Thirty years ago last Friday, Steve Jobs unveiled the Mac at Apple's annual shareholders meeting. In light of this momentous anniversary, a never-before-seen video has emerged showcasing Jobs, just a few days later, demoing the Mac to a public audience for the first time.
Harry McCracken of Time was able to track down the following video, which features Jobs, along with key members of the original Macintosh team, presenting, showing off and demoing the Mac to The Boston Computer Society in late January 1984.
Touting the Mac as the third computing industry milestone, Jobs was all smiles as he showed off Apple's latest creation. Dripping with nostalgia, the video is a must-watch for anyone with even a passing interest in the history of the Mac.
What's really incredible is that the video really drives home just how revolutionary the Mac was at the time. For instance, when Bill Atkinson demos MacPaint, it's really great to see the crowd marvel with applause at graphics functions that we've come to take for granted.
At over an hour and a half, the video is long, but well worth watching in its entirety. There's a whole lot to take in, from Jobs talking about how the Mac was the first computer ever designed to be sold to tens of millions of people to a Q&A session where a panel of Apple employees (including Woz and Andy Hertzfeld) fields questions as far ranging as the future of the Apple II, the status of the Apple III and whether or not there will ever be a Mac with more than 128k in one drive.
There's even a question, understandable at the time, asking if the mouse was more of a feature or a handicap. The panel answers that, with experience, they far prefer using a mouse over a keyboard.
Also worth checking out is a great clip (at about the 37:40 mark) of Jobs comparing the revolutionary nature of the Mac to the telephone.
Now, if you go back about a hundred years, to the 1880s, there were approximately [20,000 to 25,000] trained telegraph operators in the United States. And you really could send a telegram between Boston and San Francisco, and it'd take about three or four hours and go through the relay stations. It really worked. And it was a great breakthrough in technology that had been around for about 30 or 40 years.
And there were some people that talked about putting a telegraph machine on every desk in America to improve productivity. Now what those people didn't know was that about the same time, Alexander Graham Bell filed the original patents for the telephone -- a breakthrough in technology. Because putting a telegraph on every desk in America to improve technology wouldn't have worked. People wouldn't have spent the 20 to 40 to a hundred hours to learn Morse code. They just wouldn't have done it.
But with the telephone, within 10 years there were over 200,000 telephones on desks in America. It was a breakthrough, because people already knew how to use it. It performed the same basic function, but radical ease of use. And in addition to just letting you type in the words or click in the words, it let you sing. It let you intone your sentences to really get your meaning across.
We are at that juncture in our industry right now. There are people suggesting that we should put a current generation box on everyone's desk to improve productivity. A telegraph, if you will. And we don't believe that. We don't think it'll work. People will not read those damn 400-page WordStar manuals. They won't carry around these cards in their pockets with 150 slash-W-Zs. They're not going to do it.
And what we think we have here is the first telephone. And in addition to letting you do the old spreadsheets and word processing, it lets you sing. It lets you make pictures. It lets you make diagrams where you cut them and past them into your documents. It lets you put that sentence in Bold Helvetica or Old English, if that's the way you want to express yourself.
There's also a clip (at around the 27-minute mark) where we see trusty ol' Bill Gates singing the Mac's praises.
In the software business, volume is everything. You want to be able to sell into a large set of machines. Microsoft is choosing this Apple Macintosh environment because over time the other environments won't be interesting
Make sure to watch the video and remember to head on over to Time, where McCracken details how he was able to get ahold of the rare video clip in the first place. It's quite a story.