Apple Macintosh. (evaluation) John J. Anderson.
After much anticipation and much ado, and alongside an advertising campaign the likes of which have never been seen in the microcomputer industry, Apple has finally done it--the Macintosh computer is a reality.
And it is quite an astonishing reality, indeed.
At $2495, Macintosh represents the cutting edge of Apple's bid to regain lost pre-eminence in the microcomputer field, IBM, which reared its big blue head a mere two years ago, has in that time very nearly pulled the carpet out from under Apple. Now it's all up to Macintosh.
Can the Mac return to Apple to the catbird seat? Judge for yourself. Mac is surely cute-looking and packs more punch than any other micro that fits in a rucksack. It is based on the 68000 microprocessor and as such qualifies as the first medium-priced micro with 32-bit architecture. It uses Sony 3.5" hardshell floppies, which are reliable, quiet, durable, and capable of storing 400K per side.
Screen display is monochrome, but graphics resolution is a superlative 512 x 342 pixels. A mouse peripheral is standard, as is a built-in battery-powered CMOS clock/Calendar.
While the Mac comes with 128K RAM standard, which may sound a bit chintz, it also sports 64K of machine language ROM. Much of the software used to drive the mouse and simulate a "desktop" environment using screen windows already resides in ROM, freeing up RAM for user storage.
And all of this comes to you for a manufacturer's sticker price of $2495. And, for a limited time, this price buys a system complete with bundled world processing and graphics programs for Apple.
Like the ground-breaking Lisa computer, which changed industry standards despite its initially mediocre sales showing, the Mac is designed with ease-of-use foremost in mind. Simply use the mouse to "point" to what you want to do; then press the button on top of the mouse. Breaking in a new software package? Chances are it operates along the same lines as the packages you already know. No longer need you be forced into memorizing numerous and confusing keyboard commands. As a training tool, even critics agree that the mouse is a valuable peripheral.
Universities nationwide have already embarked upon a love affair with the Mac. Twenty-four of the nation's leading colleges have joined the Apple University Consortium and have each pledged to purchase $2 million of Apple products--mainly Macintosh computers--over the next three years. Apple reports over $60 million in commitments to date from colleges and universities.
Any college student seriously interested in microcomputer technology will be attracted to the Mac. Its 68000 processor will not become obsolete quickly, and if you are going to make the supreme effort to learn assembler, you might as well commit to 68000 chip architecture. The MAc's 32-bit processor with 16-bit data bus makes it just about the fastest micro around.
The Mac has a built-in CRT and Sony microdrive and still comes in with a 10 x 10" footprint and under 17 lbs. It is lighter than the best-selling transportable computer. IT has four-voice, 12-octave sound synthesis capable of advanced music and speech applications. For $99 you can get the nylon Mac carrying case and join the height of Macfashion.
Other optional peripherals are as follows:
* Imagewriter printer--$595 ($495 if purchased with Macintosh).
* Numeric keypad--$129.
* 300 baud modem--$225.
* 1200 baud modem--$495.
* External microdrive--$495.
It is expected that Macintosh computers will be rather hard to come by at least until this summer, due to heavy backorder demand. Apple's new $20 million automated factory in Fremont, CA, can turn out a Mac every 27 seconds, however. So you should be able to find your own Macintosh computer relatively soon.
As for software, it will be a little slow in coming--at first. However, just about every prominent software manufacturer is developing software for the Mac, and Apple hopes to see at least 500 independent Mac packages by the end of the year. This includes packages from Lotus, Microsoft, and Digital Research.
Conclusions? We'll wait until we can get our sweaty palms on a unit here at the lab. But from what we have already learned, Apple might have a real shot at IBM with its new baby. Mac looks like a winner.
Products: Apple Macintosh (680X0-based system)