back to article The Apple Mac is 35 years old. Behold the beige box of the future

It is 35 years since computer buyers were first able to take a glimpse into a fruity future without having to remortgage for an Apple Lisa. Happy birthday, Mac. After the disastrous debut of the Lisa, and the abject failure of the Apple III, it was down to the Steve Jobs-led Macintosh project to save the day for the troubled …

  1. OnlyMortal

    My first job was as a Mac programmer (MacPlus 1MB+ HD 20) doing C and 68K with MPW.

    Upgraded to a Mac SE with a 16Mhz uograde and an external 70MB SCSI HD (Qisk).

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Similar experience. Although I started with BASIC and COBOL, plus Mac with MPW, Lightspeed C and Lightspeed Pascal, plus 4D.

      In 1989 I had on my desk a Burroughs BTOS terminal, a VT220, a DEC Rainbow, an IBM-PC, an HP 150, and HP Vectra and a Mac SE. I was maintaining systems on each of them - with all the documenation written in Word on the Mac. There wasn't much room for paper! But I could balance a coffee cup on top of the Mac.

    2. David Kelly 2

      I believe the SE was only Slightly Enhanced, a few percent faster with same CPU clock but better interlace with shared video memory, plus SCSI. The effective 68000 CPU clock was still in the 5 MHz range. Was the SE/30 with 68030 CPU that jumped to 16 MHz.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Correct.

        Although you could get the SE with either 1 floppy, dual floppy or floppy + HD internally.

        Didn't the SE/30 come out with the Mac IIcx or IIfx?

        I think the Mac Plus also had SCSI. The original Mac 128K only had an external floppy port, but Apple did make an HDD unit that plugged into that, slow, but more useful than just dual floppy.

  2. PaulyV

    It's a great computer. I am using one to post thi

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hunter Cressal agrees with you. Click to see a classic Mac bitch. It's slightly dated, but will bring back memories!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-77DvGxBMfs

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical el Reg

    Re: "Assuming their pockets were deep enough." and other such comments.

    I find it quite unprofessional how El Reg takes incessant jibes at Apple and somehow never finds any other IT vendor to be quite so vitriolic about, despite the fact that those of us working in the IT industry know there are many *REAL* turds of IT vendors who are far, far worse than Apple. The IT industry is full of horrible box shifters, Apple is *NOT* one of them.

    Also, quite frankly, you can get pretty tip-top support out of Apple. I know someone (nobody special, not a big corporate contract) who had an Apple laptop that developed an intermittent motherboard fault causing his laptop to crash at random moments (and at other times, sometimes for days, it worked perfectly).

    That person opened an Apple support ticket. Went through some basic troubleshooting. The basic troubleshooting did not reveal anything of note. But the crashes occurred again, so this time when a ticket was opened (and at Apple's behest, without prompting), the call was transferred to a Senior Advisor who took ownership and made sure the case was seen by Apple Engineering. Once a few core dumps were gathered, an appointment was made at the nearest Apple Store and a swift replacement of offending unit occurred.

    People bitch and moan about how "expensive" Apple is. But if you look at the facts of the matter you are paying for (a) high quality hardware (b) high quality software (c) high quality support. Sure the headline price of your average PC notebook might be cheaper than a Mac, but on the hardware its usually not much cheaper if you are truly comparing like with like, and then you won't get the same levels of support from the disparate PC ecosphere that you do with Apple.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Typical el Reg

      Part of it comes with El Reg being UK based. Apple really stuck it to the UK and Europe with their prices.

      The Mac might have been $2200 or so, when it came out. But with $2 to the pound, the Mac should have been 1,100UKP at the time, but they cost somewhere in the region of 3,500 - 4,000UKP, nearly $8000. At least that was the case when the Mac II range was around.

      Even HP weren't that extreme with their prices!

      There was a huge market for grey imports of Macs, which made them just eye wateringly expensive, not kick you in the 'nads and run off with your wallet expensive.

      As to the high quality hardware, that is BS. They use the same mass produced components as everyone else - with the exception of their own implementation of the ARM chip. Back in the day, Motorola processor (a la Amiga, Atari ST and a plethora of other manufacturers of decidely more affordable kit), 3.5" floppies (only the IO chip on the mainboard was custom to make it read at varying speeds), standard RAM, a standard CRT display, standard SCSI controllers and SCSI disks.

      Heck, the DisplayWriter laser printer was a Canon unit, the same as used in the LaserJet 1, but cost twice as much.

      High quality support? If I break my Android phone my provider will swap it out for a new/refurbished one the next day, if I break an iPhone, they collect it, send it to an approved Apple repair center and it comes back 2 weeks later and Apple refuse to supply a loaner whilst the iPhone is away for repair. Yeah, 2 weeks without a phone is much better support than simply swapping out the damaged phone for a new one.

      Yes, I could take out Apple Care on top, to get the same level of support than the other manufacturers give for free on their phones that cost a fraction of what the iPhone costs... No rip-off there then.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical el Reg

        I would take iOS privacy over Android spyware any day.

        1. fishman

          Re: Typical el Reg

          Lots of spying going on in the IOS apps.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical el Reg

        "Back in the day, Motorola processor"

        Yeah, and some of us are old enough to remember the "Apple clone" days and the smelly crap that the clone manufacturers used to throw on to the market just because they could sell it cheaper than Apple's own boxes.

        There might be mass-produced resistors and other components inside. But Apple differentiates themselves with the amount of in-house R&D and QC they do which is light-years ahead of the competition who outsource all that stuff to the lowest bidder.

        The only people who bitch and moan about apple being expensive and "an iphone components only costing X but Apple sell the phone at Y" are the people who have been life-long apple haters.

        The rest of us are a bit more capable of understanding the fact that yes iPhone components cost X, but what about the R&D, prototyping, software development, software updates, CDN distribution, servers, staff, offices etc. etc. etc. Its not as simple as saying you can pick up the hardware components on Ebay and build one yourself with a soldering iron.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Typical el Reg

          No, not just Apple haters.

          I used the original Mac, Mac Plus, SE, SE/30 and IIcx. Later I used an iMac 24" (2007) and an iPhone 3GS. (I also had various Sinclair, Commodore, Acorn, Memotech, Amstrad, Gateway 2000, selfbuilt, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer and other manufacturers kit over the years.)

          The original Macs were great, if not that reliable, we had about 40 of them and an engineer would be there at least a couple of times a month to replace defective components. But when they worked, they were great. It took a long time for Windows to catch up.

          But hardware to run Windows was always a lot cheaper, yes, for the well heeled there were also luxury brands for Windows hardware, but there was also much cheaper hardware that used the same components, was just as reliable, but was just in a NTB (nasty tin box) instead of a designer jacket.

          My old Acer laptop (2003) laster until 2018. My iMac (2007) lasted until 2013 for official support from Apple and 2016 before the hardware died. Which one was better value for money?

          Yes, the component costs aren't the sum of any products cost. But you just have to look at Apple's bank balance to realise that the difference between X and Y has little to do with R&D, prototyping, software development and updates etc.

          1. armster

            Re: Typical el Reg

            How did your iMac loose support? My 2004 is still getting updates, I'm still running High Sierra, but Mojave is just waiting to get installed.

            Apple hardware really used to be top notch, but now any decent Laptop comes with thunderbolt and MIMO wifi, while apple has upped their prices again.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: Typical el Reg

              It was a first generation Intel iMac 24", it had a 64-bit processor with a 32-bit UEFI.

              Apple dropped upgrades with Lion and hasn't updated that with securtiy updates for over half a decade. Its last couple of years were spent running Windows, because although Apple couldn't give a fig about it, Microsoft would have continued providing security updates for Windows 7 until next year...

            2. David Lawton

              Re: Typical el Reg

              In 2004 Apple was still running PowerPC not Intel so quite how you are getting High Sierra on a PowerPC Mac i do not know.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Typical el Reg

          But Apple differentiates themselves with the amount of in-house R&D and QC they do which is light-years ahead of the competition who outsource all that stuff to the lowest bidder.

          Software - goto fail;

          Hardware - Louis Rossmann

        3. muhfugen

          Re: Typical el Reg

          "light years ahead"

          Funny because my mid-2014 rMBP has a severely pitted case because my sweat has dissolved it. I've only ever had this problem with macs because no one else bothers to use an anodized aluminum case. The aluminum safety on my pistol isnt pitted at all. Sure i've held it a lot less, but it also isnt anodized and is just bare metal.

        4. wayward4now
          Linux

          Re: Typical el Reg

          Here. 50 cents to you, too.

    2. Spanners Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Typical el Reg

      ...you are paying for (a) high quality hardware (b) high quality software (c) high quality support.

      Historically, you were also paying for a sh**load of lawyers whose job it was to destroy competition and even potential competition.

      My introduction to the world of computing was the Mac SE. They weren't mine. They belonged to the university so I had no idea about the price. They were easy to use for someone like me who could type fine but was not doing what we would now refer to as STEM.

      After watching their courtroom shenanigans, I will not buy Apple kit even though my employer settle on iShiny things for phones - that's not my money funding lawyers.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Typical el Reg

        Wow. Weird double standard there. I presume you have absolutely no tech in your house? How did you manage to post your comment?

        All global corps enjoy performing courtroom shenanigans. Period. No corporate entity has morals or ethics. Suck it up.

