back to article 25 years of Mac - the good, the bad, and the cheese grater

On Saturday, January 24th, the Apple Macintosh turns 25. Over the short history of personal computing, no machine has inspired so much love and so much loathing, so many fanatical fans and so many frothing detractors. And so many opinions. So very many opinions. No doubt, you have your own. And I have mine. Here, I give you …


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  1. MacroRodent

    Macintosh Portable

    Heh, I have one of those, rescued from a dumpster. The only Mac I have ever owned... nice to know I got the very worst. It has a dead battery, which means it is next to impossible to make to run. (I have occasionally succeeded if the 9V backup battery is extremely fresh). I'm keeping it around mainly in the hope it becomes a collector's item someday....

  2. Chris Miller

    Worst Mac ever

    Maybe it's not a 'proper' Mac, but the Newton MessagePad certainly deserves a (dis)honourable mention. The size and weight of a brick, it was distinguished by its ability to recognise handwriting, but v-e-r-y s--l--o--w--l--y.

    On the positive side it launched the PDA category and paved the way for Palm to launch a successful product 4 years later.

  3. RichyS
    Paris Hilton

    A Bit Harsh on the Mac Portable

    Okay, so it was a bit of a beast. But then pretty much all laptops were at the time. If I remember correctly (and I may not, on account of being very young at the time); it was pretty revolutionary/innovative in its own way.

    For example, I'm pretty sure it sported the first active matrix LCD -- required for the GUI, less of an issue for DOS based PCs. If you want a similarly speedy display, you'd have had to have bought a plasma equipped Tosh or Compaq -- and they were very pricey and (I think) ran only from the mains supply.

    The trackball could be moved to either side of the keyboard, which was a nice touch for lefties (I don't suppose many other lappies came with trackballs though -- Windows not having hit 3.x by then).

    I seem to recall the battery being lead acid as well. No idea why, but I presume someone thought it was a better bet than the prevailing NiCad batteries of the time. Old batteries really sucked.

    Paris, 'cos she can really suck too.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Happy Birthday to ya!

    Hippo Bathday Macintosh! You may be loved by many, hated by a fair few, but you've managed to keep pushing the boundaries and refreshing the ideas of the home/personal computing world for a quarter of a century. It would be a duller place without you ;-)

    Enjoy the cake.

  5. David Barr

    Not a Mac user

    For once a Mac article that was interesting to read - no disrepsect to other Mac articles, they're just not of any interest to me.

  6. Ivan Headache

    Portable = thievable

    Quite a few years ago I was working on a major international conference in a major Westminster conference centre. One of my colleagues had managed to hire a Portable from somewhere and was using it to co-ordinate studio bookings.

    During lunch on day 1 it vanished.

  7. Wayland Sothcott
    Thumb Up

    Xerox Parc

    In 1979 I visited Queen Mary Collage London. They had a pair of graphics workstations operated using mice. One user was shuffling a deck of cards on screen using the mouse.

    I believe it was the Xerox Parc machines that Apple saw that inspired the Apple Lisa and the the MAC. Then the whole W.I.M.P interface thing took off.

  8. sleepy


    MacroRodent - you can break open the lead acid battery, and replace the lead acid cells you find inside with new ones, and you will have a working Mac Portable. I know 'cos I've done it.

    Actually, the Macintosh portable wasn't so bad 20 years ago. It ran all day on a charge, did everything a desktop Mac did, and easily paid for itself for many Mac based consultants. For the left handed, you could pop out trackball and keyboard and put them in the other way around.

    Interestingly, Apple then gave the portable to Sony and had them re-engineer it from 16 pounds down to the cute five pound Powerbook 100.

    (Waste even more time reading about old macs at

  9. Frank Bough
    Thumb Up

    My fave Macs

    Of course, the SE/30 was essentially the same under the hood as the later Colour Classic but the CC had a stunning little Trinitron display. Lovely.

    iMacs. My personal favourite was the iMac "DV" 400Mhz with the clear cover. A beautifully designed and surprisingly powerful little PC.

    The Cube. Wonderful, if underpowered, design tour-de-force. A Cube with the matching acrylic CRT display is still an undeniable work of art. The most beautiful computer ever created.

    The 'El Capitan' PowerMac G3. This is when Apple put clear blue water between the sordid cloning episode and the wintel workstation competition. The external appearance and internal design of this machine was a revelation, and they were pretty chipper with a 500Mhz PPC chip.

  10. Anthony Hulse

    Disagree about the 20th anniversay Mac

    It was a concept machine that gave a taste of things to come, hence the price. You should take that off the list and put virtually the entire Performa 63xx series on instead. They really were crap :-)

  11. jai


    i still have a MacPlus and a Mac IIci - the ci is in a cupboard, wish i could find a use for it - the MacPlus is actually on display as an ornament - one of these days it'll be a macquarium

    i did really like the Cube - never found a problem with the lack of expansion options (such as i don't find a problem with lack of expansion in my iMac now) and when it became too slow, i swapped out the processor and gave it another year or two of life. i should look at the mods that put a mac mini inside so i can keep using it

  12. Alexis Vallance

    Real computers

    I just seem to remember Apple Macs being merely a rare oddity before the 1998 iMac arrived. In the late 80's, it was the Commodore 64 and Spectrum that were king, and the Amiga in the early 90's.

