From the archives | January 23, 1984

The Macintosh: A new variety of computer by Apple (who else?)

This article is from the Boston Globe archives. It was originally published on Monday, January 23, 1984.

Apple Computer Corp., evicted from the burgeoning corporate market by International Business Machines Corp., is betting that Macintosh, its new personal computer, will win over everyone else.

Macintosh will be introduced tomorrow at the Cupertino, Calif. company’s annual meeting. It is being heralded by Apple as the successor to its enormously popular Apple II and IIe, the family of machines that made the company a leader in the personal computer industry.

“We believe Macintosh will be the third standard, after the Apple II and the IBM Personal Computer,” said Steven P. Jobs, Apple chairman and co- founder, during a briefing on Macintosh last week in New York.


Jobs will be in Boston Jan. 30 to personally introduce Macintosh to the Boston Computer Society at the New England Life Hall in Back Bay.

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“With Macintosh we are betting a large part of our future,” said Apple President John Sculley. “It is the key to our office products line for the rest of the decade.”

Apple’s strategy is to appeal to a mainstream audience of 25 million “knowledge workers” - people who work behind a desk, in small- and medium- size companies, college students and self-employed persons working at home.

To reach this audience of predominantly first-time computer users, Apple has developed Macintosh as a compact, easy-to-use machine with a $2495 price tag - about $1000 less than a comparably equipped IBM personal computer. A complete system - there’s a printer, word-processing software called MacWrite and a graphics program called MacPaint - will cost $2995 as part of an introductory offer.

“With this computer, users can get started in 30 to 45 minutes after they unpack it, instead of the 20 to 30 hours with other computers,” says Michael Murray, Macintosh product manager. “People don’t want to read computer manuals.”


One computer-literate market that Apple is going after is the college market. Tomorrow Sculley will announce that 24 schools, including Harvard, Brown, Dartmouth and Stanford, will buy $50 million worth of Macintosh computer systems beginning this winter for resale to undergraduate students.

To provide an alternative to IBM, Apple has packaged a computer system consisting of a 32-bit microprocessor with 128,000 characters of internal storage, a 9-inch, high-resolution black-and-white screen and a built-in storage system that uses a relatively new 3 1/2 -inch disk drive from Sony Corp. This is the same size storage system used on the new Hewlett-Packard personal computer.

Each disk, which is encased in a hard shell and can fit in a shirt pocket, stores 400,000 characters of information instead of the traditional 5 1/4 -inch floppy that holds less than half that amount.

A typewriter-like keyboard and a separate hand-held pointer, called a mouse, that reduces the need for memorizing and punching complex codes, plug into the console. This is the same mouse technology found in the company’s more expensive Lisa computer introduced a year ago in Apple’s attempt to compete with IBM.

Since then Lisa has not been the dazzling success the company hoped for. There was a six-month production delay and fewer than 25,000 systems were built. Fortune 500 companies, who were the prime targets, balked at its initial $10,000 price tag and the lack of data communications with the world of IBM large computers. Moreover, few programs by outside software developers were introduced.


“We had a case of Fortune 1000-itis,” concedes Jobs. “We saw it (Lisa) as our research and development effort for the 1980s.”

Macintosh, essentially a scaled-down Lisa, is the company’s new cornerstone to what the company calls its 32-bit supermicro family. It uses the same software concepts found in the Lisa. Instead of a series of function keys, Icon uses a series of images such as a garbage can, a memo chart and a clip board. Apple relies on a mouse pointer instead of cursor keys and pull- down menus to assist users.

The MacWrite program, for example, allows users to change typefaces and letter sizes. Charts, tables, graphs and free-hand drawings created with MacPaint can be inserted between lines of text.

“Macintosh can be a truly awesome machine,” said Aaron Goldberg, who has used the computer for more than a week. He is research manager of West Coast operations for International Data Corp., a data-processing market reseach firm in Framingham.

Using the same technology, Apple says it will overcome its earlier problems with a wide assortment of business-oriented programs. Some 100 software companies, including Lotus Development Corp. of Cambridge, the originator of the popular 1-2-3 integrated productivity package, are already proceeding with programs for the new machine.

Apple executives explained that Macintosh and Lisa will form one computer line while the older Apple 2 family will comprise another. “We are positioning the Apple 2 primarily for the home and education market, kindergarten through high school, and the Macintosh and Lisa line for college to death,” said Jobs.