Newsweek Looks Back On 20 Years Of The Mac, Reposts 1984 Article

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At the end of every Apple press release, Apple includes this bit of text, we see it so often that we tend to ignore it:

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh.

We ignore this statement not because it is untrue but because it is old news. We know that in 1984 Apple came out with the Macintosh Computer, and that until then computers did not have mice or GUIs. We know that it was the now famous i1984 Commerciali that proclaimed that computing to forever change, and it was true.

Itis been almost 20 years since Apple and Steve Jobs announced to the world the future of computing in that famous 60 second commercial. Newsweek, which had a part in the Mac announcement in 1984, also ran an article that took a serious look at the Macintosh and the man behind it. The magazine has reposted that article in its iTurning Points in Technologyi series. The reprint is prefaced with the following:

The digerati of that day derided just about everything about the Macintosh, but they were particularly harsh about its "mouse" -- which our NEWSWEEK reviewer needed to define for readers as "a tethered box the size of a cigarette pack." The big criticism was that users would have to take their hands off the keyboard to use the mouse, making it inefficient and thus certain to be ignored. "Operating the Macintosh sometimes seems to require three hands," sniffed one critic. So much for critics.

More than a few reviewers also suggested that users would soon tire of "cute icons" like the trash can, as well as clicking and dragging to move files. Computer magazine columnists argued that "command line" prompts -- typing in cryptic phrases like "del c:/files/story.doc" -- were more direct than dragging and dropping a file into the trash can. There was also considerable tsk-tsking over the absence of cursor keys, the arrow buttons which allow movement up, down, left and right. Jobs considered them obsolete -- although, uncharacteristically, he later relented and Mac keyboards now sport cursor keys.

As this article made clear, there was an infectious and inspirational spirit behind the birth of the Macintosh, which has lasted to this day -- as does the continuing chorus of industry doubters predicting trouble for Apple. At least some things in the computer industry never seem to change.

This is an excellent glance at the past made more relevant as we continue to note the proclamations of Appleis supposedly impending demise on our Apple Death Knell Counter. We strongly suggest that you read the Newsweek article. For those of you looking for more information about the 1984 Commercial, thereis an excellent behind-the-scenes look at the commercial that comes from the book; The Mac Bathroom Reader, by Owen Linzmayer. You can view the commercial at Apple-History.com.

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