    Whilst these 25 year nostalgic articles are nice, it's only Apple's success today which means they have any relevance. Don't get me wrong, I have a Mac and love it, but I'd rather read about the history of Commodore or Sega than irrelevant niche machines from back in the day.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    You forgot the macbook air.

    No ethernet? check. no optical drive? check. non-replaceable battery? check. almost complete lack of useful ports? check. horrendously overpriced and underpowered? check. made by apple and sold to iDiots? check.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Apple Performa

    My first, second, and third computers were Performas.... not just Performas, but 5 year old Performas to boot. Those rugged little boxes may not have been fast, but they were solid, but I suppose someone who jumped straight onto the Intel (crap) line doesn't care about how long the hardware lasts, just how good it is for the given second.

  15. Inspector71


    Have to agree about the SE/30. One of the best ever. It takes for the time, an amazing 128MB of RAM. Stick in a bigger SCSI drive, network card, got your own (fairly) portable server.

    Mine's the one with 30 pin simms in the pocket.

  16. Columbus

    Powerbook G4 - Pah!

    not bad analysis, but seriously, the Powerbook G4 over the G3 Pismo? a classic case of form over function.

    From a support point of view both the Quicksilver G4 and Powerbook G4 are the most unreliable macs of recent times.

    I must agree that the 4400 was the most horrendous mac ever- based on a standard PC of the time. I would very much doubt if any are still running, and I am sure nobody has affection for it.

  17. Bad Beaver

    Do not diss the Cube

    The Cube was not about making a economic desktop. The Cube was about pushing the limits of the possible.

  18. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    @Alexis Vallance

    The Amigan inside me would like to think that the Mac was only a "niche" computer, but I have to take a realistic look at things.

    In the late 80s and early 90s, the office desks at my school had Macs, not Amigas. (Though my senior year at a new high school found an IBM token-ring network in place as the entire district had gone to some mainframe. But Macs were still in use everywhere.) Industrial arts: Apple, then Mac. Polisci and art: Mac.

    My bank! Macs. Yeah, I saw very few Amigas -- well, none, really -- in place anywhere I visited, with the exception of the Amiga store across from Radio Shack in the South Forks Plaza.

    Of course, Amiga was used by the likes of NASA, video production companies, art studios, TV broadcast stations (PrevueGuide anyone?) But never in general business use. All the places I know personally, and most by way of anecdote, of which subsisted on Mac systems moved to IBM and/or Windows systems.

    You know, it would almost seem like our beloved Amiga was a niche computer.

    Paris, filling a niche.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ cube people

    The cube was really about Jobsy making a copy of the truly excellent NeXT box.

    The next box was waaay cooler. Magnesium, black, cube far better than plastic, shiny, cack.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Shoorli shum mishtayk hoshifur?

    The five best should include at least most of the present range?

    Mac Pro (stunning kit!)

    Mac Book Pro (the name really does say it all, and that design ... )

    iMac (the all-in-one of all-in-ones? A statement of cool and creative efficiency in any office reception area?)

    Mac Mini (a creative elegance that stuns. Netbooks = eat you hearts out?)

    Mac Tablet (ok, maybe soon?)

    The elegance of functionality synergised across form, components and working methods?

  21. Alan Mealor

    That's a bit harsh on the 4400!

    The 4400 was my first Mac, heavy as a box of bricks and a real pain in the arse to open up (to replace the pram battery!) but it kept running up until I got rid of it (about 3 years ago, not bad for a Mac bur brilliant compared to all my friends windows machines!) It was ugly though :-)

    Worth a mention is the original G3 tower, an absolute dream to use and upgrade.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    One of the worst sold me.

    Oddly enough, one of the top 5 worst Macs you've selected is the one that made me a very happy camper with Macs. The first one I ever owned was the Performa 6205. I used it side by side with a faster PC for about a year. My Mac out-performed the PC, even though it was rated as slower. Overall the Mac was a much better quality machine. The pc had many repairs done under warranty. Plus the Mac just worked with the scanner, the PC was nothing but trouble.

  23. Ivan Headache

    Industrial design

    The first Mac I bought myself (as opposed to my that provided by my employer -A Quadra 650) was a Performa 6200 and I had it upgraded with an extra 4MB of RAM (cost another £100). At the time I don't think there was another plastic computer box that looked as good as that 6200. I later upgraded to a performa 6400 and kept that until just over a year ago when I finally went Intel Mac Pro.

    But back to the 6200, I started my business with that and over the years collected many other mac (most of them sitting in my loft). Occasionally I would get one that was faulty and often is wasn't economical to repair (Apple spares were stupidly expensive - and hard to get) so I would dismantle them for spares. The Mother-board came out just by undoing a couple of screws and pulling a conveniently provided fold-away handle and it slid out on its runners - no cables to disconnect. The outer case came off next to expose the metal-work and the drives (mounted on plastic slide-out sleds). I seem to remember that everything else came apart by undoing one screw per item.

    What I was always amazed by (having seen inside so many PCs at the time) was that the internal wiring was a single harness and could be removed in one piece without any effort.

    The emr shield is the bottom of a G3 slot-loading Imac is a work of art (though not many see it) spoiled only by the position of two of its fixing screws (in spaces just too narrow for an average blokes finger to get in).

