Apple ‘Mac’ team feted at 30th birthday bash

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Glenn Chapman Cupertino, California

Geeks who brought the Macintosh computer to life became Silicon Valley rock stars on Saturday, with people asking for autographs or photos while celebrating the Apple desktop machine’s 30th birthday.

Members of the original “Mac” team got the star treatment for passionately building a home computer “for the rest of us” at a time when IBM machines dominated at work.

The friendly desktop referred to as the Mac and, importantly, the ability to control it by clicking on icons with a “mouse,” opened computing to non-geeks in much the way that touchscreens later allowed almost anyone to get instantly comfortable with smartphones or tablets.

The birthday party was held in a performing arts centre in the Californian city of Cupertino, where legendary late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs first introduced the Mac to the world on January 24 1984.

“Ever since I can remember I've been entranced with how these Macs work,” 16-year-old Tom Frikker said as he worked his way through the crowd, getting original team members to autograph the vintage Mac he brought from home. Prior to the Mac, with its “graphical user interface,” computers were commanded with text typed in what seemed like a foreign language to those who were not software programmers.

“The effect the Mac had on the world and on computing is really fascinating,” said Warren Sande, a fibre optic telecom company manager who was a school boy when the Apple desktop debuted.

The original vision of launching a Macintosh with 64 kilobytes of RAM and a $1 000 (R11 000) price gave way to introducing one with 128 kilobytes of RAM at $2 500.

The original boxy Macintosh, with its mouth-like slit below the screen for “floppy” data disks, has evolved into a line that boasts slim, powerful laptops in the smooth shape of the Mac Pro desktop model. – Sapa-AFP


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