        Personally I think Apples reality distortion field pales besides stinking hypocrisy of the corporation with the motto "Do No Evil". YMMV.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Typical el Reg

        One thing I remember about the Classic Macs is that using a computer with no terminal was like using a computer with one hand tied behind your back.

        The PC had MS-DOS, the Amiga had Shell and AREXX, the Atari ST had a load of different terminals, but the Mac had... nothing.

        1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

          Re: Typical el Reg

          I'm still bitter regarding how the Amiga didn't emerge victorious in the PC/Mac/Amiga battle.

          1. Updraft102 Silver badge

            Re: Typical el Reg

            There was a PC/Mac/Amiga battle?

          2. Stuart Castle

            Re: Typical el Reg

            Unfortunately, while they were far from perfect (*), I feel that had they been given consistently good management and marketing, the Amigas could have been a serious competitor to the Mac, and possibly the PC. Sadly, while Commodore UK did a good job of selling their various systems, Internationally, Commodore didn't do well at that, and as a result, went from having the best selling computer on the market (the Commodore 64) to a company with a ranger of computers, none of which is even in the top ten, and ultimately, bankruptcy.

            (*) Note, that while I think the Amiga range was amazingly powerful for it's time (and price), it had some hardware problems, one of which ensured it had trouble with the then upcoming 3D games (such as Doom). The Amigas used a method of storing graphics called "planar". This divided each Bitmap into multiple planes. PCs and Macs use a method referred to as "Chunky". The advantage of a "planar" display is that it gives more freedom to lower the number of colours (thus saving memory), but the advantage if a "chunky' display is that each pixel is addressable by one byte, and is thus easier and faster to access, hence Chunky being better for games. As Commodore had a chip in the CD32 to convert data from Chunky to Planer, I think had they carried on trading, Commodore would have upgraded the Amiga range to give the advantages of a chunky display.

            1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

              Re: Typical el Reg

              Indeed. I once designed a Zorro III card with Akiko on-board. Never made it out into the wild though as it became clear nobody was going to make use of it.

            2. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Typical el Reg

              There was a CD drive designed for the A1200 with a built-in Akiko chip called a CD1200. Commodore UK wanted to launch it after the CD32 but it seems it never got to the manufacturering stage as Commodore International went bust.

              Video 1 - Retro Computer Museum in Leicester

              Video 2 - David Pleasence

            3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

              Re: Typical el Reg

              The PC was largely planar at the time the Amiga was current. Yes, there's Mode13 on VGA/MCGA, but everything else was planar, including the alternate 256 colour modes.

              PCs had the software base, and that's always the winning factor. It probably didn't help with the various different types of Amiga memory either, or the fact that a very quick google seems to indicate the Amiga is limited to 2MB?

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: Typical el Reg

                The Amiga had "Chip RAM" (contended memory, can be used to do DMA and some of which was used as video memory) and "Fast RAM" (faster uncontended memory). Max Chip RAM could be from 0.5M (earliest models) to 2M (latest models). Max Fast RAM depended on what you had plugged into the expansion slots. It wasn't a problem, programs (usually) asked for the right kind of memory depending on the use it was going to be put to and the OS gave it them.

    3. ST Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Typical el Reg

      > Re: "Assuming their pockets were deep enough." and other such comments.

      [ ... bla-bla-bla corporate boo-hoo-hoo nobody-loves-me snipped for brevity ]

      Go tell your boss in Apple PR or Marketing that corporate whining about not feeling loved isn't going to go over that well. In fact, it might even make things worse.

      Apple's core competency is, and has always been, selling over-priced crap. There is nothing about Apple's hardware or software that is manifestly better than the competition.

      If Apple's kit was indeed better, it wouldn't have to spend so much money and effort in maintaining a cult of brainwashed fanbois an ecosystem.

      1. Tony Horrocks 1

        Re: Typical el Reg

        Well, you might make a point about it being overpriced crap, but let's face it, there are over 2 billion IOS devices in use, apart from Apple's Mac offerings. I don't think you can characterise people buying in those numbers as being brainwashed. Surely Apple must be doing something people like?

        1. ST Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Typical el Reg

          > Surely Apple must be doing something people like?

          Yup. On iPhones, Apple hasn't been able to break above the 17% market share since 2013. Currently stuck averaging 15% market share:

          Apple iPhone market share.

          On Laptops, it's worse. Stuck at 10%:

          Apple Laptop iOS market share.

          I'm guessing selling over-priced crap isn't all what Apple would like us to believe.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Typical el Reg

      "Assuming their pockets were deep enough." and other such comments.

      It's largely irrelevant. All machines at the time were very expensive when compared with modern ones. And, if IBM had had its way, the PCs would have stayed that expensive before being replaced by equally expensive PS/2 based machines.

      Apple obviously got the mix right enough to get a large enough customer base that it was worthwhile for third parties to develop software for it and customers who found sufficient value (having a GUI was enough for some) in the ecosystem to pay for it. It took years for the PC world to come up with anything remotely as good, all while the clones and Intel were producing increasingly beefy beige boxes for WordStar and Lotus 1-2-3, dBase, etc.

      The comparisons aren't like for like, either. An XT even with 640 KB was an 8086 and ran like a dog. The 68000 was a much more modern chip design and could get more done with less. Owning all the hardware meant that the OS could be stuck in ROM because it didn't have to worry about different drivers, etc. And people only needed to run one application at a time. I'd argue that's still largely the case*.

      But, and, you knew there'd be a but, over time the PC hardware got better and better and even with the limitations of the ISA bus, was better pound for pound than the Mac. And Microsoft evenutally came up with a GUI that wasn't completely awful, though some of the awfulness had to do with fending off legal challenges from Apple over a GUI design that it hadn't developed itself.

      Apple's take it or leave it approach suits some people really well and for many the price isn't that relevant: they buy in it in the expectation that "it just works" and they're usually right, which is why Apple has sold so many devices. However, to say price doesn't matter at all is to miss an important point: functional equivalence. Apple ruled the GUI roost until Windows 95 got serious traction. At which point, for many, which the choice of which GUI to run Word in mattered less. It's the same now with phones. And to be honest, Apple only have themselves to blame. They come up with good ideas, implement them brilliantly, try and ringfence everything with lawyers and seem to fall asleep while the rest of the world doesn't. It is now hard to make solid case for a premium Apple phone over the one people already have or a well-thought out mid-range Android. Like many companies, Apple does its best work when it is in a competitive market.

      * I've had MacBooks since 2006. In the first one I had I had to replace the CPU fan twice because it was a shitty plastic one. Fortunately, we have a local store that knows how to handle Apple hardware. The list of bugs in MacOS that have not been properly fixed within a release cycle is also distressingly long.

      1. cjmcguinness

        Re: Typical el Reg

        The XT was an 8088, which was even slower than an 8086 since it was an 8-bit bus to the external world.

    5. MOV r0,r0

      Re: Typical el Reg

      OK then, the article mentions Byte so here's a quote from the late Jerry Pournelle, "the Mac didn't become the computer for the rest of us because the first Macs were too limited and the next generation which could have been that were at prices the rest of us couldn't afford. It took Windows -- unreliable, limited, slick looking but finicky, wasteful of resources -- to get computers on every desk and in every home and in every classroom."

      Much good has come from the democratization of computing but Apple played little part in that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical el Reg

        If there had been no Windows, Apple would have quickly lowered standards enough to accommodate the low end market as well. Hmmm, I wonder how that would have worked out...?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Typical el Reg

          Wow, I seem to have touched a nerve or something! Look at those downvotes!

          BTW, I own two very expensive Apple products and have no problem with them (particularly).

          1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            Re: Typical el Reg

            Probably because you're wrong, John. Apple didn't lower prices, and when they did try a clone programme they ended it soon due to it eating into their margins. Funnily enough, customers preferred to buy better systems for less money, which is what the clone manufacturers provided.

            Windows was largely shit until '93. For non Unix systems there was a choice of NT 3.1, Windows 3.1, or OS/2 2.1 at that point. Apple didn't even bother to start their clone program till 95. They could have chosen to produce a cheap Mac at any point roughly for a decade.

            Of course, Macs were also pretty shit. Great at multi media and graphics, awful at most other things. OS/2 had been offering a protected mode graphical OS/2 since 1988, NT since 1993. Even before NT there was Windows/386 in 1988, which formed a base of Windows 3.0. It's not as if the future direction of PC based OS wasn't clear.

            1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

              Re: Typical el Reg

              "Macs were also pretty shit. Great at multi media and graphics, awful at most other things"

              That is simply not true.

              1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

                Re: Typical el Reg

                I have some old Powermacs at home. Compared to what I was running at the time (mostly OS/2, with some NT, and various Unixes) which true, had their own faults, I would still describe the macs as more than a bit shit.

      2. sprograms

        Re: Typical el Reg

        To quote Jerry Pournelle on the subject, that Apple had nothing to do with the democratization of personal computers, is to forget who Jerry Pournelle was. Apart from his brand of SciFi, he was a writer for PC magazines. And, he was simply wrong. The Apple 2 and Visicalc legitimized personal computers in business. MS and others saw the light and steered their app R&D into applications that could ride that wave. The large quantity of IBM PCs ("nobody ever got fired for buying IBM"), and then closes with MS DOS, sealed the deal. If you indeed worked in an office (accounting, law, clerks, etc.) you will recall the "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" which without doubt caused lock-in. To use a Mac with Word and Excel required essentially no training. Use of the character-based GUI DOS boxes generally did require training of staff.

