I just bought a 1984 Macintosh 1MB. The first thing that I noticed was how quickly the machine booted up. There was so little stored on computers back then that boot time was very quick. All applications were stored on external floppy diskettes.
I opened MacWrite and began to play around with the word processor. I was amazed to find some user interface aspects that are still around today. When the mac was first introduced these features were revolutionary, but now are taken for granted.
Highlighting text. I know it seems small now, but being able to highlight text is something that we never really think much about. We just do it and expect that it happens.
Copy and Paste. After highlighting text, you can copy and paste that text. Finding that the standard “cmd + c” and “cmd + v” was working just as I had expected it to took me by suprise.
Drag and Drop File management. I was blown away by the fact that this computer supported drag and drop file and folder management.
The Mouse. What a standard interface tool this has become. On the original Macintosh, the mouse plugged into a serial port on the back (While the keyboard plugged in via a phone cord to the front of the unit). The movement of the cursor across the screen is just as smooth as it is with today’s optical mice.
It’s Amazing to think of all the innovations that the original Mac team accomplished. Of course they had a lot of help with the user interface work that Xerox PARC had done as a foundation. Bill Atkinson deserves some appreciation as well, being the genius developer who figured out how to get the Mac to create circles, ellipses and rounded rectangles. He broke us all free from a world where rectangles had to have hard-edged corners, not to mention he came up with the functionality that made layered “windows” possible. Apple and Microsoft owe a lot to Bill.
I’m kind of in awe of this little Mac. Finding my way around it took little effort. The interaction between myself and the machine felt right on par with using the products that Apple makes today.
The next time you’re at your computer doing any work. Take some time to think about all of the features you’re using, how difficult your job would be without them, and the people who made them possible.