MacMemories From 1984

I’ve been cleaning out shelves in my office area and I came across the media packets that came with the first Macintosh we got in 1984 followed by the first Macintosh Plus we got in 1986. The Macintosh had 128K of RAM and one 3.5 inch diskette drive, no hard drive. The process for using it was 1) you booted the computer with the System diskette. 2) You ejected the system diskette and inserted the Program diskette and opened the program, such as MacPaint. 3) You MacPainted to create your graphics. 4) You selected Save to save your graphic file, which ejected the Program diskette. 5) You inserted a diskette to save your file. 6) If the diskette wasn’t formatted, then you would have to click on Yes to format the diskette, and 7) save your file.

I’m trying to remember if when you quit the Program and Shut Down the Macintosh if it asked you to put the Program diskette and then the System diskette back in before it shut down, or if it simply ejected whichever diskette was in the drive before it shut down. I think there was a lot of ejecting and inserting the different diskettes before it shutdown.

We got an external disk drive with the first Macintosh Plus, which meant we could have a program diskette in the computer and a file diskette in the external drive. Our next Macintosh plus had two disk drives. We got external hard drives for the Macintosh Pluses before the SEs and SE/30s came out with internal hard drives. When we got one Macintosh Plus and a Macintosh Laserwrtier in 1986, the pair cost over $10,000 — around $3K for the Macintosh Plus and $7K for Laserwriter. That’s around $23,700 ($7.1K and $16.6K respectively) in 2020 dollars. Macintosh computers always came with the system software and at least a sample of programs.

Those were the really expensive, bad old days of computing. The first IBM PC we got, with similar specs (it had two 5.25″ floppy drives) was around $3K in 1981 (~$8,600 today) plus you had to buy whichever DOS you wanted to use, plus buy the programs, the drivers, etc. Nowadays you can easily pay $7,000 or $24,000 or more for a new Macintosh Pro. However, you get a lot of CPUs, RAM, and disk space for the money and a lot of powerful programs included in the price. But most computers today cost a fraction of what they did in the bad old days of computing.