Milestone-Proposal:Introduction of the Apple Macintosh Computer, 1984
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Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution) Yes
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes
Was it of at least regional importance? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
Title of the proposed milestone:
Introduction of the Apple Macintosh Computer, 1984
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
The Apple Macintosh created a new epoch in the personal computer industry by providing a complete graphical user interface platform in a compact, portable, low-cost package, featuring high-resolution bitmap graphics, a one-button mouse and an innovative switching power supply. Its ROM-based software built on its predecessor, the Lisa, to provide a standard UI platform that empowered third-party developers to create revolutions in diverse areas including desktop publishing and media editing.
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
Santa Clara Valley
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
Unit: Santa Clara Valley Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
Unit: Santa Clara Valley Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
IEEE Section: Santa Clara Valley Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public
Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public
Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
In the vicinity of the main entrance or the main lobby of the headquarters of Apple, Inc., at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014. 37.33182°N 122.03118°W
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.
The current headquarters of Apple, Inc., is a high profile location in Silicon Valley. It has a direct lineage to the work done by Steve Jobs and the Apple team that worked on the Macintosh. It is a location that is seen by and visited by thousands of visitors, vendors and Apple employees on a daily basis. There are not any other historical markers already on the site.
Are the original buildings extant?
The Macintosh team worked in many buildings that are in close vicinity to the current headquarters of Apple, Inc., at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014, which is a set of buildings first occupied in 1993.
Details of the plaque mounting:
TBD, but in the vicinity of the main entrance or the main lobby of the headquarters of Apple, Inc., at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014.
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
The main entrance and the main lobby of the headquarters of Apple, Inc., at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014, are fully accessible to the public.
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
Apple, Inc., owns all of the buildings at its headquarters.
A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:
A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?
The Apple Macintosh personal computer was the first widely successful personal computer offering an integrated standard graphical user interface (GUI). It included an internal high-resolution black & white bitmap display, keyboard, mouse, speaker and sound output, and integrated communications including a breakthrough low-cost local area network (LAN) known as AppleTalk (later LocalTalk). The video system took its bitmap data directly out of system RAM, and the RAM refresh was automatically maintained as a result of reading the video buffer and painting it to the screen. The Macintosh was designed with an integrated switching power supply, and it used passive cooling to ensure quiet operation.
The Macintosh also was the first large-scale (and keystone) commercial user of the Sony 3.5” micro-floppy. It built on Steve Wozniak’s ingenious floppy disk controller design as the first product based on a single-chip integrated version of that interface, called the “Integrated Woz Machine” (IWM). The Macintosh / Sony 3.5” micro-floppy also was unique in that it included motor-speed control for higher storage density, motorized software-controlled disk eject, and “Woz” formatted storage density improved to 400 KBytes from the stock Sony MFM-encoded 256 KBytes.
The introduction of the Macintosh built on partnerships with software developers - led by Guy Kawasaki’s “Evangelism” team - and with universities, to rapidly build a viable ecosystem of third-party software and hardware add-ons, and of dramatic and useful applications and research.
The Macintosh project was originally founded and named by Jef Raskin, who saw a need for a radically simplified GUI-based computer as a major step beyond the Apple II. Jef hired the original engineering and marketing leaders. Steve Jobs later took over the project, and led it through and beyond the product’s introduction and rollout.
The Macintosh quickly became a popular platform for creative users, as well as for education, research and business applications. The higher bar of an affordable high-resolution GUI, and a standardized operating system and user interface toolkit, became the new standard against which competitors had to compete. Thus, end users came to expect, and the industry was challenged to offer, more advanced capabilities in low-cost systems.
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
Building a personal computer with a high-resolution bit-map display, integrating a mouse and a GUI, and being able to sell it for less than $3,000 required a new approach in an era where the least-powerful low-volume alternative products were expected to be available for perhaps $15,000 or more. It was thus a challenge to (1) envision and design the product packaging, including a mouse and keyboard, and (2) create an inexpensive, low parts count (< 50 logic ICs including RAM and ROM) single-board computer that could drive an integrated bitmap display and support a GUI.
After a number of “dead ends” with alternative disk drives, the Macintosh team chose and quickly integrated the Sony 3.5” hard-shell micro-floppy drive. This was a little-known drive and storage medium, in relatively early stages of development, whose use in the Macintosh kicked off much broader adoption in the industry as well as much success for Sony with this product line.
