9 Fun Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Macintosh Computers

macintosh

Apple is known for innovation, and a key starting point came from the successful launch of its original Macintosh computers.

To this day, over thirty years later, Macs dominate in sales, with a vivacious consumer-base that follows every new announcement and release like one would a sports team.

Apple is key in this, developing a culture war of “Mac vs. PC” despite both offering similar services for the past few years.

If you’re one of these Apple fans, get excited to dig into Apple’s roots. Here are nine fun facts you probably didn’t know about Macintosh computers.

1. Ridley Scott Directed the ‘1984’ Commercial

You likely remember the Orwellian commercial announcing the original Macintosh (or perhaps you’ve seen the recent Fortnite-parody of it). That very commercial was directed by none other than Ridley Scott. You know, Ridley Scott? Director of Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), and the upcoming Raised by Wolves?

He’s done a few things. Even by the time Apple hired him for this commercial, he was a force to be reckoned with in the sci-fi community. And his commercial was undoubtedly a major contributor to the initial hype surrounding the Macintosh’s release.

2. Speaking of 1984…

If you ever have an incomplete download on a modern-day mac, you’ll notice that the timestamps for when it was created and last modified harken back to Tuesday, January 24, 1984.

This is the day that Steve Jobs formally unveiled the original Macintosh computer. A nifty callback to the start of Apple’s legacy in the home-computer department.

3. The First Portable Mac Weighed 16-pounds

Two years before the PowerBook, and over a decade before our modern MacBook, Apple created its first portable laptop.

And it was a mess in all aspects. The first was weight. Who wants to carry around a 16-pound laptop? The next was the price, at $6,500. 

Despite its hefty weight and price, it boasted an impressive LCD display. Add to that the powerful 16MHz 6800 processor and the laptop is a testament to how people would’ve rather had a weaker, lighter system than the overpriced paper-weight Apple was peddling.

Of course, the impressive screen lacked a backlight, making it difficult to use in low-light conditions.

4. Apple Instituted the First-Ever Laptop Trackpad

Apple’s known for innovation, but few changes have rippled across the marketplace like the trackpad addition to their PowerBook 500. The trackpad came out in 1994 and by the end of the decade, almost every major laptop had made the switch from pencil-nub pointers to trackpads.

5. The Macintosh II Could Hold a Whopping 68MB of Memory

If that number is shocking, the base Macintosh II (not to be confused with the Apple II) started with a puny 1MB of memory. Compare that with the gigabytes of memory accessible today, it’s insane to think about.

One other peculiar decision when selling the Macintosh II was that for the first time, Apple sold this model without the keyboard as standard.

6. The Macintosh Name Was Inspired by Its Fruit Counterpart

Apple employee named Jef Raskin had a favorite type of apple: the McIntosh. What started as a code-name for the project was so well-received by the team that it became the official name for the project.

Steve Jobs notoriously tried to change the name to “Bicycle” when Jef wasn’t around, but the team couldn’t drop the “Macintosh” name. It connected their fruit theme together, perfectly. However, due to copyright restrictions, the team changed it to the now-iconic “Macintosh” spelling.

And that’s not the only codename at Apple with a story.

7. Carl Sagan Once Sued Apple, Who In-Turn Called Him a Butthead

Yes, you read that correctly. Famous astronomer, planetary scientist, and astrophysicist Carl Sagan sued Apple when he found out the company had code-named their Power Mac 7100 after him.

Normally code-names don’t mean anything and aren’t used to market products once they’re ready for commercial release. So why the hubbub? 

Well, Carl Sagan, on his show “Cosmos” had a tendency to recite the phrase “Billions and billions” when referring to the massive expanse of the universe. It became something of a meme.

And, like with all innocent memes, it was used for corporate deviancy. Apple nicknamed the Power Mac 7100 the “Carl Sagan” because they believed their device had the potential to make them “billions and billions” in profit.

When Carl Sagan got wind of this, he sued Apple and lost.

Despite losing the lawsuit, Apple changed its internal codename for the Power Mac 7100 to the “BHA,” or the “Butthead Astronomer.”

When Apple released the model without any association to Sagan, or “BHA”, the entire issue was quickly forgotten. Sagan later published a book titled “Billions & Billions” recapturing the meaning behind the initial phrase.

8. Laptops With Wireless Didn’t Appear Until 1999

If you’re old enough to remember the hassle of manually connecting a laptop, you’ll likely remember marveling at your first laptop that didn’t need it.

The iBook — a hefty clamshell device, predating the modern MacBook — was the first to connect to wireless and did so with an optional AirPort card. The notion of wireless internet was eventually widespread in 2003 and made standard on all MacBook’s when they launched in 2006.

9. You Can Confirm if You Have an Authentic Original Macintosh Computer

There’s one very easy way to confirm if you own an original 128K Macintosh computer. 

Inside the beige plastic enclosure of every original 128K Macintosh are the engraved signatures of everyone on the Apple Mac team, including both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Naturally, cracking open an original Mac isn’t easy or advised, but if you need confirmation you’ve got one of the originals, that’s an easy way to confirm.

How Many Did You Know?

There’s a lot of history surrounding the Macintosh line of computers. Some are cute and funny, while others are wild and unexpected.

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