The Macintosh And 30 Years Of Changing How We Think About Our Work

Jan 23 2014, 11:48pm CST | by

The Macintosh And 30 Years Of Changing How We Think About Our Work

Today marks the 30 year anniversary of the Apple Macintosh personal computer, a tool that I have used almost every day of my professional life for almost that entire span. I feel particularly inscribed in the Macintosh story since its introduction coincided with the year I graduated from college and because it was associated from the very beginning with graphic design, the craft with which I began my working life.

In truth, the Macintosh enabled many niche activities, particularly in academia. Steve Jobs in his introductory presentation for the Macintosh (see video below) refers to the twin audiences for the machine as “knowledge workers and college workers,” and he announced that day a university consortium of 24 American universities including the entire Ivy league as well as Stanford (of course), Carnegie Mellon and many other leading schools. The Apple II already had 70% of the K-12 education market and Jobs was aiming at higher ed to build the brand loyalty of the coming generation.

I was a member of that generation, though the $50 million of Macintoshes and Lisa’s that these Universities bought in 1984 were mainly destined for labs and the creation of courseware, not for student use. But I do remember, in my senior year as an undergraduate art major in the graphic design department at Yale, seeing the first Macintoshes appear in the shared studios of the graduate students. Some of those former students who I contacted yesterday, Joseph Guglietti and Barry Roseman, recall that it was not until 1985 that Macintoshes were in wide use in the graduate school, and in Wolfgang Weingart’s Yale summer typography program in Basel, Switzerland.

Typography was indeed one of Steve Jobs’ obsessions, although he was untrained as a designer (and a programmer for that matter.) What Jobs presented as “insanely great” for bitmapped screen type in 1984 is incredibly crude by the standards of the latest iPad’s retinal display. But the Macintosh has had a privileged position in the world of graphic design and particularly in the publishing industry where it is still the platform of choice.

Unlike its clunky predecessor, the IBM PC which was built for the cubicle-dwelling Dilberts of  large corporations, the original Macintosh was highly portable (especially by 80s standards) and was imagined for, in fact, the 21st century startup economy we have today. If Jobs can be said to have made any miscalculation that led to his removal from the company the following year, it was that he was both insanely right but also insanely early. The future envisioned by the members of the Homebrew Computer Club, that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak dragged Steve Jobs to in 1975, did not (and in many ways still has not) materialized.

Instead, the tiny Seattle company that licensed IBM the operating system for its personal computer went on to license it to many other companies as well, and Microsoft became the threat that Jobs had imagined (and demonized) IBM to be. The Macintoshes decisive defeat by the PC (at least in terms of market share) put Apple in a minority position until the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Now with the benefit of the aura of Apple’s insanely successful mobile devices Macintosh sales grew almost 30% in 2013 against a backdrop of contraction for the rest of the industry.

What is striking about watching Jobs’ performance 30 years ago is how bald the salesman he was with his jaunty bow ties compared to the zen aesthete he became in later years. He was selling a stylized vision of technology, one in which “the rest of us” included women, children and all manner of command line averse knowledge workers. As primitive as the original Macintosh was, it contained all of the elements that we have come to recognize as integral to the personal computer, the graphic user interface with icons and drop down menus, the point and click mouse, the ability to store files in a portable manner. It even contained advanced features like animation and text to speech conversion, admittedly crude, but signposts to what our personal technology has become. Like the iPhone, it was the first complete encapsulation of the feature set of what became, in a sense, a generic product.

It is instructive, perhaps to compare the form factor of that original Macintosh to the new Mac Pro (insanely great animated demo here ). In less space, and 2/3rds of the weight of the 128k Mac, Apple now runs a chip 500 times as fast with 100,000 times the amount of RAM for only 20% higher sticker price. Wow! That’s 30 years of Moore’s Law and Apple engineering talking!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

To keep up with Quantum of Content , please subscribe to my updates on Facebook , follow me on Twitter  and App.net  or add me on Google+ .

The Evolution Of Apple

Source: Forbes Apple

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

'Simulated' human heart created for better drug testing
London, July 22 (IANS) In pioneering research, a scientist has developed a 'simulated' human heart to test the effect of drugs on the heart without using human or animal trials.
 
 
Facing memory lapses? Catch some sleep
New York, July 22 (IANS) Missing sleep lately owing to family stress or extra workload at office? Get back to normal routine fast as lack of sleep can hurt your memory.
 
 
Fatty food may lead to loss of smell
New York, July 22 (IANS) Stuffing yourself regularly with pizza or hamburger or any other high-fat food can put you at the risk of losing sense of smell, research warns.
 
 
Promo Flyer For iPhone 6 Leaked
Promo Flyer For iPhone 6 Leaked
The Chinese flyer reveals the launch date and pricing
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

'Simulated' human heart created for better drug testing
London, July 22 (IANS) In pioneering research, a scientist has developed a 'simulated' human heart to test the effect of drugs on the heart without using human or animal trials. The breakthrough by Helen Maddock, a...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Daily probiotics may regulate blood pressure
Sydney, July 22 (IANS) Probiotics found in yogurt, fermented and sour milk, cheese and dietary supplements not only improve the functioning of your gut but can also help lower high blood pressure. "We believe...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Iranian football legend Karimi hangs up boots
Tehran, July 22 (IANS) Iranian football legend and international star Ali Karimi has decided to hang up his boots. The 35-year-old made the announcement in a letter published on his Instagram account, saying that "the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Kenya coach suspended for spitting at match official
Nairobi, July 22 (IANS) Confederation of African Football (CAF) has slapped a one-year suspension on Kenya's head coach Adel Amrouche for his undisciplined behaviour against a match official. In a letter to the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Heart attacks kill younger women faster than men: Study
New York, July 22 (IANS) Aakriti Gupta, an Indian-origin researcher at the Yale School of Medicine, has found that women have longer hospital stays and are more likely than men to die in the hospital after a heart...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Idris Elba in talks to join Guy Ritchie's King Arthur
Idris Elba is in talks to join the cast of 'King Arthur'. The 41-year-old actor is believed to have entered into negotiations with Warner Bros to play a wizard-like figure and mentor to Arthur in the retelling of the...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Former Dominican cricketer dies in road accident
Roseu (Dominica), July 22 (IANS/CMC) Dominica's former national cricketer Gifford Walsh has died in an accident here. Walsh was driving a vehicle in a southerly direction Saturday when it collided with another vehicle...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Australia sends plane to bring back MH17 victims
Canberra, July 22 (IANS) Australia Tuesday sent a C-17 military plane to the Netherlands to bring back the victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which crashed in Ukraine last Thursday. The heavy-lift transport...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Facing memory lapses? Catch some sleep
New York, July 22 (IANS) Missing sleep lately owing to family stress or extra workload at office? Get back to normal routine fast as lack of sleep can hurt your memory. A study has found that memory distortion is...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Mexican posts murder confession on Facebook, held
Mexico City, July 22 (IANS/EFE) A man was arrested in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon after he confessed to murdering his fiance's mother in a Facebook post, officials said. Roberto Alejandro Santos, 32, was...
Read more on Politics Balla