succeeded. For the rest, sure; as Don Estridge himself put it, "Many… said that there was nothing technologically new in this machine. That was the best news we could have had; we actually had done what we had set out to do." IBM's own marketing acknowledged that it was less powerful than or more expensive than most of its established competitors, but it was "The IBM of personal computers", with all that entails. @David Charlap: > … the IBM PC was developed in a year's time as a proof of > concept (IBM typically took 5 years to bring a product from > concept to market.) It was released as a stopgap to get a > toehold in the market while the "real" personal computer was > developed for later release. The PC was not intended as a stopgap to get a toehold in the market. IBM had decided that it was too late to get into the PC market, and it probably wasn't worth it anyway, until Bill Lowe convinced John Opel to give him a chance. It wasn't a proof of concept; Lowe claimed that they really could get to market in a year—and they actually did so. There was no "real" PC planned to be released later; it was Project Chess or nothing. And the PC ended up being pretty much what Lowe envisioned from the start (well, from the point where they rejected his idea of buying Atari and selling a slightly spiffed-up Atari 800 as an IBM). > And finally, MS-DOS was an act of desperation by Microsoft. > They promised IBM an OS when they had none. They bought > QD-DOS from Seattle Computer Products, changed just enough > to make it run on the IBM machine and shipped the results. Buying 86-DOS (not QD-DOS; that's an entirely different thing—you may be thinking QDOS, the original name for 86-DOS?) wasn't an act of desperation, it was the plan from the start. Bill Gates told IBM about 86-DOS in their contract meeting, suggesting that he could license and port it as a stripped-down CP/M clone that IBM could sell for a lot less than CP/M. And that's exactly what he did. And it wasn't a stopgap for a "real" OS that Microsoft had planned but couldn't get done in time. The real OS already existed—CP/M-86—and it was an option from the day the PC was released, and it had nothing to do with Microsoft.

I was curious about the inspiration for the marching ants, and after some searching online found this, which seems to be either the sign Atkinson saw, or one very much like it: Thanks for the story!

Beautiful article, you should write a book with this stories...


"Mac in a book by 1986." What does this mean?

I have the only print of Mr. Mac as he appears on the buttons that I've ever seen. My father was on the Apple account at Chiat Day and as he recalls the story Steve asked him to take it back to Chiat to share with Lee Clow in February of '83, but Lee didn't want anything to do with it so they made the buttons and my dad hung on to the print. Here is an image (my dad misspelled Folon's name on the back)

Could somebody provide a source that backs up Eric Will's claim? Because this is the first time I've heard of such a thing. Every source I've read claimed that Lisa had no GUI until the Xerox visit, and then did a 180% and scrapped nearly everything it had done until then.

I love reading all about business and innovation. Glad Susan and Andy inspired the world, bravely got jobs at Apple ànd started a revolution! Overbrook is a section of West Philly, I am from 66th Street. I attended Lamberton High School, then to St. Joe's University. Merion, Rosemont, and Ardmore are WORLD CLASS cities! Storytelling is one of life's most fascinating educations! As I read, I fondly remember my times at work typing on the the Wang, working in Bala Cynwyd at Software Design International, commuting to Valley Forge to work for Users, Inc. The early 80's were exciting times! Thanks for this website!

Great Read !!!!!, i was born in 1983 and love reading how apple and the first personal computer came to be ! so much of what u guys did can still be seen to a point in software. you did some great things with very little to work with!! Awesome story ANDY HERTZFELD !!!

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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