Upon release of the Macintosh 512K, a slightly redesigned Macintosh with the specs as the original Macintosh was introduced as the Macintosh 128K. Thus, the Macintosh 512K was technically the third Macintosh to be released since the new 128K model differed from the original Macintosh.
The Macintosh 512K had the same 512×342 monochrome display as the original Macintosh, but its memory was quadrupled. The name Macintosh 512K refers to its 512 kilobytes (kB) of internal RAM. The computer was not designed to be upgraded with additional RAM or further expanded, although a few third-party add-ons made available (such as a $2,195 “HyperDrive” hard drive by General Computer Corporation).
The Macintosh 512K was bundled with software including MacPaint and MacWrite, but many additional titles were soon available, including MacDraw, MacProject, Macintosh Pascal, and Microsoft Excel (requiring 512 kB of RAM to run). The increased memory also allowed the Macintosh 512K to handle larger word processing files, file sharing using Apple’s AppleShare local file sharing abilities, and generally faster performance of the graphical user interface (GUI).
This original Macintosh Mouse, Model M0100, shipped with a Macintosh 512K. This mouse was compatible with the Apple Lisa and was the same mouse that shipped with the original Macintosh.
The original Macintosh Mouse used a DE-9 connector and remained unchanged until 1987 when its color was altered to Platinium (with Smoke accents) to match the Macintosh Plus. Like all early Macintosh mouse designs, it used only one button to control the famously easy-to-use Macintosh operating systems of the time.
The Macintosh Keyboard, Model M0110, was included with the original Macintosh. This keyboard was also shipped with the Macintosh 512K.
This keyboard may be the simplest of all Apple keyboards because it lacks arrow keys and a numeric keypad. It used a telephone-style connector (RJ-10) to connect to the Macintosh, but the cable was wired differently than a standard telephone cord (a telephone cord is not interchangeable and will result in device damage).
This keyboard also introduced the “Command” key and symbol to the world. Apple II computers were in wide use at the time and included the “open Apple” key (a key with the outline of the Apple logo) and a “closed Apple” key (a key with a solid Apple logo), both used for shortcut and other functions before the Macintosh. (The Open- and Closed-Apple keys were also used on the Apple Lisa.) The “Command” key and symbol were used on this original Macintosh Keyboard and functioned similarly to the “Open Apple” key on the IIe. The keyboard that replaced this original Macintosh Keyboard design, the Apple Desktop Bus Keyboard, continued the tradition of the “Open-Apple” symbol by printing the Open-Apple on the same key as the Command symbol.
For years, users (especially teachers, including me) referred to keyboard shortcuts using the “Open-Apple” terminology, such as “Open-Apple-C” (for Edit > Copy) or “Open-Apple-P” (for File > Print), instead of using the arguably more elegant, and now standard term, “Command.”
At the time the original Macintosh was released, the computer was considered portable, due to its relatively small size (compared to its competitors) and the fact that the laptop computer was not yet widely available. (Apple would not release their first laptop, the Macintosh Portable, until 1989—a machine that was barely portable and cost over $7,000 at the time.) The original Macintosh design included a built-in handle and similarly sized models were offered from 1984 until the Color Classic II was discontinued in 1995.
Apple captured this opportunity to release the Soft Carrying Case that would fit all the “classic” Macintosh computers. The Soft Carrying Case was dark beige with black straps. Internally, the Soft Carrying Case has a soft, beige, fleece-like lining with compartments for the mouse, keyboard, manual/disks/cables, and a large central space for the Macintosh. Since the original Macintosh models had no internal hard drives, 3.5-inch floppy disks were required to run the operating system and programs.
The case could be used as a carry-on for air travel, but contains a Warning tag: “This bag is designed for carry-on use only. Use an ATA Spec. 300, category 1 approved container for checking your computer as luggage or shipping it as cargo.”
My collection currently includes two Soft Carrying Cases. One was a gift, and this example was included with the purchase of my Macintosh 512K. Verifying the exact name of of this product required some research. I finally located an Apple-based source in a 19-page brochure released in 1983 before the original Macintosh release. The brochure touts, “At less than 20 pounds in weight, Macintosh is easily carried from here to there. But handles always help. This durable, water-resistant carrying case is thickly padded so the Macintosh main unit, keyboard, mouse, manual and disks fit snugly inside.”
The original Macintosh was released in January 1984 as the “Apple Macintosh.” After November 1984 a 512K version was offered and the computers were referred to as the Macintosh 128K and Macintosh 512K. (Internally, the original Macintosh differed from the Macintosh 128K so they are technically two different computers.)
The original Macintosh had a distinctive beige case with a handle and a 9-inch monochrome screen. The selling price when released was $2,495.
The Macintosh was introduced to the American public by the iconic “1984” television commercial directed by Ridley Scott. The commercial aired on CBS during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984. The voiceover stated: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”
The Macintosh introduced several “firsts” in a relatively inexpensive consumer-level personal computer:
built-in 3.5-inch floppy disk drive
consistent user experience and user interface among applications
an all-in-one design (combining the CPU, monitor, and peripherals into a single unit)
graphical user interface controlled by the point-and-click features of an included mouse to access pull-down menus and click icons
WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) printing
Overall, the Macintosh allowed a user to focus on the work they were doing, rather than struggling to make the computer function.
The original iMac included a Motorola 68000 microprocessor running at 7.8336 MHz, 128 KB RAM, a one-bit (black-and-white) 9-inch CRT with a resolution of 512×342, and a single 400 KB single-sided 3.5-inch floppy disk drive (with no internal storage).
The original Macintosh was floppy-disk-based. A “Startup Disk” on a single disk could be temporarily ejected as the computer was used to allow documents to be saved or to allow it to run another application stored on another disk. The computer’s operating system was named System 1.0 and consisted of System 0.97 and Finder 1.0. The highest-level OS that can be run on the original Macintosh was System 3.2 and Finder 5.3. The Macintosh shipped with the applications MacPaint and MacWrite.
The original Macintosh did not include a cooling fan, instead relying on convection cooling. The absence of the fan made the computer run quietly.
Inside the case, the original Macintosh was signed by the entire Macintosh Division at Apple (c. 1982). The signatures are molded on the internal plastic and include: Peggy Alexio, Colette Askeland, Bill Atkinson, Steve Balog, Bob Belleville, Mike Boich, Bill Bull, Matt Carter, Berry Cash, Debi Coleman, George Crow, Donn Denman, Christopher Espinosa, Bill Fernandez, Martin Haeberli, Andy Hertzfeld, Joanna Hoffman, Rod Holt, Bruce Horn, Hap Horn, Brian Howard, Steve Jobs, Larry Kenyon, Patti King, Daniel Kottke, Angeline Lo, Ivan Mach, Jerrold Manock, Mary Ellen McCammon, Vicki Milledge, Mike Murray, Ron Nicholson Jr., Terry Oyama, Benjamin Pang, Jef Raskin, Ed Riddle, Brian Robertson, Dave Roots, Patricia Sharp, Burrell Smith, Bryan Stearns, Lynn Takahashi, Guy “Bud” Tribble, Randy Wigginton, Linda Wilkin, Steve Wozniak, Pamela Wyman, and Laszlo Zidek.