Personal Technology

Happy Birthday, Mac

Introduced to the world during SuperBowl ads, the Macintosh debuted in 1984 with an 8 MHz 68000 processor, 128 KB RAM, 64 KB ROM, a 3.5″ 400 KB floppy drive, a 1-bit 512×342 pixel b&w monitor, a keyboard and mouse, DB-9 modem and printer ports, and a couple of applications (MacWrite, MacPaint).

And it would have set you back $2500.

The 50th anniversary issue of Playboy (January 2004) ranked it number one among the 50 products that have most “changed the world.” They also ranked the iPod number 12.

Illustrating Moore’s law in action, that $2500 today could buy you ….

Several firsts
Nevertheless, the Mac introduced the first commercial GUI (graphical user interface). And while the specs may seem meager today, it had twice as much memory as the popular Commodore 64, held 2.5 times as much data on a disk as the IBM PC’s single-sided 5.25″ disk, and included two serial ports (one which could be used for networking).

The Ridley Scott, award-winning commercial aired in 1984 has been updated for 2004 with the addition of an iPod. Steve Jobs introduced the remake at MacWolrd.

The original commercial ran only twice: once in December 1983 in order to qualify for 1983 awards at an obscure hour on an obscure station in Idaho … and during the Superbowl.

It was named the “Commercial of the Decade” for the 1980s by Advertising Age.

2004 SuperBowl?
One would hope that the edited 1984 ad runs on 1 February. Mac forums have discussed this rumor for at least a year.

At a minimum, Apple will be featured in the Pepsi ad for the100 million song iTunes give-away. That certainly ties in with the iPod.

News reports suggest that rerunning the commercial would be money down the drain because “under 45s” wouldn’t get the allusion to George Orwell’s classic.

AOL is hosting a vote for the best SuperBowl ad site for Sunday’s game. The poll is only open on Sunday.

Other links: Apple Computer History Weblog

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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