    The silent Cube is a thing of beauty (let down only by its unreliable power-supply) and I still have people asking if I can get them one (and those that have them saying "only when I die").

    The G4 anglepoise iMac continues to amaze those who have never seen one before (and in my experience - it has been the most reliable of all the imac models, since its launch I've only had one put down as being BER, and that was a couple of years ago. We still have 2 running 24/7 in this house).

    And finally, the MacPro - stunning - both inside and out. (And virtually silent.)

    However - they all were not that clever inside, some were a real pain to add RAM to, boards or drives had to be moved first. the iBook is a real pain to take apart (but beautiful once you got it apart), the eMac is a bit dodgy with exposed residual HT inside the case when you take the back off (remembering first to disconnect the on/off switch connector before you do).

  24. corestore

    The original, still running.

    Here it is, not a Plus, not a 128k, just a plain original Apple Macintosh from the Corestore Collection, still booting and running on the 25th anniversary:


  25. Ted

    The MacBook Air is an excellent Mac

    @Anonymous Coward

    You do realize the word "Air" is in the product title of the MacBook Air don't you? It means it's primarily wireless, but it seems you don't understand Apple also makes a line of "Airports"... Air... port? Get it? So everything from backing up, printing, cds, music, web cams, etc... are all "wireless", so cable based ports are no longer needed since you use an Airport instead.

    And ah, the battery is easily replaceable for $89, just a few screws on the bottom and it slides out. Lastly, you obviously haven't shopped for similar 3 pound, full featured laptops. The MacBook Air is priced right in line with them, so it's not expensive when you understand that...

    So please don't post false information when you don't know how a product operates, it makes you look bad. :)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I see you swallow Jobs Magic Koolaid then

    Its an overpriced, underpowered novelty item.

    Cable based ports are still *faster* wireless isnt much good if your trying to shift large files round quickly.

  27. Elrond Hubbard
    Paris Hilton

    Nice article

    ..but why no inclusion of the gutless, portless, splodgy-screened Nathan Barley toy that is the air? All the price of a macbook pro, all the power of a £300 netbook... :)

    Still, as I say, nice article. As someone who abuses a lot of computers (from my Alpha and my Suns, through to my Mongrel warhorse PCs and my Macbook pro), I have no particular axe to grind pro or anti. However, I do remember those horrible beige powermacs too- they were gutless, flimsy overpriced piles of crap (running an OS with no memory protection or proper multitasking). Dark days indeed.

    Nice to see they finally "pulled their head out of their ass" as you put it, as there have always been good ideas, amazingly badly-executed. I have to say that my little Macbook Pro actually holds its own with my other machines now, and seems to be price and performance competitive with various boutique laptop brands- but without the curse of Vista (unless you really want it, of course).

    I was expecting to be irritated by this article, mac fanbois usually make my teeth hurt, but nope, it was an interesting read. Thanks for the article!

  28. Big Bear

    RE: Ted (The MacBook Air is an excellent Mac)

    "...similar 3 pound, full featured laptops. The MacBook Air is priced right in line with them, so it's not expensive when you understand that..."

    Agreed that the Air is priced broadly in line with the other similar machines, but those other machines are appearing with DVD burners, Blu Ray, multiple USB and so forth - what I'd consider a "fully featured" laptop compared with the limited options of the Air. The Air might well offer you all the wireless options for doing this, but whenever you appear at a client site, how do you think they react when you go through the process of attempting to interface with the network to load that CD they handed you, (assuming you are allowed onto the WLAN to begin with!) or just pop it into the built in drive? Pulling an external drive out of your bag just defeats the purpose of getting such an ultraportable to travel with in the first place!

    I really don't see the point of the Air as opposed to the normal Macbook - for a (little) bit more weight and the same footprint size, you get everything that should be on a laptop, and for roughly the same price as well. If they had made a much smaller machine like the ultraportable Vaio's (11 inch TX, 10 inch TR) then maybe there is a place for this product, but they are just making a competitor for their own most popular machine in the Macbook...

    Of course, other manufacturers seem to be on this bandwagon as well - how many internally identical versions of the various sizes of laptop does Asus think it needs?????

  29. b166er

    AC who liked the Performa 6205

    But I bet the PC you had been suckered into buying was some POS from Tiny/Time or Packard Bell. A well specced PC will always outshine a Mac (may not look so good, but only a dandy would give a shit about that)

  30. Muscleguy

    Centris Fan Writes

    Our Centris 650 still runs and is still in use. It's gone through a screen and the enet died long ago, but it is still a good piece of kit. I fondly remember the SE30, the maths co processor meant I could do 3D reconstructions without having to go away and get a coffee while it happened. I might still be doing my PhD without it.

  31. skeptical i


    Thanks much for the stroll down Mac memory lane; all I'd ask is some photos to help this old codger put a face to the name and vice versa ("Oh, THAT'S what was in the next cubicle many moons ago"). While, as many will no doubt point out, pics can be found online, did I mention that this old codger is also lazy?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Got a Mac Pro

    I'm fairly platform agnostic. From the days of the Amstrad CPC and Sinclair Spectrum I've owned a variety of kit. And it has to be said until recently I wasn't that impressed with the Macintosh line.

    But Vista was going to cause me so many problems that I thought I might as well look and see if getting a Mac for the office was a good idea to sit alongside my XP box. I did the sums and because of the costs of Vista sofware upgrades a decent PC ended up *more* expensive.

