Mister Macintosh

Mister MacintoshIn the Eighties a stylized little man with an overcoat and hat was etched on some early Macintosh motherboards and also appeared on some rare merchandising items.

Known as “Mr. Macintosh” or “Macintosh Man”, the character was concocted by Steve Jobs who in 1982 became of the opinion that the upcoming “computer for the rest of us” needed a mascot.

When Mac developer Andy Hertzfeld enquired about Mister Macintosh, Jobs told him he was

“a mysterious little man who lives inside each Macintosh. He pops up every once in a while, when you least expect it, and then winks at you and disappears again.”

Jobs also added that the appearance should

“be so quick that you won’t be sure if you saw him or not. We’ll plant references in the manuals to the legend of Mr. Macintosh, and no one will know if he’s real or not.”

folon_mrmacThe idea was eventually abandoned but Mr. Macintosh lived on, at least for a while, both in hardware and in software.

Jobs had already commissioned a little drawing to belgian artist Folon, who drew a mysterious character in a “Macintosh” overcoat and hat. This drawing was used on some early hardware boards and promotional material.

Andy Hertzfeld couldn’t fit an image in the very small ROM of the Mac, but he modifified the system software that showed the menus of the Mac. In this way a developer could eventually make Mr. Macintosh appear on screen by calling a special memory location called… MrMacHook.
Hertzfeld doesn’t know if anybody ever actually implemented Mr. Macintosh or used the “MrMacHook” location for something worthwhile.

The image of Mr. Macintosh/Macintosh man is from bitsavers.vt100.net, while the pin is taken from folklore.org

Friday 13 March 2015, 5:53 pm
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The PPC 603e: from Macs to outer space

Performa 5200The second generation of PowerPC processors made its debut in april 1995 with the launch of the all-in-one Power Macintosh 5200 LC (also known under the Performa moniker). The computer sported a brand new PPC 603 chip with a 75 MHz clock frequency, an 8 KB first level cache and a 37,5 MHz bus.

The 5200 – together with the more powerful 6200, launched in May 1995 – was one of the few Macintosh models powered by the PowerPC 603 in its original version. In fact, it became soon evident that the reduced cache in the processor didn’t get along with the Mac’s operative system at all. The Mac OS at the time was mostly made up of code for 68000 processors, and it was being emulated. With not enough cache, the performance was abysmal earning a bad reputation to the first Macs with the 603 processor.

The problem was solved creating a variant of the processor, the PPC 603e. It had a larger, 16 KB cache (just like the PPC 601 had) and it was made to run faster, speeding it up from the original 120 MHz to 200 and later even to 300 MHzs. Such features made possible a much longer and broader use of the processor, including in laptops.

At the Macworld Expo in Boston in August 1995 Apple presented, among other things, the PowerBook 5300 and the PowerBook Duo 2300, two computers with opposing philosophies and target audiences, but sharing an almost identical core hardware. (more…)

Thursday 29 January 2015, 2:00 pm
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“Where did the computer go?”

Filed under: Hardware

When, at the end of August 2004, Apple introduced the new iMac G5, Philip Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, stated that “A lot of people will be wondering ‘where did the computer go?’”.

wheredidthecomputergo

With the entire system fused with the display in a design only two inches thick, the new iMac was in fact a masterpiece of technological miniaturization. But it not only totally removed the main processing unit from the user’s view, it also packed in less space more power than the preceding G4-based generation, blurring even more the line between professional and consumer products. (more…)

Tuesday 16 September 2014, 2:28 pm
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A Pencil Test for the Macintosh II

Filed under: Hardware,People,Software

Introduced in March 1987, the Macintoh II was the ultimate Mac for professionals. Based on the new 68020 processor, it was the first 32-bit Mac (although it was not “32-bit clean), it had six Nubus expansion slots and was the first Mac with color capabilities, capable of handling up to 16.7 million colors. It was the perfect machine to professionally create, manage and edit audio, photos and moving images.

Pencil TestApple was eager to show off the graphics prowess of their Macintosh II line of computers.
To do this they put together a short, three minute, computer-animated film, titled “Pencil Test”, which was premiered at the SIGGRAPH 88 international trade show, and was widely distributed on the QuickTime 1.0 CD.

The plot sees a pencil tool escaping from a Mac screen to (comically) explore the richness and three dimensionality of “real” objects only to desperately try and return to its pixellated world.

“Pencil Test” was entirely created on a Mac II (some say actually a Mac IIx, but the dates don’t match), by a group of talented artists (more on this later) working with Apple’s Advanced Technology Graphics Group. (more…)

Wednesday 07 May 2014, 4:07 pm

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Two great Apple-retro-styled items: the Disk II SD Card Reader and the Classic Macintosh iPod Nano Dock

Filed under: Design,Hardware,News

The world of retrocomputing (or computing history, if you wish) and modern tech products seldom meet.

I have been asked a few times to haw^^advertise new products for sale but have always refused since I never found new stuff which had something in common with the old technology I write about on Stories of Apple and its italian version. That was until a couple of days ago, when I found, on Etsy, two very nice Apple-retro-styled items made by RetroConnector.

The Disk II styled USB SD Card Reader is an external reader of SD memory cards, which has been styled after the iconic Apple II floppy disk drive from 1978. It’s available in beige, mimicking the color of the original disk drive, or in an unpainted in white and black which were the colors of a rare Bell & Howell edition of the Apple II.

Here it is, in a view embedded from the Etsy listing.

Disk II styled USB SD Card Reader

The other item is a Classic Macintosh iPod Nano Dock, a dock for 6th generation iPod nano. It resembles a Macintosh from the late Eighties, in a painted “platinum” beige to match the color chosen for the Mac Plus by frogdesign. Also: when inserted, the iPod nano acts as a screen for this tiny tiny computer for the rest of us.
Here it is.

Classic Macintosh iPod Nano Dock

Both items are quite costly ($50.00 USD for the card reader and 60 for the dock) and are obviously absolutely unofficial products, not licensed by Apple.
On the other hand they succeed in recreating the look and the memory of the original items, which are now over 30 years old, while also being useful accessories for modern Apple products, which is quite a feat.

Well done, RetroConnector!

p.s. There is no referral in the links and I do not get any percentage or kickback from the sale.

Thursday 17 April 2014, 6:59 pm
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