Macintosh 128K, originally released as the Apple Macintosh, is the
Macintosh personal computer. Its beige case consisted
of a 9 in (23 cm) CRT monitor and came with a keyboard and
mouse. A handle built into the top of the case made it easier for the
computer to be lifted and carried. It had an initial selling price of
$2,495 (equivalent to $5,877 in 2017). The
Macintosh was introduced by
the now-famous $370,000 (equivalent to $871,550 in 2017) television
commercial by Ridley Scott, "1984", that most notably aired on CBS
during the third quarter of
Super Bowl XVIII
Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984.
Sales of the
Macintosh were strong from its initial release on January
24, 1984, and reached 70,000 units on May 3, 1984. Upon the release
of its successor, the
Macintosh 512K, it was rebranded as the
1 Processor and memory
8 OEM upgrades
11 Timeline of compact
12 See also
14 External links
Processor and memory
The centerpiece of the machine was a
Motorola 68000 microprocessor
running at 7.8336 MHz, connected to 128 KB
RAM shared by the
processor and the display controller. The boot procedure and some
operating system routines were contained in an additional 64 KB ROM
chip. Apple did not offer
RAM upgrades. Unlike the Apple II, no source
code listings of the
Macintosh system ROMs were offered.
RAM in the
Macintosh consisted of sixteen 4164 64k×1 DRAMs.
The 68000 and video controller took turns accessing D
RAM every four
CPU cycles during display of the frame buffer, while the 68000 had
unrestricted access to D
RAM during vertical and horizontal blanking
intervals. Such an arrangement reduced the overall performance of the
CPU as much as 35% for most code as the display logic often blocked
the CPU's access to RAM. This made the machine run more slowly than
several of its competitors, despite the nominally high clock rate.
Back case of an unaltered original
Macintosh (sold January–November
1984). Those made after November 1984 have the label "
on the back of the case.
The built-in display was a one-bit black-and-white, 9 in
(23 cm) CRT with a fixed resolution of 512×342 pixels,
establishing the desktop publishing standard of 72 PPI. Expansion
and networking were achieved using two non-standard
ports named "printer" and "modem"; they did not support hardware
handshaking. An external floppy disk drive could be added using a
proprietary connector (19-pin D-sub). The keyboard and mouse used
simple proprietary protocols, allowing some third-party upgrades. The
original keyboard had no arrow keys, numeric keypad or function keys.
This was an intentional decision by Apple, as these keys were common
on older platforms and it was thought that the addition of these keys
would encourage software developers to simply port their existing
applications to the Mac, rather than design new ones around the GUI
paradigm. Later, Apple would make a numeric keypad available for
Macintosh 128K. The keyboard sold with the newer
model would include the numeric keypad and arrow keys, but still no
function keys. As with the
Apple Lisa before it, the mouse had a
single button. Standard headphones could also be connected to a
monaural jack. Apple also offered their 300 and 1200 bit/s modems
originally released for the
Apple II line. Initially, the only printer
available was the Apple ImageWriter, a dot matrix printer which was
designed to produce 144 dpi
WYSIWYG output from the Mac's
72 dpi screen. Eventually, the
LaserWriter and other printers
were capable of being connected using AppleTalk, Apple's built-in
Macintosh contained a single 400 KB, single-sided 3.5-inch
floppy disk drive, dedicating no space to other internal mechanical
storage. The Mac OS was disk-based from the beginning, as
RAM had to
be conserved, but this "Startup Disk" could still be temporarily
ejected. (Ejecting the root filesystem remained an unusual feature of
the classic Mac OS until System 7.) One floppy disk was sufficient to
store the System Software, an application and the data files created
with the application. Indeed, the 400 KB drive capacity was
larger than the PC XT's 360 KB 5.25-inch drive. However, more
sophisticated work environments of the time required separate disks
for documents and the system installation. Due to the memory
constraints (128 KB) of the original Macintosh, and the fact that the
floppies could hold 400 KB, users frequently had to swap disks in and
out of the floppy drive. For this reason, external floppy drives were
frequently used. The
Macintosh External Disk Drive (mechanically
identical to the internal one, piggybacking on the same controller)
was a popular add-on at US $495. Third-party hard drives were
considerably more expensive and usually connected to the slower serial
port (as specified by Apple), though a few manufacturers chose to use
the faster non-standard floppy port. The 128K can only use the
File System for storage.
