It all started in 1979 when Jef Raskin, an Apple employee, wanted to make an easy-to-use, low-cost computer for the average consumer. In September 1979, Raskin was given permission to start on the project. He put together a team of people, partially pictured to the right, that consisted of Chris Espinosa, Joanna Hofman, George Crow, Jerry Manock, Susan Kare, and Andy Hertzfeld. Bill Atkinson, a member of the Lisa team, introduced Jef Raskin to Burrell Smith, a service technician who was hired earlier that year. (Kelby 2002)

Smith built the first Macintosh board according to Raskin's specifications: 64K of RAM, Motorola 6809E microprocessor, and had the ability to support a 256x256 B&W white bitmap display. By December 1980, Smith was able to design a board that utilized 68000 and had the capacity to support a 384x256 bitmap display. This design used few RAM chips than Lisa, the other computer that was being developed by Apple, and was mych cheaper. The final Mac design was self-contained and had a non-expandable 128 kilobyts of RAM. This design caught the eye of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple. Jobs realized the Macintosh was more marketable than Lisa so he focused his attentions on the new system. Raskin left in 1981 due to personality differences with Jobs. Jobs, hearing about a new graphics user interface being developed at Xerox, traded Apple stock options to see the GUI. After his visit to Xerox, Jobs hired Harmut Esslinger to work on the Macintosh line. Jobs' leadership at Apple ended in 1985 when there was an internal power struggle with Apple's CEO John Sculley. Jobs went on to found the company NeXT. (Kawaski 1989)

On January 24, 1984, the Macintosh was released for a retail price of $2,495.00. It was bundled with two useful programs designed to show off its interface: MacWrite and MacPaint. Because the machine was entirely designed around the GUI, existing text-mode and command-driven programs had to be redesigned and rewritten. It was a challenging undertaking that many software developers shied away from, which initially led to a lack of software for the new system. Many users, accustomed to the arcane world of command lines, labeled the Mac a "toy computer". (Kelby 2004)

"In 1985, the combination of the Mac and its graphical user interface with Aldus Pagemaker, a desktop publishing program, and Apple's LaserWriter printer enabled a low-cost solution for designing and previewing printed material, an activity that came to be known as desktop publishing. However, the limitations of the first Mac soon became clear: It had very little memory, even compared to other personal computers in 1984, and could not be expanded easily; it lacked a hard drive or any means to attach one easily. Although by 1985 the Mac's base memory had increased to 512 KB, and it was possible, albeit inconvenient, to expand the memory of a 128 KB Mac, Apple realized that the Mac needed to be improved. The result was the Macintosh Plus, released in 1986. It offered one megabyte of RAM, expandable to four, and a then-revolutionary SCSI parallel interface, allowing up to seven peripherals, such as hard drives and scanners, to be attached to the machine. Its floppy drive was increased to 800 kilobyte capacity. The Plus was an immediate success and remained in production for four years. (Kelby 2002)

Other issues remained, particularly low processor speed and limited graphics ability, which had hobbled the Mac's ability to make inroads into the business computing market. Updated Motorola CPUs made a faster machine possible, and in 1987, Apple took advantage of the new Motorola technology, and introduced the Macintosh II, which utilized a 16-MHz Motorola 68020 processor. It had an open architecture with several expansion slots, and it supported color graphics. Along with the Mac II, the Macintosh SE was released, the first compact Mac with an expansion slot. The SE shared some of the II's aesthetics, such as its new ergonomic mouse and keyboard. (Kelby 2002)


The release of Microsoft Windows 3.0, widely seen as the first version of Windows to actually challenge the Mac, was released in May 1990, and it created an usable and cheaper alternative to the Macintosh platform. Apple's response was a range of inexpensive Macs introduced on October 1990. The Macintosh Classic, essentially a cheaper version of the Macintosh SE, sold for a price of $999, making it the cheapest Mac until the release of the Mac mini. The 68020-powered Macintosh LC in its distinctive "pizza box" case was available for $1800, offered color graphics, and a low-cost 512×384-pixel monitor was launched to accompany it. The Macintosh IIsi, essentially a 20-MHz IIci with only one expansion slot, cost $2500. All three machines sold very well, although Apple's profit margin was considerably lower than on earlier machines. (Herzfeld 2004)

In 1992 Apple started to sell low-end Macs called Performa through non-traditional dealers. At Apple dealers, a mid-range version of the Quadra series called the Macintosh Centris was offered, only to be quickly renamed Quadra when buyers became confused by the range of Classics, LCs, IIs, Quadras, Performas, and Centrises. As well as releasing several new Macintosh products, Apple also unveiled the miniaturized PowerBook Duo range. It was intended to be docked to a base station for desktop-like functionality while at the workplace. The last PowerBook Duo was dropped from the Apple product line in early 1997. (Campbell=Kelly 1996)

The next evolutionary step in Macintosh CPUs was a switch to the RISC PowerPC architecture developed by the AIM alliance of Apple Computer, IBM, and Motorola from 1991 onward The Power Macintosh line proved to be incredibly successful, with over one million units sold by late-1994, three months before Apple's one-year goal. The same year, Apple also released the second-generation PowerBook models, the PowerBook 500 series, which introduced the then-novel trackpad.

