January 1980 Overall Summary of the Macintosh System

Source: Jef Raskin, "January 1980 Overall Summary of the Macintosh System" (12 January 1980)-- in "The Macintosh Project: Selected Papers from Jef Raskin (First Macintosh Designer), Circa 1979," document 23, version 0.
Location: M1007, Apple Computer Inc. Papers, Series 3, Box 10, Folder 1.

1. Hardware

Macintosh is intended to be a complete, self-contained, portable, personal computer. It does not have to be attached to anything other than a power source in order to operate. An optional battery pack will be available.

Macintosh is designed to sell for about $1000, and will have a disk drive (with consideration of the possibility of a dual disk drive) and 7 inch CRT. A lightpen for graphic input is being considered and the computer may contain a small printer.... The size should be about 12 inches wide, 14 inches deep (maximum), and 6 1/2 inches high. The weight should be under 22 lbs.

The electronics are conventional but streamlined: a 6809E processor, eight 64K RAMS (no expansion provided), 6845 video generator, and modem/DAA, ACIA, and supporting circuitry. We have not begun to approach the limits of what can be done with such an architecture.

One central concept in the design of the hardware is that the programmers must have a fixed environment. This will help insure reliable user level programs-- the emphasis in selling Macintosh will not fall on the hardware as much as the tasks that can be done with it. There must be no hidden "gotchas" in the design (this program works only if you have a super-duper board in slot 3, and have a jumper from pin 5 of IC56 to your left pinky).

The display is bit-mapped, black-and-white, 256 by 256 resolution with a 10 by 10 cm (4.5 inch) display area. A speaker and microphone will be built in, along with 8-bit D/A and A/D circuitry as necessary. Portability and cost constraints preclude color.

2. Software


The text editor is designed to be especially easy to learn and very fast to use. It is conceptually quite different than existing text editors, and a demonstration is being prepared. Tests have shown that many simple operations require one third to one tenth the time (for the operator) when compared to current Apple-based editors. The same mechanisms that allow the user to search through and modify text will be designed to allow searching and modifying a data base.

Text is displayed in a proportional font, allowing an average of 72 characters per line; there will be at least 24 lines of text.

The calculator based language is, again, extremely easy to learn. It is designed to sneak the user into programming, and yet provide powerful and immediate commands without creating programs. It is at the same "level" as the text editor and will operate without system commands.

The BASIC should be ANSI standard BASIC. It will be disk resident.

At the system level will be Pascal and a macro assembler. The operating system, invisible to the user, will be partly based on the concepts found in the Sara (Apple III) operating system.

3. Network

Macintosh, however nifty its hardware and software, will not sell unless it does something useful. The number of useful things a personal computer can do with a network is vastly greater (probably by two orders of magnitude) than what it can do without a network. Thus the modem/DAA is an essential part of Macintosh, and Apple must provide, at the very least, hooks into various information services.

4. Manufacturing and Service

The electronics and software of Macintosh, as well as the physical packaging, are being designed to allow economical manufacturing techniques and ease of repair. The electronics will be conceptually modular, for example timing will be done by one circuit instead of being distributed as it is on the Apple II. The elimination of user options will streamline all aspects of the design.

5. Leaning to use Macintosh

It is time to stop thinking exclusively in terms of writing manuals for computer systems. Manuals are just one means of accomplishing the real goal, which is to teach the user how to operate the software and hardware. For this teaching task, we must use whatever media are most effective within our cost and time constraints: it is essential to the success of Macintosh that it have a level of educational accessories beyond even what present Apple products do. A major portion of the effort in producing software for this product may go into its self-teaching aspects.

6. Personnel

At present Woz is working part-time on Macintosh. The detailed electronic design and breadboarding is being done by Burrell Smith. A software designer-programmer will be hired. This team, along with myself and a support person, will design and produce prototypes of the electronics, first drafts of the language and hardware manuals and will write the major portion of the software.

It is expected that these 4 full-time people will be able to carry the project through the majority of the hardware and software design and execution stages. The BASIC interpreter or compiler, the industrial designing, the disk and printer hardware, and analog video and power supply may require the aid of engineering people outside the project personnel.

7. Accomplishments to Date

The proportional font has been demonstrated; the majority of the electronics has been designed and breadboarded; preliminary specifications for the editor and a portion of the language have been prepared along with the outline and a few chapters of the user manuals. Much information pertaining to the software and hardware has been gathered, and many design choices have been made.

8. Immediate tasks

The following are some major tasks that should be completed in the next few months.

A. A breadboard version of the computer will be completed... by 20 Feb 80.... (Smith)

B. the editor portion of the software should be written to be demonstrated by 15 March 80. This also entails a preliminary keyboard design. (Raskin)

C. The UCSD Pascal system should be brought up on the breadboarded electronics by 1 April 80 (programmer to be hired).

D. A support person should be assigned to the project....

E. A decision is required from engineering as to what kind of disk drives we can expect for this project. We prefer a dual disk drive on a single spindle using something of the power of our present 16 sector technology.

Document created on 5 April 2000;