The Unitron Mac 512 was the world’s first Macintosh clone (photo: Chester’s blog)
The first Macintosh clone in the world was not one of the Apple sanctioned systems released in 1995, such as those from companies like PowerComputing, Radius, Umax or Daystar Digital. Nor was it the Outbound laptop in 1989, a hybrid system produced using Mac ROMs taken from working Mac Plus systems.
No, the first Macintosh clone was the Unitron Mac 512, a unauthorized copy of the 512k “Fat Mac” produced by a Brazilian company in 1986. And it was a pretty darn impressive copy. The fallout from that effort nearly help start a trade war between Brazil and the United States; to prevent theft of Intellectual Property, Apple and other companies lobbied Congress to hike import taxes on Brazilian goods like oranges and shoes as a response.
And as we know, nobody messes with Tropicana …
It’s not a widely known story. Pieces of this long-forgotten chapter in Mac history can be found scattered on websites around the world. Here is the fascinating tale of the first Macintosh clone in the world.
Artwork by Matisse (left) inspired the Mac Picasso graphics.
The famous Macintosh “Picasso” trademark logo was developed for the introduction of the original 128k Mac back in 1984. A minimalist line drawing reminiscent of the style of Pablo Picasso, this whimsical graphic implied the whole of a computer in a few simple strokes. It was an icon of what was inside the box, and became as famous as the computer it represented.
The logo was designed by Tom Hughes and John Casado, art directors on the Macintosh development team. Originally the logo was to be a different concept by artist Jean-Michel Folon, but before launch it was replaced by the colorful line drawing. It’s been famous ever since, and the style has endured across decades.
Casado recently attended the 30th Anniversary of the Mac celebration, and emailed Cult of Mac to shed some light on the history of this famous graphic. It turns out Picasso was not the primary inspiration for this after all – rather, it was Henri Matisse!
Apple was notably absent from the Super Bowl ad slots Sunday, but a new video touting the Mac’s transformative power is quickly making Cupertino the most talked-about company the morning after the big game. The impressive clip continues the Mac’s 30th-anniversary celebration, and it was shot entirely on iPhones in 15 locations across five continents.
At Macworld/iWorld last year, I had the opportunity to get a look at The iSlider by Rain Design. After using it for a bit, the folks at Rain Design decided to let me have one to use for review purposes. And after only a few days of use, The iSlider became my go-to iPad stand.
This Sunday is the Super Bowl and, contrary to what Steve Jobs may have thought, yes, people will be watching it — around 108 million, if last year’s numbers are any indication.
The real question is whether Apple will have an ad ready for the event, to commemorate three decades since the company’s iconic Macintosh commercial kicked off an advertising trend that is still followed today.
On January 24, 1984, Apple Computer introduced the Macintosh.
Back in 1984, the birth of the Macintosh was not a quiet affair. Among his many talents, Steve Jobs was one of the great orators and inspiring speakers of our time. Part sage, part showman, Jobs combined the wizardry of a magician with the skills of a master salesman. The Macintosh was his baby, the intended salvation for Apple, and he wanted it launched with flair.
Many people have heard about, but not seen, one of the most influential demos of all — the actual unveiling of the Macintosh on January 24, 1984. In front of a group of Apple shareholders and VIPs, and giving a hint of Apple keynotes to come, a tuxedo-clad Jobs and his magical child stole the show. Now you can relive that glorious moment.
Cult of Mac and iFixit teardown the 128k Macintosh
It’s the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Macintosh, and we wondered at Cult of Mac what can we do to celebrate? Then we thought, let’s dissect an original Macintosh and see what made it tick! There’s nothing like destruction in the persuit of knowledge.
In full retro spirit, we asked our friends at iFixit if they would help perform a special anniversary teardown of the 128k Mac. How does our silicon hero compare to modern Macs in terms of components, assembly and ease of repair? Of course being true geeks themselves, they jumped at the chance.
There was only one problem: where to find an original 128k Mac.
On January 24, 1984, Apple Computer introduced Macintosh.
Thirty years ago, Apple Computer introduced Macintosh.
The computing universe was far different back then, and this groundbreaking little computer represented a major change from the status quo. Appealing to creativity and emotion, the Mac introduced the world at large to the Graphical User Interface, the mouse, and a computer that was friendly and non-intimidating. Many of those ideas became new industry paradigms and survive with us to this day.
Computers come and go, it’s a fast changing industry and the pace accelerates every year. But the Mac as a brand has survived 3 decades. This is notable for any product and unheard of for computers! Why, what’s so special? What’s the meaning of the Macintosh turning 30?
At its core, beyond basic utility, the Mac’s appeal to many people is that it has always been a device that people want to use, rather than something that you have to use. People get attached to their Macs the same way they get attached to their cars or favorite bands. You remember your first Macintosh – where you were at the time and what it meant to you. That was true with the original Mac in 1984, and it’s still true today. Macs aren’t just tools, but visceral parts of our lives.
‘Macintosh’ is more than a brand. It’s a word that equates computers with usability, form and function. ‘Macintosh’ is a trigger – a word that evokes a particular time in many peoples lives who were just getting into computers at college, introducing computers into their business for the first time. It’s always interesting to see how people refer to their Windows machines. I’ve never heard anyone say ‘I loved my old Windows laptop,’ but I’ve heard from countless people on the fond memories of their old Mac. Jonathan Zufi – Author of Iconic, a book about Apple design.