The development tool-chain, operating system, Application Programming Interfaces and related documentation was mostly developed from scratch, though an extended form of Pascal was used (in conjunction with Motorola 68000 assembly language), and some tools were adopted from and improved from those used for the Apple Lisa computer.
The Macintosh team proper was often in a challenging relationship with the parent Apple company, whose main line of business at the time was making and selling Apple II and related products.
Designing and envisioning a new way of working with software developers and (potential) large customers such as universities catalyzed the innovative creation of the “Evangelism” processes and team under Guy Kawasaki. Apple had to persuade customers and developers to take a big risk in committing resources to the Macintosh. Those who in fact joined found that these risks paid off very well in the end.
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
At least ten key areas and their “champions” should be noted:
1. Burrell Smith - inspired by Woz's design approach to the Apple I and Apple II, and working with Andy Hertzfeld and the software team - created a minimalistic yet high-performance personal computer. In addition to its use of a (RAM-driven) bitmap display and a one-button mouse to provide a graphical user interface (GUI), the Macintosh was also able to be networked through inventions by Gursharan Sidhu and his AppleTalk (later called LocalTalk) team, and was also able to handle sound input and output.
2. The floppy disk controller was a single-chip integrated version of the Woz Apple II disk controller, a chip called the "Integrated Woz Machine" (IWM). The chip was specified by Steve Wozniak and later by Wendell Sander, and was designed by Bob Bailey (then of Synertek).
3. After a detour into trying to build a massive full-custom VLSI glue chip, Burrell Smith was able to figure out how to drive PAL technology to get a then-amazing 16 MHz dot clock out of the built-in video controller.
4. Bill Atkinson invented QuickDraw, first for the Apple Lisa and then expanded for the Macintosh. This was inspired by Bill’s visit to Xerox PARC. He was at least initially unaware that the BitBlt graphics code for the Xerox Alto (originally written by Dan Ingalls) was done in microcode, so he didn't realize the difficulty of getting high-performance graphics built for the Motorola 68000.
5. Bud Tribble and Andy Hertzfeld, working in conjunction with Bill Atkinson (the author of QuickDraw and later of HyperCard), designed an operating system that lived in ROM memory and was extended by code loaded from the floppy disk, and whose programming interfaces were exposed in Pascal (see, e.g., “Inside Macintosh”).
6. The Macintosh was the first technology product to have a "Software Evangelist," a moniker coined by Mike Murray. Mike Boich was given this title, and he carried out the duties of promoting the radically new product features under the leadership of Guy Kawasaki. This approach proved to be profoundly effective in getting software developers to write third-party applications for the Macintosh.
7. The rapid customization and localization of Macintosh software was made possible by the Resource Manager (invented and developed by Bruce Horn), which all applications were encouraged and eventually required to use. This approach separated out the language and graphical design of the user interface from applications proper so that applications could quickly be translated and converted to other languages and cultures.
8. Inspired by Rod Holt, George Crow led a team to complete the first integrated high-resolution video display and computer power supply on one single-sided printed circuit board.
9. Another big innovation was the user manuals. Chris Espinosa, Lynnea Johnson, Carol Kaehler and others, under the intense guidance of Steve Jobs, invented a new class of books for users. They were clean, simple, direct, graphical, colorful, and easy to read. In particular, the “Macintosh Users Guide” by Carol Kaehler established a new kind of book to introduce the personal computer to a user who had never touched one before. This was a big departure from the materials previously made for hobbyist computers. Caroline Rose wrote the spectacular three-volume "Inside Macintosh" series that documented the system calls that developers needed to use. Without “Inside Macintosh,” the flowering of third party applications would not have happened. Developers had never programmed for a graphical user interface, and were completely unfamiliar with how the Mac worked. The clarity and timeliness of “Inside Macintosh” allowed third party developers to quickly build applications for desktop publishing and many other areas.
10. The Macintosh Toolbox as designed and implemented was a huge advance. Applications were able to build on the toolbox code, and over 80% of execution would take place in the toolbox for some applications. Even though the toolbox was implemented in ROM, it was uniquely designed to permit the toolbox elements to be enhanced, extended, replaced, and repaired to fix bugs and/or to extend its capabilities.
References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.
Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.