Technological Change

22 January 2009 at 2:31 pm 3 comments

| Peter Klein |

sdmodoterryoyamamac128kbigYou Macophiles may get a kick out of Larry Magid’s 1984 LA Times review of the original Mac (now celebrating its 25th anniversary). Packed with 128K RAM, a 400K floppy drive, a 9-inch monitor, and something called a “mouse,” it wowed the critics from the get-go. Magid was particularly impressed with the MacWrite software, which “can vary the size and style of your type on the screen and on paper. . . . You can vary the type size from 9 point (about the size used in most newspapers) to 72 point headlines. You can also change your type style, selecting an Old English font or one of the more common type styles. Your type can be in bold, italic, underline or even shadow print.” Wow!

Magid doesn’t say anything about speed, which concerned me the first time I saw one in person (yes, back in 1984; I’m that old). The old IBM-compatible PCs running command-line MS-DOS were much faster for basic word processing, database, and spreadsheet applications than the pretty WYSIWYG design popularized on the Mac.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Innovation.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rafe Champion  |  22 January 2009 at 3:51 pm

    My first in 1982 was an Osborne twin disk drive, built-in screen, promoted by an ad where a slim girl marched into a room swinging the computer in hand and set up the machine on a desk top in about 25 seconds.

    “The Osborne 1 featured a 5 inch (127 mm) 52-column display, two floppy-disk drives, a Z80 microprocessor, 64k of RAM, and could fit under an airplane seat. It could survive being accidentally dropped and included a bundled software package that included the CP/M operating system, the BASIC programming language, the WordStar word processing package, and the SuperCalc spreadsheet program.”

    It cost $2,500A and the pin-wheel dot matrix printer to go with it cost $1200A.

    Ran into a person from the advertising agency and he said they had to interview a heap of girsl to find one slim and strong enough to pull off the ad.

    I set off from the shop carrying the machine and soon decided to take a cab.

  • 2. Dick Langlois  |  23 January 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I also got my first PC in 1982, a Kaypro II. The Kaypro was very much like the Osborne, but (for about the same price) had a bigger screen (9″), a sturdier case, and dual-density floppy drives. I still have it. Maybe someday it will sell for a fortune on Ebay.

  • 3. Josh  |  23 January 2009 at 2:25 pm

    This is why I laugh when I hear commentators say my generation might be the first to have a lower standard of living than my parents.

    Also, it makes “stagnant wages” arguments look a little less convincing.

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