Company: Apple Computer, Inc.
Cost: $ Priceless
The Apple 128k Macintosh was the first Macintosh model made. I ran across this little gem one day at a “friend of a friend’s” house. I was there to look at a washing machine and see if I could help fix it, when I noticed a white box with the Apple logo on it. I was told that my friend’s friend had a garage sale a few weeks ago, and the old Mac was never sold.
I checked it out, and was amazed to find that the machine was an original Mac, made in February 1984. Not only did he have the Mac itself, which worked like it was brand new, but the keyboard, the mouse, an extra external disk drive, all the original floppies, as well as the original box (in perfect shape) and the original cassette tutorial tapes. He had everything, just like it came from Apple ‘lo those many years ago.
One of the first things I noticed was that the original disks will not work in a newer Mac. The message “This disk cannot be read my this Macintosh” came up, which bummed me out a little.
For those unfamiliar with the original Mac, you should know that there is no internal hard drive. If fact, everything is run off of a floppy disk. All your programs and system software is on disk. So each program disk I have, from MacPaint to Microsoft Word not only has that program on it, but the system software as well. Also keep in mind that these disks are only 400k in size. To grasp just how small in size that is, you would need five of these disks just to hold the last issue of My Mac Magazine. Or, by going to my Extension folder, I see that the latest release of QuickTime 3.0’s extension is 2.7MB in size. That one extension is larger than all of the system software and Microsoft Word 1.0!
What is amazing, really, is how similar everything is on the 128k compared to the latest Macintosh. The mouse cursor is the same, though the newer version is a little less jagged. The windows look very similar to pre-Mac OS 8.0 windows. The scroll bars, the on-screen text, all the same. There is even an Apple menu, and File, Edit, View, and Special all reside in the menu bar.
Going to the Apple menu, you do not find “About This Macintosh” like you do on older Macs (Or “About This Computer” with newer systems) You see “About The Finder…” When you click it, it reads “The Macintosh Finder: Bruce Horn and Steve Capps” with the date and version number.
The 128k will boot up, off floppy disk remember, in about twelve seconds. The screen is tiny even compared to a 13″ monitor, and it is all in black and white. From the Apple menu there is a “Control Panel.” Users who have never used a 128k will recognize this, but rather than a folder like on the newer machines, this is THE control panel. By selecting this, you can change your desktop pattern, set the volume, mouse speed, keyboard speed, date and time, and the like. It is all very simplified, and in many ways easier to navigate than the new versions. With a new Mac running system 8.1, you need five or six different control panels to perform the same functions. There is even a “Get Info” command, which will give you info on a file or disk that you have selected. You cannot change the icons, but you can enter in comments.
Sitting on the desktop, just like today, rests the trash can. And just like on today’s Mac’s, you drag folders to it to delete them, and empty the trash via the Special menu. However, when you put something in the trash, it does not bulge up like the current one, or show trash sticking out of the lid.
The keyboard is twice as small as a newer Mac’s. It’s not as easy to type with once you are used to the current extended keyboard. The mouse is a blocky little thing, one button and a roller ball. The keyboard plugs into the front of the Mac with what looks like a telephone jack, while the mouse goes into the back of the machine via a large plug. When the machine is running, it is loud in comparison to my 6500/250. The fan makes an awful racket, but after running for a few minutes, you kind of get use to it, like white noise.
With the advent of the iMac, many people will compare it to the original Mac. I like the new iMacs, and feel they hold a lot of promise. The design is neat and original. Steve Jobs used the same tactics when he introduced it as he did the 128k. However, nothing can compare to the original.
Like a vintage automobile, the 128k has a special place in history. It is an original, a work of art. It was one of those things that transcend itself. Yes, it is a computer, virtually useless today. It only had 128k of memory, not enough to open even SimpleText today. The mouse is not very comfortable to use, and the keyboard, while functional, is awkward. The screen is much too small and not in color. A newer machine, if it had any of these faults, would be a joke. No one would want it.
As for my 128k, I would not sell it for anything. I’m proud to have it sit on my desk next to the 6500/250. It has character, something most products can never hope to have. It holds a significant place in history. It is the original Macintosh, a device that made people Think Differently and changed the world while doing so.