Newsweek: Steve Jobs’ Macintosh changed personal computers forever

“In 1984, a youthful Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh and changed personal computers forever.”

“The digerati of that day derided just about everything about the Macintosh, but they were particularly harsh about its ‘mouse’ which our NEWSWEEK reviewer needed to define for readers as ‘a tethered box the size of a cigarette pack.’ The big criticism was that users would have to take their hands off the keyboard to use the mouse, making it inefficient and thus certain to be ignored. ‘Operating the Macintosh sometimes seems to require three hands,’ sniffed one critic. So much for critics.”

“More than a few reviewers also suggested that users would soon tire of ‘cute icons’ like the trash can, as well as clicking and dragging to move files. Computer magazine columnists argued that ‘command line’ prompts typing in cryptic phrases like ‘del c:/files/story.doc’ were more direct than dragging and dropping a file into the trash can. There was also considerable tsk-tsking over the absence of cursor keys, the arrow buttons which allow movement up, down, left and right. Jobs considered them obsolete although, uncharacteristically, he later relented and Mac keyboards now sport cursor keys.”

“As this article made clear, there was an infectious and inspirational spirit behind the birth of the Macintosh, which has lasted to this day as does the continuing chorus of industry doubters predicting trouble for Apple. At least some things in the computer industry never seem to change,” writes Michael Rogers for Newsweek. Read the original Newsweek article from Jan 30, 1984 here.


  1. Interesting how history has proven the mac to be the most influential design since the invention of the PC. Practically everything we know about GUI, Mouse, and modern computers was started on the mac. Amazing to see how it was received then.

  2. After 20 years, you’d think the critics would stop saying the Mac is dead. 20 years is a very long death. The funniest comments are from the younger ones; the ones who are barely older than Mac itself. God, I feel old!… I once owned the very first all-in-one home computer, Commodore PET. I was also the pioneer of the neighborhood with my Japanese car that “you’ll never be able to buy parts for that” and they will soon die because “American cars have better quality.” Cable TV was doomed to die because no one will pay for something they can get for free from the air. Mobile phones were just for an elite niche that are willing to spend the money to lug around a 5 lb phone when there is a 25 cent phone booth on every corner. History is loaded with nay-sayers, but I don’t think any product continued to have them after being around for 20 years. In fact, I’d bet the Mac has outlived many of its critics from 20 years ago. The only thing that Microsoft produces that actually works as well as it is designed and is a significant source of increased sales is Macphobia; the irrational fear of switching to a non-MS platform. The spread the fallacies very well, and it is very effective.

  3. Kudos to Zero Cool and Aryugaetu!!!! I started out on a DEC Rainbow many years ago, and moved to the PC later.And I will NEVER forget the statement that Bill Gates made back then,that “NO ONE WILL EVER NEED MORE THAN 32K or RAM”…Hahaha. Anyway, I have, For longer than I wish to remember,used computers, From the Radio Shack TRS-80 Through Current PC’s.And something amazing..through ALL these years ther ehas ALWAYS been an Apple Product in my home, from the Apple2e to my current ibook.People ask me WHY..and it is really simple..I LEARNED on APPPLE.people forget that at one time Apple OWNED the educational market.WHY..NO learning curve for the students. WEll times change, and Apple lost a lot of that market, but now is starting to get it back.ANd at my Alma Mater, Univ of Tenn, ALL incoming Freshman now have to have a PC..and Guess what, the Macs and Ibooks outsell Wintel Machines by 5 to 1..when I ask the kids is always the same reason”great graphics, cool design..and EASY TO USE!! so the Critics can say what they want, but if they went to UT they would see OOUR nations future Dr’s,Lawyers,engineers, artists,politicians Etc Working Hard to make a better country..and doing it on a MAC..a platform that was supposed to be dead 20 years ago. LONG LIVE THE MAC, and those that use it.

  4. Cont: If Apple is dead, and the Mac is a “toy” as many PC users claim, then WHY do I hear these same PC users cursing Intel,Microsoft and PC manufacturers when things go wrong.If the Mac is such a toy,why don’t I hear the SAME complaints about it.And why, when I recently took a 4 hour airplane flight,was I able to use my iBook,which,by the way, fit PERFECTLY on a tray table, the entire flight, while the guy next to me with the KILLER Toshiba P4 1.4, who had given me this look of distain when I pulled theiBook out,fought with Blue screens, and errors, THEN had a fit when his machine lasted 1hr 45 mins.Yet when I ooffered to let him use the iBook to finish his word Document he was shocked that his doc would work on the Mac,and I explained that i had Office on there also,and that it WAS cross platform.After he used the ibook for a few minutes,and saw how well it fit on the table, how easy it was to use, and how great the screen was, he admitted that he had always thought of macs as “second Rate” computers” but working for 20 minutes on the iBook had really changed his opinion of Mac.He then stated that since he used office almost exclusively and it ran on the Mac, he would seriously consider replacing his Toshiba with the 14inch I book. I was happy to help him, and hopefully created a Convert to a product that JUST works..and who can ask for more than that?

  5. Know exactly what you mean. I started on a TRS-80 Color with chiclet keyboard! I remember following the book, typing basic code to make what was essentially a 3 frame animation, took 2 days to type it! I feel dated, but having worked with C64’s and trash 80’s, I appreciated Mac! Anyone remember windows version 1.0, or Commodore’s GEOS GUI? That experience led me back to the mac in 2000, after years with windows 3.1 to 2k. MS never did get the experience right! The mac is the flagship for future machines, and hopefully always will be. The Mac may be dead, in some people’s eyes, but I have converted six PC users in the last two years! Seems like more interest in mac now, then in year’s past! I left mac when I used system 7, mac lacked direction then. A move I still regret to this day! Boy I feel old!

  6. I highly recommend “Fire in the Valley” and the TNT movie, “Pirates of Silicon Valley”. Interesting to see how the naysayers are the reason the mac even existed! Xerox owned the GUI, but thought nobody would ever use it! Amazing how consumers have been second guessed for years by computer companies! The mac exists solely because they need direction! If Gateway, Dell and Microsoft didn’t have apple to do 90% of the R&D for them, they would be lost. Even more so.

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