Amazing Apple Anecdote: The Macintosh Demo

Amazing Apple Anecdote: The Macintosh Demo

We’re back with another Amazing Apple Anecdote. This we we learn the back story to the famous Macintosh demo in 1984 and the catchphrase ‘It sure is great to get out of that bag.’

Andy Hertzfeld recalls (via Folklore):

It took a monumental effort, fueled by inordinate amounts of chocolate covered espresso beans, to finally finish the first release of the Macintosh software in time for the introduction.

I thought I would need to sleep for at least 24 hours, but I woke up after 6 hours with a desire to go back to Apple to see if the release held up, and to see how everyone else was feeling. By 5pm, most of the software team had dragged themselves back for the same reason, and we were lounging around in a tired daze, happy that we finally shipped, but still not quite believing it, when Steve Jobs strode into the software area.

“Hey, pick yourselves up off the floor, you’re not done yet!”

“We need a demo for the intro! The Mac deserves to have a great demo for its first public showing. I want the Mac to play the theme from “Chariots of Fire” while it’s showing a slide show of the apps. Plus lots of other cool stuff, whatever you can come up with. And it needs to be done by the weekend, to be ready for the rehearsals.”

Capps had an idea to use a gigantic font to scroll “Macintosh” across the screen, one letter at a time, to start the demo, so he worked on that, as well as the slideshow. Bruce Horn wanted to do a starry night with twinkling stars, and a skywriter writing “Macintosh” in cursive across the night sky. Susan worked on an intro graphic of the Mac sitting in its canvas carrying bag, and well as some of the other graphics for the slideshow part. I integrated all the pieces and also signed up for the “Chariots of Fire” music part, since no one else wanted to do that.

When Steve heard SAM (SAM was a speech generator, which converted text to speech, with a distinctive, winning personality)┬átalk, he immediately decreed that we had to incorporate SAM in the intro demo. “I want the Macintosh to be the first computer to introduce itself!”, he insisted.
Once we integrated all the pieces together, the demo didn’t come close to be able to run on a standard Macintosh. Fortunately, we had a prototype of a 512K Mac in the lab, so we decided to cheat a little (there were only two in existence at the time) and use that for the demo, which made things fit.

The demo starts out with Susan’s graphic of the Mac hidden in its carrying bag, on a curtained stage, displayed while the program prepared Capp’s big letters. Suddenly, the music swells (from a CD, not generated by the Mac) and Capp’s big letters scroll nimbly across the screen, spelling out “Macintosh”. Then we transition to Bruce’s skywriter, and then to various screen shots of applications, including third party applications like Microsoft’s Multiplan and Chart. Finally, the music stops, the screen goes blank, and waits for Steve to press the mouse button. When he does, the Mac starts to speak, in strange but somehow endearing tones:

Hello, I am Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag!

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I’d like to share with you a maxim I thought of the first time I met an IBM mainframe: Never trust a computer that you can’t lift!

Obviously, I can talk, but right now I’d like to sit back and listen. So it is with considerable pride that I introduce a man who has been like a father to me… Steve Jobs!

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