    Opted for the Mac Pro instead and it's an amazing bit of kit. I realise that most Mac's are overpriced, but the Mac Pro is relatively cheap for what you get (always remembering to order the 2 gig model and then buy the extra RAM from Crucial). It's not a bad looker either and the internal design is pretty good.

    So I can sit in my office and annoy visiting Mac fans by booting it into Windows, and annoying the PC fans by just having purchased a Mac. Platform wars are dumb, you wouldn't stick with a Ford car and slag off everything else. You just buy the best car you can afford that does the job for you!

    Paris, because even she knows the Amstrad CPC is better than a PC or a Mac!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mike JVX

    I see you have misunderstood the concept of Wireless (no wires, sans cables, un-tethered)

    Please sit down, reread the article you commented on and reflect.

    Yes cables are faster than wireless, but then it would have been called the Macbook Wire/Cable, wouldnt it..

  34. Dennis Healey
    Paris Hilton

    But don't forget

    Good article - I'd forgotten just what they managed to do with sod all memory and processing power.

    If we are thinking about companies that made an impact don't forget Acorn. The BBC micro had a massive impact in the UK, found its way into schools and was Ideal for running experiments in the lab and controlling machinery (I bet some are still running in schools and hospital labs throughout the country) + they spun off ARM.

    Paris cos she never had a problem with a small amount of memory but was always pleased to get more RAM

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Got a mac pro

    I think I love you, will you have my babies? Brilliant idea. Time for some strategic bootcamping.

  36. Martin Silver badge

    And coincidentally

    The 25th anniversary of the visionary British computer - the Sinclair QL

  37. Mike Gravgaard


    I recently (about 2 or 3 weeks ago) had to remove a SCSI hard drive from an old Performa. I'm not sure if it has just been used a lot but the case had molded to the inside of the case!

    A colleague and I were struggling to get the case off for about 20 minutes or so and we are both Ex-Apple service engineers so not new the process - though neither of us are still working on Macs.

    I hate the Performa series though - who makes a machine (even the hard drive tray) out of plastic??).

    I remember the Amiga well (I still have a few - A1200T, A3000UX, A4000, A500) and preferred them to the Mac. The thing that got me was my 4000 and 3000UX could both emulate the Mac faster than a real Mac (they had either a 68060 50MHz and 68040 40MHZ Motorola processors), those were the days.

    I feel sorry for machines like the Amiga - it was ahead of its time and it was Commodore's management which destroyed the machine not the Commodore engineers (the Amiga turned into a parce the parcel game were everytime the parcel changed hands a little piece of it would be removed and lost for ever). I mean the old Commodore plant in West Chester is now QVC!!!

    It would be nice if you would cover machines like the Amiga and maybe other companies rather than just the mainstream? I would love to read an article about Tramel or maybe even Medhi Ali and how they f##ked up other companies and what they are doing now (I know Medhi Ali is some UN person - in charge of drugs or something - I bet he doing that job well too :( ).


  38. Mick Russom

    Mega-corp loving fools who fall to marketing never go away.

    Innovative? No stolen from Xerox.

    Made anything but plastic and packaging? Nah, Motorola, IBM, Intel, you name it, they never did it as an original.

    When afford ably copied? Starmac? Sued into oblivion.

    OS X , MacOS Classics ? Easy to use? Nope. Not at all, just sold that way and marketed through education, whose purchasing departments are corrupt and schools are full of low paid idiot teachers with skills irrelevant to the fast paced workforces.

    And even after losing the PPC rules! and AltiVec is "teh best," these fan boys are still around.

    Apple stores, greedy consumerism at its worst. Apple and Jobs are not generous companies, not philanthropic in the least. They give nothing notable to science in both software and hardware design, all scientific research could be done without them and not a blip would be registered. Greedy marketeers making average or sub-standard products and charging more than top-dollar for this stuff. And the "think different" aka "think stupid" crown buys this stuff up. Consistently Mac obsessed people I have known range from a guy who just likes them but the bulk of these zealots are religious idiots that suck at their jobs, suck as people and are obsessed with this cult of people who surround themselves with - the saddest of all things - computer terminals and a modern version of the Sony Walkman.

    Its like people who congregate around a certain brand of gas pump or obsess about sewer and drain grates. Its really stupid. And its not about getting anything done,like the gas pump one likes is faster, or the grates when made from a certain alloy hold more weight, cost less and are lighter, No no no. Its about style. Its about looking good. Its about showing off.

    I've spent time with OS X, with the very first Macs, many models over the years. I would say one of the coolest Apple products I remember was the Apple IIgs. But macs. slow,stupid and irrelevant.

    Now that none of this actually matters, and lately I've become more ambivalent about what it is in front of me, Windows, Linux, Solaris, and even OS X, I can use them all. In fact, they all , even OS X, have a place, but the OS X factions are the worst. They are the most annoying to be around.

    One of the worst offenses I have seen with Apple is the "old days" Macs and Apple products were always SCSI, always Parity memory and the stuff they used was expensive and generally built well. Today, most of the crap is sub-Dell quality and a number of the "Server" models were offered without ECC memory, which is just offensive and stupid.

