Since I've been on board the personal computer bandwagon for the best part of thirty years I can remember the command line interface. If you weren't around at the time, trust me.

It might have worked, but it wasn't easy to use and definitely wasn't pretty.

Steve Jobs, sighting an alternative in the Rank Xerox laboratory at Palo Alto, went that way, and while the first point and click graphic user interface on the $9,995 Apple Lisa didn't set the world on fire it definitely sounded interesting. I wish I'd kept those magazines to point to the articles...

While Lisa wasn't the actual breakthrough, the first Macintosh was, and from the earliest days of the Mac era there were plenty of conventional wisdom nay-sayers out there trying to convince the public that it wouldn't work.

It's a toy. If you want to get some real work done, you need a PC. That sort of bullshit.

What was undeniable from the start was that there was a substantial section of the market that liked the interface and wanted things to work that way. Jobs was pushed off the board at Apple when the conventional wisdom started taking over (we're talking early days, after all) and for a while there it looked like Apple was on the way out.

Things were, in fact, so serious that Jobs returned to the fold in a sort of welcome back, Steve, everything is forgiven. That involved a buyout of his NeXt project and recognition that he'd need to devote some time to looking after his interests at Pixar.

Things started to change with the iMac, though the conventional wisdom suggested a computer without a floppy disk drive was doomed to failure.

Fifteen years later you'd be flat out finding a program that would fit on a floppy disk.


B© Ian Hughes 2012