The Mac was a quantum leap forward which brought graphical user interface to the rest of the world.
SAN FRANCISCO - Decades before changing the world with iPhones and iPads, Apple transformed home computing with the Macintosh.
The friendly desktop machine referred to as the "Mac" and, importantly, the ability to control it by clicking on icons with a "mouse," opened computing to non-geeks in much the way that touchscreens later allowed almost anyone get instantly comfortable with smartphones or tablets.
The Macintosh computer, introduced 30 years ago Friday, was at the core of a legendary rivalry between late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Microsoft mastermind Bill Gates.
Thousands of Apple faithful are expected for a birthday party this weekend in a performing arts centre in Silicon Valley, not far from the company's headquarters in the city of Cupertino.
'Quantum leap forward'
"The Mac was a quantum leap forward," early Apple employee Randy Wigginton told AFP.
"We didn't invent everything, but we did make everything very accessible and smooth," he continued. "It was the first computer people would play with and say: 'That's cool.'"
Prior to the January 24, 1984 unveiling of the Mac with its "graphical user interface," computers were workplace machines commanded with text typed in what seemed like a foreign language to those were not software programmers.
Credit for inventing the computer mouse in the 1960s went to Stanford Research Institute's Doug Engelbart, who died last year at 88.
"The Mac's impact was to bring the graphical user interface to 'the rest of us,' as Apple used to say," Dag Spicer, chief content officer of the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, told AFP.
"The Mac GUI was picked up by Microsoft, who named it Windows."
The man remembered today as a marketing magician was a terrified 27-year-old when he stepped on stage to unveil the Mac, then-chief executive John Sculley said of Jobs in a post at the tech news website CNET.
"He rehearsed over and over every gesture, word, and facial expression," Sculley said.
"Yet, when he was out there on stage, he made it all look so spontaneous."