        Windows and MS didn't democratize computers. Oddly enough, businesses did. Purchasing agents counted cost above all else, and generally were not responsible for training expenses. Further, few executives were willing to risk betting with Apple against IBM, HP, et al. Done.

        For years now Mac OS X (MacOS) has offered an accessible certified System 3 UNIX under the GUI. Few people need that access, but applications developers (including MS) have made good use of it.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Typical el Reg @sprograms

          Hmm. System 3. Not sure that AT&T actually has a certification program for that, and even if it did, System 3 (or SIII as it is often written) was a long time before OS X.

          I don't dispute that OS X has obtained UNIX branding, but I think it started at UNIX 98.

          Ah. Now I see. You are referring to UNIX 03. This is *NOT* UNIX System 3, which was the predecessor of System V, and was available on AT&T hardware (things like the 3B20) from about 1982.

          I actually really dislike the fact that the latest UNIX branding is called UNIX Version 7. To me, that is the Bell Labs. PDP11 release from 1979, also known as UNIX Seventh Edition. it is of passing interest that on the tuhs archive, it's under a branch entitled V7, but as I review the documentation, it is almost universally called UNIX Seventh Edition. I always referred to it as Version 7, though, as did everyone around me at the time. But I also note that the official Digital port of Unix Edition 7 was called V7M or V7M/11. So I don't feel too out on a limb.

          Pedantic Grammar alert, natch.

          1. sprograms

            Re: Typical el Reg @sprograms

            MacOS (under this or any other previous sanctioned name...) was never submitted for UNIX 98 certification. I took a look to see if perhaps NeXT had applied. Nope. MacOS also hasn't been submitted for UNIX V7 certification. -Sorry about the gratuitous "System" term.

            That wasn't pedantic grammar. I'm an attorney with an interest in IP, first and foremost. I write as I speak. Laugh. Your knowledge of UNIX history and variants is unquestionable far beyond mine. Thanks for your corrections.

    6. AntiSol

      Re: Typical el Reg

      Also, quite frankly, you can get pretty tip-top support out of Apple. I know someone (nobody special, not a big corporate contract) who had an Apple laptop that developed an intermittent motherboard fault causing his laptop to crash at random moments (and at other times, sometimes for days, it worked perfectly).

      (snip)

      People bitch and moan about how "expensive" Apple is. But if you look at the facts of the matter you are paying for (a) high quality hardware (b) high quality software (c) high quality support. Sure the headline price of your average PC notebook might be cheaper than a Mac, but on the hardware its usually not much cheaper if you are truly comparing like with like, and then you won't get the same levels of support from the disparate PC ecosphere that you do with Apple.

      Total time in my life I have spent where my primary machine was slower than or equal to the fastest mac available: 0 seconds,

      Number of motherboards I've owned: At least 30, maybe 50 or more.

      Number of times I've had a problem with a motherboard: 0

      Number of times I've had to contact a motherboard manufacturer: 0

      Percentage of times a working motherboard has been replaced due to upgrade rather than failure, greatly expanding capabilities while costing significantly less than a new machine: 100%

      Number of motherboards owned by people I know: who knows. 250? 500?

      Number of times people I know have had a motherboard problem with a PC: 1

      For people I know who have had issues with a PC motherboard, average time from "oh this is an issue with the motherboard" to motherboard replacement and working system at zero cost: <18hrs (he took it back to the store the next day and got a replacement, a process that took a total of about 15 minutes and involved 0 support tickets and 0 core dumps and 0 minutes spent debugging the manufacturer's problem for them)

      Ratio of PC laptops to mac laptops among people I know: ~90% PC.

      Total number of times I've ever heard of a motherboard issue on a laptop: ~3

      Percentage of these that were a mac: 100%

      Average time to resolve these issues: 1-2 weeks. (yes, WEEKS).

      The way I see it, this expensive "superior" hardware has a higher failure rate while being more expensive and less capable and not upgradeable. As far as I'm concerned the quality of your support is irrelevant if your stuff just works.

      Not that I'm impressed by your anecdote, mind you, it seems pretty convoluted and unsatisfactory to me. I'd expect to just take something broken back and have it replaced immediately. You want me to collect core dumps?! How much are you offering to pay me for my services as a tester?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical el Reg

        Agree, sadly, you've said this perfectly. I have had all MBP's. An 07 fry because of the graphics. A 2015 13" that constantly crashed. They wanted me to do all this stuff when it just needed to be replaced. Bad motherboard. I was dying of cancer and just wanted a working machine. A 2016 that had every problem we've heard of. Wanted me to run millions of tests. I've wasted thousands on machines that didn't work. But a 2012 that still runs, two 2015's that run perfect, and a 2012 mini that runs flawless. They get it wrong more often than right and the buyer is hostage to their machine. Be it stress or their time. I couldn't drive with brain tumors to the Apple store and they did nothing to help. Why do I continue? Because I still find Windows unpleasant and randomly slow. I have spent money on software for Mac. Switching full time would be so expensive I'd just go Linux. I can run Ubuntu Mate on all my hardware if I lose Apple support and if the hardware still works. I did have a gateway laptop with a bad motherboard. But a 386, custom build, 2 Dells, 2 HP's, and an Acer were all reliable. With a PC I can buy the hardware I need at any budget. Apple I must buy what they think I need, max it out so it lasts since I can't upgrade, and not get the support they are somehow still famous for. Their support is an example of what not to do since at least 2015 yet nobody is talking about it because they don't believe those of us who complain or went from fanboy to pissed. I can't see Apple sustaining if they continue to churn out products as reliable as Apple pre-iMac. Maybe corporations get better support than individuals. If I were paid to go through an insane amount of diagnostics I might not have such disgust for Apple support.

    7. kurios

      Re: Typical el Reg

      I'm with you.

      My anecdata experience with Apple since the Mac Classic has been nothing short of excellent. Even when things went wrong.

      I took a G4 laptop in for the nth time to replace a problematic hard drive. The Apple rep had seen me before at the Palo Alto store and said "not again? - give me a minute".

      He came back with a new MacBook (or whatever it was called back then) that skipped me ahead two hardware generations and just gave it to me. He asked me to bring my old one back after I'd migrated my stuff to the new machine. Didn't even take my name.

      This was three days before AppleCare on my G4 laptop would have expired. The guy could have blown me off for 72 hours and it would have become my problem.

      Experiences like that really cement customer loyalty. I've had so little trouble with Apple gear that I don't know what the current customer experience is like, but I hope they're using their enormous cash position to treat their customers the way they treated me.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Typical el Reg

        "The guy could have blown me off for 72 hours and it would have become my problem."

        Really? Is that level of US customer protection? Over here, so long as you start the complaint process before the warranty is up, then it's their problem, not yours.

      2. NetBoy2020

        Re: Typical el Reg

        So not the case anymore.

    8. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      Re: Typical el Reg

      The TCO analysis needs to consider support as well. When I worked for Boeing, engineers started out with Macs (in the early '90s). Cute little machines and connected to a network, sufficient for shuffling around e-mail, editing documents and doing some small spreadsheets. Serious apps ran on X terminals from *NIX systems in the server room. We had an in -ouse Mac maintenance guy doing support for all the sites in south Seattle and Renton. When management finally dictated a move to PCs, the support group was staffed up to a dozen or so people just to take care of our building. And they were busy.

      When the PC install guy showed up at my desk with a Dell, all I got was a command prompt. He told me that the software install group would be around 'shortly'. After a few months of this box taking up desk space and no Windows 1.0 yet, I found this thing called Linux. Asked the boss if it was OK to install and he said, "Sure." I never looked back and never had a Windows machine on my desk for the rest of my career there. I did my own support but probably spent less time on my own desktop than the Windows support people spent on the desktops around me.

    9. JLV Silver badge

      Re: Typical el Reg

      Hey, I’m an Apple user and I dearly wish they’d lower their price. No issues with El Reg poking fun at them :-)

      The biggest gripe I have isn’t their base prices, because that could, by some, be argued to be due to exceptional this or that engineering (or the pleasure of not dealing with Windows).

      No, what gets my goat is how extra we pay for each SSD or RAM increment. That’s _easy_ to compare with after market prices.

    10. wayward4now
      Headmaster

      Re: Typical el Reg

      Here. 50 cents.

  4. big_D Silver badge

    128K+

    We had a couple of the original 128K Macs. They had been upgraded (memory piggy-backing, ISTR) and an external hard drive. I think we only had 2, the rest were Mac Plus models, and later SEs, before the company dumped Apple and switched to PCs.

    But, unlike the Plus that had a SCSI port for external drives, the original only had an external Floppy port, for an external floppy drive to supplement the internal one. Apple did release a 20MB drive that plugged into that port. It wasn't fast, but it was better than manually changing 40 floppies.

    At least the SCSI version of the external drive was standard. I used a spare one on my Amiga A500 with A590 Sidecar.

