On January 24th Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh.
And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.”

This quotation comes from a television commercial that Apple run during the 1984 Super Bowl, and it was how the world was introduced to the Mac. Thirty-six years later, computers look very different. Here’s what it was like to run a Macintosh back then.

Monitor

The first Macintosh had a 9-inch black and white monitor with 512 by 342 dots. Those were black-and-white pixels; the screen had no colours and no shades of grey.

Storage

There were no hard drives or USB flash drives. The Mac used floppy disks that stored 400 kilobytes each–that’s less storage than that of a medium-sized JPEG image. A floppy disk held an operating system along with an app. Documents were typically stored on another floppy disk, so if you didn’t have a second floppy drive then you’d have to swap disks when you were saving a document.

RAM

The original Mac had 128 kilobytes of RAM; the computers of today usually have at least 8 gigabytes–that’s 128 thousand versus 8 billion. The second model of Macintosh came out in September 1984 had 512 kilobytes.

Input Devices

The keyboard was more than two inches thick and connected to the front of the Mac via a curly cord with telephone-type plugs. The mouse had one button and plugged into a 9-pin port on the back.

Ports

There were two serial ports: a printer port and a modem port. The printer port doubled as a AppleTalk port for networking with other Macs and printers. There was also no ethernet port for internet access; the internet did exist back then but not on home computers.

Speed

The 128K Macintosh had a processor that ran at 8 MHz. Today’s Macs have processors that run at least 175 times faster, and many have multiple processing cores.

High speed internet, hard drives, colour Retina displays, wireless keyboards and mouse, and USB ports: could you imagine using a Mac without these technologies? We’ve come a long way.

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