On this day 32 years ago Apple Computer, Inc. announced the release of its first Macintosh computer with a spectacular media campaign which included, among others, unique TV commercials broadcast during the 1984 Super Bowl.
It had been a long way for the company from its early start, on 1 April 1976, when its main founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the enterprise with the financial backing of Mike Markkula. From relative simple forerunners that looked rather more like typing machines with a screen, the Apple Macintosh emerged with the external features that would become standard in a desktop: a screen (still in black and white) displaying a graphical user interface (GUI) of the window-kind (over a decade before Windows 95 was announced), a separate keyboard for typing and commando shortcuts, and a mouse for navigation. Its inside was also remarkable for its time: a Motorola 68000 microprocessor and a RAM (memory) of 128kb. The disadvantage was its price of about 2,500 dollars, which made it less competitive in a market that already offered the cheaper models of the IBM Personal Computer (1981) and the Commodore 64 (1982), although these still displayed simple text screens and could be operated by keyboard alone. Mac’s major advantages – its transportability and graphical user interface – led to its adoption mostly in the fields of education, graphic design and desktop publishing, where it was in great demand: 70,000 units were sold within the first one hundred days after its release.
With falling computer component prices, the rise of new PC companies (especially Compaq), and growing competition from Microsoft Windows, Apple began to lose its leading position in the market. Only when Steve Jobs, who had left the company in 1985, returned and redesigned Apple’s product line to eventually include the more recent ipads and iphones did the company return to the frontlines of microchip technology, design and modern communication.
You may be interested in a Chronology of Apple PCs. Some glimpses of the founding days of the company can be caught from an interview with Steve Wozniak. Here you can read more about the commercials. Steve Jobs’s 1984 introduction to the new Macintosh reveals how revolutionary this new PC was then.