    I also remember the computer shop in Southampton that sold Amigas had a 1000 set up with 8 external floppy drives daisy-chained together, so that they could demonstrate Dragon's Lair without having to constantly swap floppies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 128K+

      > They had been upgraded (memory piggy-backing, ISTR)

      Yes, apparently even *that* trick (#) was only possible because designers knew damn well that 128KB was inadequate and went behind Jobs' back to include 19 address lines (for up to 512KB addressible memory) rather than 17 (max 128KB) in the original Macintosh. (##)

      (#) WP states that later 128KB models (post-"Macintosh 128K" renaming AFAICT) were easier, though still not trivial, to upgrade.

      (##) In a move very reminiscent of their later making the iPhone's storage non-upgradeable- forcing buyers to commit to what they wanted (or had to guess they might want) upfront, at Apple prices- Wikipedia notes that:-

      "In September 1984, after months of complaints over the Mac's inadequate RAM, Apple released an official 512k machine. Although this had always been planned from the beginning, Steve Jobs maintained if the user desired more RAM than the Mac 128 provided, he should simply pay extra money for a Mac 512 rather than upgrade the computer himself."

      1. Crypto Monad

        Re: 128K+

        I actually upgraded my Mac 128 to Mac 512. It involved desoldering all the DRAM chips and soldering in bigger ones - and maybe a jumper link changing too, I can't remember that part.

        This was in the days of DIL integrated circuits, which could be easily desoldered from PCBs. You could make a desoldering tool by taking the earth pin from a 13A plug, screwing it onto the end of a sufficiently meaty soldering iron.

        1. ljdramone

          Re: 128K+

          Me too. I bought a kit with 16 32KB chips and 16 chip sockets. Desoldered all 256 pins of the 128KB Mac's 8KB memory chips, soldered in the sockets, and inserted the new chips. I used desoldering braid to clean out the holes in the PCB.

          Don't remember having to change a jumper. I do remember a big sigh of relief when I reassembled the thing, powered it up, and it displayed the happy Mac icon instead of a sad Mac with hexadecimal error code.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: 128K+

      Nice article El Reg! Those were the days!

      Back then I ran all the company accounts on an S100 ZPM computer with SuperCalc and used to hear all the Mac and PC people telling me how wonderful their machines were - but when I can to getting the work done, my system beat their into the ground with it's pair of 8" DSDD, 576k of banked memory, and an interrupt driven VT100. When you have the operating system source code you can extend it everywhere.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: 128K+

        "When you have the operating system source code you can extend it everywhere."

        Yeah, try telling that to your average user today and they'll just go all glassy eyed and wander of muttering something about geeks and nerds :-)

  5. James O'Shea

    Wrong in so many ways

    Users became quickly accustomed to swapping floppies in order to do what little useful work the pitiful 128K would afford.

    Many/most users got an external floppy drive, either Apple's (expensive) one or a 3rd-party unit. I purchased a Mac 128 with an Apple external floppy and an Imagewriter (note: that's 'Imagewriter', it didn't get InterCaps until the ImageWriter II, be advised that the Wiki article is full of shit even for Wiki.). Because I got it literally the last day before I graduated, and my uni was a member of the Apple University Consortium, I got the whole bundle for under US$1500. I did have to wait three weeks for the Mac to show, another week for the Imagewriter, and two more for the external floppy. Apparently Apple couldn't make the things fast enough to keep up with demand. As very few applications required three floppy drives, I did very little floppy swapping. And, as I had two drives, most of the floppy swapping I did was much simpler than you imply. The Mac shipped with MacWrite and MacPaint, and as an early adopter and member of the AUC I qualified for free copies of MacDraw and MacProject. I used all four to good effect, with minimal floppy swapping, in my first job out of uni.

    Third parties eventually launched hard drives for the machines, which had to be attached via the serial port.

    External floppy and some early external hard drives attached via the (slow, and annoying) external floppy port, not the serial port. There was a hack for an internal hard drive. That, and some external drives, used the serial port, as it was a 'virtual slot'. Floppy port hard drives weren't particularly fast. Serial port external drives were faster, but that's not hard. There were external hard drives for both the floppy port and the serial port by the end of 1984, so 'eventually' translates to 'within 8-10 months from go'. The internal drive hack, which was much faster, arrived before the Mac 128's first anniversary. By the time that Apple got around to offering hard drives, multiple 3rd parties had been there before them, and had faster, cheaper, drives with more capacity. There would be a reason why the Hard Disk 20 wouldn't sell well. Several reasons, actually.

    Hard drive support (and Finder 5.0) turned up in September 1985's System 2.1

    I was using a hard drive well before Sept 1985.

    While visually flashy, with menus, windows and a funky mouse-pointer, System 1.0 could only run one application at a time (let's face it, that 128K would have struggled with much more)

    I was using a 3rd-party Finder replacement on the hard drive noted above which allowed me to run multiple applications. In particular, I would usually run MacWrite or Word at the same time as MacProject.

    Even with a woeful amount of RAM, and only a limited line-up of productivity software at launch – although Microsoft was quick to support the thing with Word and Excel

    Incorrect. Word 1.0 didn't show for several months, and was quickly (very quickly) replaced by Word 1.05, as Microsoft was, as usual, unable to get it right the first time. Excel did not appear until 1985. What was available from Microsoft was Multiplan and Chart, Excel's ancestors. They were available before Word. I got a copy of Multiplan, and one of MS Basic, the day I ordered my Mac, so I actually had them for several weeks before I had a computer to run them on. I also got database software. I used MS Basic until I got MacPascal in 1985.

    Jobs, however, left the company in 1985.

    Jobs was kicked out by John Scully & Co., who had been brought in to bring 'modern business management' to Apple. The first bit of modern business management they did was to get rid of Jobs. The second was to ride Apple into the ground, paving the way for the Return of the Steve in wrath and gory... ah, 'glory', I meant 'glory'.

    Early adopters of the original Mac were offered what was effectively a motherboard replacement at a cost of $995 to make their 16.5lb plastic boxes more useful.

    It was a motherboard swap. I held off until the arrival of the Mac Plus, did a motherboard swap for that, and got an internal 800 kB floppy drive as part of the deal. I also bought an external 40 MB SCSI drive. Total cost: under $1500. Getting extra RAM was expensive: two 1 MB sticks at $600 each. Six months later two more 1 MB sticks at $300 each, RAM prices had tumbled. I used that configuration for seven years, except that I added external SCSI drives. The supermini at work had a 5MHz 24-bit CPU, 2 MB of RAM and 300 MB of storage (CDC disk packs, US$10,000 each. No, I'm not exaggerating.) I had a 8 MHz 32-bit CPU, 4 MB of RAM, and a total of over 200 MB of storage.

    Assuming their pockets were deep enough.

    You _do_ know what IBM PC-XTs and _ATs cost at the time, don't you?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong in so many ways

      "External floppy and some early external hard drives attached via the (slow, and annoying) external floppy port, not the serial port. There was a hack for an internal hard drive. That, and some external drives, used the serial port, as it was a 'virtual slot'. Floppy port hard drives weren't particularly fast. Serial port external drives were faster, but that's not hard."

      On a point of technical order: the Mac floppy port was serial. It just wasn't one of the things actually called "serial port".

      From memory, the modem and printer ports (the things called "serial ports") could do 230,400 bits/s internally clocked and up to 920,000 bits/s externally clocked: even 230,400 bits/s is considerably faster than the 19,200 bits/s which typical IBM-type PCs of the mid-1980s could manage via their RS232-C serial ports.

      I've searched and failed to find any information on what data rate the floppy port could manage but memory tells me that external Mac floppy drives worked as fast as the internal ones (yes, I have two along with a Mac 512Ke and a Mac Plus all in cupboards somewhere). I dare say the floppy port was annoyingly slow when connecting to a HDD, but the speed wasn't a problem when accessing actual floppy disc drives.

      I found this in a 1985 review of the original Mac HD20 HDD:

      https://macgui.com/news/article.php?t=436

      "In terms of performance it is certainly the most quiet of any of the disk drives I have heard. In terms of speed it is slower that the Hyperdrive, and slower than the MacBottom, but faster than any of the other hard drives."

      I did once (for a bit of a laugh) set up my Mac Plus with an Apple 20MB SCSI external HDD as a LocalTalk server - which used a serial port at 230,000 bits/s - and it was effectively unusable as a personal computer when actually serving files due to the demand placed on the CPU. The Mac Plus had the same ~8MHz 68000 CPU as the original 128k Mac, so I suspect trying to use either the printer or modem serial port at the highest externally clocked speed would have been impractical on any of the 68000 CPU Macs.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Wrong in so many ways

        We had a Mac Plus with external drive and AppleTalk as a server as well, but it was dedicated and sat in a corner of the smooking room, along with the LaserWriter.

  6. LDS Silver badge

    Apple was lucky that IBM was so office-centric its graphic cards sucked.

    Who know what would have happened if IBM added something better than a CGA card, or text-only ones (the Pro card was expensive and very little supported)

    1. WallMeerkat

      Re: Apple was lucky that IBM was so office-centric its graphic cards sucked.

      Indeed once the PC (mostly 'IBM compatibles' by this stage) caught up by the mid 90s, Apple was in real trouble. Their USP of DTP was under serious threat.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "Their USP of DTP was under serious threat."

        No, by then PC had the hardware, but not the software. Windows 3.x lacked many advanced graphic features and Win32 GDI was also slow, and Windows NT/9x were no better.

