The Mac Turns 40 Years Old Today, Here's How Apple Pitched It In 1984

Original Apple Macintosh on a desk.
If the Macintosh was a person instead of a personal computer (yes, it's technically a PC), it would now be entering middle age and probably on a steady of diet of Ibuprofen for those aches, pains, and creaky knees. Instead, it's even more ancient by technology standards, as the original Macintosh (which was later dubbed Macintosh 128K) turns 40 years old today, having launched on January 24, 1984. While the iPhone is the star of Apple's show these days, the Mac still lives on in various forms and iterations.

At the time of its release, Apple billed the Macintosh as a "sophisticated, affordably priced personal computer designed for business people, professionals, and students in a broad range of fields." This was before the era of "magical" marketing, though it's interesting to see how Apple advertised the daddy of all Macs.

"Macintosh combines extraordinary computing power with exceptional ease of use--in a unit that is smaller and lighter than most transportable computers. The suggested retail price for Macintosh is $2,495, which during the introductory period also includes a word-processing program and graphics package," Apple stated in its press release from 1984.

Adjusting for inflation, that "affordable" price tag is roughly equivalent to $7,510 today. But hey, it came with a word processing program! The original Macintosh also shipped with 64 kilobytes of ROM (read only memory), 128KB of RAM (random access memory), and a 16/32-bit Motorola 68000 processor running at a blistering (for its era) 7.8336MHz.

This was not not Apple's first computer, nor was it Apple's first system to support a mouse (that distinction belongs to the Apple Lisa that released a year earlier). However, the original Macintosh helped popularize that peripheral that is so ubiquitous today.

Apple played this up in its press release (hat tip to the folks at Stanford for archiving it), noting that users could shuffle papers, revise or discard documents, draw charts, and more "with a few simple commands executed with the mouse."

"Users tell Macintosh what to do simply by moving a 'mouse'—a small pointing device—to select among functions listed in menus and represented by pictorial symbols on the screen. Users are no longer forced to memorize the numerous and confusing keyboard commands of conventional computers. The result is radical ease of use and a significant reduction in learning time. In effect, the Macintosh is a desktop appliance offering users increased utility and creativity with simplicity," Apple wrote.

These days, Apple offers various takes on the Mac, including laptops (MacBook Air and MacBook Pro) and a range of desktops and mini PCs (Mac Pro, Mac Studio, Mac mini, and iMac). There's not really a direct lineage, though the closest could arguably be considered the iMac, given the original Macintosh's all-in-one design.

The original press release is a bit long by today's standards, but definitely worth a read if you're feeling nostalgic. And with that, happy birthday, Macintosh! Also, another hat tip is in order, to Matthew Pearce for the nifty photo up top.

Top and Thumbnail Image Source: Matthew Pearce via Flickr