Home Computing Macintosh’s Debut 40 Years Ago Feels a Lot Like Vision Pro’s Arrival Today

Macintosh’s Debut 40 Years Ago Feels a Lot Like Vision Pro’s Arrival Today

On January 24, 1984, Steve Jobs stood in front of an audience for Apple Computer’s annual shareholders meeting to introduce the Macintosh — and the computer said, “Hello.” 

Donned in double-breasted jacket and bowtie, Jobs pulled the Macintosh out of a bag, inserted a floppy disk into the 3.5-inch drive and started up the machine. The computer began to play a program on screen that showcased how this graphical user interface, controlled by a finger click of a mouse, was “insanely great” — not to mention, the computer also turned some typed-out words into spoken text to greet the crowd with, “Hello, I’m Macintosh. It’s great to get out of that bag.” (You can watch the 1984 shareholders meeting at this link from the Internet Archive.)


Watch this: Macintosh 40 Years Ago Compared to Vision Pro Today

Though the $2,495 Macintosh wasn’t cheap, it was much more affordable than the Apple Lisa from the year prior — which listed for $9,995 and also had a graphical interface with mouse control. The Macintosh became the more practical choice for early adopters to give a mouse-driven interface a try. 

mouse-macintoshad mouse-macintoshad

One of the Macintosh full-page ads from a special issue of Newsweek in 1984 that featured 39 different pages of advertisements for the Apple computer.

Internet Archive

The idea of operating an all-in-one home computer this way was so novel that using a mouse became a focus of the massive advertising campaign launched to promote the Macintosh in television commercials and magazines — one that kicked off with a tease two days earlier with the iconic “1984” Macintosh Super Bowl commercial.

Now, 40 years later, we’re about to enter a new era of computing with the launch of the Apple Vision Pro. Apple calls this the spatial computing era, utilizing the space around us for our mixed reality computing work, as spreadsheets and video screens float around in our living room. 

The world is very different now than in 1984, and yet there are some parallels between these two moments in history. Consumers today may be asking themselves some of the same questions as four decades ago — a high price for a novel machine leaves folks wondering, “Is it worth it for what it can do? How different will it feel to operate? What programs can I run on it?”

A man in a blue sweater on a green sofa pinching his fingers and wearing an Apple Vision Pro headset A man in a blue sweater on a green sofa pinching his fingers and wearing an Apple Vision Pro headset

CNET’s Scott Stein getting a demo of the Apple Vision Pro.


The Vision Pro headset lands in consumer hands on Feb. 2, but for this week’s episode of “One More Thing,” I wanted to look at these two moments in computer history and think about how Apple will get us thinking differently about what we want from our home computers going forward.

This month I’ve dipped into what other companies are pitching as future tech at CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics show. And as I discuss in the video embedded above, the Vision Pro headset isn’t the only new tech that could influence where personal computing is heading next. 



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