        It would take another five years for Windows to catch up, it happened only from 2000 onwards - at least for professional use. For lower-end uses, Windows could have been usable, but a lot depended on the actual output needs - i.e. glossy magazines and art books were usually outside Windows capabilities, and would have required expensive efforts to obtain what a Mac could deliver more easily.

        The reason is exactly PC OS evolved out of hardware designed for "office" tasks - which was the main IBM market - while IBM itself was very careful not to ruin its own other lucrative markets with the PC, crippling the performances as needed.

        Until clones "run free" and didn't wait for IBM to set the standards and then copy them, but it was already late - Windows was designed with Excel in mind, not Photoshop or PageMaker. In many ways rightly so, because there was where most money were - still that ensured Apple had a relatively large niche where to survive.

        It's also no surprise all the Windows graphic software houses went nowhere (Micrografx, Ventura, Corel, eventually all bought by the latter), and Adobe became the 800 pound gorilla, extending its reach to Windows too.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Apple was lucky that IBM was so office-centric its graphic cards sucked.

      8086 + ISA + CGA was awful and IBM didn't intend to stick with it. But it was good enough for the wordprocessing et al. that customers were doing with it.

      A bigger problem perhaps was that the PS/2 architecture wasn't good enough to justify the price. So we got stuck with the shitty bus and the shitty 8086 memory management and threw money at clock speeds and memory to overcome them. Oh, and there was the whole fiasco of outsourcing the development of the OS to Microsoft, who basically did everything to stifle development of anything that might compete with Windows.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "the whole fiasco of outsourcing the development of the OS to Microsoft"

        ?

        Microsoft never made hardware - it needs someone to make it available for whatever OS it makes.

        IBM was thinking about CP/M, nothing else. DOS was a CP/M alternative - and IBM never asked anything more - AFAIK. IBM was fully comfortable with text-mode only software.

        In many ways the need to be DOS-compatible for a long time slowed down Windows development - especially until the VIrtual86 mode made it far easier to run DOS instances in protected mode - which was the only way to use more than 1MB or RAM. Still Window for a long time was built atop DOS.

        Apple had far more freedom in this.

    3. Steve Todd

      Re: Apple was lucky that IBM was so office-centric its graphic cards sucked.

      You could easily get bit-mapped monochrome graphics for the PC (go look up the Hercules Graphics Card), the problem was that the 8088 @4.77MHz sucked compared to a 7.8MHz 68000.

      The fact that the 8088 was a 16 bit CPU with a 8 bit data bus didn't help, but the 64K segmented memory size and a limited set of registers (many instructions were restricted as to which registers you could use, which made things worse) were also killers. Windows didn't really become usable until the 386 arrived.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Apple was lucky that IBM was so office-centric its graphic cards sucked.

        The issue was most software was coded for the most common adapters available. The processor speed was rapidly increased by clones, which also often used 8086 instead of 8088, clocked at 8Mhz, and even over 10-12 soon later. But it's true IBM deliberately crippling PC performance to avoid them eating into the minis business was another advantage for Apple.

        Segments were not much of an issue for 16 bit processors in real mode, especially with those amounts of RAM.

        The CPU internals were mostly an issue on paper, in actual code Intel performed well enough. There are many other factors (i.e. memory access speed, prefetchers, etc.) that impact what overall performance will be.

        And Macs now run on Intel too....

  7. WallMeerkat

    Early memories of these in education. Around 1990 or so typing up an article on a compact for the school newsletter. They seemed to have one of these, an RM Nimbus 386 and a BBC Micro.

    Then mid 90s in secondary school, one of the computer labs had a suite of macs - a mixture of classics, SEs and LC475s. the LCs were fought over as they had the bigger screen and colour. Another computer lab had a suite of RM Nimbus 386s on a BNC network booting off a central server. The 1st 15 minutes of an IT lesson was spent watching it boot.

    One of the individual teachers had a beige G3 which ran MS Ancient Lands. It had a 'PowerPC' label, I wondered if that meant it could run windows software (before I later realised it was the architecture). Then later in the 90s one of the teachers got one of the trendy new blueberry iMacs - "But it has no floppy" / "USB external floppy!".

    Then early 2000s into university education, the lecturers seemed to like their macs. My first exposure to OSX even though they were using the OS9 version of Powerpoint. Our labs were Windows 2000 and RHEL mini ITX boxes, it was late into a university project before I used a Mac again to run some old software written on a Sun workstation. Bought a cheap Mac Mini about 6 months before Sir Steve moved the shop to Intel.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alas that the OS is now 2000 times more bloated, not 2000 times better. Diminishing returns at their worst....

    1. JLV Silver badge

      > 2000 more bloated

      oh, pls.

      we now have systems that can run database servers, application servers and multiple sundry microservices on one machine and OS. and reliably so, at least for dev. we can install new services and utilities promptly and reliably from the shell. yes, even on Windows, with Chocolatey. we have advanced scripting capabilities via bash (or even, shudder, Powershell)

      that’s true with Linux, Windows and macos.

      try doing that with DOS, Windows 3 or macos 8.

      does the term “collaborative multitasking” remind you of anything?

      does to me.

  9. juice Silver badge

    Much negativity, such wow

    I was a wee bit too young to be interested in computers at the time, and the Wikipedia article does seem to indicate that the memory limitations (and lack of a built in programming language) were points raised in reviews of the original Mac.

    OTOH, the Lisa had been roundly lambasted for being too expensive, and unless you were willing to throw a stupendous amount of money at your computer, RAM was still very expensive in 1983 (https://jcmit.net/memoryprice.htm - 256kb cost around $500 in 1983) and barring the IBM PC, there wasn't that many computers which had much more. E.g.

    * Commodore 64: 64k ram, 16k ROM

    * ZX Spectrum: 48k ram, 16k ROM

    * The various 8-bit Atari models topped out at 64k

    Then too, when the Amiga and Atari launched a year later in 1985, they both only came with 256kb!

    (Even today, trimming memory and storage tends to be the main way in which manufacturers keep prices down - after all, these are pretty much the only things not integrated into the main CPU these days!)

    Admittedly, the 384*512 display occupied approx. 21kb of that ram, but the Mac still had more than any of it's consumer-level rivals.

    Reading between the lines of the Wikipedia article (it's a shame there's no references for the story about the engineers sneaking extra address lines onto it; if nothing else, this seems to contradict the statement that Apple had always planned to produce a 512kb model), I do think the Mac was the Apple's (or more precisely, Jobs) first attempt to create a "solution" rather than a "system": a black box which can't be upgraded or repaired, but which performs a specific set of tasks well.

    Alas (?), computer technology arguably wasn't mature enough to support this concept, especially with Moore's Law making huge strides in cost reduction, performance and features, and so later Macs ended up just as configurable and expandable as it's rivals.

    But when Jobs came back from the desert, pretty much the first thing he did was to strip Apple's product line down and focus on black-box "solutions", starting with the iMac and continuing with the iPod and then the iPhone...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Much negativity, such wow

      Then too, when the Amiga and Atari launched a year later in 1985, they both only came with 256kb!

      They could, however, be expanded from the get go, and customers didn't have to wait for marketing to discover that engineering hid extra address lines in there.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Much negativity, such wow

      "this seems to contradict the statement that Apple had always planned to produce a 512kb model"

      From memory, Jobs decided that the original Mac should be impossible to expand internally, but the engineers covertly ensured that it would be possible to produce one with more RAM without too much bother. Also from memory, that turned out to be useful because at the original Mac launch, the demos that Steve Jobs showed off needed a Mac with 512K, which the engineers could supply at least as a one-off.

      I've got a 512Ke and I actually used it for college work in around 1993 with an external floppy drive and an ImageWriter II (all salvaged from an office clear-out). For basic word processing jobs, it was actually quite nice to use, and while the printer might have been a dot matrix, it was better than most of the type. If I recall correctly, the 512Ke took about 15s to boot into whatever word processor I had for it (if you wanted to run an application, the most convenient way in the long run was to create a boot disc with that application on it. Peculiar things, those old Macs).

      I'm currently using an iMac from 2009: 16GB RAM, 1TB HDD, 27" screen. Yes, it's more than a bit better than a Mac 512Ke but it doesn't half take a long time to boot. It usually takes more than 15s to wake from sleep.

      1. paulll Bronze badge

        Re: Much negativity, such wow

        "this seems to contradict the statement that Apple had always planned to produce a 512kb model"

        Jef Raskin, the guy who developed the Mac, never intended anything so idiotic as to cripple it with 128kb of non-upgradeable memory. Then some idiot hijacked the project and picked some random specifications that he said he knew could be done better. The RAM was one of them. He was completely, absolutely wrong. As usual.

        "From memory, Jobs decided that the original Mac should be impossible to expand internally, but the engineers covertly ensured that it would be possible to produce one with more RAM without too much bother. Also from memory, that turned out to be useful because at the original Mac launch, the demos that Steve Jobs showed off needed a Mac with 512K, which the engineers could supply at least as a one-off."

        So yes, with the project approaching D-Day (Because some idiot had hjiacked the project and the management had had enough of the delays that his fuckwittery was causing) the engineers did slip a means of quickly upgrading the RAM into the demo board.

        The critical demo worked, the project was green-lit for production, the above-mentioned idiot fired the engineer who had actually made the damned thing work, and, as was his wont throughout his entire parasitic life, basked in other people's success.

