The Mac's 30th: What's your story?

I got my first Mac in 1984, but paid $4,400 for the privilege. What was your first Mac?
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

Tomorrow (Saturday, January 25, 2014) marks the 30th Anniversary of the introduction of the Macintosh, Apple's all-in-one beige toaster that revolutionized the computer industry. 

The original Mac development team and the Computer History Museum are celebrating the anniversary with a special event at the Flint Center in Cupertino. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the show runs from 7:00 to 10:30 p.m. with proceeds benefiting CoderDojo (tickets are still available). ABC World News' David Muir will interview CEO Tim Cook Friday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the company's milestone. 

I got my first Macintosh in 1984, more on that in a second, but I got a sneak peak at what the Mac would become when I got to use a Lisa in 1983.

Apple Lisa - Jason O'Grady

While visiting a family friend in Lawndale, CA in 1983 I got my first exposure to Lisa and I fell in love with it. My Dad's friend was Manager of New Product Development at CCH Computax and his company was evaluating the new Apple computer as a possible platform for their clients. CCH bought three Lisas as an R&D project in an attempt to stay ahead of their competitor, Fastax.

My dad's friend brought home a Lisa 1 and his son and I played with Lisa Office System (a.k.a. LisaWrite, LisaCalc, LisaDraw, LisaGraph, LisaProject, LisaList, and LisaTerminal) for hours on end. It had two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives (double-sided!) and an external 5 MB Apple ProFile hard drive that was originally designed for the Apple III. This was bleeding-edge technology at the time.


In 1984 I got my first exposure to the Macintosh when I went to the mall with my Mom and the department store had one of those store-within-a-store computer stores in it and I wandered in. Sitting front and center was a desk with the Macintosh 128k sitting on it. I sat down and played with MacPaint while my Mom shopped. 

When she was ready to go, she buzzed into the computer store only to find me fully engrossed in the Mac. When she attempted to extract me, she asked the salesman how much the little beige toaster cost. "$10,000" he deadpanned. My Mom quickly grabbed my hand and said "Let's go." After begging her to stay and play with it for five more minutes the salesman's pitch became clear. It turns out that the Mac only cost $4,400, which sounded cheap by comparison. Again, she said, "Let's go."

Before we could depart the salesman handed me a copy of the premiere issue of Macworld magazine. According to Macworld the premiere issue of the magazine (below) didn't have a date on the cover because it was set to debut on the same day as the Mac itself and the editors didn’t know exactly when that day would be, so they went to press without a date on the cover. Steve Jobs is pictured on the cover sporting a brown pinstriped suit. In front of him, three 128k Macs. 


A magazine was hardly a consolation prize for the Mac that I wanted but I hit the technology jackpot later than summer when I received the 128k Mac as a birthday present. I took my Mac (packed in its custom brown bag) to my grandparents cottage for the summer and proceeded to spend hours each day tinkering with MacWrite and MacPaint, the only software available at the time. I remember having to swap 3.5-inch floppy disks in and out of the machine 40+ times just to save a file, but it was worth it.

The most valuable Macintosh peripheral: the external floppy drive - Jason O'Grady

I begged my parents to buy me the most in-demand peripheral for the Macintosh at the time: the external 400kb floppy drive (above), to save me from the laborious task of swapping floppies and eventually they found one (not an easy task, mind you) and gave it to me as a present. Later came an ImageWriter dot matrix printer and a few years later an external hard drive. Boy, that was living. I was also lucky enough to attend the first Macworld Expo in Boston and had the thrill of having Bill Atkinson autograph my MacPaint floppy disks. And the rest as they, is history. 

When did you get your first Mac? What was your favorite Mac?

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