Happy birthday to the macintosh

Turning 30 is a milestone for us all; often seen as a defining line between youth and adulthood. Today auspiciously heralds the thirtieth birthday of the first ever Mac, and as such, for many an Apple devotee, the era defining line in the sand for modern computing.

The Macintosh 128K launched thirty years ago today with a heady marketing campaign behind it, most notable was the Orwellian Super Bowl advert. Directed by Ridley Scott, an experienced Dystopian future-gazer whose films Blade Runner and Alien predicted a bleak future for humanity. The campaign assured us that 1984, thanks to the launch of the Macintosh, won’t be like ‘1984’. In truth, Jobs (then a fresh faced 28 year-old) couldn’t have been more right… Apple humanised computing. Apple has created a brand, image and personality more focussed and encouraging more fierce loyalty than any other manufacturer. Apple don’t produce machines, they produce lifestyles.

But behind all the marketing, beyond the fan-boys who queue outside stores for nights on end, let’s take a look at the brilliant commercialisation of Jobs and these early Macs. The 128k cost $2,495 when it was launched (that’s the equivalent of $5,600 today), a high price point but one deemed deserving of the innovative new technology it introduced. However, it’s worth considering that Apple’s user focussed computing interface wasn’t actually an Apple first. It had actually been invented by Xerox for their failed Xerox Star computer, but Jobs, having the pioneering eye he was renowned for, correctly spotted this is a game changer. Xerox may have invented the graphical user interface, but it was Apple who defined it.

This ability to spot the next defining technology pursued Apple for the next 30 years, from 1991’s Powerbook series which were the first true Mac laptops, the 1998 launch of the iMac with its striking translucent design right up to the aluminium Macbooks and the recent ‘trashcan’ Mac Pro. Apple, the restless innovators, has an incredible skill for spotting winning trends and technologies and marrying it with mass market appeal. Here’s to the next thirty years.