Who Actually Invented the Macintosh Computer?

Steve Jobs surrounded by people at an Apple, Inc. event.

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In December of 1983, Apple Computers ran its famous "1984" Macintosh television commercial on a small, unknown station solely to make the commercial eligible for awards. The commercial cost $1.5 million and only ran once in 1983, but news and talk shows everywhere replayed it, making TV history.

The next month, Apple ran the same ad during the Super Bowl and millions of viewers saw their first glimpse of the Macintosh computer. The commercial was directed by Ridley Scott, and the Orwellian scene depicted the IBM world being destroyed by a new machine called the "Macintosh."

Could we expect anything less from a company that was once run by the former president of Pepsi-Cola? Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computers, had been trying to hire Pepsi's John Sculley since early 1983. While he eventually succeeded, Jobs soon discovered that he did not get along with Sculley — who, after becoming CEO of Apple Computers, ended up booting him off Apple’s "Lisa" project. The "Lisa" was the first consumer computer with a graphical user interface (GUI).

Steve Jobs and the Macintosh Computer

Jobs then switched over to managing the Apple "Macintosh" project that was started by Jef Raskin. Jobs was determined that the new "Macintosh" was going to have a graphical user interface like the "Lisa," but at a considerably lower cost. The early Mac team members in 1979 consisted of Jef Raskin, Brian Howard, Marc LeBrun, Burrell Smith, Joanna Hoffman, and Bud Tribble. Others began working on the Mac at later dates.

Seventy-four days after the introduction of the "Macintosh," the company was only able to sell 50,000 units. At the time, Apple refused to license the OS or the hardware. The 128k memory was not enough and the onboard floppy drive was difficult to use. The "Macintosh" did have "Lisa's" user friendly GUI, but was missing some of the more powerful features of the "Lisa," such as multitasking and the 1 MB of memory.

Jobs compensated by making sure developers created software for the new "Macintosh." Jobs figured that software was the way to win the consumer over and in 1985, the "Macintosh" computer line received a big sales boost with the introduction of the LaserWriter printer and Aldus PageMaker, which made home desktop publishing possible. That was also the year that the original founders of Apple left the company.

Power Struggle at Apple Computers

Steve Wozniak returned to college and Steve Jobs was fired when his difficulties with John Sculley came to a head. Jobs had decided to regain control of the company from Sculley by scheduling a business meeting in China for Sculley so that Jobs could carry out a corporate takeover while Sculley was absent.

Word of Jobs' true motives reached Sculley before the China trip. He confronted Jobs and asked Apple's Board of Directors to vote on the issue. Everyone voted for Sculley and so, in lieu of being fired, Jobs quit. Jobs later rejoined Apple in 1996 and worked there until his death in 2011. Sculley was eventually replaced as CEO of Apple.

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Bellis, Mary. "Who Actually Invented the Macintosh Computer?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/who-invented-the-macintosh-4072884. Bellis, Mary. (2020, August 26). Who Actually Invented the Macintosh Computer? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/who-invented-the-macintosh-4072884 Bellis, Mary. "Who Actually Invented the Macintosh Computer?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/who-invented-the-macintosh-4072884 (accessed June 10, 2023).