(Head to 37:40 in the video to see the telphone comparison)
Harry McCracken tracked down this video from the launch of the Macintosh that hasn’t been seen since 1984. It turns out there was a second ‘launch demo’ a week after the original launch at the shareholder meeting and the videographer forgot he had the video of that (woops!) in his garage. The audience this time wasn’t wasn’t Apple shareholders but actually members of the Boston Computer Society and the general public, which made for a different type of presentation. The quality and tone of the video is often much different than the one given a week earlier at the Flint Center on the De Anza College campus near Apple’s then HQ.
Over at YouTube, you can watch the Cupertino presentation, along with a sort of a rough draft held as part of an Apple sales meeting in Hawaii in the fall of 1983. As for the BCS version, all 90 minutes of it are there in the video at the top of this post, available for the first time in their entirety since they were shot on January 30, 1984.
The Cupertino and Boston demos may have been based in part on the same script, but the audience, atmosphere and bonus materials were different. In Cupertino, Jobs spoke before investors, towards the end of a meeting which also included dreary matters such as an analysis of Apple’s cash flow.
What’s particularly interesting to me and not part of any other videos I’ve seen was Jobs’ comparison of the Mac (and eventually by extension GUI interfaces) to the invention of the telephone. Fast forward the video above to about 37:40 to see it. As McCracken puts it, the Mac wasn’t necessarily competing with IBM machines but competing with no computer at all. This metaphor is striking in hindsight.
The video also has a Q&A with the original Mac team which is also pretty interesting if you are into that kind of thing.
McCracken has much more on the video here which is definitely worth a read.
The transcript of the Telephone/Telegraph bit pasted below:
Now, if you go back about a hundred years, to the 1880s, there were approximately twenty, twenty-five thousand trained telegraph operators in the United States. And you really could send a telegram between Boston and San Francisco, and it’d take about three or four hours and go through the relay stations. It really worked. And it was a great breakthrough in technology that had been around for about thirty or forty years.
And there were some people that talked about putting a telegraph machine on every desk in America to improve productivity. Now what those people didn’t know was that about the same time, Alexander Graham Bell filed the original patents for the telephone — a breakthrough in technology. Because putting a telegraph on every desk in America to improve technology wouldn’t have worked. People wouldn’t have spent the twenty to forty to a hundred hours to learn Morse code. They just wouldn’t have done it.
But with the telephone, within ten years there were over 200,000 telephones on desks in America. It was a breakthrough, because people already knew how to use it. It performed the same basic function, but radical ease of use. And in addition to just letting you type in the words or click in the words, it let you sing. It let you intone your sentences to really get your meaning across.
We are at that juncture in our industry right now. There are people suggesting that we should put a current generation box on everyone’s desk to improve productivity. A telegraph, if you will. And we don’t believe that. We don’t think it’ll work. People will not read those damn 400-page WordStar manuals. They won’t carry around these cards in their pockets with 150 slash-W-Zs. They’re not going to do it.
And what we think we have here is the first telephone. And in addition to letting you do the old spreadsheets and word processing, it lets you sing. It lets you make pictures. It lets you make diagrams where you cut them and past them into your documents. It lets you put that sentence in Bold Helvetica or Old English, if that’s the way you want to express yourself.