Snippet: The First Macintosh Press Release ☇

Shared on January 24, 2024

Stanford University’s Making the Macintosh: Technology and Culture in Silicon Valley is an excellent archive in general, but includes the very first press release (via Stephen Hackett and Joe Rossignol):

Apple Computer today unveiled its much-anticipated Macintosh computer, a sophisticated, affordably priced personal computer designed for business people, professionals and students in a broad range of fields. Macintosh is available in all dealerships now. Based on the advanced, 32-bit architecture developed for Apple’s Lisa computer, Macintosh combines extraordinary computing power with exceptional ease of use–in a unit that is smaller and lighter than most transportable computers. The suggested retail price for Macintosh is $2,495, which during the introductory period also includes a word-processing program and graphics package. […]

Users tell Macintosh what to do simply by moving a “mouse”–a small pointing device–to select among functions listed in menus and represented by pictorial symbols on the screen. Users are no longer forced to memorize the numerous and confusing keyboard commands of conventional computers. The result is radical ease of use and a significant reduction in learning time. In effect, the Macintosh is a desk-top appliance offering users increased utility and creativity with simplicity. […]

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that while there are 25 million of these “knowledge workers” in the United States alone, only 5 percent currently use desk-top computers. Apple market research indicates that the majority are unable or unwilling to invest the 20 to 40 hours it takes to master conventional computers and the additional three to 10 hours’ learning time required for each new application program.

Macintosh, by contrast, typically takes only a few hours to learn. Its operation mirrors the activities that are carried on by people at their desks. Papers can be shuffled on screen, documents revised or discarded, charts drawn–all with a few simple commands executed with the mouse. Several documents can be displayed on screen simultaneously, in “windows” that can be moved, expanded or shrunk. All applications, from financial-planning tools to graphics programs, are based on the same set of intuitive operations. This means that numbers, words and pictures can be easily .. cut” from memos, charts or graphs and “pasted” into other documents–even those created in separate application programs produced by different software companies.

“Macintosh easily fits on a desk, both in terms of its style of operation and its physical design,” said [Apple’s Chairman of the Board Steven P.] Jobs. “It takes up about the same amount of desk space as a piece of paper. With Macintosh, the computer is an aid to spontaneity and originality, not an obstacle. It allows ideas and relationships to be viewed in new ways. Macintosh enhances not just productivity, but also creativity.”

This press release is an interesting read if you remember the context of its time. Things like explaining a mouse seems silly, but it was not a standard peripheral for most computers. Most of today’s Macs take up even less space (in terms of volume) than the original Mac, but compared to its contemporaries, it was downright compact and tiny. Also note the not-adjusted-for-inflation prices at the end—using that as a basis, the M1 MacBook Air is a bargain!

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