        1. juice Silver badge

          Re: Much negativity, such wow

          > The critical demo worked, the project was green-lit for production, the above-mentioned idiot fired the engineer who had actually made the damned thing work, and, as was his wont throughout his entire parasitic life, basked in other people's success.

          Ah, the joys of crossing metaphorical swords with an egotistical perfectionist - even when you're right, you're wrong.

          To be fair, Jobs probably had a point about launching at 128kb; at $2495, the Mac was already pricey, and adding more RAM would have bumped that up by around $200-$300, if I'm reading the prices at the time correctly.

          OTOH, deciding to make it non-expandable was really short-sighted, especially when the market was evolving so quickly. As mentioned earlier, I do think Jobs was trying to implement the "closed/turnkey system" approach which worked so well later on for the iMac, iPhone and iPod, but the market and technology simply weren't mature enough for this to work back in 1984.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Much negativity, such wow

      Nitpick, but the Atari ST launched with 512KB as standard.

      While there *are* definitely some "260ST" models in existence- which by Atari's naming convention suggests 256KB (an apparent reflection of the original plan to sell a model with this much memory), this page and others suggests most or all shipped with 512K. Any 256KB models must be very rare, if they exist at all.

      No idea if there was any difference between them and the 520ST. I note suggestions that Jack Tramiel wanted to use up the badges he'd already paid for, and I can believe that's the kind of cheapskate thing he'd have done!

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Much negativity, such wow

        And the sudden explosion of memory made some programmers lazy.

        I got to look at the source code, for I think Goldrunner, on the C64 and Amiga. The C64 version was tightly coded, the Amiga version looked like the programmer had found the copy-and-paste function in the editor.

        The delay loop to make the game slower in early levels was about 5 or 6 bytes long on the C64, a simple set register and DJNZ loop (decrement and jump not zero). On the Amiga the code was about 64K long, there were pages and pages of NOP (no output) commands and the code just jumped further into the block on each level to decrease the delay. No reason for it, just "you could", because there was suddenly so much memory to play with...

        1. paulll Bronze badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Much negativity, such wow

          DJNZ's a Z80 (ie, right-thinking, op-code). I never did much tinkering with the C64 but I believe in its 6502-derived instruction set the code would be DEC;BNE bbbb. (Or DEX or DEY)

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Much negativity, such wow

            You are right. It is too long since I've done any Z80 or 6502 machine code. ;-)

            I got them mixed up. But the case still remains, both programs were written to fit the memory available.

            1. paulll Bronze badge

              Re: Much negativity, such wow

              Yup, still a solid point - hence the angry pedant icon;)

      2. juice Silver badge

        Re: Much negativity, such wow

        > Nitpick, but the Atari ST launched with 512KB as standard.

        Fair enough - that'll teach me to just glance at the Wikipedia page for the ST! Annoyingly, the page states 256k in the first paragraph, and then states that it started at 512kb in the right-hand infobox.

        And there I thought the Internet was always right...

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Much negativity, such wow

      The problem, comparing the Mac with a MSX computers, C64 or ZX Spectrum is that these were home computers for around 50 - 150UKP, so they were cheap and they could play games and, good argument when trying to get parents to pay for it, you could program them using the built-in BASIC.

      The Mac was nearly 20 times more expensive, but offered twice the memory, although it did include a display and floppy drive for the price. But a C128 cost 250, a floppy drive was also under 200 and you could get a monitor for it for a couple of hundred as well. So a workable solution, with mouse and printer, for under 1,000UKP. The Mac was over 2,000UKP.

      It wasn't a home machine, it was a business machine. And it appeared at a time when the prices for business machines came crashing down. Even IBM and HP were caught on the hop, selling overpriced hardware, trying to sell it on heritage and quality, compared to the "dirt cheap" clone makers.

      But people wanted to get working for a little as possible. So the Mac never really caught on in the mainstream, a few companies used them and ad agencies and small publishers loved them - which is what saved the company, at least outside the USA.

      Then came the Sculley era and he tried to sell under-specced hardware with extra gimmicks and people turned away in droves. It was no longer fit for purpose for the businesses that had relied on Macs and was too expensive and too underpowered, compared to the mainstream PC world.

      They also stuck with Motorola 680x0 too long, then switched to PowerPC, which didn't deliver on power promises, until just after Apple finally ditched it for Intel. The PowerPC was a great platform, with lots of promise, but it lacked R&D money, because it was such a low volume product, compared to Intel, Cyrix and AMD. It had some advantages, in pure processing terms (math benchmarks), but actual "tasks" were generally slower than on equivalent platforms. The PlayStation 3 is probably what held PowerPC's head above water - along with server sales from IBM.

      When the Mac came out, a lot of technical people looked at it and saw the future, but Apple's vision of the future was too expensive for most people, so they watched from the sidelines and waited for the technology to become affordable.

      And then the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga turned up, offering a superior experience (colour, sound etc.) for a fraction of the price. The Amiga even offered multi-tasking from the very beginning, something it took Apple a few years to get into MacOS; in the first few years there was only Switcher, which allowed mutliple applications to load, but only one could do any processing at a time, then Multi--Finder turned up, which was like Windows multi-tasking, co-operative and relied on the applications relinquishing control back to the operating system to hand it off to another task. The Amiga had "proper" multitasking, providing each process with a time slice and using priorities to give, for example, the active window, more time.

      It took Windows until NT to get the equivalent and the Mac even longer - I missed out on Mac OS from the mid 90s, I'm not sure whether it ever got pre-emptive multitasking (Wikipedia says System 5 throguh MacOS 9 just had co-op), before OS X came along, but I might be wrong, but certainly at least a decade after the Amiga.

      I remember taking my Amiga to work and running a DOS emulator and Mac emulator to transfer files between the two "on-the-fly".

      There were so many system out there that were better than MS-DOS and Windows and they all fell by the wayside due to mismanagement. It is a shame, the Amiga and Mac were superior to DOS and Windows for nearly a decade and the ST was also better in some respects, but GEM ran on the PC and on the ST. Oh, right, GEM as well, and DR-DOS and multi-tasking DR-DOS...

      There is so much richness and variety in the history of computing, but the Betamax and Philips V2000s of the computing world were overrung by Microsoft's VHS - good enough and cheap enough that it gained a foot hold. It wasn't the best in any area, but it ran on business hardware and it had good, solid business software and ran the legacy business software.

      1. juice Silver badge

        Re: Much negativity, such wow

        > The Mac was nearly 20 times more expensive, ... [the] C128 cost 250, a floppy drive was also under 200 and you could get a monitor for it for a couple of hundred as well. So a workable solution, with mouse and printer, for under 1,000UKP. The Mac was over 2,000UKP.

        I've got a bit of a soft spot for the C128 - we bought one second-hand when I was a kid, and I can still remember the joy of discovering that the floppy disks were double-sided, as it doubled the size of our games collection ;)

        But I'd be more inclined to compare the Mac with the SX-64, Commodore's "luggable" version of the C64 - essentially a suitcase with a mini monitor, PSU, floppy drive and keyboard crammed into it.

        And sadly for Apple, the SX-64 was $995 as compared to the Mac's $2495. However, the Mac gave you a lot more:

        * 16bit CPU clocked at 8mhz rather than an 8-bit CPU clocked at 1mhz

        * 128kb of RAM rather than 64kb (even if 22kb was taken up by the display)

        * High resolution display (albeit monochrome), though at a glance I can't see if the Mac supported 80-char layouts

        * 64kb of ROM rather than 20kb of ROM

        * Battery-backed real time clock

        * 3.5" floppy which could hold 400kb, instead of the older 5.25 floppy with it's 320kb capacity

        * A GUI on boot

        * A mouse

        Interestingly, they both weighed the same (23lb). So we'll call that one a draw, even if the SX-64 looks woefully clunky when compared to the Mac ;)

        Fundamentally though, the SX-64 and C128 (complete with it's woefully underused z80 co-pro) were very much at least a generation behind the Mac - and the latter at least, presumably had lower development costs since it inherited a lot of it's design from the C64.

        Thanks to archive.org, I did manage to dig out an article from when the Mac was launched:

        https://archive.org/details/inCider_84-03/page/n41

        This has some interesting nuggets in it; the 128kb memory limitation is explicitly called out as a negative point, and it claims that the Lisa was going to be MS-DOS compatible. Not entirely sure how that would have worked!

        Any which way, the final sentence of the article is interestingly prophetic:

        "The Macintosh is the best hardware value in the history (short though it may be) of the personal computer industry. It [...] will appeal to those masses of people who have neither the time nor the inclination to [...] master the intricacies of the present generation of personal computers. Barring unforseen technical glitches [...] the Macintosh should establish itself as the next standard in personal computers"

        And for a more level-headed view, the NY Times noted that the Mac was popular, but that there were concerns about it's appeal in the business arena...

        https://www.nytimes.com/1984/02/25/business/strong-sales-seen-in-84-for-apple-s-macintosh.html

  10. Tony Horrocks 1

    It's not the technical specs it's the GUI

    Wonderful ranting going on about the relative merits of Mac and PC spec and pricewise - I guess that's how the article was framed. But what made people part with money was that it was easy to use and get things done.

    There is no difference between Apple then and now in that respect, and there are plenty of PC and phone companies trying to be like them.

