Early Times

In 1984, when I had my first contract with Apple Computer, the Macintosh was new and the only model in the line; the Apple II series was dominant. We called them Macs, and I recall some discussion about whether Steve had slipped a cog, since a macintosh (or mackintosh) is a raincoat; the variety of apple is a McIntosh. Everybody agreed it was an amazingly innovative machine, though.

In 1983, as it was developing its new all in one personal computer, key developer Jef Raskin chose the code name for his project based on his favorite type of Apple, the McIntosh. Unfortunately, Jef was a better developer than a speller, and tagged the project incorrectly as Macintosh.
-- Gold Coast Mac, Inc. http://www.gcmac.org/
It turns out that there is a long-established manufacturer of audio equipment named McIntosh Labs; perhaps Apple called their product "Macintosh" to avoid trouble, but they had to pay a little hush money to McIntosh anyway. Also, The Beatles' publisher, Apple Records, had some trouble with Apple Computer's use of the fruit's name, a problem aggravated recently with iTunes and iPod, since the old agreement restricted Apple to non-audio products. But that's another node! It seems that Steve & Steve have had a lot of trouble with names.

The original Mac had a lot of installed memory for its day: 128K. However, its revolutionary graphical user interface and operating system demanded more, and in a bizarre stroke of corporate arrogance abetted by Steve's reality distortion field, the Mac was built sealed, with no way even to open the case without special tools, much less add memory. Brave souls knocked on condo doors in the sunset, passed cash for bags of loose parts, went home to crack their Macs by any means possible, and assemble their own memory expansions and solder them in.

This prompted Apple to sell Macs with 512K built in, which became known as the Fat Mac -- the name stamped on the back of the case was simply "Macintosh 512K". Nobody knew what to call Macintoshes then, which some poor luser had got stuck with and been unable to upgrade -- "thin Macs", "un-fattened Macs". It's hard to find one of these anymore; almost all have been upgraded, junked, or turned into fish tanks.

Both Mac and Fat Mac were floppy drive only, not unusual for the time. Desperate user attempts to add more storage eventually prompted Apple to bring out the Mac Plus, with new ports on the back, including the infamous SCSI. The computer itself had a decent name, so need for a nick, but the port and bus standard has always been called "scuzzy".

When I returned to Apple, somebody threw a lot of machines into my cube. Some were Fat Macs; there was a Mac Plus. I had one Lisa running a port of Mac OS, which officially made it a Mac XL. I never heard anybody but myself call it anything but Lisa. And I had prototypes of the two new machines under development. Becks became the Macintosh II, the first open-box desktop style Mac; it had many other code names as well. Maui became the Mac SE, a compact Mac with an internal hard drive, but the same sealed case and tiny monitor.

That ends my personal involvement with Apple. I avoided the long line of dull, bland 68xxx boxes cranked out like so many sizes of soda pop bottles. See other writeups for those nicks.

I am writing this, even now, on the PowerMac G3 233MHz, codenamed Gossamer. We who refuse to progress simply say, "I love Beige!"

My buddy, who valiantly salvages old Macs in the Sunset District of San Francisco, sneeringly refers to the new iMac, with its integral flat screen and rounded base, as The Lamp.