Timeline of Macintosh models

Timeline of Macintosh models

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The Macintosh (mainly Mac since 1998) is a family of personal computers designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple Inc. since January 1984. The original Macintosh is the first successful mass-market personal computer to have featured a graphical user interface, built-in screen, and mouse. Apple sold the Macintosh alongside its popular Apple II family of computers for almost ten years until the latter was discontinued in 1993.


The Macintosh 128K, originally released as the Apple Macintosh, is the original Apple Macintosh personal computer.

Its beige case consisted of a 9 in (23 cm) CRT monitor and came with a keyboard and mouse. A handle built into the top of the case made it easier for the computer to be lifted and carried. It had an initial selling price of $2,495 (equivalent to $6,140 in 2019). The Macintosh was introduced by the now-famous $370,000 (equivalent to $910,541 in 2019) television commercial by Ridley Scott, “1984”, that aired on CBS during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22, 1984. Sales of the Macintosh were strong from its initial release on January 24, 1984, and reached 70,000 units on May 3, 1984. Upon the release of its successor, the Macintosh 512K, it was rebranded as the Macintosh 128K. The computer is Model M0001.

The Macintosh 512K is a personal computer that was designed, manufactured and sold by Apple Computer, inc. from September 1984 to April 1986.

It is the first update to the original Macintosh 128K. It was virtually identical to the previous Macintosh, differing primarily in the amount of built-in random-access memory. The increased memory turned the Macintosh into a more business-capable computer and gained the ability to run more software. The Mac 512K originally shipped with Macintosh System 1.1 but was able to run all versions of Mac OS up to System 4.1. It was replaced by the Macintosh 512Ke and the Macintosh Plus. All support for the Mac 512K was discontinued on September 1, 1998.

Like the Macintosh 128K before it, the 512K contained a Motorola 68000 connected to a 512 kB DRAM by a 16-bit data bus. Though the memory had been quadrupled, it could not be upgraded. The large increase earned it the nickname Fat Mac. A 64 kB ROM chip boosts the effective memory to 576 kB, but this is offset by the display’s 22 kB framebuffer, which is shared with the DMA video controller. This shared arrangement reduces CPU performance by up to 35%. It shared a revised logic board with the re-badged Macintosh 128K (previously just called the Macintosh), which streamlined manufacturing. The resolution of the display was the same, at 512 × 342.

Apple sold a memory upgrade for the Macintosh 128K for $995 initially, and reduced the price when 256kb DRAM prices fell months later.

The Macintosh Plus computer is the third model in the Macintosh line, introduced on January 16, 1986, two years after the original Macintosh and a little more than a year after the Macintosh 512K, with a price tag of US$2599.

As an evolutionary improvement over the 512K, it shipped with 1 MB of RAM standard, expandable to 4 MB, and an external SCSI peripheral bus, among smaller improvements. Originally, the computer’s case was the same beige color as the original Macintosh, Pantone 453, however in 1987, the case color was changed to the long-lived, warm gray “Platinum” color. It is the earliest Macintosh model able to run Mac OS System 7. Bruce Webster of BYTE reported a rumor in December 1985: “Supposedly, Apple will be releasing a Big Mac by the time this column sees print: said Mac will reportedly come with 1 megabyte of RAM … the new 128K-byte ROM … and a double-sided (800K bytes) disk drive, all in the standard Mac box”. Introduced as the Macintosh Plus, it was the first Macintosh model to include a SCSI port, which launched the popularity of external SCSI devices for Macs, including hard disks, tape drives, CD-ROM drives, printers, Zip Drives, and even monitors. The SCSI implementation of the Plus was engineered shortly before the initial SCSI spec was finalized and, as such, is not 100% SCSI-compliant. SCSI ports remained standard equipment for all Macs until the introduction of the iMac in 1998, which replaced most of Apple’s “legacy ports” with USB.

The Macintosh 512K enhanced (512Ke) was introduced in April 1986 as a cheaper alternative to the top-of-the-line Macintosh Plus, which had debuted three months previously.

It is the same as the Macintosh 512K but with the 800K disk drive and 128K of ROM used in the Macintosh Plus. Like its predecessors, it has little room for expansion. Some companies did create memory upgrades that brought the machine up to 2 MB or more. It is the earliest Macintosh model able to run System Software 6. It is also the earliest that can be used as an AppleShare server and, with a bridge Mac, communicate with modern devices. Originally, the case was identical to its predecessor, except for the model number listed on the rear bucket’s agency approval label. It used the same beige-like color as well. But like the Macintosh Plus, in 1987 the 512Ke adopted the standard Apple “Platinum” color, as well as the same case-front design as the Plus (without the name), though keeping its original rear bucket. Later in its lifespan, the 512Ke was discounted and offered to the educational market, badged as the Macintosh ED (M0001D & later M0001ED).

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