    Enjoy the Crapintosh, suckers, and making Steve Jobs rich. Enjoy. But the record stands, and most of the apple fan boi arguments were all wrong and have been proven wrong over time, and the only thing that has been proven right is that Steve Jobs knows how to take money from the zealots who call themselves Mac fans.

    I've fixed and recovered data for Mac users using Linux bootable/LiveCDs, and just have to snicker and laugh at how bad HFS/HFS+ is. Lol. Linux has to bail you punks out all the time. The real killer is the Darwin bootable CDs can't even do the recovery that Linux can.

  39. Rich

    Mac IIe's were good machines

    Especially with the CPM plug in card.

    I had a Powerbook 170 when I worked briefly in marketing. That trackball was the biz. I don't understand why it was the first and last machine to have one.

  40. Kanhef

    more info has the specs of every device Apple has ever made from the satanic Apple I (price was $666.66) to the latest MacBooks and iPhones.

  41. Andy Worth

    Re:Shoorli shum mishtayk hoshifur?

    You're missing the point. The current range might be technically superior but then everything has developed in that time so the models available now are nowhere near as "groundbreaking" as some of the older ones.

    Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion and whether you prefer the old macs or the new ones is up to you.

    Personally I think they're all shit, but that's just me :)

    Good article though and I enjoyed reading it.

  42. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    @Mike Gravgaard

    If you can get hold of it, check out "On The Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore." It appears that Bagnall has a new edition coming out in February called "The Commodore Story: A Company on the Edge." His site, does not seem to mention anything about it, but Barnes and Noble has it listed for pre-order. I am placing my pre-order now; the original book was a masterpiece and helped to reshape the world of the Home Computer Revolution in which I grew up.

    Paris, cheap on the pre-order.

  43. TeeCee Gold badge

    First Mac encounter.

    I remember well the first Mac I ever got my paws on. An early monochrome object. It was sat in a building of allegedly smart people and I was the only one prepared to have a bash at declagging its mouse.

    I remember thinking at the time (as a hardened command line junkie) that having an O/S that was so dependant on one small peripheral that a problem with same could convert an expensive device into a doorstop was a bloody silly idea. Guess I was wrong.

  44. David Mantripp

    @Wayland Sothcott

    I don't think they were Xerox machines at QMC. I think they were ICL Perqs. At least that's what was there in 1980. You could play PacMan on them. They were totally scifi....

    Worst ever Mac ? PowerPC 7200, thanks to the non-functioning MacOS 7.5.3

  45. Cameron Colley

    When's a PC not a PC?

    When it's made by Apple, apparently.

    While I have nothing against Macs themselves their marketing department drive me up the wall. By using their "I'm a PC" commercials they're effectively telling the gullible that you only have 2 options: Mac or Wintel -- when there are those of use out there who choose not to buy either.

    By all means keep selling your white-goods to consumers who want simplicity -- but please stop trying to peddle Windows as well.

  46. Mark


    Only read a couple of these, I found them unreadable without pictures.

    Not being a fan-boi and not being old enough to be able to form words when the first mac was released, I have no idea what you're talking about without photos.

  47. Julian I-Do-Stuff

    The writing *was* on the wall

    Ah! The classic Mac ,<sniff> I've been on Windows for years now but mid 80's the Mac was the 1st "personal computer" and it still conjures a moist eye. At work there was the PDP-11 in the corner running TSX, supporting half a dozen users and doing everything from "word processing", spreadsheets etc. to stock control on only 256Kwords with point-point RS232 but it was all eldritch green-screen keyboard incantation stuff... Then came the GUI.

    The company had a Lisa first but the Mac was it. Thanks to Dr Dobbs I had the wireman upgrade the RAM to 512K and - apart from a moment's panic when the screen seemed very, very wrong afterwards, due it turned out to being too close to a transformer - everything was fine.

    More than fine. You could really do "stuff" with graphics and sound - fractals, music... even, occasionally, WORK.

    I hacked MacPaint's resource file with circuit symbols and we used it for electronics CAD; ported the state-machine compiler from the PDP to the Mac and had it running 10x faster; hacked into the original speech synthesis demo and had it greet colleagues when they arrived at work as a result of which one of said colleagues then uber-hacked me and had the Mac singing rugby songs [think Stephen Hawking singing "Di-na - Di-na - show - us - a - leg..."

    And the games! OK, some were text based still (HHGTTG, Leather Goddesses of Phobos) but then came one (something to do with collecting "scepters"?) with a world to explore, and things that you could pick up by clicking on them.

    I seem to remember using it as a terminal to the PDP too... though probably only to play Dungeon.

    Of course MS Word (I still have a set of disks) came on a set of about 25 floppies - actually everything came on 25+ floppies - and installation took forever, but it was cool, possibly even belatedly groovy.

    And yes, I can confirm that the original Mac had the names of the design team on the inside medium charcoal-grey back wall of the case.

    I've still got a Quadra in storage... I'll check it for dead spiders (again) when I get it out and hopefully it will spring to life just like the old days.

  48. Julian

    The Mac had better be good...

    My enduring comment is from my March (I think) 1984 review of the Macintosh (before it was renamed the Macintosh 128) in Personal Computer World magazine. It starts

    "The Mac had better be good, or the company might not survive..."

