Introduced in January 1984 (along with a revised Lisa), this Macintosh didn’t have a model number – it was simply the Macintosh. There was no name on the front. Early 128Ks simply said Macintosh on the back, while later ones were marked “Macintosh 128K” to distinguish them from the later Macintosh 512K.
Equipped with 128 KB RAM, 64 KB ROM, a 3.5″ 400 KB floppy drive, a 1-bit 512 x 342 pixel b&w monitor, a mouse, and a couple applications (MacWrite and MacPaint), the Macintosh was destined to change the face of computing forever – it not only created the Mac look and feel, it also inspired forthcoming versions of Microsoft Windows and several other windowing interfaces.
What didn’t it have? A SCSI port, 5.25″ floppies, backward compatibility with the Apple II, III, or Lisa.
But it had twice as much memory as the popular Commodore 64, put 2.5 times as much data on a floppy disk as the IBM PC’s single-sided 5.25″ disk, included two serial ports (one which could be used for networking at the then-incredible speed of 230.4 kbps), and a totally graphical operating system, all packed into the cutest, friendliest package the computer industry had yet seen. Apple sold 70,000 during its first 100 days on the market.
If you didn’t crave a lot of speed, you could even add a serial hard drive. In fact, Apple’s argument for a closed box (no slots) was that the high speed serial port was fast enough for anything you might want to add to the Macintosh – this was certainly not true for hard drives.
The Macintosh was supplemented by the 512K in October. (It’s commonly told that the original Macintosh would have had 256 KB of memory if RAM prices hadn’t been so high.)
You can convert a non-working compact Mac into a Macquarium. (Please, don’t even think of converting a working one – you can always find someone interested on Classic Macs Digest or the Vintage Macs email list.)
- introduced 1984.01.24 at $2,495; discontinued 1985.10
- Part no.: M0001
- Gestalt ID: 1
- upgrade path: 512K, 512Ke, Plus
- Requires Mac OS 0.97 through 3.3 (System 3.2 and Finder 5.3)
- addressing: 24-bit only
- CPU: 8 MHz 68000
- ROM: 64 KB
- RAM: 128 KB, expandable to 512 KB with 150ns RAM chips (not Apple supported), to 4 MB with third-party upgrades
- 0.8,relative to SE
- 0.7 MIPS
- 9″ b&w screen, 512 x 342 pixels
- floppy drive: 400 KB single-sided
- floppy connector on back of computer
- keyboard attached via coiled telephone-like cable
- mouse attached via DB-9 connector
- serial ports: DB-9 modem and printer ports
- SCSI ports: none
- size (HxWxD): 13.6″ x 9.6″ x 10.9″
- Weight: 16.5 lb.
- PRAM battery: 4.5V PX 21 (a.k.a. Eveready 523, ANSI 1306AP, IEC 5LR50)
- power supply: 60W
- Mac Plus motherboard, 800KB floppy drive
- One of the coolest ideas ever, Computer Care’s Mac Rescue adds a SCSI port and allows a 128K or 512K owner to install Mac Plus ROMs and up to 4 MB of system memory – plus a 2 MB RAM disk. Long gone, but you might get lucky and find one.
- Guide to Compact Macs, a quick overview of Apple’s 10 compact Macs.
- The 25 most important Macs (part 2), Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.02.17. The 25 most significant Macs in the first 25 years of the platform, continued.
- 25 years: The Macintosh legacy, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2009.01.23. On January 24, 1984, the world said hello to a new kind of computer that reshaped the personal computer industry.
- Tales of old Mac data retrieval, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2008.06.13. Getting apps and documents off 400K floppies, old disk images, and a Mac running System 5.
- Women rank Apple tops, a legal Hackintosh, inside USB 3, best Mac shareware bundles, and more, Mac News Review, 2009.05.29. Also what to do with an original Macintosh, Apple’s most intriguing designs, Apple’s ‘buy a Mac, get an iPod touch’ student promotion, and more.
- Let the Mac’s 25th anniversary begin!, Kev Kitchens, Kitchens Sync, 2008.12.09. The Mac doesn’t officially turn 25 until January 24, 2009, but the 25th anniversary issue of Macworld is already out there.
- Antique Macs are still useful computers, Charles Moore, From the MacCave, 2008.09.09. Charles Moore’s first online article looks at the utility of compact Macs – and foreshadows his longterm affection for PowerBooks.
- We’ve come a long way since 1984: Looking back at Macworld’s premier issue, Kev Kitchens, Kitchens Sync, 2008.08.22. In 1984, Apple introduced the first Macintosh computer, and Macworld magazine was soon there to help Mac users explore the new world of computing.