  11. Sharik
    Happy

    Never mind its other capabilities, the Apple Mac played Risk. Or at least that was what most of the ones in my university's shiny new Mac Lab spent their time doing.

  12. Doctor Evil
    Thumb Up

    Apple hardware quality

    I have a Macintosh Classic II computer -- the last model with only a black-and-white screen, I think, but it did come with an 80 MB hard drive -- in a box in my basement where it has been sitting, "stored", for a couple of decades. I pulled it out and dusted it off a couple of years ago, just to see if it still worked at all.

    It booted up just fine and ran the old software (MacWrite, MacPaint, ClarisWorks, etc.) as if it was still 1992! (No internet access, obviously; no NIC.) To my astonishment, the dot matrix StyleWriter printer that I bought with it still works perfectly too, ribbon and all. Pretty impressive! Makes me feel better about the hefty $$$ I had to fork over for it back then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple hardware quality

      "the dot matrix StyleWriter printer"

      The StyleWriters are inkjets. I think you mean ImageWriter? - probably ImageWriter II.

      1. Doctor Evil
        Facepalm

        Re: Apple hardware quality

        Mea culpa. It IS an inkjet. (Vertical form-factor, so no -- a StyleWriter, not an ImageWriter.)

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Apple hardware quality

      Take the battery out before it leaks everywhere!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple hardware quality

        @Uncle Slacky; Yes, if it has a rechargeable NiCd battery on the board, get that f****r off there ASAP!!

        This applies to *any* computer with a battery on the motherboard, or anywhere it's likely to cause damage.

        I've already had the motherboard of my Amiga A500 Plus damaged in storage by the soldered-on NiCd clock battery leaking. (Ironically, the onboard battery-backed clock was one of the improvements over the original A500, where IIRC the clock was usually part of a separate 1 MB RAM expansion and probably wouldn't have caused as much damage.)

  13. Marty McFly
    Pint

    Still have it....

    A little bit newer - a Mac+, but the same ET style case. A "signature Mac" too with the developer's names embossed inside the case.

    As for the 'no user serviceable parts'..... Thanks to the shoddy components the power supply board would not hold a consistent 5v output, and would eventually crash the system. I remember buying a 3rd party re-fit kit to replace all the capacitors and associated parts with better ones. I think it was 40 or so pieces that I had to remove & resolder on the power supply / video board.

    I wonder if it still makes the happy 'bong' sound when it gets power. It has been sitting in the attic for over 20 years....

  14. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
    Thumb Down

    The Titanic of the computer industry

    The worst day of my career was when I first set eyes on an Apple MacIntosh. It had a pointless video game called 'desktop' and no command prompt, so you had to write a program instead of typing a command. Ther hardware was mostly crap except for the powerful CISC processor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Titanic of the computer industry

      "It had a pointless video game called 'desktop' and no command prompt, so you had to write a program instead of typing a command. Ther hardware was mostly crap except for the powerful CISC processor."

      Er, I think you mean "pointless video game called Finder". That bit's a good joke.

      But crap hardware? Hmm...

      The hardware included serial ports which were blisteringly fast compared to the RS-232C ports fitted to typical contemporary IBM type PCs. Macs had close hardware coupling from mouse to CPU (direct CPU interrupt in the pre ADB era) which pretty much prevented any mouse pointer lag which was common on MS-Windows well into the 1990s. Memory tells me that the 1986 Mac Plus was the first PC to feature SIMM slots: it could take 4MB RAM and don't forget that was all accessible at once, without programs having to muck around with x86 64KB memory segments or playing startup configuration games to exceed MS-DOS's 640KB maximum RAM limit.

      The Mac Plus was one of the very first computers to feature a SCSI port: the Mac Plus SCSI port was designed before the SCSI spec was settled (although SCSI is derived from the 1978 Shugart Associates System Interface). That meant much faster HD access than on the typical IBM-type PC, not to mention hugely faster scanning speeds.

      These days, Macs and "the other PCs" are all pretty much the same basic hardware architecture, but that wasn't the case in the olden days.

      Yes, the original 128KB Mac wasn't good enough. The Mac Plus is what the first Mac should have been.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        any mouse pointer lag which was common on MS-Windows

        Mouse events are interrupt driven on PCs too, just in Windows they are put in the message queue, and when it used cooperative multitasking until an application relinquished control the messages in queue could not be processed.

        BTW, it was also a problem in OS/2 which was pre-emptive, but with a single message queue, and a bad behaved application could block it.

        1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: any mouse pointer lag which was common on MS-Windows

          *synchronous* message queue, not single. Yes, though - all the apps happily multi-tasked, but if the message queue was blocked there'd be no way to interact with the graphical interface. At least your server process was happily running in the background.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @" serial ports ... compared to the RS-232C ports fitted to ... PCs"

        The PC's 80xx used polled hardware (check all hardware every X ms even if nothing needed doing) rather than IRQ/NMI controlled (handle hardware events only upon request) resulting in the CPU being unable to handle hardware events fast enough to allow PC serial interfaces above 9600cps until 1990s.

  15. chuckufarley

    Speaking of birthdays...

    ...NFS will also turn 35 this year.

    1. Criggie

      Re: Speaking of birthdays...

      This needs a birthday article of its own!

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Speaking of birthdays...

      No File Synchronisation!

  16. Barry Rueger

    Apple? Never again.

    Sometime around the turn of the millennium I had become fed up with the endless hassle of beating Windows into submission. It was upgrade time so I decided to treat myself to an Apple computer because of promises that it would offer me a carefree existence. What I discovered was that it was now me being beaten into submission by Apple.

    I know that there are many people who utterly love the Mac operating system. I'm not among them. Finder alone drove me mad when it refused to do things that were standard practice in Windows. I found it endlessly frustrating and not at all intuitive. Or, more to the point, I found out that in Apple land "intuitive" meant "I've only ever used Apple machines and have become trained to do things the Apple way."

    Over and over I found that simple tasks were needlessly complicated or just couldn't be done, not for any good reason, but because Apple in their wisdom had decreed that it was a Bad Thing. It was that arrogant attitude that eventually drove me away, although the relative lack of freeware and shareware software were part of it too. The problem with the Mac was that everything cost money, and usually a rather larger amount than seemed reasonable. I remember shopping for a new AC adapter and being shocked that the price on the Apple product was somewhere in the neighbourhood of $100. The claim was that an adapter made by anyone else would destroy the computer and probably burn down the house. Needless to say, the factory Apple adapter was well known for having a short life span.

    iTunes? Dear god. Has there ever been a worse music program? If so I haven't seen it. And again, the attitude was "take it or leave it," but if you don't like it it's your fault, not ours.

    Ultimately I struggled along with a G4 Powerbook for three or four years, so you can't say I didn't give it a chance. When it died I very happily jumped back to PC architecture, and Linux, where I've been happily ensconced ever since. I am very happy that I can pick and choose my distro, and desktop, and have a plethora of tools and applications at my fingertips for almost any task - Photoshop being the one significant missing item of course. It's more than a little ironic that the thing that I hoped for with an Apple - that things would "Just Work" - is actually easier with Linux. I can take any reasonably modern box and have Mint installed and tweaked to suit me in fifteen or twenty minutes. Once that is done I can ignore it entirely for months or even years and it will just let me get on with my work.

    If you're one of the Cult of Mac, be happy. If you find that the one Apple approved way of doing things works for you, that's a good thing. But don't get all high and mighty because for some of us it just doesn't work.

    And oh yeah, "Apple will sell you an expensive extended warranty" is not the same as "reliability."

    1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

      Re: Apple? Never again.

      "But don't get all high and mighty because for some of us it just doesn't work."

      Well, when you say things like:

      " I found out that in Apple land "intuitive" meant "I've only ever used Apple machines and have become trained to do things the Apple way.""

      I can't take your assessment at all seriously because many of us have used many computers other than Apple. And it is not getting all high and mighty to point out you are wrong.

  17. The Central Scrutinizer

    "I can take any reasonably modern box and have Mint installed and tweaked to suit me in fifteen or twenty minutes."

    Ah yep. And the general public will never know because they've become indoctrinated to either Mac or Windows.

    My significant other uses Mac gear. One day the mouse died after maybe 3 years of use. I went to the local Apple shop to pick one up... cha ching... $108 for a mouse! And the customer service was abysmal. Why should you have to talk to 3 people in order to buy a fecking mouse?

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      So why, oh why, didn’t you just buy a non-Apple mouse? Some of the Macs around here have Microsoft or Logitech mice, wired, radio wireless, Bluetooth... though Logitech Bluetooth mice are almost as expensive as Apple Bluetooth mice and not nearly as well-behaved. Some have MacAlly mice, MacAlly being a company which specializes in Mac-compatible stuff (hint: look at the name...) and is far cheaper. The mouse _and_ keyboard on my main Mac are MacAlly devices, and cost a total of $20 for the two of them.

      And what in God’s name was she doing to kill a mouse in 3 years? The machine next to my main Mac has an Apple Mighty Mouse, the one with the annoying little ball thingie, which has to be eight or nine years old, and there are a number of six-plus year old Magic Mice around here, too.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        My Mighty Mouse died in a couple of months, for which I was thankful because it didn't half screw with my wrists. There hasn't been one mouse since the rainbow-coloured iMacs that has been usable.

