logo

Blog

I ran my own blog from November 2006 till October 2014. All posts are still online, but I don't have time to update it anymore. Please note that all images and media files have been removed when the backup was moved to a new host in early 2016. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Apple Macintosh!

24. january 2009

Exactly 25 years ago, on January 24, 1984, Apple Computer launched the first Macintosh computer. It was the first commercially successful computer featuring a mouse and a graphical user interface (GUI). The Macintosh was introduced by the famous "1984" television commercial by Ridley Scott which aired during Super Bowl XVIII.

The original Mac was designed by an Apple development team in the late 1970s, inspired by workstations created by Xerox employees at the Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). The team was lead by Apple founder Steve Jobs and included famous developers such as Jef Raskin and Bill Atkinson. The computer featured a Motorola 68000 processor running at 8 Mhz, 128 KB RAM, 64 KB ROM, a 9-inch 512x342 pixel monochrome display, a keyboard and a mouse. It also came with two applications, MacWrite and MacPaint.

Shortly after the successful launch of the Apple Macintosh, founder Steve Jobs left the company in 1985 after disputes with the new CEO John Sculley. Jobs then founded the NeXT company and started working on workstations based on NeXTstep, a UNIX-like operating system.

In 1985 Apple introduced the LaserWriter and software like MacPublished and PageMaker marked the debut of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) and the desktop publishing revolution. Soon more professional applications such as Macromedia FreeHand, QuarkXPress, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator were released and helped the Mac to become the number one platform in the creative business.

In 1987 Apple launched the first upgradable Mac, the Macintosh II. It featured a 16 MHz Motorola 68020 processor, Color QuickDraw (a graphics library that supprted color, various display sizes & multiple monitors) and expansion slots.

Early releases of Microsoft Windows never really threatened the Mac platform, but in 1990 Microsoft finally managed to launch a usable version with Windows 3.0. The launch of System 7 helped to strengthen Apple's position as a GUI market leader, nevertheless they were forced to lower Macintosh prices to remain competitive. 

In 1994 Apple successfully switched from the Motorola processor architecture to the PowerPC RISC platform. Software written for the Motorola 68000 architecture could still be executed as the PowerPC version for System 7 included a Motorola 68k emulation software.

In the mid 1990s Apple got into serious trouble. The launch of Windows 95 considerably lowered Apple's market share as it was now possible to get an Apple-like OS without having to buy an expensive Macintosh computer. 

Apple also didn't manage to finalize their next-generation operating system, MacOS 8. After it became clear that MacOS 8 would never be completed, Apple had to look for a MacOS successor outside the company. They finally bought NeXT, the company Steve Jobs founded after his departure in 1985. As a result, Steve Jobs returned to the company.

In 1998, Apple introduced the all-in-one iMac, which turned out to become a phenomenal success and helped the company to return to profitability. It was followed by the iBook protable computer and updated desktop computers.

MacOS X, the UNIX-like MacOS successor based upon the NeXTstep OS, was finally released in 2000 and 2001. It introduced a modern OS foundation as well as the all new Aqua user interface. Classic MacOS 9 applications could still be used as MacOS X included a copy of MacOS 9 running in a secured "classic box".

In 2006 finally switched to the Intel x86 platform, abandoning the PowerPC. Intel Macs can still execute PowerPC applications as MacOS X for Intel Macs includes a PowerPC processor emulation software called Rosetta, but they no longer support the classic box and MacOS 9.

During the past few years Apple managed to regain some of the market share it lost during the 1990s, and today the company is shipping more Macs than ever before.