Disaster: How The Macintosh Failed (and Still Changed Computing)Posted: January 24, 2014
Chris O’Brien writes: This morning much of the tech world is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original Macintosh computer.
It was Jan. 24, 1984, when a young Steve Jobs — sporting a goofy bow tie — stepped onto a stage in Cupertino, Calif., and unveiled the Macintosh. However deeply cynical we have grown about product launches, there is no doubt about how genuine the enthusiasm was in the auditorium that day.
Just watch the above video to the end and see the audience go completely bonkers. As a bonus, you get to see Jobs showing early signs of his stagecraft.
The event stands as one of Silicon Valley’s most mythic — a single moment that everyone can point to and say, “That was when everything changed.”
And that’s sort of true. But the reality, as always, is more complex.
In his recent biography of Steve Jobs, author Walter Isaacson managed to push past much of the mythology around the creation and launch of the Mac.
As Isaacson recounts it, the creation of the Macintosh was a messy one because Jobs essentially pitted his team against another Apple team building a different personal computer called the Lisa. The Lisa was released a full year before the Macintosh.
Jobs was deeply resentful that he had been kicked off the team building the Lisa. He was determined that the Macintosh would be better and cheaper.
But before its launch, Jobs lost a fight with his handpicked CEO, John Sculley, over marketing costs. Sculley insisted that the Macintosh be priced $500 more than Jobs wanted, at $2,495, to include the cost of advertising and publicity.
Almost 25 years later, Jobs still blamed the price for the device’s problems, telling Isaacson: “It’s the main reason the Macintosh sales slowed and Microsoft got to dominate the market.”
But the Macintosh had many other problems.
“The problem was a fundamental one: It was a dazzling but woefully slow and underpowered computer, and no amount of hoopla could mask that,” Isaacson wrote…
- 30 years on: the rise of the Macintosh computer (sciencemuseum.org.uk)
- How Steve Jobs’ Macintosh failed and still changed computing – latimes.com (latimes.com)
- Happy 30th Birthday Macintosh, the Controversial World-Changer (gizmodo.com)
- The computer that changed the world 30 years ago (gizmodo.com)
- The Mac turns 30: a visual history (theverge.com)
- Watch Steve Jobs Introduce the Macintosh on January 24, 1984 (cultofmac.com)
- How Steve Jobs’ Macintosh failed and still changed computing – Chicago Tribune (chicagotribune.com)
- Happy 30th Birthday, Apple Macintosh! (macdailynews.com)