  18. redpawn Silver badge

    They were upgradeable sort of

    I bought one of the original 128K boards for for $20 and built a circuit to combine the video signal into a kind of composite output. Powered it with an old Apple II power supply. I put this into an old briefcase along with an old speaker. I changed out a resistor in an Apple /// monitor to get it to scan faster and ended up with a green screen Mac. Yes it was not good enough, so following instructions found in a book, I changed out the ram and a controller chip for 512KB. Copied the the protected ROM from a work computer but it still was clunky until I bought a daughter board which clipped onto the CPU and allowed 6MB, 2MB for RAM drive and had a SCSI controller. Another $400 for a 40MB drive, a great deal at the time, and the Hackintosh finally became useful. Sadly the clock chip died years later and it would not run without a functioning clock and it got dumped.

  19. Disk0

    Congratulations!

    You are all using a Macintosh now! Point and click interface, a ridiculous mouse that is only useful to idiots, the dreaded menu options, automatic device discovery.. it's all a part of the massive consparacy by Steve Wizniak to make computers easy to use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "You are all using a Macintosh now!"

      Apple ripped the pointer and gui from Xerox who inturn ripped from darpa, fair enough M$ ripped it from Apple but you would be better saying anyone with a WIMP interface is using a Xerox/Darpa, needless to say those that did the actual invention did not get what they deserved along with those that ripped their tech.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If machines have personalities

    As a scientist laboring in my early career in the early-to-mid '80s, I witnessed the Mac and IBM XT emerge, I remember the appeal of each attracting different population segments, divided pretty much along different personalities. I think the divide still exists along those same personality groups.

    Assuming that the IBM evolved into Windows™, the competition today still exists between the old-guard of the business machine and the avant-garde of the Apple machine.

    The cool people -- artists, graphic and otherwise -- sit down to their $7 lattes and pull out their slim little machines with Eve's Apple on the lid. The uncool people slink to the corners and hide behind nondescript laptop lids and drink their black coffee, no sugar. But there are still far fewer typing on Eve's Apple than on the Windows machines, regardless of what we perceive.

    Apple products only account for about 35% of business hardware budget, and most of that for the iPhone and iPad. The laptops (or desktops) still lag way behind the dominance of the Windows machines in the business office.

    So, except for the iPhone and iPad -- a different market than laptops and desktops, I think it comes down to personalities. And I think it always has. Artists buy Apple. Everybody else buys something with a Windows logo inside. Some of my programmer friends have tried using an Apple product for programming. All of them are back to the Windows logo. It was a phase, as they say.

    (Last year Windows still held an 88% share in desktop and laptop platforms against almost 10% share for Apple/Mac OS. There are a lot fewer artists, I conclude, than Apple would prefer.)

    I like my iPhone and iPad. But I would never try to develop serious business automation on their big brother. I'll stick to the Windows logo and the periodic Penguin.

    1. ITS Retired

      Re: If machines have personalities

      Microsoft is going way out of their way to make sure Windows 10 changes that percentage so that Apple and Linux both have a much greater percentage of the market than now.

  21. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    Another Register article for the trash can

    Poor journalism, based on pseudo facts laced with opinionated adjectives.

    For example 'a woeful 128KB RAM'. Today it seems woeful but at the time it was a lot of memory. The IBM PC came with 16-256 KB – most would opt for closer to 16 KB, since memory was expensive.

    Then you dismiss the fact that most system code was in ROM. This meant most of the 128KB was for applications.

    Your article does not get much better from there.

    You are attempting to dismiss Apple's legacy in the computer industry.

    Let's make it clear, both the Apple Lisa and Apple Macintosh were brilliant machines at the time, considering what we would today consider cripplingly small configurations. Last week, you criticised the Lisa for its price. Apple more than fixed that with the Macintosh, in fact, leading the way for low-priced and end-user usable computing.

    The Macintosh was powered by the Motorola M68000 processor which was far in advance of the pathetic Intel 8088 used in PCs.

    Yes, the Mac was monochrome. But it was a high-res (for the day) display. I remember arguing with an IBM proponent who claimed that being able to highlight mono-font text words on a PC in red, green, blue (up to 8 colours) was superior to Mac's graphics. He was really deluded.

    Floppy disk drives. Macs Sony 3.5" with case built around disk were vastly superior to the old IBM 5.25" in both durability and capacity. Cue yet again for tirades of abuse from IBM proponents that the 3.5" drives were just a toy.

    Compared to that the IBM PC was truly a pathetic machine which could have been invented by two kids in a garage. IBM forgot it needed an OS and dragged in Microsoft which quickly purchased QDOS (Quick and Dirty OS) from Seattle Computer Systems. Despite this the IBM proponents rubbished Apple (like they did Burroughs, DEC, etc) and demanded the awful IBM PC be bought in droves by their office environments.

    Apple broke the monopoly of thinking that IBM had over the industry - although it was a long and hard fight against the obdurate IBM supporters. Alas they still exist today, still with there tirades of abuse against Apple. STOP FEEDING THESE TROLLS.

    By the standards of the day, the Macintosh was a truly advanced machine.

  22. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    Expansion Slots

    I should also mention the expansion slots. Expansion slots in the Apple II (which introduced them I think) were a pain in the neck for software developers. The addresses changed depending on the slot the card was in.

    IBM just copied the idea.

    Apple opted for a more powerful processor (M68000 vs pathetic 8088) to emulate hardware functions in software. Any specific hardware function could be done in an external box. Hardware people hated this - but computing is about software - hardware is there to support software.

    A notable example is modems. I worked for NetComm Australia which became one of the largest modem manufacturers in Australia (due to a unique combination of brilliant hardware people (Luke and Ray) and management (Chris) from ICL and software people (Owen and me) from Burroughs (ICL and Burroughs were somewhat unique in the industry of really knowing how to design complete systems with virtual memory and security with memory descriptors). (Apple also gave NetComm one of the first Macs in this country – I was not convinced straight away, but scratched my head for months working out what it was for and what we were going to do with this thing.)

    NetComm built a plug in modem for the PC, but external box for everything else. Now all communications is done with an external box. With a few external connectors you can do everything. Apple keeps simplifying this and every time you get bellyaching from the people who still think computing is about hardware.

    Again Apple took the right approach by saying that it is software that drives the machine – with a powerful general-purpose processor you can do anything. Only really critical functions are now done in specific hardware like GPUs, and routers at the core of the Internet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Ian Joyner

      I would agree that the original article was somewhat biased in tone, I would also agree that the PC was crap from day one (given that it was made from the parts left over from a intel PBX project).

      Yes Apple did indeed provided the impetus for office and home computing however they were always expensive even after the hardware became as cheap as well chips. The Microsoft PC on the otherhand was much cheaper once the far east started cloning, BillG and intel still made their money off the clones but whilst Apple didn't have to share with anyone they still charged much more.

      Now all the hardware is identical to a PC what exactly are you paying the extra cash for?

      @"it is software that drives the machine – with a powerful general-purpose processor you can do anything" assuming that there are ports to plug the extra hardware into and that sadly has been a problem with apple for a while now. The PC atleast was accessible hardware and that ment that you could buy something cheap to do the job and chances are it would work when you plugged it in, something that made the PC much more attractive even if it wasnt as elegant.

      As to expansions slot these were not an apple invention, many systems predated apple for "internal" connectors for additional hardware typically to allow a range of prices dependant upon hardware installed.

      1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

        Re: @Ian Joyner

        Your premise that (I assume) Mac is identical hardware to a PC is wrong. Apple (and the better known brands) generally make higher quality hardware than cheap clones. Apple could reduce their price by reducing quality, but have deliberately decided not to participate in that race to the bottom.

        Clones also tend to make cheaper configurations. With a Mac you have everything built in, ports, WiFi, etc. There is less need for expansion ports to plug in extra devices.

        Clones also use cheaper components of less quality. I once heard a criticism of Dell a few years ago that Dell used whatever component was cheapest that week. Hence they were more likely to fail, but to repair was difficult since you mostly had to source the exact same part.

        In contrast, Apple designed a machine, verified all the components and used components from the same supplier for the manufacturing life of that model. (This is actually in line with a Deming quality principle of sticking to the same supplier, and not jumping around.)

        So hardware is not identical. That is one thing that you are paying extra cash for. This also effects TCO. Where a manufacturer can ship cheaper quality, taken over the whole market the average TCO goes up. More repairs, more frequent upgrading. This iMac is now 5 years old, has not missed a beat, and I don't think I will need to replace it until all drives are at least 4TB of SSD.

  23. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    Price of Mac vs PC

    So the Mac cost $2,500 and PC $1,500. As I have already noted, the Mac typically came with more memory 128K vs 16K for basic PC and with a far superior processor.

    Consider the vision and business model of Apple vs IBM.

    Apple's vision was to create the best computer ever usable by everyone. IBM's vision and business model was to crush Apple and put Apple out of business.

    Apple was establishing a product. As we know things come down in price once they become established and are manufactured on a massive scale. Apple was starved of these sales numbers (which they had enjoyed on the Apple II).

    For Apple, the Mac was a product that they charged what it was worth. IBM's strategy in many markets was to crush competition by cross-subsidy of the market. This is shown by Richard DeLamarter in "Big Blue: IBM's Use and Abuse" of power. They could use this to buy the PC market. But as I have already noted there were many IBM proponents in the industry who hated any other comers in the marketplace, no matter how technically superior their offerings were.

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