Before the Macintosh

Introduced in January 1984, Apple’s Macintosh changed everything – but the world of personal computing was nearly a decade old, and Apple was already successful with its Apple II line. These articles look at Apple before the advent of the Mac, as well as the broader world of personal computing.

For coverage of the Macintosh Era, see our 25 Years of Macintosh in 25 Days index.

Apple Before the Apple II, 1976-77

The Apple II Era, 1977-93

The Apple III, 1980-84

  • The Ill-Fated Apple III, Jason Walsh, Apple Before the Mac, 2005.01.05. “…not only was the Apple III mind crunchingly expensive, it was made with none of the passion of the Apple II or Macintosh.”
  • Apple III Chaos: Apple’s First Failure, Joshua Coventry, Cortland, 2006.09.01. Apple had known nothing but success with its Apple II product line, but when it tried to enter the business world with the Apple III, the learned the cost of failure.
  • 2 Apple Failures: Apple III and Lisa, Tom Hormby, Orchard, 2005.05.16. Apple’s two not-so-great product lines between the Apple II line and the Macintosh.
  • Apple’s Worst Business Decisions: Another Perspective, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.10.03. Apple’s poor business decisions predate the Macintosh. Let’s hope they learn from their mistakes.

Apple’s Lisa, 1983-86

  • A History of Apple’s Lisa, 1979-1986, Tom Hormby, Orchard, 2005.10.05. Originally envisioned as a business computer to replace the Apple II, the Lisa brought the mouse and GUI to the computer market – only to be felled by the less costly Macintosh.
  • The Innovative Lisa, Dan Knight, Online Tech Journal, 2001.05.31. Apple’s Lisa and how it paved the way for the Macintosh.
  • The Lisa Legacy, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2003.01.20. We should always remember how Apple’s innovation paved the way for all future computers.
  • Lisa’s DNA Is All Over Modern Computing, Ray Arachelian, Apple Seeds, 2007.06.06. Those who label Apple’s Lisa a failure are ignoring the computer’s legacy that shows up in every personal computer sold today.
  • 2 Apple Failures: Apple III and Lisa, Tom Hormby, Orchard, 2005.05.16. Apple’s two not-so-great product lines between the Apple II line and the Macintosh.

The Home Computer Era, 1977-94

More details in Timeline of Home Computers and Personal Computer History: The First 25 Years.

  • Apple II family launches, 1977.06.10
  • Radio Shack TRS-80 family launches, 1977.08.03
  • Commodore PETCommodore PET 2001, 1977.10
  • TI 99/4, 1979.10
  • Atari 400 and 800, 1979.11
  • TRS-80 Color Computer, 1980.07.31
  • Commodore VIC-20, 1980.09
  • IBM PC launch marks the beginning of the end for home computers, 1981.08.12
  • The 1983 Home Computer Price War, Dan Knight. Commodore killed off TI but wounded itself severely in the process.
  • 1984-85: Apple Macintosh, Atari ST, and Commodore Amiga 1000 introduced 32-bit computing for home and office users.
  • 1991: Atari phases out its 8-bit home computers
  • 1993: Apple IIe discontinued, last of the Apple II family
  • 1994: Commodore 64 discontinued after nearly 12 years on the market as Commodore goes bankrupt.
  • 1994: Apple introduces its first PowerPC models, the Power Mac 6100, 7100, and 8100.


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