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Photos: Mac's early beginnings

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 News.com 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."

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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."

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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."

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These are the first graphics primitives Atkinson wrote for LisaGraf, which was eventually renamed QuickDraw.

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The initial user interface of the Lisa, based on a row of "soft keys," drawn at the bottom of the screen, would change as a user performed a task. These were inspired by work done at Hewlett-Packard, where some of the early Lisa designers had been employed.

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The power and flexibility of patterns--the poor man's substitute for color, which, in the early '80s, was too expensive at the required resolution.

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Another demo of the initial graphics routines. Atkinson made line-drawing blindingly fast with an algorithm that plotted "slabs" of multiple pixels in a single memory access.

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Another demo of the initial graphics routines.

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Nonrectangular areas could also be filled with patterns.

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A scanned image, showing off the Lisa's impressive resolution for the time. Atkinson scanned the picture using a modified fax machine. He was always tweaking the half-toning algorithm, which mapped gray scales into patterns of monochrome dots. Atkinson had made versions of these for the Apple II, which the company distributed on demo disks, but these higher-resolution Lisa versions were much more impressive.

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The first sketch program, an early ancestor of MacPaint, which allowed mouse-based drawing with patterns and a variety of brush shapes. From early 1980.

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Another picture of the first sketch program.

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