- Unreliable Macs, future Apple CPUs, replacing a Mac Plus mouse, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.08.12. Also Windows Media Player content that doesn’t work on Macs, Leopard on a 700 MHz iMac G4, Apple’s $99 Pro Care service, and CPU options.
- The Mac is a personal computer, not a PC, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.08.06. “…the simple fact is that while the Macintosh is a personal computer, the world knows that it is not a PC.”
- The Compressed Air Keyboard Repair, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.24. If your keyboard isn’t working as well as it once did, blasting under the keys with compressed air may be the cure.
- Macs: Better by design, Tamara Keel, Digital Fossils, 2008.07.11. From the beginning, Macs have stood apart from other computers with their attractive and intelligent design.
- Linux still not friendly enough, widescreen and pivoting monitors, Mac 512K restoration, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.06.23. Also the utility of Apple’s old Studio Displays, questions about ViewPowr video card for PowerBook 1400, and 9-year-old predictions that came true.
- Mac 128K demo, Leopard adequate on unsupported Macs, booting an iMac from a Ubuntu LiveCD, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.06.11. Two new unsupported Leopard reports, Linux for PowerPC is far from dead, and Mac OS X trumps Linux and BSD for features and performance.
- Glimmers of innovation in a world of copycat PCs, Frank Fox, Stop the Noiz, 2008.06.10. Everyone can’t play Follow the Leader – someone has to be the first to try something different.
- 10 cult Macs adored by collectors, Tamara Keel, Digital Fossils, 2008.05.13. Macs are not only noted for their longevity, but also by the passion which collectors have for some of the most interesting models ever made.
- Jaguar or Panther on Pismo?, Mac 128K corrections, installing OS X from an iPod, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.02.29. Also an old iMac, an optical trackball for ADB Macs, internal or external hard drive for an eMac, and Leopard on a 500 MHz PowerBook G4.
- Getting Inside Vintage Macs and Swapping Out Bad Parts, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.14. When an old Mac dies, the best source of parts is usually another dead Mac with different failed parts.
- Solving Mac Startup Problems, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.12. When your old Mac won’t boot, the most likely culprits are a dead PRAM battery or a failed (or failing) hard drive.
- A (Mac) classic spookfest, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2007.10.31. How to set up those old compact Macs with screen savers to enhance your Halloween experience.
- 4 steps for resurrecting old Macs, Sonic Purity, Mac Daniel, 2007.07.18. Hardware problems may be solved with a thorough cleaning, deoxidizing electrical contacts, replacing failed capacitors, and/or repairing broken solder joints.
- Leopard compatibility list, bad capacitors kill Macs, 1 GHz G3 upgrade resurrected, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.06.26. Also tips for troublesome OS X installs, ‘About This Mac’ sometimes lies, PowerBook advice, and aluminum PowerBook design.
- The Truth About CRTs and Shock Danger, Tom Lee, Online Tech Journal, 2007.05.22. You’ve been warned that CRT voltage can injure and even kill. The truth is that this danger is overstated – and takes attention away from a greater danger.
- Bringing my Apple Lisa back to life, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2007.03.26. The 400 KB floppy drive wasn’t working the keyboard was rough. Some homebrew fixes got everything working again.
- MacWrite 1.0: Defining word processing for a graphical user interface, Andrew Conachey, Classic Mac Nostalgia, 2006.11.15. The Mac’s first word processor introduced a lot of features and norms that show up in today’s word processing software.
- Floppy drive observations: A compleat guide to Mac floppy drives and disk formats, Scott Baret, Online Tech Journal, 2006.06.29. A history of the Mac floppy from the 400K drive in the Mac 128K through the manual-inject 1.4M SuperDrives used in the late 1990s.
- Life after the 400K click of death, A. Daniel King, Online Tech Journal, 2006.05.18. What to do when your 400K floppy drive will no longer read and write disks.
- Software bundles: What came with the Mac 128K, 512K, and Plus, Andrew Conachey, Classic Mac Nostalgia, 2006.01.03. A look at the software and system versions that Apple shipped with the original Macintosh, the 512K Fat Mac, the Mac Plus, and the Mac 512ke.
- Which system software is best for my vintage Mac?, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2005.11.22. Which system software works best depends to a great extent on just which Mac you have and how much RAM is installed.
- Innovative Macintosh System 1.0, Andrew Conachey, Classic Mac Nostalgia, 2005.12.08. The first Mac OS brought a graphical user interface to the masses, and a lot of it looks familiar to long-time Mac users.
- The first Macintosh Stevenote movie: Happy 21st birthday, Macintosh!, Bryan Chaffin, Mac Observer, 2005.01.24. “German site Mac Essentials has posted the video of Steve Jobs publicly unveiling the Macintosh on January 24th, 1984.”
