Geeks who brought the Macintosh computer to life became Silicon Valley rock stars, with people asking for autographs or photos while celebrating the Apple desktop machine’s 30th birthday.
Members of the original “Mac” team got the star treatment yesterday for passionately building a home computer “for the rest of us” at a time when IBM machines dominated in workplaces.
The friendly desktop referred to as the Mac and, importantly, the ability to control it by clicking on icons with a “mouse,” opened computing to non-geeks in much the way that touchscreens later allowed almost anyone to get instantly comfortable with smartphones or tablets.
The birthday party was held in a performing arts centre in Cupertino, where legendary late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs first introduced the Mac to the world on January 24, 1984. “Ever since I can remember I’ve been entranced with how these Macs work,” 16-year-old Tom Frikker told AFP as he worked his way through the crowd, getting original team members to autograph the vintage Mac he brought from home.
“It seems like a work of art,” the teenager continued. “I thought it would be cool to come out and see all these people that I’ve heard about.”
Prior to the Mac, with its “graphical user interface,” computers were commanded with text typed in what seemed like a foreign language to those who were not software programmers.
“The effect the Mac had on the world and on computing is really fascinating,” said Warren Sande, a fiber optic telecom company manager who was a school boy when the Apple desktop debuted.
Sande’s 14-year-old son was eager to hear inside stories from those who made the Mac. “The Mac had no video hardware, a tiny amount of RAM and a floppy drive, and it did stuff that my computer with eight gigabytes of RAM and dedicated video hardware has trouble doing,” Carter Sande said.
“I need to figure out why,” the teenager said. “It is so amazing that they did so much with a tiny amount of hardware.” The original vision of launching a Macintosh with 64 kilobytes of RAM and a $1,000 price gave way to introducing one with 128 kilobytes of RAM at $2,500.
Members of the Mac team told of being crushed when they got word of the higher price because they had been driven by a belief that they were making a machine that typical people could afford as well as easily use.
Applause erupted from the audience as members of the original Mac team stepped on stage to share memories. Video clips, many starring a young Steve Jobs, were played.