Photos: Mac's early beginnings

Photos: Mac's early beginnings

Summary: Part 1--Early fonts, graphics: Historic Polaroids chart evolution of the user interface.


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  • Bill Atkinson was Apple Computer's main developer of the user interface that first appeared on the Lisa and later on the Mac. A passionate photographer, Atkinson had the foresight in the late '70s and early '80s to document his UI work for Apple in a series of Polaroids.

    The photos were published by another Mac pioneer, Andy Hertzfeld, in his book, "Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made." Through Hertzfeld, Atkinson gave CNET permission to republish them here.

    The first picture in Atkinson's notebook is from the Apple II Pascal project. The high-performance graphics routines he wrote for Apple II Pascal in the fall of 1978 led into his initial work on the Lisa.

    Credit: Photos courtesy Bill Atkinson. Captions adapted from Andy Hertzfeld's book "Revolution in the Valley."

  • From spring 1979, this photo shows the very first characters ever rendered on the actual Lisa display system, featuring the 720-by-360 resolution that remained constant all the way through to the shipping product. No Lisa existed yet; these were done on a wire wrapped prototype card for the Apple II. Note the variable-width characters.

    Captions adapted from Andy Hertzfeld's book "Revolution in the Valley."

  • This shot shows more proportional text, about the Lisa display system, rendered in a font designed by Atkinson.

    Captions adapted from Andy Hertzfeld's book "Revolution in the Valley."

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware

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