Human Ingenuity and Design

Humans are endlessly inventive. They have an astounding ability to achieve the incredible by using resources in ways no one else ever imagined.

This manifests in bad ways, such as prison jailbreaks and computer hacking. It also manifests in amazing ways.

The Original Macintosh is a collection of articles discussing the lengthy (and painful) process of designing, engineering, and programming the original 128k Macintosh. Some of the stories are funny, some tragic, but most showcase a group of driven programmers and engineers working relentlessly on a project that would — literally — change the world.

For sheer ingenuity it’s hard to beat the story of the Thunderscan, which managed to turn a dot matrix printer into a document scanner. “Using resources in ways no one else ever imagined.” This is it.

How do you make a mouse work with a computer that lacks the hardware to communicate with a mouse? You cheat.

With 128k RAM, memory constraints are constant. Ruthless management of system resources was a must, and it required unusual solutions.

The above are just three of the stories in the collection. There are many more.

Some caveats: The stories aren’t always highly engaging, and they assume a level of technical knowledge not everyone possesses. Still, if you find “making of” documentaries fascinating, this site is an in-depth collection of “making of” stories about one of the landmarks in computing history.

[Note: For all the dirty, dirty Windows users out there, I know that computing and engineering talent appears in many places, not just Apple. Microsoft has many very talented programmers and engineers, and their stories are just as interesting and inspiring. No slight intended. You know, other than calling you “dirty, dirty Windows users”. :)]

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