A Mac in Graffiti Bridge

There’s a Macintosh in Prince’s 1990 Graffiti Bridge movie.
It can be seen twice: at the beginning, during the first scene, and again at the end, during the end titles.

A Mac in Graffiti Bridge 01 zoomIn both instances it is being used by Prince to write and/or edit music. Prince, or rather “The Kid”, the character he plays, keeps the computer in his living quarters located just under the stage of the “Glam Slam”, the club of he is the (fictional) owner in Graffiti Bridge.

Although the Mac is always shown in mid-darkness and the camera closes up only on the screen (more on that later) but it’s clearly a compact Macintosh and considering when Graffiti Bridge was released, in November 1990, the list of possible models is pretty much easy to narrow.

We can immediately cross out the Mac Classic because it was introduced in October of 1990, just one before the movie showed up in theaters. Another model we can exclude is the original Mac, released in 1984, which was too old and frankly too underpowered for a serious musical use. The same is probably true for the “Fat Mac”, from 1985 which just had more RAM memory.

This leaves us just very few choices. Three actually: a Plus, a SE or a SE/30.

Even though the image isn’t very clear one thing is discernible: the floppy slot is in the lower part of the case. It cannot be a Plus because this model had the floppy drive positioned midway between the bottom and the screen. On the contrary the SE case had a wide space between the drive and the screen where the designers put horizontal groove lines.

It is very likely that we are looking at a SE which was released in March 1987 or a SE/30 which shares the same case but was released in January 1989. It also has just one floppy drive and is sitting atop an external hard drive.

Now that we’ve identified the hardware let’s see the software part.

A Mac in Graffiti Bridge 00

We can cearly see Prince is working (or pretending to) on his song “Can’t Stop This Feeling I’ve Got”.

Unfortunately at the time the Mac’s OS, the System didn’t show the name of the program, just its icon in the right upper corner.
The problem was solved thanks to expert Paolo Tramannoni who identified the software in a split second: Prince is using the MIDI sequencer Performer from Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU).
It is very likely the MIDI-only version, before it gained digital audio capabilities and was renamed Digital Performer.

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Tuesday 01 March 2011, 2:12 pm
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  1. The SE was available in a two-floppy model, in which case the 2nd floppy drive in the upper region below the screen, which was the location of the upper drive bay.

    Just an FYI, as the Mac in question is clearly not a two-floppy model.

    Comment by Jon H — April 23, 2016 @ 5:08 am

  2. MOTU Performer on the Mac. That takes me back, let me to you. First proper sequencer I used on the Mac – was on Apple II s before that.

    Comment by RattyUK — April 23, 2016 @ 7:32 am

  3. That was great software and rock solid on SEs and Classics! Just som interface element missing from Performer (like the controls/transport section), might be a refresh rate issue of the video

    Comment by Marc van Biesen — April 23, 2016 @ 11:40 pm

  4. So cool! Didn’t know MOTU was around that far back. I have used MOTU digital performer to record my albums, since 2004 or so (the FireWire 828 was a big deal for people like me). Still use it today. Me and the Purple One, baby!

    Comment by Corbin — April 25, 2016 @ 3:33 am

  5. […] the eagle-eyed, nuggets like this will turn up alongside, perhaps, the vault of unreleased music he is rumoured to have in the […]

    Pingback by Dearly Beloved. — April 25, 2016 @ 4:14 pm

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