I forget how I came across this, but I recently found one of the most charming looks back at how far we’ve come in our embrace of technology — the LA Times’ original review of the Apple Macintosh. This little journey back in the Wayback Machine provided me with some incredible moments of bafflement, such as when the reviewer says things like:
- “What you see on your screen looks a lot like what you might find on a desk. Instead of just a blinking cursor you see pictures, called icons, that graphically represent the things you can do with the computer.”
- “MacWrite has most basic word processing features with one outstanding addition. It can vary the size and style of your type on the screen and on paper, when used with Apple’s new $495 Image Writer printer.”
- “Instead of using the 5 1/4 inch floppy disks that the Apple II helped standardize, the Mac uses 3 1/2 inch mini-floppies. These disks come with a built-in protective cover, can fit in a shirt pocket, and are far less vulnerable to damage than standard floppies. Apple will also be using the 3 1/2 inch disks on its new Lisa series.”
- “Microsoft Corp, in Bellvue, Washington, has announced Mac versions of its popular Multiplan spreadsheet program, BASIC language, and Microsoft Word — an innovative new word processing package.”
Oh, how the world has changed. Most of us probably have had more computer in our pockets for 5-10 years, and bandwidth wasn’t even mentioned (commercially viable modems were still a decade away). Collaboration was accomplished mostly through exchanging floppy disks or those new-fangled print outs using scalable fonts.
And Microsoft Word was on its way to dethroning WordPerfect. Wow . . .
I remember having my Mac in one of the padded cases the reviewer describes, but the Apple IIc was my first portable computer. Now, my iPhone has more computing power than both combined.
I also seem to recall a higher degree of socialization around the offices I worked in at the time. Computers weren’t the immersive, immediate, and impatient presences they are now. They were tools — limited, slow, and rudimentary in many ways, but clearly tools. Now, slick, fast, connected, and capable, they are information appliances, part of our lives.
Any favorite original Macintosh stories out there? Did you own one? Do you still have one?