Friday, August 08, 2008

The Apple Macintosh in 1984

OK, while I'm not an Apple fanboy I do admire style. Especially when style and function converge. As mentioned in previous posts I'm a long-time PC user - since 1984 coincidentally enough (you'll see why). Actually, I should have said I'm an ex-longtime PC user. I only use a Mac now. Granted I run Vista under VMWare Fusion so I can run MS Project, Rational RequisitePro, Rational Software Modeler, Clearcase and other software engineering tools but those will move to OS X eventually - I'm pretty certain even though IBM hasn't admitted it.

Lately I've been wondering. OK, first disclosure - I am a geek. Hell, I was secretary and president of the computer club in high school over two years. What I'm wondering about though is why did we (the club) buy an IBM PC in '84? We spent $5,000 of funds we raised to purchase a PC with an 8088 processor, monochrome screen, tape drive for data storage, and 68K of RAM. I can remember buying the magazine Computers & Electronics and reading about the Apple II. I'd dream about buying one. But instead we bought a PC? I'd have to blame our computer science teacher Mr. Briante. He made the suggestion / decision (what is it with adults anyway - why can't they butt out of kids lives occasionally? ;-). If I remember correctly it's not like we had a choice. Even though we raised the money :-( In all fairness he was a really good teacher!

Now that I'm an Apple fanboy user I've realized not only how great the Mac is in terms of usability but also how much fun the original Mac would have been to program compared to the monochrome monster that was the IBM PC. First I'd like to introduce you to the '1984' Apple ad for the Macintosh. To really get this you you have to know a bit about George Orwell's book '1984'.

Now take a look at Steve Jobs' first presentation of the Macintosh to the public. For those of you who have functional memories of way back then try to remember the technology we worked with every day. The mainframes. PCs. WordStar anyone? We didn't have PCs in our homes - none of us did. For the younger crowd, $5,000 in 1984 translates to about 10,000 inflation-adjusted dollars.

This machine actually had a speech synthesizer! I'm amazed just looking back on it. What do you think?