15 Unforgettable Mac Computers: Old is Gold

1984 marked an era in innovation when the state of the art Mac was introduced, and it is since then the world is divided in two groups, the ones who have mac and others who don’t. The new technology marked the beginning of the style that had never been seen before. Equipped with high speed, longer battery life and most importantly elegant style, these oldies  influenced the computer industry at large and lead to machines like Mac book pro.

1. Macintosh 128K – The First Macintosh (1984)

mac 128k

Release Date January 24, 1984
Introductory Price $2,495
Discontinued October 1, 1985
Operating System 1.0, 1.1, 2.0 , 2.1, 3.0, 3.2
CPU Motorola 68000 @ 8 MHz
Memory 128 KB (built-in)

The first Macintosh, Macintosh 128k was introduced on January 24, 1984; it was the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface rather than a command-line interface. Its beige case contained a 9 in (23 cm) monitor and came with a keyboard and mouse. An indentation in the top of the case allowed the computer to be lifted and carried. It had a selling price of US$2,495. By today’s standards, its specs are laughably anemic. But the beloved box of bits was a far more affordable implementation of the graphical user interface. The built-in display was a one-bit black-and-white and contained a 400kB, single-sided 3.5-inch floppy disk drive and dedicated no space to other internal mechanical storage. The unit lacked a cooling fan.The Macintosh was designed to achieve adequate graphics performance, which had previously required hardware costing over $10,000 US, at a price accessible to the middle class. This narrow goal resulted in an efficient design which traded off expandability but met or exceeded the baseline performance of its competitors.

The limitations of the first Mac soon became clear. In October 1985, Apple increased the Mac’s memory to 512KB , but it was inconvenient and difficult to expand the memory of a 128KB Mac.

2.  Macintosh Plus (1986)


Release Date January 16, 1986
Introductory Price $2599
Discontinued October 15, 1990
Operating System 3.0–6.0.8, 7.0-7.5.5
CPU Motorola 68000 @ 8 MHz
Memory 1 MB, expandable to 4 MB (150 ns 30-pin SIMM)

The Macintosh Plus computer was the third model in the Macintosh line, introduced on January 16, 1986, two years after the original Macintosh and a little more than a year after the Macintosh 512K, with a price tag of US$2599. As an evolutionary improvement over the 512K, it shipped with 1 MB of RAM standard, expandable to 4 MB, and an external SCSI peripheral bus, among smaller improvements. It originally had the same generally beige-colored case as the original Macintosh, but in 1987, the case color was changed to the long-lived, warm gray “Platinum” color.

Introduced as the Macintosh Plus, it was the first Macintosh model to include a SCSI port, which launched the popularity of external SCSI devices for Macs, including hard disks, tape drives, CD-ROM drives, printers, and even monitors. Its SCSI implementation was engineered shortly before the initial SCSI spec was finalized and, as such, is not 100% SCSI-compliant. SCSI ports remained standard equipment for all Macs until the introduction of the iMac in 1998. The Macintosh Plus was the last classic Mac to have a phone cord-like port on the front of the unit for the keyboard, as well as the DE-9 connector for the mouse; models released after the Macintosh Plus would use ADB ports. The Mac Plus was the first of many Macintoshes to use SIMMs. It had a new 3.5-inch double-sided 800 KB floppy drive, offering double the capacity of previous Macs along with backward compatibility. A compact Mac, the Plus had a 9-inch 512×342 pixel monochrome display with a resolution of 72 PPI.

3. Macintosh XL (1985)


Release Date January 1, 1985
Introductory Price $3,995
Discontinued August 1, 1986
Operating System MacWorks XL/System 1.1 , MacWorks Plus II/System 1.1–6.0.8, 7.0–7.5.5
CPU Motorola 68000 @ 5 MHz
Memory 512 KB, expandable to 2 MB (Lisa DRAM card)

Macintosh XL was a modified version of the Apple Lisa personal computer made by Apple Computer, Inc. In the Macintosh XL configuration, the computer shipped with MacWorks XL, a Lisa program that allowed 64 K Macintosh ROM emulation. An identical machine was previously sold as the Lisa 2/10 with the Lisa OS only. The Macintosh XL had a 400K 3.5″ floppy drive and an internal 10 MB proprietary Widget hard drive with provision for an optional 5 or 10 MB external ProFile hard drive with the addition of a Parallel interface card. At the time of release, the Macintosh XL was colloquially referred to as the “Hackintosh”, although this name has also been used more generally to describe Macintosh computers assembled from unusual combinations of parts. Despite its relative success, the Macintosh XL was discontinued because it was literally unavailable. Parts had not been ordered to keep the XL in production and once the last of the parts ran out, Apple made the decision to shut down production for good.

4. Macintosh II (1987)


Release Date March 2, 1987
Introductory Price US $5500
Discontinued January 15, 1990
Operating System 3.3– 6.0.8, 7.0-7.5.5 or with 68030 32-bit upgrade Mac OS 7.6.1
CPU Motorola 68020 @ 16 MHz
Memory 1 MB, expandable to 20 MB (68 MB via FDHD upgrade kit) (120 ns 30-pin SIMM)

The Macintosh II models were “modular” systems which did not include built-in monitors and were intended for business use. Beginning with the Macintosh II and culminating in the Macintosh IIfx, the Mac II series was Apple Computer’s high-end line from 1987 to 1991. The Apple Macintosh II was the first personal computer model of the Macintosh II series in the Apple Macintosh line. (Not to be confused with the Apple II series of non-Macintosh computers.) Introduced in March, 1987 and retailing for US $5,498, the Macintosh II was the first “modular” Macintosh model, so called because it came in a horizontal desktop case like many PCs of the time. All previous Macintosh computers used an all-in-one design with a built-in black-and-white CRT. The Macintosh II introduced space for an internal hard disk (originally 20 MB or 40 MB) and an optional second floppy disk drive. It also was the first Macintosh computer, simultaneously with the Macintosh SE, to use the Apple Desktop Bus (ADB), introduced with the Apple IIGS, for keyboard and mouse interface. The primary improvement in the Mac II was Color QuickDraw in ROM, a color version of the graphics language which was the heart of the machine.