The unit did not include a fan, relying instead on convection cooling,
which made it quiet while in operation.
Steve Jobs insisted that the
Macintosh ship without a fan, which persisted until the introduction
Macintosh SE in 1987. This was allegedly a source of many
common, costly component failures in the first four
This was enough of a problem to prompt the introduction of a
third-party, external cooling fan. This fan unit fitted inside the
Macintosh's carrying-handle slot and produced a forced draft through
the computer's existing ventilation holes.
Macintosh shipped with the very first System and Finder
application, known to the public as "System 1.0" (formally known as
System 0.97 and Finder 1.0). The original
Macintosh saw three upgrades
to both before it was discontinued. Apple recommends System 2.0 and
Finder 4.2, with System 3.2 and Finder 5.3 as the maximum. System 4.0
officially dropped support for the
Macintosh 128K because it was
distributed on 800 KB floppy disks, which could not be used by the
MacWrite were bundled with the Mac.
Other programs available included MacProject,
Microsoft Word. Programming languages available at the time included
MacBASIC, MacPascal and the
Macintosh 68000 Development
Macintosh also came with a manual and a unique guided
tour cassette tape which worked together with the guided tour diskette
as a tutorial for both the
Macintosh itself and the bundled
applications, since most new
Macintosh users had never used a mouse
before, much less manipulated a graphical user interface.
Back case label of a
Macintosh made after November 1984
The computer was released in January 1984 as simply the Apple
Macintosh. Following the release of the
Macintosh 512K in September,
which expanded the memory from 128 KB to 512 KB, the
Macintosh was re-branded
Macintosh 128K and nicknamed the
"thin Mac." The new 512K model was nicknamed the "fat Mac." While
functionally the same, as closed systems, the
Macintosh and Macintosh
128K were technically two different computers, with the re-badged 128K
containing a completely redesigned logic board to easily accommodate
both 128 KB and 512 KB
RAM configurations during
manufacturing. Though the
RAM was still permanently soldered to the
logic board, the new design allowed for easier (though unsanctioned)
third-party upgrades to 512 KB. In addition, most of the newer
models contained the 1984 revision B of the ROM to accommodate changes
in the 400 KB floppy disk drive. System software contains
support for an unreleased
RAM of the 512K was vitally important for the Macintosh
as it finally allowed for more powerful software applications, such as
the then-popular program Microsoft Multiplan. However, Apple continued
to market the 128K for over a year as an entry-level computer, the
mid-level 512K and high-end Lisa (and claiming that it could be easily
expanded should the user ever need more RAM).
Jobs stated that because "customization really is mostly software now
... most of the options in other computers are in Mac", unlike the
Apple II the
Macintosh 128K did not need slots, which he described as
costly and requiring larger size and more power. It was not
upgradable by the user and only Apple service centers were permitted
to open the case. All accessories were external, such as the
MacCharlie that added IBM PC compatibility. There was no provision
for adding internal storage, more
RAM or any upgrade cards, however
some of the
Macintosh engineers objected to Jobs's ideas and secretly
developed workarounds for them. As an example, the
supposed to have only 17 address lines on the motherboard, enough to
support 128k of system RAM, but the design team added an additional
two address lines without Jobs's knowledge, making it possible to
expand the computer to 512k, although the actual act of upgrading
RAM was difficult and required piggybacking additional RAM
chips overtop the onboard 4164 chips. In September 1984, after months
of complaints over the Mac's inadequate RAM, Apple released an
official 512k machine. Although this had always been planned from the
Steve Jobs maintained if the user desired more
RAM than the
Mac 128 provided, he should simply pay extra money for a Mac 512
rather than upgrade the computer himself. When the Mac 512 was
released, Apple rebranded the original model as "
Macintosh 128k" and
modified the motherboard to allow easier
RAM upgrades. Improving on
RAM thus required a motherboard replacement (which was
priced similarly to a new computer), or a third-party chip replacement
upgrade, which was not only expensive but would void Apple's warranty.
