Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy 25th Birthday, Macintosh!

This photo shows part of the Mac team, including Steve Jobs at the piano. In the back you can see the pirate flag which flew over the Mac building (except when the Lisa team stole it!)

The Macintosh was introduced on January 24th, 1984, at Flint Center in Cupertino, CA, 25 years ago today. I was there. I rode my bicycle to Flint Center from my apartment in Cupertino. My boyfriend, Alan, who later became my husband, rode with me. He was worried there would be traffic and didn't want to drive. This has been a theme of our marriage. My husband hates traffic. Alan got to sit pretty near the front, as I recall, because he had done some work on the Macintosh. I was on the wrong team. I was a software developer for the Lisa computer, the clunky business machine that wasn't a commercial success. I had to sit in the balcony.

A few months after the Mac shipped, I got one in my office! One of the first Macintosh programs I wrote let Lisa talk to it. I designed a protocol to send messages across a serial link between the two. Instant messaging in the 1980s! To demonstrate my software, I had the Lisa send the commands necessary to put up a dialog box with text in it on the Mac screen. My first message from Lisa to Mac was, "You little squirt. You think you're something, don't you? :-)"

I clearly remember some parts of January 24th, 1984. I remember Steve Jobs walking onto the stage at Flint Center, wearing a suit and bow tie, looking like he had a card up his sleeve. He's a master showman. He slowed the show down and recited some lines from Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changing.'' Then he walked over to a rectangular canvass carrying case. He reached in and pulled out the most adorable computer ever invented, the first Macintosh. Jobs inserted a floppy disk and flipped a switch to boot the computer. A smiley face came on the screen and the little computer spoke: "Hello, I am Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag!" The audience went wild. We cheered and clapped and stamped our feet. Even the Lisa team.


  1. A couple comments from one who was there:

    - Although you and I had started going out, we were not yet living together (most of the time), so I'm pretty sure we didn't bike there. We did later bike to one or two other "shareholders meetings" or similar events, from our Cupertino home. For instance the one a year later where Apple introduced the so-called Macintosh Office and our personal favorite the AppleTalk Network System.

    - As far as the photo, from left to right, the people probably are: Bill Atkinson, ?, Andy Hertzfeld, Bill Fernandez (Apple employee #3 or so), Chris Espinosa (still in high school then, and still at Apple today), Susan Kare, John Sculley, Steve.

    Those were the days, huh? But these aren't too bad either :) Love, Alan

  2. Dear AlanOpp,

    Thanks for commenting and telling the entire world that we lived in sin but not at that time! :-) Regarding biking, I think you are right. It was other events at Flint Center that we biked to. Later you started biking to work everyday. Now you can walk to work (about 10 feet!) Life is good. Love, Priscilla