Apple’s Steve Jobs gives a demo of the first Mac to the public, which has remained unseen for 30 years — until now.
Way back in 1984, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed off the first iteration of the Mac at a company shareholders meeting. However, what most people didn’t know is Jobs made a second presentation to the Boston Computer Society at Boston’s John Hancock Hall. The clip, which runs 96 minutes, has not been seen publicly for the better part of 30 years — until today. Now, while the shareholders managed to be the first ones to witness the unit’s unveiling, the video gives us a look at how actual users and consumers reacted to the computer at the time.
After the reveal, Jobs even participated in a Q&A session with members of the Macintosh team which includes Bill Atkinson, Steve Capps, Owen Densmore, Andy Hertzfeld, Bruce Horn, Rony Sebok, Burrell Smith and Randy Wigginton. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, which was not a Mac team member, crashed the Q&A panel and talked about the “Apple II” line of computers.
Though the first part of the presentation follows the same script as the Cupertino event, Jobs goes on after the initial script concludes and compares text-oriented computers such as the IBM PC to telegraph machine and the Mac to telephones.
Now, if you go back about a hundred years, to the 1880s, there were approximately twenty, twenty-five thousand 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 thirty or forty 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 twenty to forty to a hundred hours to learn Morse code. They just wouldn’t have done it.
But with the telephone, within ten 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.
For most people today, Steve Jobs was seen as an entrepreneur and inventor who ushered in Apple’s dominance of the mobile smartphone and tablet market before his passing in 2011.