Macintosh 128k

By Isabella Borges



Introduced 24th January 1984 for $2,495

Discontinued in October 1985

CPU: 8 MHz 68000
ROM: 64 KB
RAM: 128 KB,
9″ b&w screen, 512 x 342 pixels
Keyboard attached at the front via coiled telephone-like cable
Mouse attached at the rear via DB-9 connector
Serial ports: DB-9 modem and printer ports
Floppy: 400 KB single sided
Size (HxWxD): 13.6″ x 9.6″ x 10.9″
Weight: 16.5 lb.

Manufacturer: Apple
Date: September 1984

(“Apple Macintosh 128K”)



Visual of the history of Apple’s Macintosh computers

The Macintosh 128k was released in January of 1984 by Apple. The price was steep, selling at a whopping $2,495 It was considered on of “the first affordable computer to include a Graphical User Interface” (Rasmussen). This model was a better and faster processor than the ones that came before. When purchased the monitor came with a keyboard and mouse, as well as to a floppy drive that was a new addition to the personal computer. All of these parts fit into the case that Apple created. As this was the first personal computer to hold new characteristics in comparison to others, Apple was able to build and create computers that were more innovative than most. The two photos above display an array of Apple products and the progress Apple has made with their computer products. Today, the desktop computer that Apple sells is the “iMac,” which sells in the range of $1,009 and $1,499. It comes with different sizes of storage, graphics, and processors. It is also available to customize to the consumers liking, unlike the first personal computer Apple created, the Macintosh 128k.



  • Price: $2,495 ($5,594 in 2014)
  • Processor: Motorola 68000
  • Memory: 0.13 MB
  • Storage: None
  • Screen Type: Black and White CRT
  • Wireless Connectivity: None
  • Optical Drive: 3.5 inch floppy drive
  • Processor Speed: 8 MHz
  • Keyboard: Macintosh Keyboard
  • Mouse: Mac Mouse
  • Operating System: Macintosh System
  • Extras: It has a handle on the case!


The Macintosh 128k had a 9 inch screen size, 0.13 MB of memory, a floppy drive, a black and white screen type, no wireless connectivity, and a keyboard that connected to the physical computer. Today, the iMac has a 27 inch screen size, 8 GB of memory, a color IPS LED screen type, wireless connectivity, and a wireless keyboard. The features of Apple’s first personal computer, and their newest model of their personal desktop computer are widely different. When Apple released the Macintosh 128k it was seen as a huge step in creating a personal computer for those who were in need. In 1984 this type of technology was slowly progressing, however in this day and age technology has grown immensely, and improves everyday.


  • Was priced $500 more than the product should have been, due to factoring in cost of advertising and publicity (O’Brien)
  • Macintosh 128k was very, very slow
  • It lacked a fan, which caused a number of component failures, thus it was nicknamed “the beige toaster”
  • The popularity of this new personal computer was low, it does not compare to the success Apple has today with their products
  • The lack of memory was a huge problem for consumers, they felt as though it was not worth the buy
  • At the end of the 1 year and 1 month reign on the market, Apple was only selling 10,000 of the Macintosh 128k per month –  4.6 million iMac’s were sold in Q4 in 2013, the difference is alarming (Velazco)Visual of the floppy drive on the Macintosh 128k
Up-close visual of the floppy drive on the Macintosh 128k