    The diametric opinions started then, at the launch. I remember letters to the magazine decrying mice ("it's so much faster to type "DIR<cr>" than pick up the mouse, move, double-click, move hands to keyboard!").

    It was two years before I got to use one, but for my money it was already the future of computing. Always has been!

    Happy birthday Macintosh!

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Mega-corp

    re: "Innovative? No stolen from Xerox."

    If you look at the patents Apple was filing BEFORE its first visit, you would finfd that there was a lot of correlation with the work going on at Xerox PARC. This was a reason (but not the only one) why Apple was so easily able to headhunt Xerox employees, particularly when Apple was willing to do something with it, instead of research for research's sakes.

    But hey, let's stick to 'Apple were thieves', so much easier than having to deal with little things like fact.

    "Its about showing off."

    Or ranting on and on, superiorly spinning dubious opinion as fact... you sure you don't buy Apple?

  50. Charlie Stross

    On the Bad front ...

    Why did you overlook the Powerbook Duo, Apple's first try at a subnotebook?

    The thing was a dog. They made it out of plastic, and went hog wild on weight-saving. So wild that if you lifted it up while it was running on battery, the case would flex so much that the battery bay contacts would lose the physical connection to the battery and it would die on the spot.

    They left a lot of stuff out. Ports, floppy drive, display adapter. Instead, there was an external dock. Smart folks bought the mini-dock which clipped on the back and gave it pretty much everything that the similarly-priced standard duo-dock gave it (except for an extra internal hard disk).

    The standard duo-dock was, however, a thing of a horror. Resembling an old-style VCR, you slid the (closed) Duo into a slot in the front, whereupon a whizzy motorized mechanism would latch on and suck it into the bowels of the dock, there to give every semblance of an underpowered gutless desktop machine. Except that sometimes the latch mechanism jammed. In which case, you could either invalidate your warranty with a screwdriver, or schlep the whole mess back to your local dealership.

    This motorized dock was hard-sold to Duo <s>customers</s> mugs, while the mini-dock stayed in scarce supply, for no earthly reason ...

  51. Norfolk Enchants Paris

    In my opinion

    The IIci was a cracker, I ran one with an outrageously expensive Pivot screen (A giant CRT that swivelled from Landscape to Portrait) that I thanksfully didn't pay for.

    I also love the Mac Mini - so much power in such a tiny wee box. It makes a wicked media centre.

    You have to say though that, for what you gets, you pays a lot. Hats off to them if they can get away with it.

  52. Niall Campbell
    Thumb Up

    No mention of the Mac Duo?

    A wonderful concept this one, did what it said on the tin and believe it or not, was light for the era in which it was produced.

    I have to agree though about the Number 1. The SE30 was fantastic, outperformed everything and mine is still going strong...with System 7.

    Also think you should have included the 6000, the very first with a Power PC chip. Mine was upgraded with a second, much larger hard-drive in place of the CD drive which I replaced with an external, maxed out the ram and even put a G3 processor card into the Nubus slot.

    While the bus speed was a mere 25Mhz, the processor running at 400Mhz made it really motor. Finally gave it away to a friend who is still using it for DTP.

    As for the worst, how about Quadras and Centris. They were really pants!!!

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: stolen from Xerox

    Actually Apple paid for the things Steve Jobs "stole" from PARC, with Apple shares and the like.

    Think yourselves lucky he missed their attempt at email or you'd be paying Apple every time you sent one.

    My own story though is that I bought a Mac Classic (68k processor, 4Mb RAM, 40 Mb HDD) when I was at University in 1990 and it still worked (unfortunately not the keyboard though) when I gave it away last year.

    Wouldn't buy another Apple computer though.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Re: And coincidentally

    "The 25th anniversary of the visionary British computer - the Sinclair QL"

    Yeah El Reg. Where was the QL 25th anniversary feature?

  55. CeeJay

    No mention...

    ...of the IIfx? I had two of those beasties and they were simply awesome.

  56. sleepy

    Another vote for the SE/30

    The SE/30 (with hard disk) can boot up system 6 from power on in two and a half seconds. I have never seen a GUI machine before or since to match that. Bloatware law overtook Moores law and rules to this day.

    I've still got one, with ethernet.

    @Frank Bough - sorry, the Color Classic is an LC II inside, and no match for the SE/30 in performance, despite coming 4 years later.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    QL? Don't forget the CPC

    The QL might have been 25 this year, but so is the Amstrad CPC. And at least that sold more than a few thousand the QL did before Amstrad put it out of its misery. (the CPC shifted 3 million units to be precise).

  58. Dan Wilkinson
    Thumb Down

    @ Sinclair QL moaners

    You can still buy a Mac, you can't buy a Sinclair. This article is clearly 25 years of Macs, from past to present, not 25 years since the first Mac. There is no "present" for Sinclairs, hence no article.

  59. Dave

    @Cameron Colley

    When there is any other desktop option, for a consumer to buy in working order, then you may have a point.

    As for the MacBook Air, it is streets ahead of the 'NetBooks' that are all the rage just now, but covers a very similar purpose.

    For my money, the worst Mac has to be a toss-up between the Mac Classic, or the Colour Classic. The latter was a much better machine, thanks mainly to the colour screen, but both had a spec that could have been bettered many years earlier, and never really cheap enough to warrant it.

