updated 07:58 pm EST, Fri January 24, 2014
Design of first Mac still as admirable and clever as Apple's latest devices
To celebrate the Mac's 30th anniversary on Friday, repair site iFixit posted a teardown guide for the original 1984 Macintosh 128k, using a model loaned to them by Adam Rosen's The Vintage Mac Museum. While not revealing anything previously unknown about the model, the opportunity allowed the company to take fresh, high-resolution photos of the innards and detail specifics of some parts, such as original component manufacturers.
The company noted also that the original $2,495 price tag in 1984 would cost $5,594 in today's dollars -- about the price of a mid-level new Mac Pro. The iFixit team gave the Mac a rating of 7 out of 10 for repairability, though it like would have scored differently in the year of its release, owing to special recessed, T15 screws that required a "Mac Cracker" tool to open and components that may have been (and in some cases, still are) difficult to source for a typical buyer.
The iFixit team noted in its scoring that there was a strong possibility of high-voltage electric shock from the display if not properly discharged prior to opening, as well as observing that the original Mac used soldered-on RAM and had little to no internal expandability -- points familiar to purchasers of today's 21.5-inch iMac and Retinal MacBook Pro lines.
The teardown showed off the cleanly-designed and custom-built motherboard, another still-maintained tradition, which featured an eight-megahertz Motorola processor, 120KB of RAM, no storage apart from a 400KB floppy drive. The original Mac used DE-9 plugs to connect the (mechanical) keyboard, serial ports for input and output, and offered a nine-inch, 512x342 (1.5:1) black and white CRT display. It also came with a roller-ball mouse with only a single button (revolutionary at the time, but the concept continues today even as the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad use gestures or multi-touch detection to assign different functionality).
Then, as now, the main concept behind the Macintosh was to "hide" the computing part of the machine mostly behind the screen, and to make it operate as silently as possible so that the user could be engrossed in the work. This philosophy is still seen today in most Mac models, particularly the iMac.