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Apple Inc.'s Mac still influences, 30 years after debut

Jan 24 2014, 16:22 IST
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Steve Jobs and John Sculley presenting the new Macintosh Desktop Computer in January 1984 at a shareholder meeting in Cupertino, California. (AP file photo) Steve Jobs and John Sculley presenting the new Macintosh Desktop Computer in January 1984 at a shareholder meeting in Cupertino, California. (AP file photo)
SummaryThe Mac has had 'incredible influence on pretty much everybody's lives all over the world'.

a premium on design. Early Macs showed a happy face when they started up. Icons and windows had rounded corners. Such details made computers appear friendlier and easier to use - at least subconsciously, Myers says.

One of the first applications enabled by the Mac's interface was desktop publishing.

Early computers generated text the way a typewriter would - character by character, one line at a time. Users had a limited number of characters, with no variation in appearance. The Mac was one of the first to approach displays like a TV: Text gets incorporated into a graphic that the computer projects on the screen pixel by pixel.

With those tools, would-be publishers could change fonts, adjust typeface sizes and add attributes such as italics. They could also mix images with text. The earliest Macs popularized "what you see is what you get," or WYSIWYG; formatting on the screen largely reflected how the page would look in print. Instead of going to a professional printer, anyone could simply design and print newsletters on a Mac.

Of course, the Mac's success was never guaranteed.

Initially, many people "thought it was a waste of time and a gimmick," says Dag Spicer, senior curator of the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.

He says long-time computer users already knew how to perform computing tasks "very efficiently with just two or three keystrokes. It might have been more efficient for them than to use a mouse."

The Mac didn't run software for the company's Apple II computer, so there was little people could do with it until Aldus - now part of Adobe - released PageMaker publishing software in 1985. The original Mac had little memory and a small screen, and it lacked a hard drive. Although the Mac's processor was fast for its time, much of that power went to the graphical interface instead of tasks common for research and commerce.

With the Mac came "the dawn of the notion of we can waste computing power to make it easier for people," says Jim Morris, who worked on the Xerox Alto before joining Carnegie Mellon by the time the Mac came out. "The Macintosh was not a business machine."

Tim Bajarin, a Creative Strategies analyst who has followed Apple for more than three decades, says he was baffled, yet intrigued when he saw the Mac's unveiling at an Apple shareholders meeting in 1984.

"This really was a complete departure from the computing that

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