  60. jason

    I had a Fat Mac 512k

    My dad bought it home one night around 1988 I think. He had bought it second hand from work. I was really excited to think I now had a 'proper' 68000 computer (Spectrum before). It also had the external floppy drive (kind of essential) and all the Paint/Word software.

    We really enjoyed playing with it. I learnt a lot about handling mouse driven computers. Paint was great even though it was all monochrome but we didnt care. However, the gleam soon wore off. Software in the form of games (mainly cult adventure ones from the USA) were hugely expensive for a 17 year old and hardware? Well hardware was all custom non standard stuff that was in the realm of fantasy land.

    So after about 6 months it ended up as a cute nicnac in my bedroom and then moved into the loft a while later where it still resides in my parents house. In 1993 my dad bought a 486DX PC, I was 22 with a job and I never looked back. I didnt try using a Mac again until around 2002 when an exec wanted us to hook up a webcam to his iMac. It was horrendous. I managed to avoid them again till a couple of years ago when a mate asked me to hook his new Macbook to a wireless lan. That worked easy first time. I might re-visit them one day out of curiousity. Its more likely than Linux anyway.

  61. Mike Hebel

    What? No Pismo?

    I can't believe this Powerbook was not included in the lineup. I used one for years without fail and even rebuilt the batteries myself. I still have the thing and fully intend to keep using it for my workshop system for the foreseeable future.

    A wonderful system and I still prefer the keyboard on it to the chicklet keyboard of my Macbook.

  62. N


    If you could take your current Mac back to 1984

  63. Mike Moyle
    Thumb Up

    A subtle plug...?

    "First, a disclosure: I'm a Mac fan, a fanboi, a Mactard, a >>Mac addict << - depending upon your point of view."

    A shout-out to the old neighborhood, Rik? Aren't you a Mac user, as well? <gr>

    Good bit of nostalgia, there.

  64. Jim Morton

    So sad

    It makes me sad to see you consider the Twentieth Anniversary Mac to be one of the worst Macs. I have owned many, many Macs over the years, starting with my first Mac Plus back in 1986, and the TAM was one of my favorites. No one could dispute it had an amazing sound system. It quickly became the device I used to listen to my CDs. The TV feature was amazing. You could watch TV, and it would even capture closed captioning in a text file, which I always found pretty amazing (at the time, I was writing about certain TV shows, so that was a major bonus).

    The biggest downside to the TAM was the fact that Steve Jobs didn't like it because it wasn't designed on his watch, so he quickly orphaned the machine. One good thing came of that: I stopped being the die-hard Mac Fanboy I had been up to that point, and started learning more about Windows and Linux.

  65. Robert Moore
    Jobs Halo

    Where is Webster?

    I used to be a big time Mac hater. I thought they were useless, over priced, point and drool garbage. Then Mac OS/X came out, and the world changed for me. I was a Linux freak at the time, and the idea of a Unix system that I could buy real commercial software for really appealed to me.

    I started by comparing Apple machines to higher end PC machines and discovered to my shock that the prices were as close as to make no difference. But I still wasn't quite ready to make the switch.

    But then one day in 2005 Apple announced they were switching to Intel processors, and I thought well, if it doesn't work out, I can always just run Linux on it. When the MacBook came out, I bought one.

    I had a few small pains switching, but no more than I would expect when changing OS versions.

    Now I have a MacBook Pro, and I am quite happy with it, I upgraded the RAM to 4GB, and use a MS trackball on it. (I could hear it screeming when I plugged that in.)

    Now before someone dismisses me as an IT wannabe, let me tell you I admin a mixed network, of XP, and Mac desktops. As well as Solaris, CentOS, Debian, FreeBSD, and a couple of Windows 2003 servers. (Working on getting rid of the Windoze stuff.)

  66. Jason McBride
    Jobs Horns

    My Opinion...

    Top 5

    PowerMac 9600 - A Monster of a Machine that wasn't replaced till the G5 tower

    Pismo - Many expandable lessons here for apple to follow for their current laptops!

    PowerMac G5 - the first Mac that was actually fast enough - I expanded mine with raid and video cards

    Quadra 840 AV - The og monster box, I did things on this box that converted every PC user that saw me working on it

    7300 - an iron work horse that I found in almost every Mac based office, it worked worked worked

    Bottom 5

    6400/6500 - The worst machines to upgrade - ever, I can still point out the scars

    Performa **0 - Apple should apologize for all the performa triple digit machines

    Quadra 605 - I don't know what the engineer was smoking

    LC 575/580 - These machine were so slow that no one wanted to use them- no fpu

    og iMac - I don't know why anyone liked these bulky, slow and non-upgradable machines (I want to like the screen- shut up and get to work!)

  67. s
    Thumb Down

    @Dave NetBooks and the air

    If netbooks and the air cover the same field then the netbooks win hands down... I have an eee 700 (that my wife uses) and a eee 1000h that I use. Total cost: 700 euros. Mac Air: *From* 1700 euros.

    That's 1000 euros more.

    For one machine instead of two - for use on trains where you run higher risk of it being swipped by someone..

    With a battery that does not last 6 hours (the eee1000) and that can't be swapped should it run out on the move (without undoing screws).

    That I can't plug into my network in the office...