Here is a photo of the infamous Steve Jobs with the Macintosh 128k!
  • “What isn’t interesting about the original Mac? If you break open a Mac 128k you find some 30 signatures in the inside casing. Jobs believed that all artists sign their work, and the Mac team were certainly creating a work of art. So, all the members signed the case mold in 1982, which was used for most all the Mac models until 1986.” (Linzmayer)
  • “Because of a problem with copyright infringement, Apple didn’t think it could keep the Macintosh name, already in use by another company (though with the correct spelling, “McIntosh”). It experimented with MAC (Mouse Activated Computer, reverse engineered from Macintosh), Apple IV, Bicycle (Jobs’ favorite), and Esprit. None sounded right, so Apple instead paid a hefty fee to obtain the name “Macintosh”, as it did with the name “Apple” itself some years later.” (Sanford)
  • Was on the market for exactly 1 year and 1 month
  • The famous Macintosh wasn’t Apple’s first computer. That claim belongs to the Apple 1, which went on sale in July 1976. (Bennett)
  • The first Macintosh TV ad aired in 1984 during the coveted Super Bowl half-time slot. It was directed by Ridley Scott, the man behind Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator.
    • According to an article on CNET by Lance Whitney he states, “Apple could see more than 600 million users by the end of 2013, up from 500 million currently, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Hubert….the 600 million figure assumes that 40 percent of Apple’s device sales will be to new customers”
The Super Bowl Advertisement for Macintosh 128k (1984)

Contemporary/Social Issues

Accessibility is a huge topic surrounding Macintosh and Apple products. Since the price was so high and unaffordable for most people when the Macintosh 128k was released in 1984, not many people had the ability or means to purchase this certain product. It was very exclusive in user base, and was most likely pulled from the market due to the poor sales. Apple certainly found a way to create a computer that was more affordable as the company expanded. They knew they needed to create a less exclusive and more affordable machine that could reach a majority of the population. Today, the iMac sells for less than half of the price of the Macintosh 128k, and many people own this brand of computer. These computers may not the cheapest on the market, but they do have a user friendly graphical interface that appeals to many of the Apple consumers. Apple was able to figure out their pricing and production failures to further construct a computer that was available to the general population at a price that was reasonable. This helped Apple succeed as a company and gain a variety of users.

Brand loyalty also comes up when discussing Apple products. Many educational institutions and the general public are loyal to certain brands when it comes to technology. When walking into most university libraries or technology laboratories, including the University of Colorado Boulder, iMac’s are frequently displayed. Although the pricing may not be the cheapest for these institutions, many universities have contracts with Apple that are created so their products are used by students and faculty. This enables Apple to expand their users to those who may not have been able to own a product before attending an institution with a contract. In addition, many students and other consumers are loyal to Apple because they grew up using Apple products. From personal experience, I grew up around the evolution of the iPhone, iPad, iMac, and MacBook’s, thus most of my technology products are Apple. Since I know how to use Apple products, I stick to purchasing them even if the price is considered more expensive than Apple’s competitors. Trying to learn how to use a new interface from a different brand is unappealing for customers of technology. Many consumers stand by the products they know how to use and continuously purchase them throughout their lives. Since Apple was able to build their brand to be affordable and accessible to more people, it has grown in its user base, as well as become an iconic brand in the technology world.

Works Cited

“Apple Macintosh 128K.” The Centre for Computing History. The Centre for Computing History, 9 Sept. 2009. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <>.

Bennett, Benjamin. “Once Bitten: The Story of the 30-year-old Apple Mac.” Express. Express, 16 Feb. 2014. Web. 07 Dec. 2015. <>

Linzmayer, Owen, and Glen Sanford. “Macintosh.” Apple Museum. Apple Macintosh, 1 Feb. 2012. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <>.

O’Brien, Chris. “How Steve Jobs’ Macintosh Failed and Still Changed Computing.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <>.

Rasmussen, Eric. “Macintosh 128k.” Apple-History. 16 July 2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <>.

Velazco, Chris. “Apple Sold 33.8 Million IPhones, 14.1 Million IPads, And 4.6 Million Macs In Q4 2013.” Tech Crunch. Tech Crunch, 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <>.

Westover, Brian. “1984 Macintosh vs. Today’s Apple IMac: Spec Showdown.” PC Mag. Ziff Davis, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <,2817,2429830,00.asp>.

Whitney, Lance. “Apple to Reach 600 Million Users by End of 2013, Says Analyst.” CNET. CNET, 4 June 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <>.