Apple will return to the Flint Center for the first time in 30 years to announce its newest batch of products, including two new smartphones and the company’s first wearable device for the wrist.
That’s a big deal. The historic site is where a bowtie-wearing 28-year-old Steve Jobs first took the stage to unveil the world’s first truly personal computer: The Macintosh.
And in the same way that unveiling in January 1984 effectively drove the crowd in attendance into a frenzy — and put Apple on the map — Tuesday’s event could similarly prove to be Apple’s defining moment under the leadership of its new CEO Tim Cook.
The Macintosh, which was unveiled one year after Apple's expensive and inaccessible Lisa computer flopped, offered one of the first PCs with an integrated mouse and a graphical user interface to be packaged in a mass market machine.
Jobs described the Macintosh as the third milestone product in the computer industry, following the Apple II computer in 1977 and the IBM PC in 1981.
'Many of us have been working on Macintosh for two years now, and it has turned out insanely great,' Jobs said. 'And we are introducing Macintosh at mainstream price point of $US2,495, and you can go see a Macintosh in any one of our 1,500 dealers in North America today.'
After Jobs highlighted 'some of the innovations in Macintosh,' including 'radical ease of use,' icons, pull-down menus, point and click, cut and paste, and a variety of fonts. 'The reason we have multiple fonts is because the world has multiple fonts,' Apple's introductory video explained.
'Macintosh comes with 192 kb of memory, and 128 KB of RAM contains the entire operating system, the whole graphics foundation and the entire user interface,' Jobs said.
'And just as the 5.25-inch floppy disc drive was an innovation in the 70s, the 3.5-inch disc drive will be the disc of the 80s. It is far safer, and we are storing over 400KB of information on one side the disc, that can be put in your pocket.'
'It communicates with you in a high definition super crisp bitmap 9-inch black and white screen, which has over twice the number of dots as any current generation personal computer. You have to see this display to believe it, it's incredible. And all this power fits in a box that is 1/3rd the size and weight of an IBM PC.'
The Macintosh family of products, which was also announced at that time, included the Image Writer printer, an external disc drive, a numeric keypad, a modem, a Macintosh carrying case, and a security kit 'so your Macintosh won't go anywhere without you.'
At this point in the presentation, Jobs said he wanted to show off Macintosh in person. 'All of the images you're about to see on the large screen will be generated by what's in that bag,' Jobs said, gesturing to the mysterious white bag sitting on the pedestal next to his podium. The crowd cheered when Jobs lifted the computer from the bag with one hand.
And after a few clicks of the mouse, he stepped away as the room's lights dimmed and the theme to 'Chariots of Fire' began to play.
The crowd cheered wildly as the Macintosh's 9-inch screen lit up with various words and graphics, showing off for the first time the power of Apple's personal computer.
The crowd let out a big laugh at this one, but MacPaint -- a precursor to Photoshop -- would be a visual artist's best friend.
After the 'Chariots of Fire' montage ended on the computer, Jobs handed the microphone over to the Mac. 'Now we've done a lot of talking about Macintosh recently, but now for the first time ever, I'd like to let Macintosh speak for itself,' he said. The Macintosh's screen lit up, and it started reading from the text that appeared on the screen.
The text: 'Hello, I'm Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag.
'Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I'd like to share with you a maxim I thought of the first time I met an IBM mainframe: NEVER TRUST A COMPUTER YOU CAN'T LIFT!
'Obviously, I can talk, but right now I'd like to sit back and listen. So, it is with considerable pride that I introduce a man who's been like a father to me… STEVE JOBS.'
The crowd erupted into cheers and laughter as the Macintosh spoke to the audience. Jobs was quite pleased with himself.
Tomorrow, Apple will return to the site of this major event for the first time, likely to introduce the start of a new era. After all, this is likely the last batch of products Steve Jobs ever touched -- or the first batch he never touched.
Apple won't use the exact same space, but has created an entirely new building from scratch, right next to the Flint Center, to house its giant presentation.
Apple is expected to introduce two new iPhones, its first wearable device for the wrist, and a mobile payments system, among other products. And based on the size of the pop-up building it's constructed for this event, tomorrow's presentation is sure to be epic.
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