Looking back: 1984 reviews the ‘desktop’ interface


An early review of the Macintosh in 1984 sounds almost alien now. The interviewer introduces us to concepts like the “Desktop” and tiny pictures called “icons” and that wily creature, the mouse.

One thing that does seem very familiar is praise for an intuitive interface that is common through all the applications on the Mac. The common toolbar up top, the WYSIWYG word processor was a revelation coming from blinking cursors and function keys, and the compact, elegant form factor.

These were all praised as part of the whole ‘Mac’ experience.

Seem familiar? The formula of consistent, intuitive, elegant interfaces, both software and physical, have always been what set Apple apart, and core values that have survived 27 years of computer evolution should be considered heavyweights in any interface project. The best aspects of “New” can themselves not be so new.

And the photo? It’s of my MacBookPro sitting on top of a 27 year old Apple IIc carrying case I found under some camping gear. The fit is perfect, and the case itself is a study in simple elegance, even if it is a product of its time!

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