“Mac is Celebrating 40 Years: A Tribute to Mr. Macintosh”

The Apple Macintosh was first released on January 24, 1984 — 40 years ago today. Wishing the Mac a happy birthday, the Folon Foundation shared a little-known anecdote: That Steve Jobs once commissioned Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon to come up with an illustrated character that would “live” in every machine and surprise the owner: Mr. Macintosh, aka Mac Man. Mac designer Andy Hertzfeld recalled hearing the idea from Steve Jobs in 1982 in these words:“Mr. Macintosh is a mysterious little man who lives inside each Macintosh. My personal favorite: This original Mac Mac circuit board with Folon’s Mac Man emblazoned next to its copyright notice.

The Apple Macintosh was a groundbreaking invention that was first released on January 24, 1984 – marking its 40th anniversary today. To commemorate this occasion, the Folon Foundation shared an intriguing tidbit: Steve Jobs once enlisted the help of Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon to create an illustrated character that would surprise and delight every Mac owner – Mr. Macintosh, also known as Mac Man.

“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… We’ll plant references in the manuals to the legend of Mr. Macintosh, and no one will know if he’s real or not.” – Steve Jobs

This idea was first mentioned by Mac designer Andy Hertzfeld in 1982, but it wasn’t until a few months later that Folon became involved.

“The software team was swamped with more essential work, so we deferred implementing Mr. Macintosh for a while.” Hertzfeld recalled. However, after meeting Folon, Jobs was convinced that his “humorous, playfully profound sensibility” was the perfect fit for the project. Folon was invited to visit the Mac team in Cupertino for a demo and potential commission.

Unfortunately, the project never came to fruition due to constraints such as limited ROM, disk space, and development time. But the collaboration between Folon and Apple is still an interesting piece of Mac history and has even become sought-after collectibles. Examples include buttons made from Folon’s drawings and given out at trade shows, Mac posters featuring his work, and a letter (once auctioned) showing that Jobs and Folon remained on friendly terms.

Although these items are quite rare, you can still explore the links and images to get a glimpse of their uniqueness. On a personal note, my favorite is the original Mac circuit board with Folon’s Mac Man proudly displayed next to the copyright notice.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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