On this day 25 years ago, I got my first Mac.
It had 128KB of RAM, a single-sided 3.5 inch internal floppy drive and a Motorola 68000 microprocessor running at 8 MHz. The black and white 9-inch CRT screen had a resolution of 512×342 pixels. My purchase was a bundle that included a 1200 baud modem, an Imagewriter printer, an external floppy drive, and a copy of MacPascal. As a Stanford student, I was eligible for a discount, so the whole package cost me $2,051.92, including sales tax. About a year later I got it upgraded to a Mac Plus.
I'm currently typing on the 8th Mac that I've used as my main computer. It's a MacBook Pro. It has 4 GB of RAM, a 320 GB hard drive, An Intel Core 2 Duo Microprocessor running at 2.53 GHz, and a 15 inch color LCD screen with a resolution of 1440x900 pixels.
I never got rid of my original Mac. To celebrate its 25th birthday, I went up to the attic to bring it out for some air. My kids were excited to get a look at the antique. It still works.
MacPaint, MacDraw and Word 3.0. They understood how to interact with Ultima II. The graphical user interface notions introduced with the Mac are still alive and well.
This got me thinking about the longevity of user interfaces. For example, the rotary dial telephone that I grew up with was an interface introduced in the US in 1919. It lasted about 60 years. The Model T Ford that I wrote about last July had the same basic driver interface as my car does today and is still going strong, but the television I grew up with has almost nothing in common with the one I own today.
My all-time favorite YouTube video is taken from a Norwegian comedy show. It imagines what it might have been like for users when the new-fangled "book" came along:
The book's "user interface" (more precisely, the Codex) has had a pretty good run; it's in its third millenium. Kids 25 years from now will know how to use the codex interface, though I'm guessing they'll consider books to be hopelessly out of date, like the vinyl LPs that I had to move around to get at the Mac in my attic.
It won't be the Nook that replaces the book, though. I got to play with one the other night, and while it has some pretty interesting features, the user-interface, which uses a small touch screen and a larger e-ink display, is not long for this world.
The kids lost interest in the Mac Plus after about 20 minutes. It had no internet.
More pictures of my Mac are on the Facebook fan page.