The difficulty of fitting software into its limited free memory,
coupled with the new interface and event driven programming model,
discouraged software vendors from supporting it, leaving the 128K with
a relatively small software library. Whereas the
Macintosh Plus, and
to a lesser extent the
Macintosh 512K, are compatible with much later
software, the 128K is limited to specially crafted programs. A stock
Mac 128K with the original 64K ROM is neither compatible with Apple's
external 800 KB drive with HFS nor with Apple's Hard Disk 20. A Mac
128K that has been upgraded with the newer 128K ROM (called a
Macintosh 128Ke) can use internal and external 800 KB drives with HFS,
as well as the HD20. Both can print on an AppleShare network, but
neither can do file sharing because of their limited RAM.
By early 1985 much
Macintosh software required 512K of memory. Apple
sold an official memory upgrade for the
Macintosh 128K, which included
a motherboard replacement effectively making it a
Macintosh 512K, for
the price of US $995. Additionally, Apple offered an
800 KB floppy disk drive kit, including updated 128K ROMs.
Finally, a Mac 128K could be upgraded to a
Macintosh Plus by swapping
the logic board as well as the case back (to accommodate the slightly
different port configuration) and optionally adding the
extended keyboard. Any of the kits could be purchased alone or
together at any time, for a partial or full upgrade for the Macintosh
128K. All upgrades were required to be performed by professional Apple
technicians, who reportedly refused to work on any Macintosh
upgraded to 512K without Apple's official upgrade, which at US$700 was
much more expensive than about $300 for third-party versions.
Signatures inside the
Macintosh 128K case
Macintosh was unusual in that it included the signatures
Macintosh Division as of early 1982 molded on the inside of the
case. The names were 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.
Macintosh 128/512K models also included an Easter egg in the OS
ROM. If the user went to the system debugger and typed G 4188A4, a
graphic reading "Stolen from Apple Computers" would appear in the
upper left corner of the screen. This was designed to prevent
unauthorized cloning of the
Macintosh after numerous
Apple II clones
appeared, many of which simply stole Apple's copyrighted system ROMs.
Steve Jobs allegedly planned that if a
Macintosh clone appeared on the
market and a court case happened, he could access this Easter egg on
the computer to prove that it was using pirated Macintosh
Erik Sandberg-Diment of
The New York Times
The New York Times in January 1984 stated that
Macintosh "presages a revolution in personal computing". Although
preferring larger screens and calling the lack of color a "mistake",
he praised that the "refreshingly crisp and clear" display and lack of
fan noise. While unsure whether it would become "a second standard
to Big Blue", Ronald Rosenberg of
The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe wrote in February
of "a euphoria that
Macintosh will change how America computes. Anyone
that tries the pint-size machine gets hooked by its features".
Gregg Williams of BYTE that month found the h ardware and software
design (which it predicted would be "imitated but not copied")
impressive, but criticized the lack of a standard second disk drive.
He predicted that the computer would popularize the 3½-inch floppy
disk drive standard, that the
Macintosh would improve Apple's
reputation, and that it "will delay IBM's domination of the personal
computer market." Williams concluded that the
Macintosh was "the most
important development in computers in the last five years. [It] brings
us one step closer to the ideal of computer as appliance." In a
follow-up article in the May 1984 issue of BYTE, Williams added,
"Initial reaction to the
Macintosh has been strongly, but not
overpoweringly, favorable. A few traditional computer users see the
mouse, the windows, and the desktop metaphor as silly, useless frills,
and others are outraged at the lack of color graphics, but most users
are impressed by the machine and its capabilities. Still, some people
have expressed concern about the relatively small 128K-byte RAM
(randomaccess read/write memory) size, the lack of any computer
language sent as part of the basic unit, and the inconvenience of the
single disk drive."
