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iMug Meeting Notes—March 2006

Celebrating Apple Computer's 30th Anniversary—
Four Generations of Apple Computers

Apple Computer Inc was incorporated on April Fool's Day 1976. Four generations of the computers that Apple has marketed are: the Apple I, the Apple II, the Lisa and the Macintosh.

All four generations were represented in a special display at the March 2006 meeting of iMug. In bringing together this rare assemblage, Brian Livingston brought an Apple I replica, Ian Godfrey and Lecki Ord an Apple II, David Turk a Lisa and Peter Green a 128k Macintosh. They described the place of each of these machines in computing history.

Apple I

In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wosniak identified a potential market for a PC and put together home kits called the Apple I which were sold through The Byte Store chain for US $666.66. It came without keyboard or monitor. It required users to supply their own tape-drive as an input device.

Within a year, after sales of just a few hundred, the Apple I was replaced by the Apple II.

Brian Livingston showed the Apple I replica, which looked more like a motherboard than a computer, which he and his son Campbell built from a home kit.

Apple II

Released in 1977, the Apple II was based on the Apple I design, but with several additions, including the beige plastic case with integrated keyboard, the ability to display colour graphics, larger ROM and RAM expandable from 4kB to 64kB. It used a cassette tape interface and the operating system and applications were installed using a cassette drive. In 1978 Apple released an inexpensive disk drive for the machine which used floppy disks.

The Apple II was a smash success leading to Apple eventually becoming one of the biggest personal computing companies. It looked and operated more like the personal computers we currently use and incorporated the first disk drives on a personal computer.

Although it was often used for recreation and education, it could be used to achieve useful business outcomes as well! On their 1979 Apple II, Lecki Ord and Ian Godfrey originally used Visicalc, the world's first spreadsheet program, and a variety of wordprocessing, database and time management software, in addition to a fully-featured CAD program in their architecture business.

Lisa

The Lisa, released in 1983, was the first computer sold with WIMP at a reasonable price by retail outlets. WIMP was the Windows, Icons, Menus and Pointing device interface that gave birth to a whole new approach to computing.

WIMP was useless without the software LisaWrite, LisaCalc, LisaList and LisaDraw, but together they created an outstanding working environment.

The early Lisa's used double-sided 5.25 inch floppy disks. The two disk drives (called 'twiggy') read both sides without having to turn the disks over. In the Macintosh XL this system was replaced by the 3.5 inch floppy disk.

This Lisa (Macintosh XL) cost about AUS $10,000. It came with 1MB of RAM and ran at 5MHz.

This machine was once in the private museum collection of Melbourne Apple reseller Random Access.

David Turk provided customer support for the Lisa whilst working in South Melbourne for Rudie Hoess, the first Apple representative in Australia.

The Lisa was a failure, but WIMP proved to be an outstanding success.

128K Macintosh

The first Macintosh, the 128 kB Macintosh, was released in March 1984, and came with WIMP and the new 3.5 inch floppy disk.

The Macintosh was a Lisa in a small box—one of the original Macintosh prototypes even had a single twiggy disk drive instead of the later 3.5 inch disk drive. Inside some of the very early Macintoshes there were mounting points for the twiggy drive. The 3.5 inch disk drive was a late addition and only just pipped the IBM 4 inch and Matsushita 3 inch disk drives for inclusion.

It was priced at AUS $2500 and ran at the dizzy speed of 8 Mhz (today's speeds are over 2 Ghz). A hard drive was an optional purchase. It was soon followed by the 512 kB Macintosh and then the Mac Plus with networking and increased RAM.

By this time the LaserWriter with Adobe PostScript and Aldus PageMaker software had been released, and with them came the desktop publishing revolution. It was this revolution that propelled Apple Computer Inc to the forefront of personal computing.

Peter Green used his 128 kB Macintosh for home purposes, originally exploring all the options of the Apple software of the day, MacWrite and MacPaint.

Conclusion

In 30 short years, Apple Computer has come to be synonymous with innovation, industrial design and entrepreneurship.

Apple Computer, now, after dozens of Macintosh models, and the iPod, continues as a robust competitor to the 'IBM clone' technology.

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4 generations of Apple computers
Four Generations of Apple Computers
L-R: Peter Green with a 128k Macintosh, David Turk with a Lisa (Macintosh XL), Lecki Ord and Ian Godfrey with an Apple II, and Brian Livingston with an Apple I replica

Apple I replica
Apple I Replica

Apple II
Apple II

The Lisa
The Lisa (Macintosh XL)

128k Macintosh
128k Macintosh