The Macintosh philosophy from the beginning has been computer as appliance. Plug it in, turn it on and get working. The industrial design of the computer and the graphic design of the software were designed to let you focus on your work, your output, your creativity.
The interface was intended to mimic a typical office so that you didn’t have to learn esoteric things like filesystems and text commands; instead you had a desktop, files and folders. The mouse allowed you to point at and interact with objects onscreen, and edited text was formatted as you watched in real time. You could name documents with more than 8 characters and using punctuation marks. That was revolutionary to most people.
It appealed to artists. It appealed to writers. It wasn’t just for geeks. It was the Computer for the Rest of Us.
I remember the thrill and the delight of using the Mac for the first time as a teenager. It was like playing with the iPhone for the first time; a total revelation. The interface was so natural, so easy to use. You didn’t need to be shown how to use it. You could figure it out yourself. That’s been Apple’s genius of course, all these years; to create interfaces that anyone can use without having to crack a manual. Leander Kahney – Cult of Mac
The original Macintosh design team made a lot of good technical choices, and many of their implementations remain in use to this day. Prior to the Mac, concepts like the Graphical User Interface and hand-held pointing devices existed only in the realms of research labs and high-end workstations. Easy printing and networking capabilities came standard with the Mac, and soon PostScript, PageMaker and the LaserWriter defined an industry.
Think about the graphical tool icons used in MacPaint, or the “marching ants” box around an object to signify selection – these items are so ingrained into our computing culture that we sometimes forget they debuted on the Macintosh in 1984!
This is a testimony to the insights and vision of Steve Jobs. He and the Macintosh Division got a lot right the first time. This is similar to the Porsche 911. It’s going on fifty this year. How many car models have gone on for fifty years? Guy Kawasaki — former Macintosh Evangelist
The Mac-PC wars are long over. Choosing a computing platform these days is like choosing a brand of automobile; they all get you where you want to go, so you choose on aesthetics, design details and performance. A saying I’m fond of repeating to my clients is: with Macs you spend more time using the tool, and less time keeping the tool running. And unless you’re a computer geek, that’s an important thing.
When Jobs came back to Apple his first new product was the iMac. A simple computing appliance, easy to use and pleasant to look at – the original Macintosh design concept modernized. It’s now the Honda Accord of computers, a stable product line with various changes throughout the years. Elegant, reliable and practical.
But not all Macs are family sedans. From the wicked fast Mac IIfx to the latest Darth-Vader Mac Pro, Apple can build muscle cars when it wants to. And sports cars – from the Powerbook to the MacBook Air, Apple’s portables define the computers you take with you.
In the Jony Ive era, style returned with a vengeance. Colorful computers, beautiful computers, thin and sleek. They look good in the home, objects d’art, as much as tools for work. But most importantly, they are still not intimidating. We really want to touch them.
Macintosh has survived so long because great ideas like great art or great music are timeless. Steve Jobs often likened the team’s creation to a work of art going so far as having the Macintosh team autograph the case as such. While the first Macintosh’s hardware was limited, Jobs’ vision was not. Eventually, the hardware and software would catch up to that vision and Macintosh would change computers forever. James Savage — RetroMaccast
Three decades later the modern Apple continues the legacy. The software has evolved with the hardware, and the modern Mac runs a very modern and stable variant of UNIX at its core.
Device dimensions have been drastically miniaturized while performance is maximized. iPhone and iPad, the offspring of Macintosh, take the computer fully mobile, utilizing direct touch controls to become even more integral parts of our lives.
That’s the thing about Apple products: these devices touch people lives. We like using them, we like owning them. Thirty years from now people will remember how they felt getting their first iPhone or iPad, or their first MacBook Air.
Can you say the same about your washing machine?
The Mac has lasted for 30 years because it set the standard. It showed the world how computers should work. And the same is true for the iPhone and iPad. They set the standard for multitouch tablets and phones. They’ll be around for the next 30 years; and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mac is too. Leander Kahney – Cult of Mac
So what’s the meaning of the Mac turning 30? If you create something you love, execute it well, make it truly useful, and design it to be appealing, you can indeed change the world.
Preliminary Macintosh Business Plan from 1981 (photos: Digibarn)
On Friday, January 24, 2014, the Mac turns 30 years old. As we look back on three decades of Macintosh, there are some stories that have largely avoided the light of day for some time. One of these tales involves the production of the Macintosh Business Plan back in the early 1980s.
The tale was told by Mac design team member Joanna Hoffman to Bruce Damer, curator of the Digibarn Computer Museum. In 1981 Apple was beginning development on their new product lines, Lisa and Macintosh, and Hoffman was helping develop the business plan. She presented multiple drafts for Steve Jobs to review, but Jobs repeatedly kept sending her the plan back saying he didn’t like it.
After a few rounds of this Hoffman realized that it was not the contents of the business plan that Jobs objected to but rather the appearance of the document itself. What he was reviewing looked just like every other business plan, nothing special. Jobs wanted the pages of the Mac business plan to look like the screen of the computer they were creating – WYSIWYG graphics, fonts, and pages with menus and submenus for section headings. The problem with this request was that Apple did not yet make any computers or printers which could produce the document Jobs desired.