The Glorious History of Macintosh 128
Apple launched its Macintosh project in September 1979, when Jef Raskin, an Apple employee, envisioned an easy-to-use, low-cost computer for the average consumer.
They say that Jef Raskin wanted to name the computer after his favorite type of apple, the McIntosh. The spelling was changed to “Macintosh” for legal reasons as the original was the same spelling as that used by macintosh Laboratory, Inc., the audio equipment manufacturer. Steve Jobs requested that Macintosh Laboratory, Inc. give Apple a release for the name, however with its changed spelling, but the laboratory denied the request. That forced Apple to eventually buy the rights to use the name. (Rumous say that Apple changed the spelling only after early users misspelled McIntosh. However, Jef Raskin had adopted the Macintosh spelling by 1981, when the Mac computer was still a single prototype machine in the lab, so no users could misspell the name).
When Apple started hiring for the project, Raskin asked his long-time colleague, Brian Howard, to join him. Then Burrell Smith, a self-taught engineer who worked as a service technician, joined the team.
Over the years, Jef Raskin assembled a large development team that designed and built the original Macintosh hardware and the original version of the Mac OS operating system that the computer ran.
Burrell Smith’s first Macintosh board was built to Raskin’s design specifications and had 64 kB of RAM. It used the Motorola 6809E microprocessor, and was capable of supporting a 256×256-pixel black-and-white bitmap display. By December 1980, Smith had succeeded in designing a board that not only used the 68000, but increased its speed from 5 MHz to 8 MHz. This board had the capacity to support a 384×256-pixel display. The final Mac design was self-contained and had the complete QuickDraw picture language and interpreter in 64 kB of ROM – far more than most other computers. The prototype had 128 kB of RAM, in the form of sixteen 64 kilobit (kb) RAM chips soldered to the logic board. There were no memory slots, but RAM was expandable to 512 kB by means of soldering sixteen IC sockets to accept 256 kb RAM chips in place of the factory-installed chips. The final screen was a 9-inch, 512×342 pixel monochrome display, exceeding the size of the planned screen.
The innovative design set off shock waves within Apple, capturing the attention of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, but Jef Raskin left the team in 1981 over a personality conflict with Jobs.
After hearing of the pioneering GUI technology being developed at Xerox PARC, Steven Jobs had negotiated a visit to see the Xerox Alto computer and its Smalltalk development tools. The Macintosh user interface was finally influenced by technology seen at Xerox PARC and was combined with the Macintosh group’s own ideas. Jobs also commissioned industrial designer Hartmut Esslinger to work on the Macintosh line, resulting in the “Snow White” design language (it was implemented in most mid- to late-1980s Apple computers).
However, Jobs’ leadership at the Macintosh project did not last; after an internal power struggle with new CEO John Sculley, Jobs resigned from Apple in 1985. He went on to found NeXT, another computer company targeting the education market, and did not return until 1997, when Apple acquired NeXT.
The first Mac, the famous Macintosh 128K was manufactured at an Apple plant in Fremont, California.
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