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5 Vintage Computing Moments from 'Macworld' Issue 1 (April 1984)

The Internet Archive
The Internet Archive

Just over a year ago, Macworld magazine stopped printing new issues. Its run was epic, starting in 1984 with the launch of the Mac and running for more than 30 years. Macworld lives on online, though the print version is done. Today, let's look back at the very first issue, recently posted on The Internet Archive.

1. Explaining the Mouse

On page 28, Macworld Assistant Editor Daniel Farber begins a deep dive into Apple's new mouse. He gives plenty of context—rightly crediting Doug Engelbart for the original invention, and mentioning that Apple's Lisa computer used a mouse before the Mac. Farber proceeds to explain how the mouse is an extension of the innate human ability to point, which was actually the kind of thing that had to be explained using words in 1984. The article explores the vocabulary of the Mac mouse, with its single button, precise scrolling (including cleanable ball), and the "double-click" action.

Retro moment: "The juxtaposition of a mouse and a computer on a modern office desktop or your cozy office at home might seem strange indeed. Is it some kind of marriage between high technology and the rodent population, or an example of the arcane Silicon Valley sense of humor?" Ah, mouse jokes, the staple of '80s computing. I don't miss them.

Prescient moment: "The mouse may not be the ultimate device for interfacing with computers, but for the time being it's the best system yet devised for making computers more compatible with the people who use them."

2. Chart of Typefaces (Fonts)

On pages 106-107, Macworld presents a rundown of the best fonts available when using MacWrite, noting the point sizes that are most legible in print.

Retro moment: Printing the "outline" version of each font, even though it looks awful.

Technically impressive moment: Including eight (!) fonts in the list: New York, Geneva, Toronto, Monaco, Venice, Chicago, Athens, and London. Many of those are proportional, as opposed to the typical monospaced fonts of the day. (Note that the Mac shipped with more fonts, but the list included a "ransom note" style font, a dingbat font, and a handwriting font. They weren't particularly beautiful in print.)

3. Interview with Bill Gates

Longtime Mac users remember that Microsoft was always a big player on the Mac, even in the early days. Even Microsoft Excel debuted on the Mac, and Microsoft Word was the go-to Mac word processor for many users through the 1980s and 1990s. Bill Gates was such a huge part of the Mac's software story that he appeared at early Mac events, and Macworld devoted pages 42-45 of its first issue to an interview.

Retro moment: "You can configure a PC with one of the better graphics boards and add a Microsoft mouse and the necessary software, but that's not the thrust of the machine. The PC is used primarily in its text mode, and to date it's used mostly without a mouse; you couldn't get performance or graphics like the Mac's out of the PC at a comparable price." -Bill Gates. Oh, how times changed. (Note: I'm using a Microsoft mouse right now. It's awesome.)

4. Giant Microsoft Ad

Microsoft took out a full-page ad—actually, two of them—promoting its best-in-class software. (The magazine also had two detailed articles featuring Microsoft Multiplan, the spreadsheet that preceded Excel.)

Retro moment: "MICROSOFT BASIC. The industry standard. Plus special commands for the mouse and bit-mapped graphics." Yes, you could run BASIC on a Mac, though it didn't exactly take off like it did on other platforms due to the Mac's graphical user interface.

5. The Mac Team Congratulates the Macworld Team

When the Mac launched, Apple's Mac team took an iconic photograph (pictured above, right) showing the team behind the computer. When Macworld launched, the team posed for a similar photo of the group behind the magazine. Apple took out this two-page ad congratulating the magazine team.

Retro moment: The fashion, the hairdos, the beards.

(All images courtesy of The Internet Archive. For a large collection of Macworld scans, check out their new Macworld Magazine collection.)

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Trash Talk: 7 Ways to Recycle Your Tech Gadgets
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iStock

Our tech gadgets’ lifespans are short. New smartphone models come out at least once a year, and it’s easy to want the latest and greatest computer, gaming console, or 4K TV—without considering what happens to our used devices.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans generated nearly 3.4 million tons of consumer electronics waste in 2014 [PDF] and that only around 40 percent of that waste was recycled—the rest went to landfills or incinerators. The U.S. is also a top destination for e-waste from other countries [PDF]—and in turn, we export much of our e-waste to places like China and India. However, more manufacturers and recycling companies are now taking steps to ensure the e-waste they collect is handled responsibly.

To do your part, don’t simply dump the old model in the trash—use one of these methods to resell or recycle.

1. DROP IT OFF AT A RETAIL STORE.

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Home and office suppliers often have in-store recycling programs that offer cash back or trade-in options. For instance, Best Buy accepts everything from appliances to car GPS units. (Not all products are accepted, though, so check before you go.) Staples offers trades on phones and tablets and will also take most other electronics, from fax machines to shredders, for recycling. Take your rechargeable batteries and cell phones to Lowes.