Jerry Pournelle, also of BYTE, added that "The
Macintosh is a bargain
only if you can get it at the heavily discounted price offered to
faculty and students of the favored 24 universities in the Macintosh
consortium." He noted, however, that the
Macintosh attracted people
"who previously hated computers ... There is, apparently, something
about mice and pull-down menus and icons that appeal to people
previously intimidated by A> and the like".
Timeline of compact
See also: Timeline of
See also: Compact Macintosh
Technical information on the Mac 128K
^ Linzmayer, Owen W. (2004). Apple Confidential 2.0. No Starch Press.
p. 113. ISBN 1-59327-010-0.
Macintosh Product Introduction Plan". Stanford University
Libraries & Academic Information Resources. Archived from the
original on July 21, 2010.
Macintosh 128K: Technical Specifications". apple.com. Retrieved
March 27, 2015.
^ "Official Apple Support". apple.com.
^ "Byte Magazine Volume 09 Number 02 - Benchmarks". Internet
^ Burnham, David (March 4, 1984). "The computer, the consumer and
privacy". The New York Times. Washington, D.C. Retrieved March 27,
^ Polsson, Ken (July 29, 2009). "Chronology of Apple Computer Personal
Computers". Archived from the original on July 10, 2009. Retrieved
August 27, 2009.
Macintosh 128K". The Mac 512. Retrieved 20 December
^ "History of computer design: Apple Macintosh". landsnail.com.
^ "The Fanny Mac System Saver fan for 1984
Macintosh 128k 512k Plus
M0001 Rare!". Worthpoint.com. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
^ "Mac GUI". macgui.com.
^ "Mac GUI". macgui.com.
^ "400K Drive Problem/Cure: Fails to Read/Write or MacTest".
^ Small, David (1989). Spectre GCR. Gadgets by Small.
^ "An Interview: The
Macintosh Design Team". BYTE. Interview with
Lemmons, Phil. February 1984. pp. 58–80. Retrieved 7 July
^ a b Williams, Gregg (February 1984). "The Apple
BYTE. p. 30. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
^ Sandberg-Diment, Erik (September 24, 1985). "Linking Mac to the IBM
The New York Times
The New York Times (review). Retrieved October 27, 2013.
^ Sandberg-Diment, Erik (1985-03-19). "Apple Might Learn a Thing or
Two from I.B.M." The New York Times. p. C4. ISSN 0362-4331.
^ "Mac GUI". macgui.com.
^ "Mac GUI". macgui.com.
Macintosh Plus: Description (Discontinued) The
Macintosh Plus Logic
^ Webster, Bruce (September 1985). "West Coast Faire, Mac Stuff, and
the Amiga". BYTE. p. 401. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
^ Sandberg-Diment, Erik (1984-01-24). "Personal Computers; Hardware
Review: Apple Weighs in with Macintosh". The New York Times.
^ Rosenberg, Ronald (1984-02-28). "Doubts Raised About PCjr". The
^ "Update on Apple
Macintosh and Lisa 2" (PDF).
^ Pournelle, Jerry (Aug 1984). "Between Conventions". BYTE.
p. 313. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Macintosh 128K specifications (Apple Computer) at the Wayback
Machine (archived May 14, 2008)
Macintosh 128K profile, Low End Mac.
Mac 128K Information page at Mac512.com
Original Review of the
Macintosh by Lawrence J. Magid (January 29,
1984) at the
Wayback Machine (archived September 20, 2008)
Online attempt at simulating
Macintosh System 1
Mac Essentials, Lost 1984 Videos
"The Vintage Mac Museum: Mac 128K Slideshows". Archived from the
original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
Macintosh 128K Hardware
Tips For the 128K Support For 128K Diehard Users
The M0001 Registry Owners of Vintage Macintosh
The Original Macintosh, anecdotes and the people who made it
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