By 1995, Microsoft and Intel were threatening Apple's market by introducing Windows 95 and the Pentium processor. Both products enhanced the multimedia capability of the PC significantly, and quickly began to erode the Mac's market share. In response, Apple started the Macintosh clone program in order to regain its foothold in the desktop computer market. This program lasted until August 1997 when negotiations between Apple and the clone makers to extend the licensing agreement broke down. (Hertzfeld 2004)

In 1998, a year after Steve Jobs had returned to the company, Apple introduced a new all-in-one Macintosh similar to the original Macintosh 128K: the iMac, a new design that did away with most Apple standard connections like SCSI and ADB in favor of two USB ports. While technically not very impressive, it featured an innovative new design - its translucent plastic case, originally Bondi blue and white, and later many other colors, is considered a industrial design hallmark of the late-90s. The iMac proved to be phenomenally successful, with 800,000 units sold in 1998, making the company an annual profit of $309 million - Apple's first profitable year since Michael Spindler took the position of CEO of the company in 1995. The Power Macintosh was redesigned along similar lines. (Hertzfeld 2004)

From 1999 onwards, Apple introduced a new operating system called Mac OS X Server to replace the aging Mac OS, with a GUI (hailed by fans of the products), and powerful Unix underpinnings. Mac OS X was based on NeXTSTEP, the operating system developed by Steve Jobs' post-Apple company NeXT. It was not released to the public until 2001 with the Mac OS X public beta.

In the summer of 1999, Apple introduced the iBook, a new consumer level portable Macintosh that was designed to be similar in appearance to the iMac introduced a year earlier. Six weeks after the iBook's unveiling, more than 140,000 orders had been placed, and by October the computer was as much a sales hit as the iMac. Apple continued to add new products to their lineup, such as the eMac and Power Mac G5. On January 11, 2005, Apple announced the Mac mini with a price of US$499, the first Macintosh ever released for less than US$500. (Hertzfeld 2004)

In recent years Apple has seen a significant boost in sales of Macintoshes largely due to the success of the iPod. The iPod digital music players have brought awareness to the Macintosh line which hasn't been seen since after its original release in 1984. From 2001 to 2005 Macintosh sales increased continuously on an annual basis, caused in part by the iPod "Halo Ring" effect (satisfied iPod owners seeking more Apple merchandise). On October 11, 2005 Apple released their fourth quarter results, reporting shipment of 1,236,000 Macintoshes - a 48% increase from the same quarter the previous year. Apple plans to switch from PowerPC microprocessors to microprocessors manufactured by Intel , there is a high possibility sales will temporarily decline as consumers wait to purchase products future Macintosh products. (Kahney 2004)


An early use of the term appeared in a November 3, 1962, New York Times article reporting John W. Mauchly's vision of future computing spoken to a meeting of the American Institute of Industrial Engineers that previous day. Mauchly told the gathering, "There is no reason to suppose the average boy or girl cannot be master of a personal computer."
The first computers that can be called 'personal' were the first non-mainframe computers, the LINC and the PDP-8. By today's standards they were big (about the size of a refrigerator), expensive (around $50,000 US), and had small magnetic core memories (about 4096 12-bit words for the LINC).

However, they were small enough and cheap enough for individual laboratories and research projects to use, freeing them from the batch processing and bureaucracy of the typical industrial or university computing center. In addition, they were moderately interactive and soon had their own operating systems. Eventually, this category became known as the mini-computer, usually with time-sharing and program development facilities. Eventually, the mini-computer grew up to encompass the VAX and larger mini-computers from Data General, Prime, and others. Deployment of mini-computer systems was a model for how personal computers would be used, but few of the mini-computer makers managed to profit from it.

Development of the single-chip microprocessor changed everything, since it dropped the cost of purchase of a computer by an order of magnitude or more. The first generation of microcomputers that started to appear in the mid 1970s (see home computers) were less powerful and in some ways less versatile than business computers of the day (but in other ways more versatile, in terms of built-in sound and graphics capabilities), and were generally used by computer enthusiasts for learning to program, for running simple office/productivity applications, for electronics interfacing, and/or games, as well as for accessing BBS's, general online services such as CompuServe, The Source, or Genie, or platform-specific services such as Quantum Link (US) or Compunet (UK). (Campbell-Kelly 1996)

It was the launch of the VisiCalc spreadsheet, initially for the Apple II and later for the Atari 8-bit family, Commodore PET, and IBM PC that became the "killer app" that turned the microcomputer into a business tool. Later, Lotus 1-2-3, a combined spreadsheet (partly based on VisiCalc), presentation graphics, and simple database application, became the PCs own killer app. Good word processor programs also appeared for many home computers. The low cost of personal computers led to great popularity in the home and business markets during the 1980s. In 1982, Time magazine named the personal computer its Man of the Year. (Campbell-Kelly 1996)

During the 1990s, the power of personal computers increased radically, blurring the formerly sharp distinction between personal computers and multi-user computers such as mainframes. Today higher-end computers often distinguish themselves from personal computers by greater reliability or greater ability to multitask, rather than by straight CPU power."

RAND company's model of the predicted home computer in 2004:

S O U R C E S (for whole site)
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Kawasaki, Guy (1989), The Macintosh Way, Scott Foresman Trade
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Ceruzzi, Paul(1998) A history of modern computing, J. Wiley & Sons
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