Macintosh Collaboration - History - Development and Introduction

Development and Introduction

The Macintosh project began in the late 1970s with Jef Raskin, an Apple employee who envisioned an easy-to-use, low-cost computer for the average consumer. He wanted to name the computer after his favorite type of apple, the McIntosh, but the name had to be changed for legal reasons as it was too close, phonetically, to that of the McIntosh audio equipment manufacturer. Steve Jobs requested a release of the name so that Apple could use it, but was denied, forcing Apple to eventually buy the rights to use the name. Raskin was authorized to start hiring for the project in September 1979, and he began to look for an engineer who could put together a prototype. Bill Atkinson, a member of Apple's Lisa team (which was developing a similar higher-end computer,) introduced him to Burrell Smith, a self-taught engineer who worked as a service technician and had been hired earlier that year. Over the years, Raskin assembled a large development team that designed and built the original Macintosh hardware and the original version of the Mac OS operating system that the computer ran. Besides Raskin, Atkinson and Smith, the team included George Crow, Chris Espinosa, Joanna Hoffman, Bruce Horn, Susan Kare, Andy Hertzfeld, Guy Kawasaki, Daniel Kottke, and Jerry Manock.

Smith's first Macintosh board was built to Raskin's design specifications: it 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. Bud Tribble, a member of the Mac team, was interested in running the Lisa's graphical programs on the Macintosh, and asked Smith whether he could incorporate the Lisa's Motorola 68000 microprocessor into the Mac while still keeping the production cost down. By December 1980, Smith had succeeded in designing a board that not only used the 68000, but increased its speed from 5 MHz to 8 MHz; this board also had the capacity to support a 384×256-pixel display. Smith's design used fewer RAM chips than the Lisa, which made production of the board significantly more cost-efficient. The final Mac design was self-contained and had the complete QuickDraw picture language and interpreter in 64 kB of ROM – far more than most other computers; it had 128 kB of RAM, in the form of sixteen 64 kilobit (kb) RAM chips soldered to the logicboard. Though there were no memory slots, its RAM was expandable to 512 kB by means of soldering sixteen IC sockets to accept 256 kb RAM chips in place of the factory-installed chips. The final product's screen was a 9-inch, 512x342 pixel monochrome display, exceeding the size of the planned screen.

Burrel's innovative design, which combined the low production cost of an Apple II with the computing power of Lisa's CPU, the Motorola 68K, set off shock waves within Apple, capturing the attention of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. Realizing that the Macintosh was more marketable than the Lisa, he began to focus his attention on the project. Raskin left the team in 1981 over a personality conflict with Jobs. Team member Andy Hertzfeld said that the final Macintosh design is closer to Jobs' ideas than Raskin's. After hearing of the pioneering GUI technology being developed at Xerox PARC, Jobs had negotiated a visit to see the Xerox Alto computer and its Smalltalk development tools in exchange for Apple stock options. The Lisa and Macintosh user interfaces were influenced by technology seen at Xerox PARC and were combined with the Macintosh group's own ideas. Jobs also commissioned industrial designer Hartmut Esslinger to work on the Macintosh line, resulting in the "Snow White" design language; although it came too late for the earliest Macs, it was implemented in most other mid- to late-1980s Apple computers. However, Jobs' leadership at the Macintosh project did not last; after an internal power struggle with new CEO John Sculley, Jobs resigned from Apple in 1985. He went on to found NeXT, another computer company targeting the education market, and did not return until 1997, when Apple acquired NeXT. The Macintosh 128K was manufactured at an Apple plant in Fremont, California.

The Macintosh 128K was announced to the press in October 1983, followed by an 18-page brochure included with various magazines in December. The Macintosh was introduced by the now-famous US$1.5 million Ridley Scott television commercial, "1984". It most notably aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984, and is now considered a "watershed event" and a "masterpiece." "1984" used an unnamed heroine to represent the coming of the Macintosh (indicated by a Picasso-style picture of the computer on her white tank top) as a means of saving humanity from the "conformity" of IBM's attempts to dominate the computer industry. The ad alludes to George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which described a dystopian future ruled by a televised "Big Brother."

Two days after "1984" aired, the Macintosh went on sale, and came bundled with two applications designed to show off its interface: MacWrite and MacPaint. It was first demonstrated by Steve Jobs in the first of his famous Mac keynote speeches, and though the Mac garnered an immediate, enthusiastic following, some labeled it a mere "toy." Because the operating system was designed largely around the GUI, existing text-mode and command-driven applications had to be redesigned and the programming code rewritten. This was a time-consuming task that many software developers chose not to undertake, and could be regarded as a reason for an initial lack of software for the new system. In April 1984, Microsoft's MultiPlan migrated over from MS-DOS, with Microsoft Word following in January 1985. In 1985, Lotus Software introduced Lotus Jazz for the Macintosh platform after the success of Lotus 1-2-3 for the IBM PC, although it was largely a flop. Apple introduced the Macintosh Office suite the same year with the "Lemmings" ad. Infamous for insulting its own potential customers, the ad was not successful.

Apple spent upwards of $2.5 million purchasing all 39 advertising pages in a special, post-election issue of Newsweek Apple also ran a "Test Drive a Macintosh" promotion, in which potential buyers with a credit card could take home a Macintosh for 24 hours and return it to a dealer afterwards. While 200,000 people participated, dealers disliked the promotion, the supply of computers was insufficient for demand, and many were returned in such a bad condition that they could no longer be sold. This marketing campaign caused CEO John Sculley to raise the price from US$1,995 to US$2,495 (about $5,200 when adjusted for inflation in 2010).

Read more about this topic:  Macintosh Collaboration, History

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