- The overpriced Mac in 1984, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2005.01.10. Looking at the personal computing world of 1984 to determine whether the original Mac was overpriced.
- MacOS and the 128K Macintosh, John Ward, Vectronic’s Apple World, 2003.03.04. “It is quite remarkable that Apple was able to pull off such an effective graphical operating system using rather sparse hardware.”
- To err is human, to correct divine, Manuel Mejia Jr, Triassic Mac, 2002.11.21. More information on why the Mac Plus degrades over time – and how to fix it. Much of this applies to the 128K as well.
- Care for a Mac Plus, Manuel Mejia Jr, Triassic Mac, 2002.11.05. “Of all of the Triassic Macs, the Mac Plus has the most sentimental value among the Low End Mac community.” Much applies to 128K as well.
- Replacements for High Failure Probability Parts on Mac 128K/512K/Plus Analog Board, the pickle’s Low-end Mac FAQ
- The compact Macs, Matthew Glidden, Profiles in Networking, ATPM, 2002.06. LocalTalk and ethernet networking for compact Macs.
- Vintage Mac 400K Floppy Drive Repeating Click of Death, A. Daniel King. How to fix a 400K floppy drive gone bad.
- The original Macintosh, Dan Knight, Online Tech Journal, 2001.05.29. An in-depth look at the original Macintosh and how it shaped future Macs.
- Review: Macintosh 128K, Tim Robertson, MyMac.
- Mac 128K, Orion Lawlor
- Mac System 1.0 Headquarters, Dan Vanderkam. See how far we’ve come.
- My first Mac was the first Mac, Jonathan Fletcher, My First Mac, 2000.10.04. “In 1985, I bought a Macintosh 128K from a friend who couldn’t grasp the potential of this little miracle….”
- Making a video adjustment tool, Chris Lawson, Mac Daniel, 2000.03.24. Would you believe you can craft one from an old toothbrush?
- Macintosh 128K, The Mac 512K User Group
- Macintosh 128K, Obsolete Computer Museum
- Q&A for the Macintosh (128K) through the Macintosh 512Ke, The Mac 512K User Group
- Software Compatible with 68000 CPU
- 512K Mac: Packing the missing punch; Apple introduces the Fat Mac, John J. Anderson, Creative Computing, February 1985. “I stick by my original assertion that the Mac was never a 128K machine on the early drawing board. I would guess that 256K was the target, but the need to lower costs eventually wiped out the option. What was left was an incredibly neat little machine terribly restrained by memory limitations. This was the most serious flaw I could find in my initial report.”
- Apple Macintosh, John J. Anderson, Creative Computing, April 1984. “The Mac’s 32-bit processor with 16-bit data bus makes it just about the fastest micro around. “
- The Macintosh, reprinted from Byte, 1984.08. “Whatever its problems and limitations, the Mac represents a breakthrough in adapting computers to work with people instead of vice versa.”
- Macintosh 128K: Technical Specifications, Apple Knowledge Base Archive
- Never connect an Apple II 5.25″ floppy drive to the Mac’s floppy port. Doing so can ruin the floppy controller, meaning you can’t even use the internal drive any longer.
- You can use DiskDup+ on a newer Mac to create 400k floppies using standard double density floppies. The only physical difference between 400k or 800k disks is whether data is written on one side or both sides of the floppy. Do not use high density disks. If you want to copy a disk, open DiskDup+ and insert the “master” disk. It will be read and ejected. You will be asked for a copy disk. Insert the disk you are copying to. If necessary, DiskDup+ will format the disk. If the newly created disk is unreadable on the old Mac, try making a copy on another machine (this can be cause by a misaligned hard drive). DiskDup+ will work on old machines with 1 megabyte of RAM; it will require two passes to duplicate the disk, however.
DiskDup+ will also make copies from disk image files. You can download early system software as disk images by following links from The Mac 512K User Group. If you are using System 7.1 or later, drag the disk image to the DiskDup+ icon. The rest of the process is the same as when copying a physical disk. If you don’t have drag and drop, DiskDup+ has the ability to read the disk image directly. Open DiskDup and click on the button that says “Open Disk Image.”
- The 128K cannot access AppleShare volumes on a network, although it can print to networked printers. More details in Apple TIL 5356.
- The 128K and 512K are not able to read 400k disks in an attached 800k MFD-51W-10 drive.
- That monitor packs a lot of voltage. Read Compact Mac CRT Energy before working inside.
- Reliably supports serial port speeds to 19.2 kbps, although default is 9600 bps.
- Serial port does not support hardware handshaking required for 9600 bps or faster modems.
- Apple discontinued support and parts orders for the Plus on 1998.08.31. You may be able to find dealers with parts inventory either locally or on our parts and service list.
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