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Mac Facts: The Story Of Steve Jobs And His Revolutionary Product

Culture | April 24, 2020

American businessman Steve Jobs (L), Chairman of Apple Computers, and John Sculley, Apple's president, pose with the new Macintosh personal computer, on January 16, 1984 in New York City. (Photo by Marilyn K. Yee/New York Times Co./Getty Images)

Introduced by Steve Jobs and Apple Computers in January 1984, the Macintosh personal computer revolutionized computing and changed the world. To bring his product to the people, Jobs fought for his vision, created an amazing marketing campaign and went to war with the CEO of his company before he was ousted from Apple. Although the Macintosh itself has never dominated the computer market, with a market share under 10%, it led the way with innovations like the graphical user interface, and its focus on design and simplicity set the stage for ubiquitous Apple products like the iPad, iPod and iPhone. More than 30 years later Apple Computers still utilizes groundbreaking marketing campaigns even though their great visionary is gone.

The Macintosh came from an internal struggle in Apple

source: somag news

During the early ‘80s there was a battle raging inside of Apple between two teams who were trying to create the best personal computer on the market. Steve Jobs stirred internal discord in order to inspire his team to work harder and faster than than the second team who were working on a personal computer called Lisa. Despite the efforts of Jobs the Lisa was released a year before the Macintosh. Jobs was frustrated with Team Lisa and he was determined to make the Macintosh less expensive and better with than Lisa. Prior to the launch of the Macintosh Jobs butted heads with CEO John Sculley (formally of Pepsi) about the costs. Sculley wanted the Macintosh to be $500 more than Jobs to help pay for marketing costs putting it at $2,495. 

Ridley Scott’s commercial changed marketing forever 

source: apple

Even if you’ve never used the Apple Macintosh 128K you’ve seen the famous “1984” commercial that ran during the Super Bowl. The bill for the ad was $1.5 million and it only ran twice - once on a small station to make sure it was eligible for awards and again on the biggest stage day for commercials in history. Millions of viewers saw the Macintosh used to destroy the Orwellian world of IBM. Following the commercial Jobs implemented an advertising campaign that created a mini-magazine that ran inside major magazines like Rolling Stone and Newsweek. Similarly to today, Apple utilized the media to do their advertising for them. 

There were a lot of problems with the first Macintosh

source: KUNC

The release of the Macintosh may have changed the world but the initial release was less than stellar. Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson writes:

The problem was a fundamental one: It was a dazzling but woefully slow and underpowered computer, and no amount of hoopla could mask that.

The first version of the Macintosh only had 128K of memory (the Lisa had 1,000K) and it didn’t have an internal hard drive or a fan because Jobs believed that it “distracted from the calm of the computer.” A year later Apple increased the Macintosh’s memory to 512 KB but that proved to be a cumbersome endeavor.

On January 10, 1986, the Macintosh Plus was released with one megabyte of RAM and the ability to be extended to four and a whole host of possible additions. It was so succesful that it remained in production until 1990. 

Excitement died down because the Macintosh was so expensive

source: silicon valley

Jumping back to 1984: Between January and April of that year Apple sold 70,000 copies of the Macintosh but sales drifted to about 10,000 a month by the end of the year which wasn’t great. The sales drop brought small disagreements between Jobs and CEO John Sculley to a head. They argued over the direction of Apple with Sculley wanting to move units while Jobs wanted to effect change. The company’s board sided with Sculley and Jobs was removed from his position as general manager of the Macintosh division. Apple was no longer his company.

Apple was fractured a year after the release of the Macintosh

source: cnbc

After Jobs was removed from the Macintosh division he attempted to take over the company with some corporate skullduggery while Sculley was taking a business meeting in China. Unfortunately Sculley heard about the attempted coup before leaving the country and he made short work of Jobs’ plan by asking the Apple Board of Directors to vote on removing the co-founder from his own company. Before that could happen Jobs quit and formed NeXT Inc. with a number of former Apple employees who followed him out the door. Steve Wozniak left as well citing frustrations with the treatment of the Apple II division, although he continued to speak at Apple corporate events.

The Macintosh formed the basis of every personal computer that followed

source: fortune

Jobs was absent from Apple Inc. for nearly a decade, but even while he was gone the company held to his belief that that the Macintosh should keep its hardware and software together rather than license them out, something that they’ve maintained to this day. Every personal computer available today (not just those created by Apple) can be traced back to 1984 and the commitment of Steve Jobs to create something new.

Tags: Apple Computers | Macintosh | Steve Jobs

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Jacob Shelton

Writer

Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.