The Apple Macintosh, released on January 24, 1984, is celebrating its 40th birthday today. In honor of this milestone, the Folon Foundation shared an interesting anecdote about the creation of the Mac’s iconic character, Mr. Macintosh, also known as Mac Man.
Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon was commissioned by Steve Jobs to design an illustrated character that would surprise and entertain Mac owners.
In 1982, Mac designer Andy Hertzfeld recalled hearing Jobs’ idea:
“Mr. Macintosh is a mysterious little man who lives inside each Macintosh. He pops up every once in a while, when you least expect it, and then winks at you and disappears again. It will be so quick that you won’t be sure if you saw him or not. We’ll plant references in the manuals to the legend of Mr. Macintosh, and no one will know if he’s real or not.”
Although it would be a few months before Folon became involved, Hertzfeld noted that Jobs thought Folon’s work would be a perfect fit for Mr. Macintosh.
Eventually, Folon visited the Mac team in Cupertino in 1983 to show his sketches. However, due to limited resources and time, the project was abandoned. Yet, this little-known tidbit of Mac history has become a much sought-after collectible for fans.
Some of Folon’s drawings were made into buttons by Apple and given away at trade shows, while others were featured on a Mac poster and an auctioned letter that showed Jobs and Folon remained friends. These rare items serve as a reminder of the iconic Mr. Macintosh and his brief but memorable appearance on the original Mac circuit board next to his copyright notice.
Although these items are rare and hard to come by, take some time to explore the links and images to get a glimpse into this fun aspect of Mac history. And who knows, you may stumble upon some hidden gems like this Mac Man circuit board that pays homage to the legendary Mr. Macintosh.