Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It was the first Macintosh model to include a SCSI port, which launched the popularity of external SCSI devices for Macs, including (at that time very expensive) hard disks, tape drives, CD-ROM drives, printers, and even monitors.
It had a new 3.5" 800K floppy drive, offering double the capacity of that of the previous Macs, with backward compatibility. Like the 400K drive in earlier models, the drive used variable speed GCR, making disks written with it incompatible with PC drives.
The Mac Plus was the first of many Macintoshes to use SIMM modules for its memory. It came standard with 1MB of RAM (four 256K SIMMs) and could be upgraded to 4MB of RAM. It had 128K of ROM on the motherboard, which was double the amount of ROM that was in previous Macs; the new System software and ROMs included routines to support SCSI, the new 800K floppy drive, and, importantly, HFS, the Hierarchical File System, which used a true directory structure on disks. (This as opposed to the earlier MFS, Macintosh File System, which was used on 400K disks, in which all files were stored on the root of the disk, and the folders that the user saw were an illusion maintained at great expense by the Finder. The illusionary folders disappeared when the user rebuilt the Desktop file.) For programmers, the fourth Inside Macintosh volume detailed how to utilize the Mac Plus's new System software.
An all-in-one unit, the Plus had a one-bit, 9" black & white display with a resolution of 72 PPI, which was identical to that of previous Macintosh models. Unlike that of earlier Macs, the Mac Plus's keyboard included a numeric keypad, and, as with previous Macs, it had a one-button mouse and no fan, making it extremely quiet in operation.
The applications MacPaint and MacWrite were bundled with the Mac Plus. After August of 1987, HyperCard and MultiFinder were also bundled. Third-party software applications available included MacDraw, Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as Aldus's PageMaker. This was the introduction of GUI versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on any PC.
The Long Life of the Mac Plus
Although the Mac Plus was made obsolete in March 1987 by the new Macintosh series (Macintosh SE and the Macintosh II), it remained in production as a cheaper alternative until the introduction of Macintosh Classic on 15 October 1990. This makes Macintosh Plus the longest lived Macintosh ever produced. The long life of the Mac Plus may also be attributed to the fact that it could run System 7. In fact, it could run system software through Mac OS 7.5.5!
A Mac Plus made an appearance in the 1986 science fiction movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as a part of what is perhaps one of the more memorable and humorous moments from the movie for both Trekkers and Mac fans. They were originally going to have a Commodore Amiga, but Commodore wanted the studio to buy the computer. Apple donated the Mac Plus.
In the scene, engineer "Scotty", having time-travelled to the 1980s from the late 23rd century, plans to use the Mac to generate a formula for a material known as transparent aluminum. However, he is perplexed by the Mac's lack of voice-controlled operation (A common feature in the futuristic Star Trek universe). After failing to receive a reply by speaking normally to it, Scotty is handed the mouse, at which point he holds it up to his mouth like a microphone and cheerfully says, "Hello computer!" He eventually resorts to using the keyboard, but not until after proclaiming "The keyboard...how quaint!"
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