2. HOST AN ELECTRONICS DRIVE.

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Work with your employer or a group to put on a tech recycling event. It’s easy enough for people to bring in old TVs, audio equipment, and laptops. Then, you can collect all the items over the course of a few days or weeks and recycle them in bulk with a local organization. A good place to start: the EPA's list of certified electronics recyclers.

3. TRADE IT IN.

Several sites allow you to swap used electronics for cash. These companies refurbish, resell, or recycle old devices. To get started, enter your device’s details to receive a quote, then ship it in using a prepaid label and get money via PayPal, check, or gift card. Amazon’s Trade-In service accepts phones, tablets, speakers, and gaming equipment, provided the items are in good condition; Gazelle takes smartphones, tablets, and Apple computers; and NextWorth buys back tablets, smartphones, and wearables.

4. DOWNLOAD LETGO OR GONE.

Of course, there’s an app for that. Letgo is a free mobile marketplace for a variety of goods, including electronics, and all you have to do is take a picture of your old computer or TV, upload it, and then communicate with potential buyers within the app. Gone deals specifically with used tech, and the app does all the work, including pricing and generating shipping labels, for you—which means you don’t have to limit your sale options to your local area or meet strangers face to face.

5. SELL IT ON CRAIGSLIST, FACEBOOK, OR EBAY.

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Go old-school: List your old electronics on Craigslist, Facebook’s Marketplace, eBay, or your local classifieds. It’s not uncommon to find people who buy and refurbish gadgets for resale or to repurpose parts—or parents looking for a cheap used iPhone or laptop for their child. This way, you can negotiate the sale price and get cash on the spot. While there’s no guarantee that the buyer will dispose of your old phone or tablet responsibly once they’re done with it, selling does give the device a second (or third) life and hopefully will replace the purchase of a new product.

6. DONATE IT.

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While a new phone or gaming console seems like a no-brainer to some, there are many who can’t afford to purchase tech gadgets at all—new or used. If you aren’t able to find a recycling or donation center locally, consider one of these mail-in donation options:

Computers and peripherals: Goodwill has a partnership with Dell called Dell Reconnect. The program takes old computers—and anything you can connect to them, from keyboards to scanners—and refurbishes them for resale. Any parts that can’t be fixed are recycled. The National Cristina Foundation connects consumers to local nonprofits that need computers, and the World Computer Exchange accepts most computer equipment through a local chapter or by mail.

Cell phones: Several organizations collect old cell phones to refurbish, re-sell, and recycle in bulk and then use the funds to support their programming. The National Coalition for Domestic Violence will provide a prepaid shipping label for your phone, laptop, or gaming system, as will Lifecell —the latter purchases Lifestraws for those who lack access to clean water. Cell Phones for Soldiers takes gently used phones to provide communication services to troops and veterans.

Gaming gear: AbleGamers, which provides accessible gaming technology to people with disabilities, accepts donations of used consoles and games via mail. Gamers Outreach and Charity Nerds will take your donated gaming equipment to children who are hospitalized.

7. SEND IT BACK TO THE MANUFACTURER.

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Many companies, including Apple, Dell, HP, and IBM, offer branded recycling programs, which means they’ll take back used devices, recycle them responsibly, and often give you a gift card or a credit towards the purchase of a new device. Take your Apple products to your nearest store or create a prepaid shipping label online. IBM facilitates shipping of its branded products to preferred recyclers in certain states. Because Dell’s recycling program is in partnership with Goodwill, their take-backs aren’t limited to branded devices.

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IBM Unveils the World's Smallest Computer
IBM
IBM

The latest piece of technology to be zapped by the shrink ray of progress was recently revealed during IBM Think 2018, the computer giant’s conference that offers a sneak preview of its latest hardware. According to Mashable, IBM’s newest computer is so small that it could disappear inside a salt shaker.

An IBM computer on a motherboard and atop a pile of salt
IBM

That tiny black speck on the right? That’s the one. (It's mounted to a motherboard on the upper left of the left photo.) IBM claims the computer has several thousand transistors and has roughly the same kind of operating power as a processor from 1990. While that may not sound impressive, any kind of artificial intelligence in a product that small could have big implications for data management. IBM believes it has a future in blockchain applications, which track shipments, theft, and non-compliance. Its tiny stature means it can be embedded into materials discreetly.

As an example, IBM noted that the processor could be injected into a non-toxic magnetic ink, which can then be stamped on a prescription drug. One drop of water could make the ink visible, letting someone know it’s authentic and safe to take.

The tiny little motherboard and its processors are still in the prototype stages, but IBM predicts it could cost less than 10 cents to manufacture. The company hopes it will be commercially available in the next 18 months.

[h/t Mashable]

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