Macintosh News from 25 Years Ago: The Mac Decade

In a new regular feature on VintageAppleMac.com, I will be looking back through time and poring over the ups and downs in the world of Apple and the Macintosh from a quarter of a century ago. I have a large collection of Apple magazines (500 or so!) and these are fascinating time capsules, filled with rich information on the evolution of our beloved Mac, and will be using these as the core of my resources for this. I’ve picked 25 years as the arbitrary time-lag as that puts us bang in the middle of the creative and philosophical slump that Apple was bogged down with through the early to late 1990s and it’ll make for interesting reading as times get bad, and then worse, before the Second Coming of Steve and the upswing to global domination.

So, without further ado, here’s a look at a really neat feature from the January 1994 issue of The Mac, a UK magazine published by Dennis Publishing, on “The Mac Decade”.

Crop of first page of The Mac Decade feature from The Mac magazine, January 1994.

Written by Howard Oakley, the piece is a gentle look at the first decade of the Macintosh, with some nice personal reflection from Howard on the paradigm-shift that the original Mac introduced. The first part of the article is a relatively concise potted early history of the Macintosh but it’s Howard’s closing segment that is really quite cool, where he looks at what the next decade might bring. There’s some pretty fanciful stuff there, with talk of speech-recognition becoming standard and electromagnetic fields and hand gestures controlling input within a decade (so, by 2004 when Howard was writing), and the notion of modular computing resulting in what he terms “component Macs”. But the overall sentiment of much that he speculates towards did by and large come to pass, albeit in the form of mobile-computing via iPhone and iPad and about a decade further on still, so 20 years or so from when the piece was published. Overall, then, not bad vision from Howard!

There is a really wacky graphic accompanying this section, though, but even that has echoes of what did eventually come to fruition, with in-built forward-facing camera and large ultra-thin screens.

Crop of graphic of speculative furture Apple Mac computer

There’s a multi-page timeline box-out in the middle of the feature, compiled by a Tony Smith and Paul Fisher, which outlines Apple’s broad history from 1976 to 1994, with various cultural and Real World markers thrown in. There’s also some *really* terrible pun work included, too, for fun and frivolity’s sake, I guess?

This part of the timeline caught my eye, too. Brutal scenes at Apple in 1985!

I have scanned the feature and placed it in the Internet Archive, so please do go and take a few minutes to read it. I’ve also uploaded it to VintageAppleMac.com as a PDF for easy download and viewing.

I’ll be dropping a few more articles on the Macintosh News From 25 Years Ago as we go through January, so keep your eyes peeled as I develop my approach to this feature!

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Thanks, much love!

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