    That doesn't have 3 USB connections (alongside the air's bluetooth and 11n wireless)

    That even with the 1000 euro difference still only has a 1280*800 screen (not a huge difference over the 1024*600 I have in the 1000h). This is the killer for me. I hate the lack of real estate on the eee but it was 399. If I am paying 1699 for such a machine I want a real resolution (ala the Sony netbook that was reviews this week! There is a big little screen). If the air came with 1440 * 900 then I would be able to understand the price somewhat - as it is...

    That does not fit into a small form bag with a novel or so (flat is useless if it does not fit in the bag anyway).

    I wouldn't mind a MacBookPro 17 incher (if they didn't cost 1000 euros more than an equivilent top spec Asus W2x - I did check when I upgraded my machine last time). I have an iPod 80GB classic and will get an iPhone in the summer when my contract is up. But I cannot see why someone who wants a machine to use, rather than to pose with, would ever buy the Air... Get a MacBook Pro 100 euros more for way more machine...

  68. Anonymous Coward

    Nice Article, and Comments!?


    First, may I say Happy Birthday Mac.

    Second, sensible comments about a computer, a O/S or programming language always tends to generate a white noise of posts like "Of course I just do X to solve the problem, but then I'm using Y". A real shame in my opinion, since real gems of information are lost. I honestly mean it when I say that I am glad that these comments have generated very little of that.

    All very refreshing!

    BTW, I'm not a Mac owner, nor do I intend to be one. I just thought the article and it's comments where instructive.


  69. Ted

    MacBoor Air has ethernet...

    @ s

    ah, the MacBook Air is very high end and cutting edge, so it's not for offices still stuck in the "cabled" 90's.

    yes, the MacBook Air has an easy ethernet option, $29, but it's more conducive to make your office wireless for $40 and then join the 00's.

    the MBA is a full featured laptop, not a limited netbook... full sized keys, full keyboard, 13.3 LED screen, 802.11n, 4.5 battery, etc

    i know it's hard, but only apple can drag you "kicking and screaming" into the modern age.

    ALL laptops in 10 years will work like the MBA, (no cable ports) it's just how this industry works.

  70. Mike Gravgaard

    For Alan W. Rateliff, II

    Have you seen the Amiga Forever 2006 videos?

    The RJ Mical and Dave Haynie ones are great....

    I'll look at the books you mentioned.. I do find Commodore a quite depressing but interesting story - how can managers fuck up so badly that they take down a company with such talented people?? Bill Synes and Medhi Ali have so much to answer for. What were they thinking with the Amiga 600???

    I mean Dave Haynie is an impressive guy - I am the owner of the Gemini prototype ( I did try bidding for the triple A prototype but my brother and I couldn't out bid Ryan (Dave's then boss) when Dave did his famous Ebay auctions a few years back...

    I have talked to Dave about trying to get it working (it is missing some PAL chips) but I'm a little paranoid of killing it (Dave told me it is the one of two prototypes and he believes the other one got destroyed when Commodore went bust!).


  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @MacBoor Air has ethernet...

    If Netbooks have ethernet AND wireless while the Air has only wireless, how exactly does that make the air part of the '00's and netbooks part of the 90's?

    Is it more advanced to "allow" you to buy an add on adapter for the Air which will give it the functionality of a product 5x cheaper?

  72. s


    But that's my point it *isn't* cutting edge. It has a lousy screen resolution and limited non replacable battery life. Wifi (even WPA2) is not secure enough for most corperations and the internals of the machine are decidely sub-par for the amount of money that you spend...

    It's the future like MP3's played on a mobile phones internal speaker is the future for HiFi music reproduction...

    And if Apple are dragging me into the future with this then why do their other laptops still have full port arrays (except the firewire 800 that I know mac fans hated losing). Does that mean that most of Apples customers are also behind the times for wanting screen reslution and connectability?

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Dan Wilkinson

    "... There is no "present" for Sinclairs, hence no article."

    Really? So what happened here then?:

  74. Daniel B.

    I had a Mac Plus

    ... but I strayed away from the Mac around the Performa days. That said, the original, pre-iMac era was pretty good. I never used the PowerBook 170, but did have a PowerBook 180 and can attest to it being a damn good machine! In fact, it was originally my dad's laptop (circa 1992-93) and passed to my hands around 1996. It remained as my main portable up to 1998, when I switched to the Windows world. I'd still have it, had my dad not given it away sometime around 1999 :(

    Our last Mac, however, is still chugging away at my mom's house; one of those Performa thingies (I really forget the series number, but something tells me it's one of the ones mentioned here as "worst"). Yet, it still works, and I still can run my 15+ year old HyperCard apps in there! :)

  75. Andy Dingley
    Thumb Down

    What's with the CC-by-sa on the image?

    The SE/30 image is tagged as "Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License."

    So where's the attribution? You've used someone's copyright image, how about complying with the licence under which they allowed you to do so and crediting them for it.

  76. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    @Mike Gravgaard

    Yup. Some mysterious benefactor sent me a Amiga Forever 2006 around my birthday a couple of years ago. Anyway, interesting stuff.

    I assume, then, that you are also familiar with the book "On The Edge." Depressing stuff.

    As far as not firing up that bad boy, even if it works, if you never try it, does it really matter? The only way to prove it works is to fire it up eventually, I would assume it is better to do so in pursuit of the interest you define than any other.

    Let everyone at know how it goes :)

    Paris, she wants you to fire it up!

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