One look and you knew what the future would be. For the iPhone, the touchscreen and apps. For the first Mac (even more so than the predecessor, Apple’s powerful and expensive Lisa), it was a future of point and click. What has changed in 35 years?
Power & Capability
I remember the first Mac. Underpowered was an understatement. The Mac didn’t do much back then except to point us toward the future. $2,495 got you a 9-inch black and white display, a single 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, and 128k of RAM. That’s “K”. Apps? MacWrite and MacPaint.
That was it, folks.
The 128k Mac was a desktop luggable. It could be moved around but you could pull a muscle. By comparison, $2,499 today– $4 more than the first Mac– gets you a desktop iMac with 27-inch Retina 5K display, 16GB RAM, and 2TB storage.
That was the hardware.
Today, every Mac comes with nearly all the software most of us would ever need. Mail, Messages, FaceTime, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Photos, iMovie, GarageBand, News, Stocks, Maps, Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Safari, iTunes, Books, and more.
MacWrite and MacPaint it ain’t.
The latest 21st century Mac line is a screamer of productivity, capability, capacity, and quality when compared to the original Mac. In 1984 dollars, that same $2,495 will buy you an iMac Pro worth more than $5,000.
What about a comparison to the new MacBook Air?
The entry-level (that’s all Apple had back in the day) Mac was $2,495. About $100 less than that today will get you two new MacBook Air models; Retina display, 128GB SSD storage, Touch ID, Force Touch Trackpad, dual Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, and 8GB RAM.
There is no real comparison to be made.
The personal computer invasion that began back in the late 1970s has pushed prices down while improving performance, power, and capability with every component. The MacBook Air, at half the price, is a far better purchase than the original Mac, and perhaps any Mac since.
That brings up a good question.
If tech gadgets, as exemplified by the Mac from 1984 to 2019– more power, more capability, less money– then what happened to the smartphone revolution?
The original iPhone was $599. Today, the newest and least expensive iPhone model is iPhone XR at $749; 25-percent higher. As with the MacBook Air compared to the first Mac, iPhone XR is a far more powerful device with more capability, but is more expensive than the original; not less expensive. The new MacBook Air is less expensive and more capable.