5. Macintosh SE (1987)


Release date March 2, 1987
Introductory price $2900 (dual floppy) US$3900 (with 20MB hard drive)
Discontinued October 15, 1990
Operating system 3.3-3.4, 4.0–6.0.2, 6.0.3–6.0.8, 7.0-7.5.5
CPU Motorola 68000 @ 8 MHz
Memory (150 ns 30-pin SIMM)

During the same year, was released the Macintosh SE , a personal computer manufactured by Apple between March 1987 and October 1990. This computer marked a significant improvement on the Macintosh Plus design and was introduced by Apple at the same time as the Macintosh II. It had a similar case to the original Macintosh computer, but with slight differences in color and styling. First compact Macintosh with space for an internal hard disk (originally 20 MB or 40 MB), or, if the user preferred, dual floppy drives. First compact Macintosh that featured an expansion slot (SE stood for “System Expansion”). Used the Apple Desktop Bus (ADB), introduced with the Apple IIGS, for keyboard and mouse interface. Improved SCSI support with faster data throughput. Better reliability and longer life expectancy due to the addition of a fan.

6. Macintosh Portable (1989)


Release Date September 20, 1989 (Original), October 15, 1990 (Backlit)
Introductory Price $6,500
Discontinued October 15, 1990 (Original), October 21, 1991 (Backlit)
Operating System 6.0.4 (Original) 6.0.7 (Backlit) – 7.5.5
CPU Motorola 68000 @ 16 MHz
Memory 1 MiB, expandable to 9 MiB, 8 MiB backlit version (SRAM)

The Macintosh Portable was Apple Computer’s first attempt at making a battery-powered portable Macintosh personal computer that held the power of a desktop Macintosh. Released on September 20, 1989, it was received with excitement from most critics but with very poor sales to consumers. Seemingly no expense was spared in the construction of the machine. It featured a black and white active-matrix LCD screen in a hinged cover that covered the keyboard when the machine was not in use. The mouse function was handled by a built-in trackball that could be removed and located on either side of the keyboard. It used expensive SRAM in an effort to maximize battery life and to provide an “instant on” low power sleep mode.

7. Macintosh LC “The Pizza Box Series” (1990s)

Release Date variable in series
Introductory Price variable in series
Discontinued variable in series
Operating System Bundled Mac OS
CPU PowerPC processors instead of Motorola 68k-based (except in LC-580)
Memory 4 MB (max 36 MB)

The Macintosh LC (meaning low-cost color) was Apple Computer’s product family of low-end consumer Macintosh personal computers in the early 1990s. The original Macintosh LC was released in 1990 and was the first affordable color-capable Macintosh. Due to its affordability and Apple II compatibility the LC was adopted primarily in the education and home markets. Together with the Mac IIsi, it introduced built-in audio input on the Mac. The “LC” name was subsequently used for a line of low-end Macintosh computers for several years and spanned the 68k to PowerPC transition.

8. Macintosh Quadra (1991)


Release Date October 21, 1991 (Quadra 700)
Introductory Price $6000
Discontinued September 15, 1994
Operating System System 7.0.1-System 7.1.2, System 7.5-Mac OS 8.1, or with PowerPC upgrade, Mac OS 9.1
CPU Motorola 68040 @ 25 MHz
Memory 4 MiB, expandable to 68 MiB (80 ns 30-pin SIMM)

The Macintosh Quadra series was Apple Computer’s product family of professional high-end Apple Macintosh personal computers built using the Motorola 68040 CPU. The first two models in the Quadra line were introduced in 1991, and the name was used until the Power Mac was introduced in 1994. The product manager for the Quadra family was Frank Casanova who was also the Product Manager for the Macintosh IIfx. The first models were the Quadra 700 and Quadra 900, both introduced in 1991. The Quadra replaced the Macintosh II series as the high end computer in the Macintosh product line.

9. Powerbook “First Mac Laptop” (1991)


Release Date October 21, 1991
Introductory Price US$2,300
Discontinued September 3, 1992
Operating System System 6.0.8L, 7.0.1–7.5.5
CPU Motorola 68000 16 MHz
Memory 2 to 8 MB

The PowerBook 100 was the low-end model of the first three simultaneously released PowerBooks. Its CPU and overall speed closely resembled those of its predecessor, the Macintosh Portable. In October 1991 Apple released the first three PowerBooks: the low-end PowerBook 100, the more powerful PowerBook 140, and the high end PowerBook 170, the only one with an active matrix display. These machines caused a stir in the industry with their compact dark grey cases, use of a trackball, and the clever positioning of the keyboard which left room for palmrests on either side of the pointing device. Portable PC computers at the time tended to have the keyboard forward towards the user, with empty space behind it, so this was a surprising innovation and set the standard layout all future notebook computers would follow.

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